BRIAN LAMB: Adam Andrzejewski, what is openthebooks.com?
ADAM ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, Open the Books is our vision to capture every dime, taxed and spent, at every level of government across the entire country. So, we feel that this movement empowers regular people to be able to hold the government accountable.
LAMB: When did it start?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I started it with our Chief Operating Officer Craig Mijares back in 2011. We simply wanted to quantify one village manager in a small town in Palatine, Illinois, and it took Craig 26 Freedom of Information Act request to quantify out 21 separate buckets of compensation.
And so we felt that if it was that hard to do one single public official in Illinois, we should do the whole state. Once we did the whole state, we built it's scalable. We realized we could actually do the entire country.
LAMB: So, why Palatine?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, it's just where Craig lived at that time. And now he's an Illinois casualty. He lives down in Florida in Boca Raton. I think the genesis of the idea really started on my campaign for governor of Illinois eight years ago.
I ran on a transparency platform with that tagline slogan, Every Dime Online in Real Time. I ran on the second concept that we've also carried forward and transitioned into Open the Books and that was deep, adversarial aggressive auditing. Follow the money, evidentiary audits that will hold up in court and if you think about it, Brian, it's how we caught Al Capone back in the day.
LAMB: So, how did you go about it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, it's step-by-step process. It's very manual. It's a very physical process. The first thing that we have to do, there's 120,000 municipal units of government across the entire country.
So, first, you have to research who the open records officer is at each unit of government and that's a time-consuming process. We've knocked that work out.
The next thing that we built is a Freedom of Information Act machine. So, electronically, we can email our requests in and we email to request in when we open up a state.
The -- if the unit of government doesn't respond, then we use the United States Postal Service. We mail them a physical letter twice. If they still don't respond, then our telemarketing team, our customer service team, kicks in to gear. And on that basis, when we go in to a state for the first time ever, we get nine out of every 10 units of government to comply with open records law.
LAMB: Where do you live now?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I live in Hinsdale, Illinois.
LAMB: And how many people work for this organization, openthebooks.com?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, we're small. We've got 30 employees. These people are hardworking employees. We have a budget of only $1.6 million.
So, you interview the top think tanks right here in D.C. and they've got budgets of tens of millions of dollars. We've aggregated 4 billion lines, separate transactions. About $.80 on every dollar that's taxed and spent at every level of government across the entire country.
So, what our database is comprised of is nearly all federal spending since the year 2000. Forty-seven out of 50 state checkbooks and in 60,000 out of 120,000 municipal units of government, we have at least salaries and/or pensions and/or checkbook as well. Now in the 15 most populous states, we nearly have every dime online in real time.
LAMB: Who isn't open?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think you -- one of the big issues at the federal level and it's been our number one public policy issue for the past three years. Every single year, there is a week called sunshine week and I've written up at a major press calling for openness on federal pensions.
The federal pension unfunded liability according to Moody's is $3.5 trillion. So, there's a lot of money at stake and taxpayers guarantee all of it. Wouldn't you like to see the pension of your retired member of Congress?
Many people would like to see the pension amounts of Sharon Helman. She was the boss over Veterans Affairs when the VA scandal kicked off in 2014 and as far as we know, she's retired on a full pension.
Many people would like to see the former IRS boss Lois Lerner. She was in charge of the targeting scandal over the IRS. As far as we know, she's retired on a full pension.
We need to see who's getting what, how much after how much they put, how much the government and taxpayers put in and it's the only fair way to debate benefits.
LAMB: You sound like we can't.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right now, we can't. It's -- the pension benefits are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act law. We worked just recently over the last couple of months on a great piece of legislation.
Representative Ron DeSantis from Florida, his team wrote it with our input and feedback on it. It's in the United States House of Representatives and were cautiously optimistic the House will pass it, get it over to the Senate and it will end up on the President's desk.
LAMB: Why are you doing this?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I'm doing this because this is a big idea. I mean, think about where we're at. Right now public sector data is ubiquitous. It's, you know, all of our information is tracked. Their phone calls are tracked. Their Internet activities are tracked. Their financial -- all of our financial transactions are tracked.
Everything in the private sector is pretty much transparent. But government still operates with a lot of hidden buckets. So, it is a lifetime of legacy to open all of it out, follow all of the money and squeeze out waste, fraud, corruption, and taxpayer abuse.
LAMB: I want to show you some video back from September 26, 2006. You talked about this in a lot of your literature. It's the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act signing at the White House.
And I would just suggest that we look at who's standing in the background. This is George Bush at the table. Let's watch. It's about a minute.
George Bush: Every April, Americans sit down and fill out their tax returns, and they find out how much of their hard-earned money is coming here to Washington. Once the tax dollars arrive here, most Americans have little idea of where the money goes.
Today, our government is taking steps to change that. We believed that the more we inform our American citizens, the better our government will be.
And so in a few moments, I'll sign the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This bill is going to create a website that will list the federal government's grants and contracts.
It's going to be a website that the average citizen can access and use. It will allow Americans to log onto the Internet just to see how your money is being spent.
This bill will increase accountability and reduce incentives for wasteful spending. I am proud to sign it into law, and I am proud to be with members of both political parties who worked hard to get this bill to my desk.
