Last fall, Democrats ran and won on an anti-corruption platform. The Revolving Door Project (RDP) is committed to ensuring that members of the new majority fulfill their promises to bring accountability to Trump, his powerful allies, and corporate bad actors. Oversight is an incredibly powerful tool that can shine a light on overlooked issues, unearth answers about clandestine misbehavior, and generate consensus around reforms.

Unfortunately, Richard Neal (D-MA), the Chairman of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, has already retreated from his earlier promise to request Trump’s tax returns expeditiously. Since Neal’s alarming decision became clear, we have worked diligently to make the case that his aversion to conflict with Trump and powerful corporate interests is wrong and that his hesitancy to conduct stringent oversight is of broad public concern.

  • RDP immediately elevated and condemned the Chairman's retreat.

  • Then, in this piece in the American Prospect, we fully explained why we think Neal’s decision to delay requesting the President’s tax returns is so wrongheaded.

  • Neal’s sluggishness is most concerning because Ways and Means has the jurisdiction to conduct wide-reaching and impactful oversight, as we demonstrate with this initial list of issues that we believe warrant committee investigation.

  • As we argue here, Neal's decision not to request Trump's tax returns has also signaled weakness to other potential subjects of oversight in this administration, like Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.  

  • Last week, Neal offered a defense of his actions, but as we make clear here, his case is staggeringly unconvincing.

Our efforts to a shine light on this issue may have helped encourage progressive advocacy organizations and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to weigh in. They definitely encouraged further investigation into Neal's background, most notably into the hefty donations that he has received from the mysterious Votesane PAC, which turns out to be a front for the real estate industry. Tom Steyer, founder of NextGen America and Need to Impeach, has also taken up the cause, although he is advocating that Neal go even further. On February 4, Need to Impeach began running an ad in Neal’s district that called on the chairman to not only request the tax returns, but also to vote to begin impeachment hearings.  

In the coming months, the Revolving Door Project will be offering suggested investigative agendas for several other key House committees, as well as offering guidance on how well Committees seem to be performing their oversight responsibilities. To learn more about this “oversight oversight” and other work, sign up for the Revolving Door Project newsletter here.