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Recent Reports

June 25, 2014 - A Rising Tide
Jan. 14, 2014 - Part 2: Beware of a Naive Perspective
Jan. 7, 2014 - Part 1: Beware of a Naive Perspective
June 12, 2013 - The Perils of OIRA Regulatory Review
More - See More Government Reform Reports

Government Reform Key Reports

Beware of a Naive Perspective, Part 2: A Prebuttal to Possible U.S. Supreme Court Rulings in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
January 14, 2014
We illustrated in Part 1 of this two-part series that eliminating limits on aggregate contributions to candidates while leaving other aggregate limits intact would enable joint fundraising committees (JFCs) operated by party leaders and elected officials to solicit contributions as large as $2.5 million from a single donor. In Part 2, we estimate that eliminating the aggregate limit on contributions to candidates could enable candidates to transfer more than $74 million to the national party committees combined. Each donor would effectively be contributing the equivalent of more than $1.8 million to party committees, or more than 24 times the legal limit. Read the report.

Beware of a Naive Perspective, Part 1: A Prebuttal to Possible U.S. Supreme Court Rulings in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission
January 7, 2014
In this report, Public Citizen finds that even if the U.S. Supreme Court only partially strikes down caps on aggregate campaign contributions when it rules in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the decision could still open the door to candidates and party officials soliciting individual donors for checks of more than $2.5 million, thus increasing the likelihood of corruption. A full elimination of aggregate limits would permit candidates to solicit checks of more than $5.9 million. Read the report.

The Perils of OIRA Regulatory Review: Reforms Needed to Address Rampant Delays and Secrecy
June 12, 2013
A small but powerful White House agency that reviews proposed regulations consistently takes an anti-regulatory posture, but its true impact cannot be discerned because the agency is shrouded in secrecy, a new Public Citizen report concludes. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which resides within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, delays and blocks many proposed health, safety and environmental standards. It has a time frame in which it is supposed to review new rules – 90 days, set by an executive order issued by President Bill Clinton. But it suffers no consequences if it misses that deadline.

As of May, 51 rules had been under review by OIRA for more than a year, while 87 rules had been under review for more than the 90-day limit. A full 23 rules have been under review since 2011, while three rules have been sitting at the agency since 2010. This year, the average review times has risen to 199 days, more than double the average review period of the Bush administration. Read the report.

Lax Taxes: Industry Has Massive Resource Advantage in Fight over Bills that Would Raise Revenue and Bring Fairness to Tax Code
June 6, 2013
Legislation in Congress that would address tax loopholes, raise revenue, increase the fairness of the tax code and provide stability to the financial system are subject to lobbying efforts that are overwhelmingly lopsided in favor of industry interests, a new Public Citizen report shows. The report analyzes lobbying disclosure data to illustrate the number of lobbyists that are working on each of three bills: the Cut Unjustified Tax Loopholes Act (CUT Loopholes), the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act and the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act – finding that 331 of the 383, or 86 percent, of lobbyists who have worked on these bills in the past two Congresses represent industry clients. Read the report.

Reality Check: The Forgotten Lessons of Deregulation and Unsung Successes of Sensible Safeguards
April 3, 2013
Reality Check, a book by Public Citizen's Taylor Lincoln, provides an in-depth reminder of how deregulation and lax regulation derailed the economy and puts forth a series of case studies that counter allegations that have been made against regulations in recent years. Contrary to oft-recited allegations that public safety rules are a drag on the economy, the case studies in this book show that regulations have a remarkable record of benefiting industry, as well as the public. Read the eBook.

Chevron FEC Complaint and Super PAC Report Update: Money Given to Congressional Leadership Fund Violates Prohibition on Political Giving by Federal Contractors
March 5, 2013
he Federal Election Commission (FEC) should take enforcement action against Chevron Corporation for its $2.5 million contribution to a Republican-tied super PAC because it violated a prohibition against accepting political donations by federal contractors, according to a complaint filed by Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth-US, Greenpeace and Oil Change International.The FEC also should find the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC in violation of the law for taking the money, because the group should have known the contributions were illegal.