LAMB: Obviously, you could see Barack Obama standing behind him in 2006 when he was a senator. He referred to the website. Is there a federal government website?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: There is. It's called USAspending.gov. This was the signature piece of legislation with Senator from Oklahoma Dr. Tom Coburn, who today we're proud he's the honorary chairman of our organization at openthebooks.com.
And then Illinois Senator Barack Obama, and obviously, Barack Obama ran for president. It was his signature legislative achievement with Dr. Coburn back in the day. All of that legislation makes our federal work possible.
LAMB: I want to give you a statistic and ask you how this feels. When that bill was signed on that day, roughly, we had $8.4 trillion in debt. I'll say it again, $8.4 trillion in debt.
Here we are just 11 years later, it's 19.9 plus trillion dollars in debt. So, what good this has been?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, here's what needs to happen. We need to have a transparency revolution when is -- when and in as real time as possible. Citizens, we the people, we need to engage and review that spending and hold our elected officials accountable for their decisions.
We did an oversight report on Fortune 100 companies over a 14-year period in the receipt of federal funds and this covered, obviously, two administrations, the George W. Bush administration and the Barack Obama administration.
And here were our findings, nothing changed. Nothing -- even though we went to war in the early 2000s and the Obama administration basically pull troops in the battlefield, the amount of money into -- it was $1.2 trillion flowed into the Fortune 100 companies.
And so this brought together disparate views like Bill Maher at HBO coupled up with Stephen Moore writing on a front page of Investor's Business Daily. I think it has also led to the citizen revolts on both the Bernie Sanders right in the Donald Trump left.
People fundamentally understand something is wrong and they only know a small portion of what's going on. Our objective at openthebooks.com is to show them everything going on all the time and we think that's the cure, it ushers in a new era of citizen-driven government.
LAMB: Point two, anything over the last 11 years where anybody in either party has had a significant impact on dealing with the debt or cutting anything back.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, you know, one of our signature achievements at openthbook.com, something that I'm most proud of has been at Veterans Affairs. So, at Veterans Affairs, we've audited their checkbook for the past four years and last summer, we found that during the period where up to a thousand sick veterans died while waiting to see a doctor that the VA spent $20 million on a high-end art portfolio.
So, it was 27-foot Christmas trees costing the amount like -- price like cars, $21,000. It was sculptures price like five-bedroom homes. It was two sculptures for $700,000 procured by a VA center that serves blind veterans.
It was a cube rock sculpture all in with landscaping for $1.2 million. This is the type of waste that's in our government and this is the type of waste that we can expose.
That story made Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight. It was picked up by Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Chairman, and within 34 days, the VA Secretary Robert McDonald apologized for those purchases and instituted new rules to stop them going forward.
LAMB: Let me ask you though the operative question, did they sell them? Did they get the money back? Did -- is there any reason why the VA needs a $20 million painting anywhere?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right. Our policy, which they did not adopt, was that Veterans art should be displayed in Veterans medical facilities. Not fancy art. They didn't adopt that policy.
LAMB: Why is it so hard for any of them to cut back anything?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I think it's a culture and a mindset of bureaucracy and that's completely different and antithetical to how regular people all across the country live their lives.
And so the voice of we as the people, we need to influence the political elites in the country at every level and that's why this movement is worthy of a lifetime of legacy.
LAMB: So, you -- did you grow up in Hinsdale, Illinois?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I didn't. I grew up about 100 miles south of Chicago in a small town called Herscher, Illinois. There's only a couple of roads in and a couple of roads out and, Brian, to this day, Herscher doesn't have a stoplight. It's a farming community and I grew up by -- my work ethic was developed on the family farms around Herscher.
LAMB: What kind of a farm did your parents have?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, my father was a schoolteacher for 38 years and he taught History and Civics in the eighth grade and my mother, she stayed home. I was the oldest of seven kids.
I have five sisters and one brother and my brother and I eventually went into business together back in 1997. But the, you know, my parents taught me moral rigor and they taught me discipline and all that was backstopped by our close knit community in Herscher who taught the same values. So, I was very, very fortunate growing up.
LAMB: What was your business?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, my brother and I, we started a yellow page directory publishing business. So, we broke down the big yellow pages into small hometown directories and we just started where we lived right out of our apartments and over the course of 10 years, we built a $20 million business. We've employed hundreds and created hundreds of jobs.
But this is why nothing rankles me more than waste, fraud, corruption and abuse because I know exactly how hard it is to make one single solitary dollar of after-tax profits. You see our employees did not even out earned my brother and I for the first six years of our business.
Now at the end of 10 years, we were an overnight success. At that point, I sold my shares in 2007 and, Brian, that was actually one year before Apple invented the iPhone.
LAMB: So, is your brother still in the business?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: He is. He's still in the business. He's doing well. He's expanded the business like two or three times and he's been able to navigate the platform change to the Internet.
LAMB: You ran for governorship of Illinois in 2010. How old were you then?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I believe I was 37 or 38 years old at that time.
LAMB: Why did you do it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I was born in '69. I felt the incumbent political class in both parties had moved too slow for too long.
