Cause of Action is “a small group of lawyers funded by the Koch network.” According to their website, the group “uses investigative, legal and communications tools to educate the public on how government transparency and accountability protects economic opportunity for taxpayers.” CoA claims they exist “because the Executive Branch’s discretionary power in spending our dollars, regulating our sources of livelihood, and making choices that shape our country must be limited.” CoA Director Dan Epstein confirmed in a Los Angeles Times profile that CoA picks clients to represent “the little guys who are hobbled more than helped by certain agency decision making.”

In practice, as critics have noted, the group picks clients “to pursue a Koch brothers Agenda in the guise of helping individuals or small firms that liberals might find sympathetic” such as renewable energy manufacturers, wind farms, conservation activists, and a lesbian couple. In each case, the common denominator is that the cases “oppose policies pushed by the Obama administration: government involvement in energy markets… strict enforcement of wildlife protections… and robust medical-safety regulations by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Examples of this “sophisticated charade” are abound in CoA’s history. In representing a small hydrogen firm, CoA’s lawsuit attacked an agreement between the State of Delaware and a larger firm, litigation which “leaves a cloud of uncertainty over efforts to promote hydrogen-generated electricity… that could discourage” further investment in hydrogen technology. As one person involved told the LA Times, CoA’s lawsuit was a “very low-cost stealth effort to disrupt the development of potential competitors” to the fossil fuel empire that funds CoA.

CoA is very much a member of the Koch political network. It receives significant sums of money from the Koch-linked DonorsTrust, and has written briefs which were later submitted by other Koch groups such as LIBRE.  CoA director Dan Epstein was formerly an employee of the Charles Koch Foundation, where he worked with Koch Industries’ assistant general counsel.

Epstein additionally worked for Rep. Darrell Issa as part of the staff for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His CoA bio brags about his work investigating ACORN, the community organizing group that became a target of conservative witch-hunts following the election of President Barack Obama, as well as the SEIU and the National Labor Relations Board. It was likely his experience with the “partisan antics” of Issa’s Committee that inspired Cause of Action’s latest lawsuit, aimed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Politico reported that CoA’s lawsuit “faces some significant hurdles.”

In January of 2016, a Federal Judge dismissed a suit filed by Cause of Action which contended the federal government was not doing enough to recover emails that Hillary Clinton kept on a private server while she was Secretary of State.  The ruling declared the issue “moot” and said the Obama administration’s efforts to recover the lost emails were “hardly the actions of a recalcitrant agency head or an uncooperative Archivist.”  While stopping short of calling the suit frivolous, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that “Jurisdictional discovery is not a vehicle Plaintiffs may use to hunt for any kernel of fact marginally relevant to the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, nor is it a “talisman whose mere utterance can ward off an impending motion to dismiss.”

View Financial Record
Grants In
Grants Out
Total Expenses
12013$680,831$3,000,950$3,000,497$0$2,609,626View 990
22012$156,246$996,545$996,005$0$858,529View 990

15 transactions on record as a recipient.

Ordered By: Year (Newer to Older)

1Charles G. Koch Charitable FoundationCause of Action$9,6002014+
2DonorsTrustCause of Action$1,000,0002014+
3DonorsTrustCause of Action$1,500,0002014+
4DonorsTrustCause of Action$1,500,0002014+
5DonorsTrustCause of Action$2,000,0002013+
6DonorsTrustCause of Action$750,0002013+
7DonorsTrustCause of Action$50,0002013+
8DonorsTrustCause of Action$750,0002013+
9DonorsTrustCause of Action$600,0002013+
10DonorsTrustCause of Action$200,0002013+
11DonorsTrustCause of Action$950,0002012+
12DonorsTrustCause of Action$700,0002012+
13DonorsTrustCause of Action$300,0002012+
14Franklin Center for Government & Public IntegrityCause of Action$250,0002012+
15Franklin Center for Government & Public IntegrityCause of Action$644,0002011+
The transactions in Conservative Transparency are based on information reported by the donors and exclude 'dark money' raised by the recipients from unknown donors that are not in the database. For more information about our methodology, visit our about page.