The significance of corporate contributions to super PACs is magnified because super PACs are rapidly becoming unofficial committees for candidates and parties. An updated report by Public Citizen found outside spending groups that were either devoted to a single candidate or worked in service of the Democratic or Republican Parties accounted for more than 65 percent of spending by unregulated groups in the 2012 elections. This finding is significant because the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision—which permitted outside groups to spend the proceeds from unlimited contributions to influence elections—relied on the assumption that such groups would operate independently of candidates and parties. This report discredits the central assumption on which Citizens United relied. Read the complaint and report.

Regulation Issue: Industry’s Complaints About New Rules Are Predictable—and Wrong
Feb. 14, 2013
Today, at the national, state, and city levels, opponents of regulation claim proposed rules will eliminate jobs, reduce profits and hurt consumers. But such doomsday forecasts rarely, if ever, materialize. Regulations that prompt hysteria when they are being debated in Congress usually end up imposing minimal costs on businesses once they take effect. And they often yield significant benefits. This report looks at five more recent areas that have followed a familiar pattern: The proposed regulation initially prompts industry to conjure dramatic language about the damage it will cause. Then, the regulation takes effect and wins broad public approval. Meanwhile, industry’s ominous predictions quietly recede from memory after they fail to materialize. Read the report.

Outside Money Takes the Inside Track: In First Full Post-Citizens United Cycle, Unrestricted Groups Moved Closer to Eclipsing Candidates and National Parties in Election Spending in 2012
Dec. 19, 2012
Outside spending in the 2012 election cycle was historic. At more than $1 billion, outside groups’ spending surpassed the total spent by such groups in the four previous election cycles combined. This cycle’s spending came on the heels of near-record spending by outside groups in 2010, the year that the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and subsequent U.S. Appeals Court decision in Speechnow.org v. Federal Election Commission lifted restrictions on the contribution amounts that such groups could receive. But, in 2012, the top three outside spenders alone spent more than all outside groups combined in 2010. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in California's Construction Industry
Nov. 28, 2012
This report quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in California's construction industry by considering an array of factors. From 2008 to 2010, 168 construction workers were killed in workplace accidents in California. Additionally, the state recorded 50,700 construction-industry injuries and illnesses that required days away from work or job transfer. Drawing on a comprehensive 2004 journal article that analyzed the cost of occupational injuries, and combining the paper’s findings with updated fatality and injury data, Public Citizen determined that such incidents cost the state’s economy $2.9 billion during the three-year period. Read the report.

‘Dark’ Money Casts Shadow Over Top Senate Races: Nearly Half of Unrestricted Spending Permitted by Citizens United Was by Groups That Are Not Required to Disclose Their Donors
Nov. 8, 2012
Nearly half of all spending by unrestricted outside groups to influence this year’s top Senate races was by 501(c) non-profit groups that do not typically disclose their donors. Unlimited outside spending by individuals, labor unions, corporations, and other sources was permitted by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. In 10 of 2012’s most competitive Senate races, outside spending by entities that may accept unlimited contributions totaled more than $190 million, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsible Politics. Read the report.

Citizens United Fuels Negative Spending: 86 Percent of Spending by Outside Groups Pays for Negative Messages
Nov. 2, 2012
The deregulation of outside spending caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision appears to have led to increased spending on negative advertising in our elections, according to a Public Citizen analysis released today. More than 85 percent of unregulated independent expenditures made by the 15 biggest outside groups in the 2012 election cycle financed negative messages. The analysis cites research showing that outside spending is typically more negative on the whole than candidate-sponsored spending. Read the report.

Super Connected: Super PACs’ Devotion to Individual Candidates Undercuts Assumption in Citizens United That Outside Spending Would Be “Independent”
October 24, 2012
The Supreme Court’s chief rationale in its decision to permit unlimited corporate spending to influence elections in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was its judgment that third-party expenditures do not threaten to cause corruption because they are independent. But many of the “Super PACs,” which have arisen in the wake of Citizens United and are allowed to accept unlimited contributions, cannot plausibly be deemed independent. Public Citizen’s analysis shows that nearly 60 percent of Super PACs active in this election cycle (through Oct. 16) are devoted to supporting or defeating a single candidate, and many of these single-candidate Super PACs are founded, funded and/or managed by friends and political allies of the candidate they support. The close relationships between these Super PACs and the candidates they seek to assist indicates that contributions to single-candidate Super PACs are virtually the same as contributions to candidates themselves.The Super PACs' activities are making a mockery of campaign finance laws that limit the size of contributions directly to candidates. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Washington's Construction Industry
October 23, 2012
This report quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors. From 2008 to 2010, Washington recorded 34,700 construction industry injuries and illnesses, of which 16,600 required days away from work, job transfer or restriction. Additionally, 39 construction-related fatalities were reported in these years. Drawing on a 2004 analysis on the cost of occupational injuries in combination with newer data, Public Citizen determined that such incidents cost the state’s economy $762 million during the three-year period. Read the report.