LAMB: What party did you run in?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I ran as a Republican and I'm not going to break news on the show, Illinois is corrupt and we ran against the entire political paradigm in both parties.
LAMB: What percentage of vote did you get in the primary?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I got about I think it was 14.5 percent of the vote.
LAMB: Who won it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: There were seven of us -- the winner had a little less than 21 percent of the votes. So, I think I lost by about 5 percent or 6 percent of the vote. There were seven of us in the race. I finished fifth. I lost but I knew the ideas resonated and, obviously, I ran on transparency and hard forensic audit.
LAMB: Did you know at that time about this Act in 2006?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I did and it inspired my campaign.
LAMB: Did you talk about the idea of doing a website in the campaign itself?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Yes. I wanted to -- I advocated the hard, aggressive financial transparency for the State of Illinois and every single municipality under the state and here's what it is, online banking.
So, you know, we have -- this is not a new concept in the private sector. We have it on. We have it in our businesses. We needed in government. Citizens should be able to see when the revenues come in and when they go out who they go out to all the way down to the subcontractor level where the real corruption exists.
LAMB: Where did you get the money to start this organization that now has 30 employees?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, we've raised the money from donors. I also made a personal contribution into the enterprise to kick it off. I think leaders have to lead. I feel very passionately about this and so I did see the money in the early years.
LAMB: I looked at your 2015 99-EZ tax form and you pulled out $29,000.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I did and that was that -- I had not taken a salary in any enterprise that I had done since 2008. So, I just believe passionately that this is public service. I've dedicated my life to that cause.
LAMB: You gave a speech on April the 18th of this year before the Manhattan Institute in Manhattan and we've got some excerpts from it which will allow us to talk about some of the different research you've done in openthebooks.com.
Let's go first to this clip where you're talking about Ivy League schools and taxpayer subsidy.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Who knew, who knew that the eight colleges of the Ivy League over the course of the past six years had amassed a taxpayer benefit of $42 billion, United States taxpayer subsidies, special tax breaks and federal payments on contracts and grants?
We show that if the Ivy League in the aggregate was a state government on federal revenue flowing into it, it would exceed 16 states. We show that the Ivy League's federal contracting and grant receiving business at $25 billion over the course of the past six years now exceeds their revenues from undergraduate student tuition at $22 billion over the course of the past six years.
LAMB: There's a lot of figures there. What are you saying?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, we're saying that the Ivy League is asset rich.
LAMB: First of all, there are eight Ivy League schools.
LAMB: We have a chart. We can put a chart up on the screen. I can't remember whether this chart has all the list of all the schools or eight of them but I think it does or maybe not. Yes. There it is.
Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Brown, all but Cornell, which is a land-grant college, part of it is, are private institutions and there you can see on the chart how much their endowment is.
For instance, if you look over to the right in the red, Harvard's endowment says it's 37 billion there. It's been up higher than that since then. That was a couple years ago.
LAMB: So, again, now that we can see how many Ivy League schools are, what's the story?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, the story is, you know, working in middle-class families that sacrifice to put their kids through school, the students that graduate and they're settled with all of this debt, it's an emotional moment when they read our report.
You know, I shared this report with some of those families and they were virtually in tears based on their family sacrifice to put themselves through. You know, we show and I highlighted it in the speech that the educational mission of the Ivy League now is dwarfed by the their government contracting business and grant receiving business, and most people didn't know that even though they have these massive endowments.
LAMB: OK. Most of your figures are over a period of five years like 2010 until 2014 or '15. How much money, how much federal taxpayer money went to these eight schools in that period?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, federal taxpayer money was $25 billion and the tuition payments that came in over that period was $22 billion. So, the federal contracting and grant receiving business now of the eight schools of the Ivy League dwarfs its educational mission.
We took it a step further and we said, if the eight schools of the Ivy League were a state government where would they rank and they would have -- on federal payments into state governments the Ivy League would rank, they would outrank 16 state governments.
LAMB: And the Ivy Leagues aren't the only ones getting all those money?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: No. I mean, higher education across the country, a lot of money is flowing.
LAMB: And we're not here to pick on the Ivy League except that you've done the study. Why did you pick the Ivy League?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think, you know, when we started exploring it and I -- we were tuned into it by the big endowments, we felt that it needed -- it -- you know, first of all, I was interested in it because the more we dug, the more incredulous I became because it looked like at every level whether it's local property taxes which they basically don't pay, whether it was state subsidies, federal payments and subsidies, at every single level, taxpayers were funding the Ivy League.
And so our preliminary findings broke at the Wall Street Journal on a piece by James Pearson with the title, "The Ivy League Doesn't Need Taxpayer Help." The Ivy League's endowment problem is only going to get a lot worse over the course of the next 20 years. At the rate of growth, they could have $1 trillion endowment.
So, I think there needs to be reformed in the federal funding of the Ivy Leagues and upstate New York Congressman Tom Reed has vowed to hold hearings at House Ways and Means on the issue.
LAMB: So, what would the Ivy League say about the money they're getting from the federal government? What's the purpose of that money? Would it -- what is the federal government taxpayer get back from the Ivy League?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I think what they would say is I think they have an entitlement mentality toward the federal dollars. I would think that they say most of the grants are funding critical medical research.
