Non-profit

Restore Public Trust (RPT)

Website:

restorepublictrust.org

Type:

Center-Left Litigation and Advocacy Organization

Project of:

New Venture Fund

Executive Director:

Caroline Ciccone

Restore Public Trust (RPT) is an advocacy organization launched in November 2018 to assist the efforts of organizations within what has been called a “constellation of progressive-oriented accountability groups that have launched in response to Donald Trump’s presidency.”[1]

While classifying itself as a “non-partisan public interest group,” its investigations have been solely directed at Republicans and the Trump administration.[2] On the day it was launched it filed 12 freedom of information requests with Trump administration Cabinet agencies.[3]

RPT’s board of advisers consists of Democratic Party strategists, operatives, political consultants, and former Obama administration officials. Most are or have been affiliated with other so-called “accountability” organizations that have been launched by the left since President Donald Trump took office – in two instances specifically the organizations mentioned in a January 2017 proposal made by Hillary Clinton operative David Brock to major left-wing donors, which advocated a mission of damaging the incoming Trump administration with a barrage of open records requests and bad publicity.[4] [5]

RPT and at least two other groups—Democracy Forward (DF) and American Oversight (AO)—did not exist at the time of the Brock proposal, but have since emerged to fulfill the mission it promoted. These organizations have staffs and board members that have been affiliated with each other’s organizations and the organizations specifically noted in the Brock document.[6] [7] [8]

Restore Public Trust is a project of the New Venture Fund (NVF), a major 501(c)(3) funding and fiscal sponsorship nonprofit catering to left-wing advocacy organizations and labor unions.[9] Executive director Caroline Ciccone is a former executive director of the left-wing advocacy group Americans United for Change, and a former staffer from the Obama administration.[10]

Background

RPT after the 2018 midterm elections in which Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Citing its own polling as showing “people believe the Trump administration has a corruption problem,” an RPT news release declared it ready to assume the job of “exposing corruption and holding officials accountable.” RPT announced it had already filed 12 freedom of information requests with Trump administration cabinet agencies.[11]

RPT portrays itself as a resource for “journalists examining the alleged malfeasance of government officials.”[12] Unlike the frequent references regarding the Trump administration, RPT’s public pronouncements do not reference holding Democratic officials accountable as part of the mission, even though RPT defines itself as a “non-partisan public interest group.”[13]

RPT is a project of the New Venture Fund (NVF),[14] a major 501(c)(3) donor to left-wing advocacy organizations and labor unions, such as Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and the National Education Association.[15] Kyle Herrig, a director for NVF, is also on the advisory board of RPT.[16]

Relations with Other Left-wing “Accountability” Organizations

In a Daily Beast media interview, RPT executive director Caroline Ciccone stated her organization’s objective was to provide “complimentary strategies” in cooperation with other organizations sharing similar missions. RPT was noted in the media report as one of a “constellation of progressive-oriented accountability groups that have launched in response to Donald Trump’s presidency.”[17]

American Oversight (AO) was also listed in the report.[18] It was launched in March 2017 and opened investigations into the Trump administration based largely on its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lawsuits. For 2018 alone, AO claimed to have filed more than 1000 FOIA requests and 56 open records lawsuits directed at the administration.[19] Democracy Forward (DF) also fills a role very similar to that of AO; both are tied to major left-wing Democratic donors and employ staffers with partisan left-wing work histories.

In December 2018, RPT and Democracy Forward sent a joint request to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), alleging the possibility that EPA officials had illegally collaborated the Fox News Channel on the content of an April 2017 broadcast, and asking for an investigation from the OIG.[20]

Criticism of Trump Administration

Restore Public Trust signed and authored a letter condemning the immigration policy of the Trump administration and urging American CEOs not to employ anyone involved with the policy. It accused these officials of being directly guilty for physical abuse, sexual assault, and even the death of illegal immigrant children. The letter was titled “An Open Letter to America’s CEOs” and was dated April 6, 2019. [21]

Cooperation with Congressional Democrats

On December 7, 2018, RPT announced it was asking the House Financial Services Committee to investigate U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s behavior while she was on the board of Wells Fargo. Shortly before this, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) had announced one of her first jobs after becoming chair of the committee in January 2019 would be investigating Wells Fargo’s business practices. RPT also released a report purporting to show “numerous instances where Wells Fargo took advantage of its customers through fraudulent schemes during Secretary Chao’s time on the Board.”[22]

Leadership

The only employee publicly listed on RPT’s website and quoted in media (as of December 2018) is executive director Caroline Ciccone. Ciccone is the former executive director of the left-wing advocacy group Americans United for Change and a former staffer in the Obama administration.[23]

The five members of RPT’s advisory board have extensive connections to Democratic officials and causes, left-wing advocacy groups, and in particular other left-wing “accountability” organizations that dovetail with the mission laid out in the January 2017 Brock proposal. Three board members have past work histories with American Bridge 21st Century and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) – the two main organizations specifically promoted in the Brock proposal.[24] [25]

Kyle Herrig is also on the board of American Oversight.[26]
Melanie Sloan is also a senior staffer for American Oversight and the founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

Shripal Shah is vice-president of American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic Party super PAC. He is also a former staffer for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Brad Woodhouse is executive director of Protect Our Care, an Obamacare advocacy organization and project of the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group and sister to New Venture Fund.. He is also a former president of both American Bridge 21st Century and Americans United for Change, and a former communications staffer for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Melissa (Bruns) Bonine’s RPT bio refers to her as an operations expert for progressive groups. She has a work history that includes the offices of congressional Democrats and in the Obama administration.