The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland’s Construction Industry
August 7, 2012
Occupational injuries and fatalities in the construction industry cost Maryland residents $712.8 million between 2008 and 2010, a new Public Citizen report shows. The report, “The Price of Inaction: A Comprehensive Look at the Costs of Injuries and Fatalities in Maryland’s Construction Industry,” quantifies the estimated costs of deaths and injuries in the state’s construction industry by considering an array of factors. This report concludes with an innovative and inexpensive policy recommendation for the state to use its buying power to compel contractors to act in safe and responsible ways. Read the report.

Public Safeguards Past Due: Missed Deadlines Leave Public Unprotected
June 26, 2012
A Public Citizen analysis of a set of public health and safety rulemakings with congressionally mandated deadlines reveals that most rules are issued long after their deadlines have passed, potentially putting American consumers at risk. Of the 159 rules analyzed, 78 percent missed their deadline and more than half remain incomplete. Federal agencies miss these deadlines for a variety of reasons, including having to conduct onerous analyses, dealing with politically motivated delays, and prolonged review at the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Among rules included in the analysis, all 14 rules currently under review at OIRA have been there longer than the agency’s allotted four month review period. At present, Congress is considering many bills that would further hinder agencies’ abilities to do their jobs. Instead, lawmakers should seek ways to alleviate the undue burdens on agencies. Read the report.

Contract Killers: Government Agencies Award Taxpayer Dollars to Contractors That Disregard Worker Health and Safety
March 29, 2012
Taxpayer dollars should only reward companies that safeguard their employees from dangerous work conditions. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies at the state, local, and federal levels award contracts for bridge repair, sewer installation, school renovation, and other construction projects to irresponsible companies that endanger their employees’ lives. When government agencies fail to properly assess construction companies’ health and safety performance, the results can be both deadly and expensive. This report highlights cases in which companies with demonstrated health and safety problems go on to win government contracts around the country, often with disastrous consequences. Read the report.

Substantially Unsafe: Medical Devices Pose Great Threat to Patients; Safeguards Must be Strengthened, Not Weakened
February 15, 2012
Regulation of medical devices­—a $350 billion industry that includes such products as heart and brain stents, artificial hips and implantable defibrillators—is at a crossroads. With a major reauthorization bill up for debate, members of Congress already have introduced 14 bills (as of Feb. 14, 2012) that aim to accelerate devices’ path to the market, often by weakening measures intended to ensure patient safety.

Relaxing review standards for medical devices, as proposed by recently introduced bills, would be exactly the wrong course of action, further weakening an inadequate system. Recalls are rising. The average number of high-risk recalls in 2011 was more than double than in recent years. Congress should reject the medical device industry’s lobbying requests and devise an approval process for medical devices that prioritizes patients’ lives and health over companies’ profits. Read the report.

OSHA Inaction: Onerous Requirements Imposed on OSHA Prevent the Agency from Issuing Lifesaving Rules
October 5, 2011
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has produced fewer regulations during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies than during any other similar period in the agency’s history. While OSHA was once able to develop a rule in less than a year, the process now exceeds six years on average. Five pending OSHA standards have been subject to delays ranging from 4 to 31 years. Analyzing OSHA’s risk assessment data, we found that eliminating the delays would have prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, more than 10,000 cases of occupational illness and hundreds of worker fatalities. Read the report.

Fulfilling Kennedy's Promise: Why the SEC Should Mandate Disclosure of Corporate Political Activity
September 7, 2011
Publicly held companies that disclose their electoral spending are more valuable than the politically active companies that fail to disclose their political activity, according this report by Public Citizen and a Harvard Law School professor. The report compares values of 80 S&P 500 companies that disclose their electioneering spending (including donations to politically active trade associations and front groups) to the values of S&P 500 companies that do not disclose their electioneering spending. The analysis shows companies that disclosed their electioneering spending had a 7.5 percent higher industry-adjusted price/book ratio – a commonly used metric to compare values – than other S&P 500 companies as of the end of 2010. Read the report.