National Institute of Health grants about $10 billion into the eight schools over course of six years and they would say, you know, what do you want us to cut? Do you want us to cut heart disease research? Do you want us to cut cancer research? What do you want us to cut?
And our point is it's not a zero-sum game. They've got this massive endowment and out of that endowment and their donor network, they could fund all of it every year without taxpayer help if they wanted to do so.
LAMB: Why aren't they doing it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think it would create a little bit more work for them.
LAMB: I've got the study right here, it's rather thick. But for the average person who wants to get into this material. how do they do it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Just come to openthebooks.com on the middle right-hand of the website under the reports heading, that's where all of our oversight reports are. And we do actually a quarterly oversight report on a tranche of federal data.
LAMB: All right. I want to -- I picked one out of there because everybody will see why, it's a $5.7 million grant to Columbia University and I'm looking at a story on it where it says -- what was it, what was the -- and what -- do you remember what year this was?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, this is a grant to Columbia to create a videogame, a computer game called Future Coast which basically takes us out 50 years in the future after climate change has wreaked havoc on all of society and it is voicemails from the future and it cost taxpayers $5.7 million.
LAMB: Why is this necessary?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: It's not necessary. This is waste. The Ivy League, Columbia specifically, they should pay the money back.
LAMB: OK. I got on the website and found some of these voicemails. Do you have any idea -- are you an expert on this project or you just know that it happened?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: No. I've wrote the oversight report.
LAMB: So, what's the -- it's a game.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: It is a game.
LAMB: And anybody can get on it if they want to get on the game unless…
It's not a very fun game and the voicemails are very pedestrian. For instance, with an iPhone, with just the speaker or microphone on your iPhone, you can create the same type of MP4 file that taxpayers put millions of dollars into this game just -- it doesn't take really any talent even to program or code something like this.
How would you spend $5.7 million?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I have no idea. Columbia should on a line by line basis show taxpayers exactly how that grant was spent.
LAMB: Why hasn't Congress asked them to come on in front of the Congress and tell us how they spent the money?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: This would be a great example when upstate New York Congressman Tom Reed holds those hearings at House Ways and Means.
LAMB: OK. I will -- here's some audio. These voicemails are -- voicemails or audio and we just pulled two of them off. One of them was what it would sound like in the year to 2065 and one of them was 2055. I have no idea why but there's -- let's listen to it and see if this has any relevance.
MALE: Hey, mom. I'm on top of Diamond Head right now and there's an 8.6 magnitude earthquake about two hours ago and there's a tsunami warning going on.
Everyone is getting up as high as they can to avoid the wave and we're all pretty scared. If the tsunami doesn't get us, the heat might. It's like 115 degrees right now and it's going up.
I was just going to say I love you and I miss you. It might be the last time you hear my voice. Bye.
FEMALE: Hi, (Neal). I'm just -- so I know we haven't talked to like a really long time. I just -- I want to let you know that I went back to the neighborhood for the first time in like 10 years and I feel like you're the only person who can relate to what I'm feeling right now.
The time was out so I could walk around on the street and it was surreal and I don't think there's anything like seeing seaweed growing on your front steps of your house. Anyway, call me back if you get this. I don't know where you are or what you're doing, but just call me back. Bye.
LAMB: There are a lot of other calls on there. That's $5.7 million for this game. Did you -- have you -- did you ask Columbia to tell you how they did it, why they did it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I did not ask for a response from Columbia on this specific example.
LAMB: I'm just going to pick out other stuff on your site. A case study, the National Science Foundation, which is taxpayer-funded, gave Professor Mary Flanagan $137,000 for her project Values at Play. The project uses the influence of video games to serve humanistic principles.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, the federal government across the entire continuum, the Ivy League and other agencies, they're funding all kinds of video games. We just think it's straight up abject no public purpose taxpayer waste.
LAMB: Here's another one. Payment of gay Mexican prostitutes to practice safe sex $53,000 to Brown University. Can gay man and male sex workers in Mexico City be paid by the government to decrease their number of sex partners and to use condoms?
This was the question of concern to Brown University's Omar Galarraga, researcher and Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice. Why are -- we do we care about Mexico City sex workers?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, these things are just embarrassing and I come back to what's the public purpose. How do we compel working and middle-class taxpayers to fund these things?
I mean, if that was important to Brown, again, Brown has a huge donor network. They've got a massive endowment. They can pay their own way but they should lighten the load on taxpayers.
LAMB: OK. Here's another one. This is opposition to prolife caregivers in Senegal. The National Institutes of Health gave 86,800 in taxpayer subsidized grants to researchers at Columbia University for the purpose of investigating barriers to assessing post-abortion healthcare in Senegal.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right. I mean, this is, you know, these are I guess the values of what Columbia wants to transmit in Senegal and if they want to do that as a private institution they should do it with their own money.
Again, taxpayer money. This stuff is just, you know, there's no public purpose to compel taxpayers to pay for this stuff.
