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Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust

Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), formerly the Free Market American Educational Foundation, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust and Working for Rights to Express & Communication,[1] was active from 2014 to present (registered in 2012 by Ray Wotring and one other) as DC-based conservative nonprofit organization specializing in advocacy regarding legal and ethical issues related to politics. Until 2017, it was run by the now Acting United States Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.[2][3][4][5][6] FACT's website states that the organisation is "dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas by hanging a lantern over public officials who put their own interests over the interests of the public good."[7]

Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust
Formation2012 (2012)
Type501(c)(3)
Location
LeaderKendra Arnold
Websitewww.factdc.org

Contents

OverviewEdit

The conservative group Donors Trust was the source of $500,000 of FACT's revenue in 2015 and $800,000 in 2016.[8][9] As a 501(c)(3) organization it is not required to disclose donors however Charles Koch has acknowledged giving to DonorsTrust.[10] FACT paid Whitaker $1.2 million, with the vast majority of the payments from 2016 to 2017.[11][12]

FACT has largely focused on Hillary Clinton[13] and the e-mail scandal[14][15][16] or other Democratic representatives such as Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Representative Patrick E. Murphy of Florida and Representative Ted Strickland of Ohio.[17][18] FACT lobbied against the confirmation of one-time Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and filed an FEC complaint against Democratic voter data firm Catalist in 2015.[9] Despite claiming to be nonpartisan, the organization called for ethics investigations into or filed complaints about forty-six different Democratic politicians, officials, and organizations, compared to only a few Republicans.[19] During his tenure, Whitaker wrote opinion pieces that appeared in USA Today and The Washington Examiner, and appeared regularly on conservative talk-radio shows and cable news.[20] In 2017, Whitaker as executive director of FACT wrote:[21]

The most disturbing aspect of Hillary Clinton’s continued blame game is that she still doesn’t think there was anything wrong with recklessly handling highly sensitive and classified information, intentionally instructing her staff to do the same and then lying to the entire world about it at the United Nations of all places.

In addition, FACT filed a complaint in August 2017 with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Alexandra Chalupa, a consultant working for the DNC who had been investigating Paul Manafort and Donald Trump's ties to Russia.[22][23] Whitaker made the complaint at the direction of the White House.[24] FACT acted in close concert with Senator Chuck Grassley, who also made a complaint with the DOJ. FACT's complaint was based on the claim that Chalupa had met with Ukrainian officials in an effort to expose ties among Trump, Manafort, and Russia.[25] As of December 2018 the FEC had given no indication whether it would investigate the issue.[26] Chalupa denied any wrongdoing.[27]

In 2016, Whitaker defended ExxonMobil as the executive director of FACT when the Attorneys General United for Clean Power Coalition started their investigation into the firm for not disclosing climate change risks.[28] Whitaker called the investigation "both unconstitutional and unethical".[28] The investigation has since matured leading to four counts of fraud being filed against ExxonMobil.[29][30][31]

In 2018 FACT scrutinised a pro Rick Scott Political action committee.[28]

FACT has paid outside Republican firms to perform some of its work. One such firm is America Rising LLC, which was given $144,000 for research in 2015.[32] FACT paid America Rising at least $500,000 for research from 2015 to 2017.[33] FACT also had close working relationship with America Rising, sharing information and political communication strategy.[34] The foundation last year paid $134,119 to Creative Response Concepts, a conservative political public relations company and has paid a total of $500,000 to the agency.[33]

Some experts such as Daniel Borochoff, president of CharityWatch, have questioned the status of FACT saying that it may have Violated Tax-Exempt Status.[35][8] FACT has called for ethical investigations or filed complaints against over 46 individuals or organizations, the vast majority of whom are either Democrats or associated with Democratic causes.[18]

PersonnelEdit

Kendra Arnold is the Executive Director and was previously the General Counsel from 2014 onward.[36][7][37]

FACT's treasurer was Neil Corkery from 2015 to 2016 whose wife established the Judicial Crisis Network.[38][9] Neil Corkery is now treasurer for Public Interest Legal Foundation. Corkey was part of the three person board of directors at FACT including Whitaker.[39][40]

William (Bill) Gustoff serves on the board of directors of FACT was a former law partner of Matthew Whitaker for Whitaker Hagenow & Gustoff LLP (which changed its name later to Hagenow & Gustoff LLP).[41] Kendra Arnold previously worked for Hagenow & Gustoff LLP in 2012.[42]

Matthew Whitaker was executive director for 3 years from October 2014 to September 2017 was paid $717,000 from 2014 to 2016 by FACT.[43]

James Crumley has been a director.[12][33] Noah Wall was a director in 2014.[33]

