Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT)





Michael Chamberlain

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Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) is a nonpartisan government watchdog organization that seeks to ensure that public officials are all held accountable to the same set of rules, no matter their political party or ideology. To this end, PPT monitors senior officials across the U.S. government for improper and illegal behaviors, self-dealing, and other conflicts of interest, and informs the public to bolster public trust. 1


Protect the Public’s Trust claims that the Department of Health and Human Services and its sub-agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH), have undermined science by disregarding the principles of scientific integrity and violating scientific integrity policies. PPT claims that the CDC failed to monitor or track serious, known side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, cited misleading data on childhood mortality from COVID-19, and violated scientific integrity policies by recommending vaccines for children under five years based on political, not scientific, considerations. 2

PPT’s Financial Transparency Project seeks to make mandatory financial disclosure information more easily available to the public. PPT claims that the current level of transparency is inadequate and that the entire financial disclosure process needs to be reformed. In March 2022, PPT submitted a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) urging them to fix the financial disclosure process. PPT has identified known appointees at some of the biggest federal departments to compare them with officials listed on the OGE website. PPT claims the results of this comparison show a major gap in transparency with only 23% of financial disclosures available via OGE. 3

In January 2023, Protect the Public’s Trust filed a transparency lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), claiming that NARA wrongfully withheld records subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In August 2022, PPT submitted two FOIA requests for records related to communications between White House officials and acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall. PPT claims that while NARA refused to release those records, they later demanded that representatives of the last six administrations search for and turn over any Presidential or Vice-Presidential records within their personal documents. PPT further claims that the American public’s trust in its government continues to decline when organizations like NARA act based on their own set of rules. 4

PPT’s Ethics Waiver Tracker is continually updated as PPT monitors the Office of Government Ethics’ website, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and document searches. In its March 2022 report, PPT documented 19 FOIA hidden waivers. PPT claims that while the Biden administration pledged to be the most ethical administration, it had already granted 50 waivers and impartiality decisions in its first year, compared to 73 total granted during the four years of the Trump administration. PPT further claims that an unprecedented number of the waivers granted in the Biden administration have occurred in the agencies and that only 14% of the administration’s agencies have maintained full compliance to ethics obligations. 5


Michael Chamberlain is the director of PPT and formerly worked in the Department of Education. 6


  1. “About Us.” Protect the Public’s Trust. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  2. “Science Undermined.” Protect the Public’s Trust. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  3. “Financial Transparency Project.” Protect the Public’s Trust. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  4. “Compliance for Thee But Not for Me; NARA Refuses to Take its Own Advice.” Protect the Public’s Trust, February 8, 2023. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  5. “Tracking Federal Ethics Waivers.” Protect the Public’s Trust, March 2022. Accessed February 13, 2023.
  6. “About Us.” Protect the Public’s Trust. Accessed February 13, 2023.
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