LAMB: This all may sound (inaudible) and boring but I -- it's the only way you can get it out unless they go to your website. There's a case study here prompting Latinos to reframe their beliefs about death and dying, 882,841 to Cornell University and I'll read it.
While Cornell Medical College investigator Megan Shen and her associates accepted $882,841 in NIH and HHS grants to study and develop intervention programs aimed at, quote, "improving engagement in advance care planning among Latino cancer patients," unquote.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Yes. Reframing beliefs is trying to set up a different outcome for end-of-life circumstances, maybe assisted suicide and so they're studying ways to be able to talk people out of their core beliefs. I just -- I don't think that this is anything that taxpayers should be involved in.
LAMB: But I have to ask again and I know I'm sounding redundant and I am, why hasn't Congress held hearings about this stuff before now?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: These are serious issues. At this moment in time, we need serious leadership in this country and what these transaction items that you're going through show is that it's a target-rich environment. There's a lot of ways to cut at every level in every institution in every congressional district across this entire country.
LAMB: OK. Here's another clip from your speech, 45 seconds long, April 18, 2017.
Before we get there, I noticed as I read through your stuff that you have a connection to "Forbes Magazine", and you have some connection to Manhattan Institute.
LAMB: What is -- what are those connections?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, the connection to Manhattan Institute is our Chairman Thomas W. Smith is also a trustee over the Manhattan Institute. We also partner with the Manhattan Institute to bring transparency to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
And so it was a great partnership. It gave us a lot of credibility with the Port Authority. We did -- we filed a Freedom of Information Act request. We thought eventually would have to sue to get our hands on their checkbook.
It took us 18 months. We are going to use Institute for Justice to sue them. At the last second, they did produce $5.6 billion worth of 2014 payments. It was 201,000 checks and now we're giving oversight to that.
LAMB: How -- by the way, how many states in the union who do not have a Freedom of Information Act?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, we don't have the state -- well, all states, all 50 states have an open records law and it vary slightly from state to state. In terms of state checkbooks, we have 47 state checkbooks with line by line transactions. We don't have three states.
One of them right now and we're going back and forth with is Wyoming. California, we would have to file open records lawsuit to get that checkbook. We're working with statewide constitutional officers in North Carolina to get their checkbook. I'm hopefully optimistic that that would come through.
LAMB: Why isn't the Government Accountability Office doing this?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, these are state issues and, obviously, the Government Accountability Office would be at the federal level. At the state level, the states get to choose compliance with open records law.
We think California, Wyoming, North Carolina, they are violating open records law. As an organization at openthebooks.com, we are very serious about enforcing transparency law.
LAMB: Let's go back to your speech. As I said, this is again back in April. Let's watch it.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: You can't make America great again unless you make America accountable again. In openthebooks.com, we do quarterly oversight reports of federal spending.
And here is the first one that we ever did. We did federal farm subsidies flowing into America's urban areas where there are no farms. Midtown Manhattan, New York City, Chicago and Washington, D.C., we found tens of millions of dollars of federal farm subsidy.
In Chicago in Hyde Park, we found that the founder of the Nation of Islam, Reverend Minister Louis Farrakhan is a farmer and he has $327,000 of federal farm subsidies to prove it.
LAMB: As you know, there are lots and lots of others who are worth lots and lots of money and do not have farms who get farm subsidies. Why?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, our report, we also -- we took a look at Midtown Manhattan in New York and we found that the National Audubon Society received a 1 million dollars' worth of federal farm subsidy, the conservation group, the birdwatchers.
Here's what's interesting. It turns out they have an upstate New York tobacco farm and received tobacco subsidies. They have a lamb farm in Minnesota and when they slaughtered a lamb, they received a taxpayer-funded lamb slaughter subsidy and this the conservation group, the National Audubon Society. And we just found that was very interesting.
In Washington, D.C., regular people find this example interesting. The Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, he received farm subsidies in the Beltway in Washington, D.C. and he's the one actually crafting federal farm subsidy policy while he receives federal farm subsidy.
LAMB: He was?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right. Under the last ministration.
LAMB: How is he doing this though? How would -- how did he have access to farm subsidies when he was the secretary of agriculture?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Because he has a farm back home.
LAMB: In Iowa.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right. And even though he's in Washington, D.C. presumably full-time around-the-clock as agriculture secretary, he still owns that farm and the farm subsidy now is so lucrative, it's part of the return on investment as long as you own the ground.
LAMB: I also read that if you are part of a corporation, you maybe a board member or an investor that you also may get farm subsidies or at least there was an attempt supposedly on the part of the Agriculture Department to get rid of those. But that was the one way that you can get a farm subsidy. Did you look into that at all?
So, we issued our report in December of 2013 and look, there was -- in Chicago, Illinois where there aren't any farms, there's 1,200 municipalities in Illinois. Chicago ranks seventh most in the receipt of farm subsidies. So, the whole system was broken.
In 2014, they did the new farm bill and what they did is they eliminated the direct farm subsidy payments where you can collect them even if you were growing crops. They eliminated that. That was the transparent piece of the federal funding. And they redid crop insurance without bringing transparency to it.
