What The Media Should Know About Cause Of Action, The Koch-Backed Group Suing Over Clinton's Emails

››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

The conservative group Cause of Action has reportedly filed a lawsuit regarding Hillary Clinton's emails as secretary of state. The group has received funding from the Koch brothers' financial network, and its executive director worked for Charles Koch and for the House Oversight Committee under Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.

Cause Of Action Is Filing A Lawsuit Over Clinton's Secretary Of State Emails

Politico: Cause Of Action Claims Clinton "Blatantly Ignores The Law." Politico reported of the lawsuit:

D.C.-based Cause of Action filed a lawsuit Wednesday against current Secretary of State John Kerry and National Archives chief David Ferriero, seeking to force them to recover Clinton's emails and ensure they are placed in government hands. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, also asks a judge to issue a legal finding that Clinton illegally removed federal records from government control when she stored them on a private server.

"Fundamentally, when you're head of a Cabinet agency, the Federal Records Act requires you to have an enormous amount of duties in terms of preserving records. Clearly, former Secretary of State Clinton did not exercise those duties diligently," Cause of Action executive director Dan Epstein said in an interview. "What concerns us is the signal is sent when somebody with that much power blatantly ignores the law."

Politico also wrote that Cause of Action is "viewed as conservative by many in the often-liberal access community" and is pursuing the lawsuit on its own. [Politico7/8/15

Cause Of Action Is "Funded By The Koch Network"

Los Angeles Times: Cause Of Action Is "Funded By The Koch Network." The Los Angeles Times reported that Cause of Action is "a small group of lawyers funded by the Koch network:"

Like most groups funded by the Koch network, the specific sources of Cause of Action's money are not disclosed. Tax records show that by 2013, its operations were mostly funded by $4.35 million from Donors Trust, a nonprofit group through which the Kochs and their allies distribute tens of millions of dollars without needing to disclose the sources of the funds.

Asked why the donors want to be anonymous, Epstein invoked a precept of the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides, who wrote that the highest form of charity is help given "without the expectation of public acknowledgment for one's good deeds."

"I suspect this sentiment motivates a lot of our donors," Epstein wrote. [Los Angeles Times2/7/15]

National Review: Cause Of Action Is "Funded By The Koch Brothers' Sprawling Network Of Donors." [National Review5/19/15]

Los Angeles Times: Critics Say Cause Of Action Pursues "A Koch Brothers Agenda." In reporting on a case that Cause of Action became involved in on behalf of a green energy firm, the L.A. Times reported that critics said the group is attempting to mislead people about their Koch-backed agenda:

Critics of the group call it a sophisticated charade, saying the lawyers trawl for clients like Fuel Cell, whose cases enable them to pursue a Koch brothers agenda in the guise of helping individuals or small firms that liberals might find sympathetic.

"It is an intentional effort to camouflage the actual force behind" the lawsuits, said Karen Skelton, an advisor to California-based Bloom Energy, a dominant firm in the hydrogen energy industry on the opposite side in the Fuel Cell case. "It is designed to be misleading," she said. [Los Angeles Times2/7/15]

Cause Of Action's Executive Director Worked For the Charles Koch Foundation, Is A Graduate Of The Koch Associates Program. During a May 19 Congressional hearing, Cause of Action executive director Dan Epstein admitted his connections to the Koch brothers as part of his testimony:

REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): And, Mr. Epstein, you are a alumnus of the Koch brothers associates program, correct? And that's not C-O-K-E. That's K-O-C-H, the Koch brothers.

EPSTEIN: I used to work at the Charles Koch Foundation.

JOHNSON: And you are a alumnus of the Koch Associates program, correct?

EPSTEIN: That's correct.

JOHNSON: And can you tell us what -- tell us about that program?

EPSTEIN: It is a...

JOHNSON: It instills free market principles in those who come through it?

EPSTEIN: Yeah. Actually, those who go through that program believe I think like you do that the government should be accountable, fair and transparent and, in fact...

JOHNSON: They also believe that there should not be a government that takes a lot of aggressive action. You favor a more laissez fair approach to the economy.

EPSTEIN: Well, it's interesting.

JOHNSON: Is that -- is that true?

EPSTEIN: You -- well, I can't speak on their behalf. I can only tell you that my organization why I'm here to testify, to talk about...

JOHNSON: Cause of Action.

EPSTEIN: (inaudible) in the federal government. But I think...

JOHNSON: The Cause of Action, right.

EPSTEIN: That's correct, sir.

JOHNSON: And there was a 2015 article, a February 2015 article in the Los Angeles Times that notes that critics of Cause of Action call it a sophisticated charade, saying the lawyers troll for clients like Fuel Cell (ph) whose cases enable them to pursue a Koch brothers agenda in the guise of helping individuals or small firms that liberals might find sympathetic. Is that true or is that false?

EPSTEIN: Yes, that's false. I mean calls of action. We are committed just like what you pointed out which is there's an anti- regulatory bias in the federal government. That's exactly what is happening. [House Committee On The Judiciary, Subcommittee On Regulatory Reform, Commercial And Antitrust Law, 5/19/15, via Nexis]

Marin Independent Journal: Epstein Worked For Charles Koch Foundation From "From June 2008 To January 2009."

Dan Epstein, Cause of Action's executive director, worked for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation from June 2008 to January 2009, according to Mary Beth Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Cause of Action. [Marin Independent Journal12/8/12]

Epstein: "I Miss" Working At The Koch Foundation. An April 2009 article in The Hill noted that Epstein had worked with Koch Industries and that he missed that aspect of his job:

Daniel Epstein, minority counsel: Epstein enjoys using his legal training to help the ranking member and his staff. "We research, examine and investigate acts of waste, fraud and abuse that are crippling the effectiveness of government and disenfranchising American citizens in the process," he said.

Before working on the investigations team, Epstein was an associate in legal reform at the Koch Foundation, working together with Koch Industries Inc.'s assistant general counsel. "The job was an interesting mixture of corporate culture with an emphasis on social change -- I miss that synergy," he said. [The Hill4/1/09]

Cause Of Action's Executive Director Worked For House Oversight Committee Under Partisan Republican Darrell Issa     

Dan Epstein Worked As Republican Counsel For The House Oversight And Government Reform Committee Under Issa. The Washington Post reported:

Cause of Action is run by Daniel Epstein, a former Republican counsel for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is chaired by Obama administration critic Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). [The Washington Post3/14/13]

Epstein's Biography Touts His Work On Issa Investigations, Including The Crusade Against ACORN. Epstein's biography posted on the Cause of Action website details his history with Issa's committee and his work against the group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a frequent conservative boogeyman at the start of the Obama administration. [CauseofAction.org, accessed 7/8/15]

The Atlantic: Issa's "Partisan Antics Were Just As Likely To Draw Eye Rolls As Applause From House Republicans." Senior associate editor Russell Berman wrote in 2014 when Issa was replaced as chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

But by the end of Issa's four-year tenure, his partisan antics were just as likely to draw eye rolls as applause from House Republicans, who believed the chairman's style often brought more negative attention to himself than to the substance of his hearings. He once prompted outrage from Democrats after turning off the microphone of their most senior committee member at a hearing, and Speaker John Boehner's decision to reverse himself and appoint a select committee on Benghazi was seen as a move designed, in part, to take the matter out of Issa's purview. [The Atlantic11/19/14]

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