Decoding the Bill: Lobbying Records Show That Energy Industry Dominates Push for Deregulatory 'REINS' Legislation
August 11, 2011
Although proponents of the Republicans’ signature anti-regulatory measure claim that it is designed to help small businesses, lobbying disclosure records suggest that the bill primarily stands to benefit just one industry that is made up of particularly large companies: electric utilities. The REINS Act would require Congress to vote to approve federal regulations before they take effect. Because federal regulations serve to implement laws, the Act would likely blocking most new health, safety, financial and environmental safeguards. Read the report.

Cranes and Derricks: The Prolonged Creation of a Key Public Safety Rule
April 14, 2011
This report recounts the creation of an important rule that was badly needed to protect workers — and, sometimes, passersby — from the dangers posed by cranes at construction sites. If ever there were a rule that seemingly should have breezed to adoption, this was it. Problems with the existing standard were widely acknowledged, the urgency of preventing avoidable deaths and injuries was clear, and the regulated industries were advocating for a new standard. But a dozen years would pass, spanning three presidential administrations, before the revised standard was in place. Read the report.

12 Months After: The Effects of Citizens United and the Integrity of the Legislative Process
January 18, 2011
On the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this report offers an assessment of its impact. We provide a brief history of the legal restrictions on corporate involvement in elections and the events that led to the Citizens United v. FEC decision. We document the dramatic increase in outside spending in the 2010 elections and assess the enhancement of power that corporate lobbyists now enjoy. Finally, we discuss a comprehensive package of legislative and constitutional reforms that can be pursued at the federal, state and local levels to mitigate the damage caused by Citizens United v. FEC — or to reverse it altogether. Read the report.

Eclipsed Disclosure: Nearly Half of Outside Groups Kept Donors Secret in 2010; Top 10 Groups Revealed Sources of Only One in Four Dollars Spent
November 18, 2010

The amount of information available to voters about who was behind attack ads during the midterms was dramatically less than in previous years, a new Public Citizen study shows. Of the 10 top spending groups in the 2010 cycle, accounting for 52 percent of all spending in the elections, only three provided any information about their funders. These groups disclosed the sources of only one in four dollars they spent on the 2010 elections. Groups not disclosing any information about their funders collectively spent $135.6 million to influence this year's elections. That is almost exactly double the $68.9 million grand total spent by outside groups in 2006, the most recent midterm election cycle. Read the report.

Outside Job: Winning Candidates Enjoyed Advantage in Unregulated Third-Party Spending in 58 of 74 Party-Shifting Contests
November 3, 2010

Of 74 contests in which power changed hands in Tuesday’s congressional elections, independent groups engaging in a spree of secretive, corporate- and wealthy-individual-funded electioneering in the wake of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission spent predominately on behalf of the winning candidate in 58 contests, according to Public Citizen’s initial analysis. Just 14 of the losing candidates received more help than their opponents from independent groups. Read the report.

2010 Independent Electioneering Activities
October 27, 2010
Public Citizen has identified 149 groups that have reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) expenditures intended to influence this year’s elections and have either accepted large contributions (above $5,000) or have not reported the source of their contributions at all. These groups’ electioneering activities and their large contributions are chronicled at www.citizen.org/stealthpacs. Public Citizen is updating the Web site regularly to reflect new reports. This report enumerates the information contained on the Web site, reflecting data through October 25. Read the report.

Wall Street Receipts: Pro-TARP, Anti-Reform Legislators Outpace Colleagues in Financial Services Contributions
September 23, 2010
Members of Congress who voted Wall Street’s way on the two most important financial services bills over the past two sessions of Congress—the 2008 TARP bailout and the 2010 financial reform bill—have received more in campaign contributions from the financial sector in the last two election cycles than those who opposed Wall Street on either or both measures, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of voting records and of contribution data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org). Read the report.