So, now, the studies that have come out since they just transferred the transparent direct payment into a nontransparent crop insurance payment and everyone continues to get more federal dollars, but this time, it's not even transparent.
So, we are going to come out with another oversight report. The federal farm bill is up right away in 2018 and we want to weigh in on that bill.
How much time do you spend on this?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: It's -- there are days that I don't sleep and I don't eat and I encourage my entire staff to do the same.
LAMB: You have how many kids?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I've got three girls. Ellie who's 13, Molly who's 11 and Emma Kate who is nine years old.
LAMB: And where is Hinsdale, Illinois?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, Hinsdale is in the Chicago suburbs about 15 or 16 miles about directly west of the city.
LAMB: And your 30 employees you have, do -- are they all located in one place?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: They're not. We're actually harnessing the power of cloud computing. So, at our headquarters in Burr Ridge, Illinois, we have just four fulltime employees and that includes myself.
The rest of them are homebased from around the country. So, we've got about people right here in D.C., New York City, Boca Raton, Florida, and then scattered out through some other states as well.
LAMB: Let's go back to your speech. This is all about federal spending and the Veterans Affairs' scandal and you talked a little bit about this already but let's watch this.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: If you remember, the story broke in Phoenix where at the nexus of the scandal, a sick veteran couldn't get in to see a doctor because there weren't enough doctors and up to 40 veterans alone in Phoenix died.
Our data show that there was 3,600 employees at the Phoenix facility but only 227 doctors. Sick veterans couldn't get in to see a doctor because there weren't enough doctors.
Congress threw tens of billions of dollars in funding at the VA and every single year, we have fact checked what the VA has done with the money and here is the latest update.
In the two years during the scandal and the three years after the scandal, the VA added 60,000 new positions to payroll but less than 5,600 of those positions were doctors. And we know now still a half a million veterans who are sick still wait longer than 30 days to see a doctor.
LAMB: That was in April. Anything changed since then?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, we got the -- I think that included the 2016 payroll numbers. So, what happened in 2016, the last year, the last administration was 20,000 additional positions were created at the VA, but there was only 2,100 doctors.
So, they -- the trend has just continued. Look, you can't provide healthcare to veterans if you're funding a massive healthcare bureaucracy. You can't provide education to kids if you're funding a massive education bureaucracy. These are the things that citizens need to be engaged and hold folks accountable.
LAMB: As you know, lots of politicians have ran against waste, fraud and abuse.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Lots of politicians run transparency and when they get elected, typically, they run away from it.
LAMB: Where are we the least transparent in the federal government?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I think it's the federal pensions that we're the least transparent. But I also want to point out a real problem with determining total cash compensation amongst the civil service employees.
There are actually six what we call bonus buckets. There are six different types of bonuses that are available to a civil service employee in addition to their federal salary.
They will only release one bonus to us. The other five bonuses, the Office of Personnel Management says they actually negotiated our right to know as citizens away because of the union contract. And, Brian, since when does a union negotiation negotiate our right to know as citizens out of the game.
LAMB: When did this happen?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I'm not sure when it started. I think it's been going on a long time. I talked to Mark Tapscott. He's kind of, you know, he says this has been going on for about 10 or 15 or 20 years.
LAMB: Another one of your surveys OpenTheBooks oversight report National Foundation on The Arts and Humanities. Now this group always gets picked on. I mean, conservative Republicans have said for years they're going to zero it out. They never do.
The other group is not in here. It's the corporation Republic Broadcasting. They always say they're going to zero that out. They never do. But you have a study here, do you want to give us an overview?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Yes. I think that, you know, the National Endowment for the Arts has been, you know, from the right, it's always been kind of a litmus test. We try to use federal grant information to elevate the debate.
So, I think the public, I think it is pretty well known, they would support arts grants as long as it goes to folks that are, quote, "the starving artist." Those people that have great ideas, great talent, they just don't have financial backing.
So, we fact checked that premise to see where the grants were going and here's what we found. We found that $0.80 on every dollar of nonprofit grant making flowed to an organization that had assets over $1 million.
In fact, we found 71 organizations received $20 million last year and $120 million since 2009 of arts and humanities grants, and they actually have a balance sheet of over $1 billion a piece of financial assets.
It's organizations like the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and they've got fashion's biggest night with the red carpet with Madonna and Alex Rodriguez, A-Rod, and they can raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet they've taken $1.2 million worth of National Endowment for the Arts grants since 2009.
LAMB: Why would the humanities group or the arts group give Robert Redford, Sundance Institute in Park City, Utah 3.3 million?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think they should pay it back. The Sundance Institute is $42 million worth of financial assets. Again, he can't make an argument that he needs the money. But somehow they feel entitled to the money.
So, Robert Redford actually put a letter out this spring up on the Sundance website advocating for increased funding for the arts and he touted the fact that the National Endowment for the Arts gave the Institute when they started $25,000.
What he failed to disclose was, I mean, the myriad of federal agencies and the millions of dollars that has flowed in to his institute, I mean, even under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010, she sent $5,000 from the Secretary of State to the Sundance Institute.
LAMB: But wouldn't they say that they are doing good creative arts and humanities work and that that's what these two commissions are all about?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, that's what they say. But do they really need the money? We also took a look at the Sundance Institute local and state taxpayer subsidies and it was millions of dollars more.