Thomas Raymond Conlon has managed the tax returns of FACT, he is also responsible for other prominent groups such as American Conservative Union, Judicial Crisis Network which are all organisations associated with Ann and Neil Corkery.[44]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ O'Harrow Jr., Robert; Boburg, Shawn; Davis, Aaron C. (November 20, 2018). "Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 21, 2018.
  2. ^ "Trump Installs a Critic of the Mueller Investigation to Oversee It". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "Whitaker May Have Violated Group's Tax-Exempt Status". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  4. ^ CNN, Scott Bronstein,. "Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "Matthew Whitaker". Fox News. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  6. ^ "Conservative group calls for Grayson ethics probe". POLITICO. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "FACTDC | About | Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust". FACTDC | Foundation For Accountability & Civic Trust. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Press, Associated (November 10, 2018). "Matthew Whitaker Led Foundation That May Have Violated Tax-Exempt Status". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Zeitlin, Matthew. "The New Acting Attorney General Was Previously a Dark Money–Funded Clinton Antagonist". Slate Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  10. ^ CNN, Scott Bronstein,. "Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  11. ^ Wang, Dan Mangan, Christine (November 21, 2018). "Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker got $1.2 million from nonprofit". www.cnbc.com. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Walters, Greg (2018). "What we know about FACT, the conservative watchdog that paid Trump's AG $1.2 million". Vice News. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "Trump's new acting attorney general was obsessed with Clinton's emails". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
  14. ^ CNN, Scott Bronstein,. "Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Jacobs, Ben (November 7, 2018). "Matt Whitaker: Sessions's replacement a longtime critic of Mueller inquiry". the Guardian. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  16. ^ "Meet the Acting Attorney General, a GOP Loyalist From Iowa". Time. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  17. ^ "Trump Installs a Critic of the Mueller Investigation to Oversee It". Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Here's a list of Democrats acting AG Matt Whitaker wanted to investigate". Newsweek. November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  19. ^ Croucher, Shane (November 8, 2018). "Here's a list of Democrats acting AG Matt Whitaker wanted to investigate". Newsweek. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  20. ^ Woodruff, Betsy; Tani, Maxwell; Sommer, Will (November 8, 2018). "Matthew Whitaker, Mueller's New Boss, Said There Was 'No Collusion' With Russia". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 9, 2018.
  21. ^ "FACT's Matthew Whitaker's Response to Hillary Clinton's comments to CNN | FACTDC | Foundation For Accountability & Civic Trust". FACTDC | Foundation For Accountability & Civic Trust. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  22. ^ Kirchgaessner, Stephanie; Swaine, Jon (November 12, 2018). "Trump pick Whitaker rose through ranks as partisan targeting Democrats". the Guardian. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  23. ^ "Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire". POLITICO. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  24. ^ Waas, Murray (January 15, 2019). "Matthew Whitaker: The Ethical Mire of Trump's Top Law Officer". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  25. ^ Swanson, Ian (August 9, 2017). "Watchdog files complaint alleging DNC worked with Ukraine". TheHill. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  26. ^ Waas, Murray (December 14, 2018). "Exclusive: Paul Manafort advised White House on how to attack and discredit investigation of President Trump". Vox. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  27. ^ CNN, Dan Merica,. "First on CNN: Former DNC contractor denies working with Ukrainian officials". CNN. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  28. ^ a b c "The Environmental Left's Double Standard Game". Morning Consult. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  29. ^ "New York Sues Exxon Mobil, Saying It Deceived Shareholders on Climate Change". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  30. ^ "Exxon accused of climate change 'fraud'". BBC News. October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  31. ^ "New York AG Sues Exxon, Says Oil Giant Defrauded Investors Over Climate Change". InsideClimate News. October 24, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  32. ^ "Whitaker may have violated group's tax-exempt status". Star Tribune. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  33. ^ a b c d "Conservative nonprofit with obscure roots and undisclosed funders paid Matthew Whitaker $1.2 million". Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Woodruff, Maxwell Tani|Will Sommer|Betsy (November 8, 2018). "Matthew Whitaker, Mueller's New Boss, Said There Was 'No Collusion' With Russia". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  35. ^ "Whitaker May Have Violated Group's Tax-Exempt Status". Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  36. ^ "FACT Speaks To Polk County Republican Women » The Iowa Statesman". The Iowa Statesman. April 21, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  37. ^ "Kendra Arnold". Fox News. November 12, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  38. ^ "Dark-money group asks for IRS to investigate trust steered by central Arkansas congressional candidate". Arkansas Online. August 9, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  39. ^ "Trump's Top Lawman Cut Teeth With Partisan Attacks, TV Spots". Bloomberg.
  40. ^ Press, Associated (November 10, 2018). "Matthew Whitaker Led Foundation That May Have Violated Tax-Exempt Status". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2018.
  41. ^ Freedlander, David. "When Matthew Whitaker Ran 'a Chop Shop of Fake Ethics Complaints'". Intelligencer. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  42. ^ "Hagenow & Gustoff | Kendra L. Mills Arnold". The Law Firm of Hagenow & Gustoff. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  43. ^ CNN, Scott Bronstein,. "Whitaker ran conservative group funded by dark money". CNN. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  44. ^ "How one accountant links Whitaker's nonprofit to network of dark money groups". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved December 19, 2018.

External linksEdit