Fading Disclosure: Most Groups Broadcasting Electioneering Communications in 2010 Elections Hide Their Donors’ Identities
September 15, 2010
Highlighting a stunning reversal in transparency of money in politics over just the last few years, this report documents that more than two-thirds of outside groups spending heavily on electioneering communications in the 2010 elections are not reporting where they got their money. Read the report.

Courting the New Dems (PDF)
June 21, 2010
The 43 members of the New Democrat Coalition who last week sent a letter urging House-Senate negotiators to weaken the financial reform bill’s regulation of derivatives have received an average of 44.1 percent more campaign contributions from the financial services sector in the current election cycle than have the 25 coalition members who did not sign the letter, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org). Accounting for all campaigns since the 1998 election cycle, signers have received 44.6 percent more than non-signers, on average. Read the report (PDF).

Conference Klatch (PDF)
June 11, 2010
Lobbyists for the financial services industry enjoy longstanding ties to the members of Congress who were named this week to the conference committee on financial reform legislation, according to a joint analysis of available data released today by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics. Read the report (PDF).

Banking on Connections
June 3, 2010
Organizations in the financial services sector have deployed at least 1,447 former federal employees to lobby Congress and federal agencies since the beginning of 2009, according to a joint analysis of federal disclosure records and other data released today by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics. Read the report.

Looking for a Free Ride (PDF)
May 24, 2010
So far in the 2010 election cycle, 44 senators have received $380,693 from the auto dealer industry’s employees and political action committees (PACs), according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. The ten largest recipients – seven Republicans and three Democrats – have received more than half of the industry’s contributions to the Senate this cycle. Read the report (PDF).

Eleven to One (PDF)
May 18, 2010
Since the beginning of 2009, nearly 1,000 lobbyists have worked on at least one of nine key bills designed to rewrite the rules governing derivatives, a new Public Citizen report shows.These lobbyists have overwhelmingly represented organizations opposing or attempting to water down proposed regulation, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of lobbying disclosure data filed with the U.S. House of Representatives.Lobbyists representing opponents of strong derivatives reform have outnumbered pro-reform lobbyists by more than 11-to-1 (903 to 79 lobbyists). Among the clients represented by the anti-reform lobbyists were the nation’s five largest banks, several major financial trade associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Read the report (PDF).

Investments in the Opponents of Reform
December 8, 2009
Representatives sponsoring two amendments that would weaken critical consumer protections in financial reform legislation have received at least $2.3 million from the financial services sector since the beginning of 2009, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics. Read the report.

CA$HING IN: More Than 900 Ex-Government Officials, Including 70 Former Members of Congress, Have Lobbied for the Financial Services Sector in 2009
November 19, 2009
Since the beginning of 2009, organizations in the financial services sector – including banks, investment firms, insurance companies and real estate companies – have commissioned 940 former federal employees as federal lobbyists, Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org) shows.
Read the report.

Bank-Rolling Congress
August 26, 2009
According to our new report, lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and trade associations tied to the banks receiving the most federal bailout money have scheduled 70 fundraisers for members of Congress since Election Day and have made $6 million in contributions. The report, “Bank-Rolling Congress,” contains Public Citizen’s analysis of fundraiser invitations collected by the Sunlight Foundation and campaign contribution disclosures that lobbyists and lobbyist-affiliated PACs are required to make to the Senate. The study was based on an examination of the 10 banks receiving the most Troubled Asset Relief Program money and five trade associations opposing a government agency to oversee consumer financial products. Read the report.

Party Conventions Are Free-For-All For Influence-Peddling
August 18, 2009
The Democratic and Republican national conventions are supposed to be publicly financed electoral events with reasonable ethics restrictions on influence-peddling by lobbyists. However, the conventions have become mostly privately financed soirees funded by corporations and lobbying firms that seek favors from the federal government. The unlimited soft money donations from special interests to pay for the conventions, and the lavish parties and wining and dining at the conventions, run counter to the federal election law and congressional ethics rules. Read the report.

Fundraising Central: Majority of Presidential Bundlers and Other Fundraisers Hail from Only Five U.S. Industries
December 20, 2007
More than half the major fundraisers for the presidential campaigns hail from just three segments of the U.S. economy: lawyers and law firms, representing both corporate and consumer interests; the financial sector; and real estate, according to a joint study released Thursday by Public Citizen and Campaign Finance Institute. Read the report.

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