Now Sundance Institute to be fair, they'll make an economic argument that their festival every single year creates lots of jobs and brings lots of economic activity to Utah. So, this is the great debate. Now, we think that our data helps elevate that debate to give people -- to show people exactly what's going on.
LAMB: How much of your negative feeling about this is because of your own political philosophy in it and operate -- everybody knows where Robert Redford's politics way on the left and a lot of these other organizations are very anti of this administration. How much of that is factored in to the way you or why you're doing this business?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I think if you run for governor, you can always be, even if it was eight years ago, characterized as a politician. What we are doing at openthebooks.com is nonpartisan and we keep a strict iron wall between politics and our educational mission. So, we just follow the money.
LAMB: Let me interrupt. Anybody watching this says this is a guy that ran for governor, he could do it again. This is a guy who's associated with "Fortune Magazine" which is Steve Forbes and a conservative institution.
This is a guy who's involved in the Manhattan Institute the same thing. There are -- other than the fact that Barack Obama stood with his friend Tom Coburn in there behind George Bush, this looks like it's only interest -- it's of only interest to the right.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think waste is nonpartisan. Taxpayer abuse is nonpartisan. When you identify something like that, there's two options of what can happen. I think the right would like to cut the spending and reduce taxes and the center left would like to reallocate that money to serving people that have real needs.
We're fine with either outcome. We just want our data to be in the mix to create the debate so we get better policy outcomes.
LAMB: How much does it cost you to gather the data itself?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, our total budget every single year and is the primary activity of our budget is $1.6 million and on that budget, we've got $.80 in every dollar taxed and spent at every level in the country.
Now the last 20 percent, it's the 80/20 rule, that last 20 percent is going to be an expensive 20 percent. We've got to get it out of 60,000 municipal units of government across the country. But we think with proper funding, we're about 18 months out from that.
LAMB: Do you have one big supporter financially?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: We really don't. We -- on 1.6 million, we have about 1,200 donors that have given us money over the years and about 600 of those donors have given us money over the course of the last 12 to 18 months.
LAMB: Do you have to publish who gives you money?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: We don't. We don't. We're -- and this is actually something we wrestled within our team. It's been donor disclosure.
Here is what we're not. We're not a government entity. So, we're not a public institution, a public body. We don't spend public money, taxpayer money. We're a private organization funded by private donors and we've just made the decision to keep our private donors private.
LAMB: As you point out, a lot of people benefit by giving money to a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, which I assume you are.
LAMB: And that you have done this for the Ivy Leagues and places like that shown how much they've benefited from not having to pay taxes. So, in effect, does not the taxpayer really fund you?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: We don't want taxpayer money. We have a hard on our -- in our organization that we will not accept government money. Just think about this, if we were taxpayer funded and we did an oversight report on that government agency that would certainly generate a phone call, that's a conflict of interest. I'm from Illinois. That's pay to play. We're not going there. That's for sure.
LAMB: Let's go back to your speech. This is on federal spending on PR and what you say is spin. Let's watch it.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Public relations, PRs, spin, we did an oversight report. It's a billion dollars a year spent by the federal agencies. There's 5,000 federal public affairs officers. But we dug even deeper.
You see that bureaucracy wasn't even enough for the spin machine. We found over $2 billion in a seven-year period spent with the most influential and leading advertising companies in the world. We pulled their contracts and here's what we found.
Ketchum advertising, they bill the federal agencies $88 an hour for their interns. That's 180,000 a year per intern on a 40-hour workweek.
LAMB: Why can they, I shouldn't say it this way but why can they get away with it?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Because nobody's been looking. Nobody's been holding them accountable. This was very embarrassing to the industry. Two pieces to that, one of the leading advertising executives wrote a piece for PR weekly admonishing his own industry saying that they have to immediately clean up their act that this is embarrassing to the industry.
And in Congress, Wyoming U.S. Senator Mike Enzi picked up the report and asked for the Government Accountability Office to do a study on it. They came out with that report which confirmed our findings.
LAMB: How would you say the media is treating you?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I think the media -- we have good relationships with the media.
LAMB: But do you -- have they picked it up as much as you expect them to these different reports?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, I think, Brian, our reputation is growing. When we did the VA report, it was picked up on the ABC news platform, radio, television, Internet.
We were the only nonpolitical story as the Democrats wrapped up on the Friday of their convention in 2016. We're the only nonpolitical story on the website.
We've -- when we call with our breaking oversight reports, when we call news producers on that, they always consider it. Sometimes, they don't run it. But some -- but we always get good consideration.
LAMB: Let's go to one more from your speech, 40 seconds about federal employment and overregulation.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Many of you here in the audience today, you feel that you're overregulated. In openthebooks.com, we know why. Our data shows that the federal agencies employ 36,000 lawyers and only 12,000 of them are employed at the Department of Justice pursuing crime and criminals.
So, what are other 24,000 federal lawyers doing? They are wasting your time. They are enforcing the regulatory states of America.