References

  1. Stein, Sam. “New Progressive Oversight Group Wants to Make Trump’s Cabinet Miserable.” Daily Beast. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-progressive-oversight-group-wants-to-make-trumps-cabinet-miserable
  2. “New Accountability Group Restore Public Trust Launches Today, Will Expose Corruption and Malfeasance at Highest Levels of Government.” Restore Public Trust. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-launches/
  3. “New Accountability Group Restore Public Trust Launches Today, Will Expose Corruption and Malfeasance at Highest Levels of Government.” Restore Public Trust. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-launches/
  4. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  5. Schoffstall, Joe. “Read the Confidential David Brock Memo Outlining Plans to Attack Trump.” Washington Free Beacon. January 26, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2018.https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-memo-attack-trump/
  6. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  7. Schoffstall, Joe. “Read the Confidential David Brock Memo Outlining Plans to Attack Trump.” Washington Free Beacon. January 26, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2018.https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-memo-attack-trump/
  8. “About.” American Oversight. Accessed December 28, 2018. https://www.americanoversight.org/about
  9. “Support our fight to end government corruption.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://secure.everyaction.com/zIyA4KS7AkubEkRvdxPumw2
  10. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  11. “New Accountability Group Restore Public Trust Launches Today, Will Expose Corruption and Malfeasance at Highest Levels of Government.” Restore Public Trust. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-launches/
  12. “Restore Public Trust Urges Incoming House Financial Services Chair to Examine Role of Secretary Chao as Board Member of Wells Fargo.” December 7, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-urges-incoming-house-financial-services-chair-to-examine-role-of-secretary-chao-as-board-member-of-wells-fargo/
  13. “New Accountability Group Restore Public Trust Launches Today, Will Expose Corruption and Malfeasance at Highest Levels of Government.” Restore Public Trust. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-launches/
  14. “Support our fight to end government corruption.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://secure.everyaction.com/zIyA4KS7AkubEkRvdxPumw2
  15. New Venture Fund. IRS Form 990. 2015. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://www.newventurefund.org/wp-content/uploads/NVF-2015-990.pdf
  16. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  17. Stein, Sam. “New Progressive Oversight Group Wants to Make Trump’s Cabinet Miserable.” Daily Beast. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-progressive-oversight-group-wants-to-make-trumps-cabinet-miserable
  18. Stein, Sam. “New Progressive Oversight Group Wants to Make Trump’s Cabinet Miserable.” Daily Beast. November 8, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/new-progressive-oversight-group-wants-to-make-trumps-cabinet-miserable
  19. “COUNTDOWN TO OVERSIGHT IN 2019.” American Oversight. December 27, 2018. Accessed December 28, 2018. https://www.americanoversight.org/countdown-to-oversight-in-2019
  20. “Groups Demand Investigation into EPA, Fox News Coordinated Effort on Government-Sponsored Propaganda.” Democracy Forward. December 13, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. https://democracyforward.org/press/groups-demand-investigation-into-epa-fox-news-coordinated-effort-on-government-sponsored-propaganda/
  21. “An Open Letter to America’s CEOs.” Restore Public Trust. April 6, 2019. https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2019/04/Restore-Public-Trust-Open-Letter-Asylum-04.2019.pdf
  22. “Restore Public Trust Urges Incoming House Financial Services Chair to Examine Role of Secretary Chao as Board Member of Wells Fargo.” December 7, 2018. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/restore-public-trust-urges-incoming-house-financial-services-chair-to-examine-role-of-secretary-chao-as-board-member-of-wells-fargo/
  23. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  24. “Who We Are.” Restore Public Trust. Accessed January 4, 2019. http://restorepublictrust.org/about/
  25. Schoffstall, Joe. “Read the Confidential David Brock Memo Outlining Plans to Attack Trump.” Washington Free Beacon. January 26, 2017. Accessed December 12, 2018.https://freebeacon.com/politics/david-brock-memo-attack-trump/
  26. “Board.” American Oversight. Accessed December 28, 2018. https://www.americanoversight.org/board

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Shripal Shah
    Advisory Board Member
  2. Caroline Ciccone
    Executive Director
  3. Kyle Herrig
    Advisory Board Member
  4. Melanie Sloan
    Advisory Board Member
  5. Brad Woodhouse
    Advisory Board Member
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