Public Accountability Initiative




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $378,755
Expenses: $380,599
Assets: $288,480


Research Organization



Executive Director:

Kevin Connor

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The Public Accountability Initiative is a left-of-center research organization that publishes reports on the lobbying relationships between businesses and politicians, particularly with regards to the conventional energy industry.

Its central project is, a left-of-center database that complies the interpersonal relationships of political and business figures, especially if they support center-right or right-of-center causes.

It was funded in its early years by the Sunlight Foundation, a left-of-center government transparency group that incubated projects through its now-closed Sunlight Labs division. 1 The group’s executive director, Kevin Connor, previously worked for the 1199SEIU labor union,2 which has been characterized as “the union that rules New York.” 3


The Public Accountability Initiative was founded in early 2009 with the help of the left-of-center “transparency” group Sunlight Foundation. 4 It launched with its inaugural project, the database under the leadership of executive director Kevin Connor, who, as of October 2019, still holds that position. 5

Since its inception, it has mainly reported on what it views to be negative influence from the conventional energy industry and Wall Street, such as reports on energy company contributions to Presidential candidates and on major banks. 6

Present Activities

Though it researches on the national level, much of its reporting work centers on New York and its surrounding metropolitan area. One of its first reports, for example, targeted the University of Buffalo’s Shale Resources and Society Institute over a fracking dispute. 7

It frequently critiques Republicans and so-called “Centrist Democrats” for aligning with business interests on issues like the Green New Deal, immigration, and various aspects of the conventional energy industry. 8

In addition to the reports posted on its own site, the Public Accountability Initiative runs the project. 9 is a left-of-center database that tracks political relationships and campaign donations. LittleSis is hosted on the Initiative’s “Eyes on the Ties” website; instead of the research work that the Public Accountability Initiative does on its main site, Eyes on the Ties focuses on current events reporting. 10

The Initiative also offers its “Map the Power” toolkit and assorted trainings, designed to foster new “activist-researchers” and journalists. 11


The executive director of the Public Accountability Initiative is Kevin Connor, who draws a salary of $64,841. He is the only paid member of the organization. Prior to founding the Public Accountability Initiative, he worked as a researcher for the powerful left-wing 1199SEIU labor union in New York. 12


The Public Accountability Initiative’s most recent publicly available filings show total revenues of $695,742 and total expenses of $129,581.

Some of its major supporters include left-of-center private foundations like the 11th Hour Project and the Arca Foundation, as well as the American Federation of Teachers government worker union. 13


  1. “Community.” Sunlight Foundation. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  2. “Team.” Public Accountability Initiative, June 11, 2019.
  3. DiSalvo, Daniel, and Stephen D. Eide. “The Union That Rules New York.” The Daily Beast. August 08, 2015. Accessed June 11, 2018.
  4. “Tools and Projects.” Sunlight Foundation. Accessed October 24, 2019.

  5. Mattera, Phil. “Eyes on the Ties.” Dirt Diggers Digest, January 16, 2009.
  6. Seidman, Derek, and Donald Shaw. “Presidential Candidates Take Money From Major Fossil Fuel Investors.” Public Accountability Initiative, September 19, 2019. ; Dennis, Abner, and Kevin Connor. “Six Billion Reasons to Go After the Banks.” Public Accountability Initiative, June 11, 2019.
  7. Bertrand, Pierre. “Fracking Debate Complicates As Group Accuses University Of Parroting Oil Industry.” International Business Times, May 12, 2012.
  8. Seidman, Derek. “The Anti-Green New Deal Coalition.” Public Accountability Initiative, May 19, 2019.; Galbraith, Robert. “Selling Out New York’s Immigrants.” Public Accountability Initiative, November 16, 2018.;
  9. Newmark, Craig. “LittleSis: Keep an Eye on the (Abusive) Powerful.” HuffPost. HuffPost, May 25, 2011.
  10. “Eyes on the Ties” LittleSis. Accessed October 24, 2019.
  11. “Trainings.” Public Accountability Initiative, June 11, 2019.
  12. “Team.” Public Accountability Initiative, June 11, 2019.
  13. “Funding.” Public Accountability Initiative, November 20, 2018.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 2004

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Mar Form 990 $378,755 $380,599 $288,480 $21,729 N $378,647 $108 $0 $0
    2016 Mar Form 990 $497,064 $277,047 $282,957 $14,362 N $496,296 $768 $0 $0
    2015 Mar Form 990EZ $183,855 $167,055 $141,011 $92,433 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Mar Form 990EZ $135,076 $168,139 $34,773 $2,995 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Mar Form 990EZ $116,974 $96,739 $68,591 $3,750 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Mar Form 990EZ $78,913 $45,814 $44,606 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Public Accountability Initiative

    BUFFALO, NY 14213-2147