Campaign for Accountability
The Campaign for Accountability is a leftwing legal advocacy organization founded by alumni of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. CfA’s mission statement vowed to take on shadowy groups in the public interest: “Millions of Americans’ lives are negatively impacted by decisions made behind the doors of corporate boardrooms, government offices, and shadowy nonprofit groups.”
CfA should know a thing or two about shadowy nonprofits. It began as one itself.
Founding and Campaigns
The Campaign for Accountability was started by people affiliated with the leftwing Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a partisan “watchdog” that in reality acts as a lap dog for Democrats.
Initially, CfA was a part of a dark money network called the New Venture Fund. The New Venture Fund raises hundreds of millions a year and disperses the money to a variety of internal “projects” such as CfA, Allied Progress, or the Western Values Project. These projects may appear to be grassroots, but the nuts and bolts are run out of a single downtown Washington, D.C. office. The effect of this structure is to obscure which donors to NVF are funding what projects. It also prevents information from the project from being filed in a separate tax return, obscuring otherwise public information about the project’s operations.
NVF has over 100 known projects–and potentially many more unknown ones.
With its shadowy leftwing money, CfA seems to have carried on tactics similar to that of CREW: namely manufacture complaints against Republicans.
Despite being founded in 2015 during President Obama’s administration, it appears CfA criticized few Democrats outside of demanding then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter stop using personal email for public business. (CfA appears to have been silent on the issue of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, which was a big campaign issue in 2016 and a violation of federal laws, according to experts.)
A few weeks after the 2016 election, CfA released a report detailing how Google had supported Clinton over Trump in the election. This report appears to have been written with support from Oracle–a competitor to Google that had been engaged in long-running litigation against Google. The campaign has since been renamed from the Google Transparency Project to the Tech Transparency Project. It has also received support from David Magerman, who founded Freedom from Facebook.
In contrast, CfA has maintained a steady drumbeat against Republicans and the Trump Administration. No sooner had the election happened than CfA began demanding Trump divest all of his business holdings. CfA has also called for investigations into Republicans including Sen. Joni Ernst–ironically, for creating a “dark money” group–Rep. Devin Nunes, and Interior Secretaries Ryan Zinke and David Bernhardt.
CfA also appears to support “Cancel Culture.” CfA demanded a California venue cancel a fundraising event for Live Action, a pro-life group. CfA also demanded Apple and Google yank pro-life apps from their respective app stores. CfA’s major donor, the Buffett Foundation, has put $4 billion into pro-choice advocacy.
CfA has also spent over $100,000 hiring Fusion GPS to perform research. Fusion was the firm hired by the Clinton 2016 campaign to dig up dirt on candidate Trump; Fusion in turn hired a former British spy, who put together the infamous and discredited “Trump dossier.”
As noted above, it is unclear who provided the “seed money” for the formation of CfA in 2015 under the New Venture Fund’s dark-money umbrella.
Since spinning off under its own tax-exempt status in 2017, CfA has been filing separate financial records. Financial records show that CfA is reliant on one large donor: The Buffett Foundation, founded by liberal billionaire Warren Buffett.
In 2018, CfA reported raising $1.2 million in revenue. Nearly half of that, $587,919, came from the Buffett Foundation.
CfA also receives support from Oracle, a multi-billion-dollar multinational corporation. Oracle’s funding supports CfA’s Google Transparency Project (now Tech Transparency Project).
CfA also received $90,000 in 2017 from AFSCME, a union that represents federal, state, and municipal government workers. AFSCME also donated $50,000 in 2018 and $75,000 in 2019 to CfA. All three grants were for “political activities.” AFSCME is a part of the AFL-CIO, which is a major donor to leftwing campaigns.
The Department of Labor’s LM-2 records show that labor unions have given over $1 million to the New Venture Fund, including significant donations in 2015-16. It is unclear if these donations funded CfA. Unions have also donated millions of dollars to the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a 501(c)(4) political sister group to New Venture Fund.
CfA was founded by alumni of the biased Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Its initial executive director was Anne Weisman, a former chief counsel for CREW. A CREW co-founder sat on CfA’s advisory four-person board, along with three other left-leaning activists. CfA also hired CREW researcher Daniels Stevens, who now serves as executive director after Weisman rejoined CREW.