LAMB: Congress voted for these agencies that create these regulations. Why wouldn't they have lawyers?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: It does show the size, scope and growing power of the federal government. So,…
LAMB: But how can you blame anybody but Congress for this if you think it's wrong?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, Congress needs to reassert their right of oversight immediately and this is where we need the serious people to get engaged, to put pressure on their member of Congress, to do effective oversight in the committees.
LAMB: They've passed no major legislation this year work. What they have been doing?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I quite frankly don't know. They need to get serious. Republicans in Congress, if they're going to be true to their base, to their voters, the people that put them there, they need to do something.
LAMB: You ran for governor. What was that experience like? What did you learn about the whole political system by doing that?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, I learned Illinois is a big state and it's very corrupt and people only know a small portion of what's going on. I also learned that people are really good people. They live by a certain set of principles at home that their government just doesn't live by the same set of principles.
But I also learned that the people are ready for reform. They want to see everything. They want to have the ability to engage. The question that I got most often on the campaign trail is Adam, what can I do?
And at openthebooks.com, it's been a great transition from that campaign eight years ago to give regular people something to do where they live.
LAMB: But look at Illinois. You've done major studies on the situation (where it's evidenced, is it,) that they've done anything? One of the -- well, the last six governors, four of them have gone to prison?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Right. Out of the last night governors, four have gone to prison. What we do is set the current in the stream. One of our most impactful -- two stories. One is right when we launched with all pay-in pensions at every level in the State of Illinois back in 2011 when we were just Illinois centric, we found a school district treasurer, his pay went in one year from 164,000 to 296,000.
While his local residents knew that wasn't right and they carried it forward, eventually that school treasurer was indicted by the Cook County State's Attorney and is now serving a nine-year jail sentence.
In my own junior college, the College of DuPage, they said they were being transparent with every dime and we fact checked that. We found $100 million worth of hidden payments.
They were paying for the president's country club shooting club dues. They had built an upscale French restaurant complete with a world-class wine cellar and hired a French sommelier.
They have built off hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of fine dining and drinks for the president and administration in that restaurant. It created a firestorm of citizen outrage. It now has a new board, a new day and it runs a lot better.
LAMB: Here's a headline on one of your surveys, Why Illinois is in Trouble, 63,000 public employees with $100,000 plus salaries cost taxpayers $10 billion. What were the most, from your perspective, the most egregious of those salaries that are being paid and what group of people are making that kind of money?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, Illinois has 84 small town village manager, city and village managers that outearn every governor of the 50 states and that threshold is $180,000. The top one makes nearly $300,000. And this is why, Brian, our property -- impart it's why our property tax bill is so high.
LAMB: But again, what evidence is there that Illinois has done anything to stop this process of -- I mean, their -- about every two weeks are about ready to go bankrupt?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, Illinois is about ready to go bankrupt and I think what our data does is it shows people exactly what's going on and it's up to the people to reform the system.
LAMB: I want to show you something that you haven't seen for a while. It's 30-second ad that you ran when you ran for governor. Here you go.
MALE: Adam Andrzejewski.
FEMALE: Adam Andrzejewski.
What's he's name?
It would be easy to say Adam.
FEMALE: Adam Andrzejewski is the only choice for governor.
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I'm Adam Andrzejewski and I'm running for governor. It's time to take on the machine. It's time to end the corruption. There's another way to govern.
On Tuesday, it's time. Vote Adam Andrzejewski for Governor.
LAMB: What is the origin of Andrzejewski, the last name?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: Well, when I was growing up, my dad John, he told me that meant strong man and I always believe that, Brian.
LAMB: Where was it from originally?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: It's from Poland.
LAMB: And when did your family come over from Poland?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: So, we came over in the late 1920s. My grandfather Andrew, he worked 14-hour days. He worked in a brick factory. He worked as a garbage man and it was that type of hard work that laid the foundation.
My father was the only one of the youngest of five kids. He was the only one that went to college and it's the true story of pulling yourself up. You know, the great immigrant story of America. That's the story in my dad's Polish side.
LAMB: Earlier, we talked about the fact and we heard George Bush talked about the fact that the government was going to create a website and then you did the same thing. What's the difference between your website and the government's and how many people run theirs?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: I have no idea how many people run theirs. I do know that in the -- like the first seven years, the creation of that site cost of about $20 million. We actually -- at openthebooks.com we don't use the government's website.
We download the text files. We reorganize them and then we upload them into our platforms. Something that everybody watching the program should do is to download our free mobile app.
We've taken the entire federal checkbook for the last three years and we show you in your ZIP code or your hometown exactly what's going on, all the federal payments. When I took a look at that in Hinsdale, Illinois, I found that $2 million worth of small business administration low interest taxpayer guaranteed loans went to our local Lamborghini auto dealer and $3.4 million went to our local Rolex jeweler and where I get my hair cut, my barber got $700,000.
LAMB: Our guest has been Adam Andrzejewski and the one thing that people need to know is openthebooks.com is the website. Does it cost anything?
ANDRZEJEWSKI: No. It's -- that true on the website and it doesn't cost anything. After five searches, it's just an email and ZIP code wall but it's free. Free to use.
LAMB: Thank you for joining us.