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April, 2013 media hits RSS Feed
$1.44 dispute reveals high stakes in online feedback
4/26/2013

Good Morning America: $1.44 dispute reveals high stakes in online feedback - News of the suit spread across the Internet, and last week, Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C., blogged about it, calling it "untenable." "The bottom line here is that the feedback she posted regarding Med Express Inc. constitutes protected speech under the United States, Ohio and South Carolina constitutions. This lawsuit has no basis in law or in fact," he wrote.

Texas town's blast crater shows risk from patchwork zoning laws
4/26/2013

Bloomberg: Texas town's blast crater shows risk from patchwork zoning laws - Texas environmental groups, including Public Citizen Texas and Texas Campaign for the Environment, said in a April 24 statement that state lawmakers should pass tougher regulation and step up enforcement, including more inspections and disclosure of toxic threats.

Senators unveil nuke waste storage plan
4/25/2013

Salt Lake Tribune: Senators unveil nuke waste storage plan - "Consolidated interim storage is an old plan that didn’t work when it was first introduced 30 years ago, or any of the myriad times it’s been proposed, because it does nothing to address broader storage and disposal issues," said Allison Fisher, outreach director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program, a non-profit group established to fight climate change. "In fact, it arguably exacerbates the issues associated with spent fuel disposal." Fisher argues that temporary storage means the radioactive waste will have to be twice shipped around the country, leave potentially underprivileged communities as the only option for the sites and make a few places more of a terrorist target because of the consolidated storage.

Senator aims for bipartisan trade promotion bill
4/24/2013

Reuters: Senator aims for bipartisan trade promotion bill - "Fast track is inappropriate for the realities of 21st century trade agreements, which go beyond the scope of traditional trade matters and affects wide swaths of domestic policy unrelated to trade," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

Graham's campaign collects bundle from lobbyists
4/24/2013

Center for Public Integrity: Graham's campaign collects bundle from lobbyists - Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the consumer rights group Public Citizen, supports the idea, arguing that bundling is a way for special interests to “buy a seat at the table.” However, Holman says it has been difficult to find Republican lawmakers willing to work on the issue.

Lew won't adopt Geithner's stand against Wall Street deregulation bills
4/24/2013

Mother Jones: Lew won't adopt Geithner's stand against Wall Street deregulation bills - The seven bills sailed out of the House Agriculture committee in late March and are now being considered by the House Financial Services Committee. Last year, the similar bills cleared all the committees, but some never received a vote on the House floor, and they all failed to reach the Senate by the time the 112th Congress ended. As Bart Naylor of Public Citizen noted in April, the bills got an early start this time around, so the pressure on the Senate to take them up if they pass the House will be higher.

Effects of investment treaties in the global south
4/23/2013

Council on Foreign Relations: Effects of investment treaties in the global south - Last week Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, joined me at CFR for a rare on the record roundtable meeting. Living up to her reputation for incisive and provocative remarks, Wallach sparked a heated debate about the impacts of investment treaties in the global south. She argued that Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), which aim to protect foreign investors from unfair and arbitrary treatment by governments, are themselves arbitrary and unfair.

Bill would expand disclosure of political money
4/23/2013

NPR: Bill would expand disclosure of political money - The conservative Center for Competitive Politics says disclosure would violate the First Amendment rights of donors to the tax-exempt groups. And at the liberal group Public Citizen, lobbyist Craig Holman praised the senators for tackling the disclosure issues, but he said they're making a legal mistake by dropping the bright-line standard for defining election activity.

Social media role in lawsuits increases as lawyers, insurance companies troll for evidence
4/20/2013

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Social media role in lawsuits increases as lawyers, insurance companies troll for evidence - Paul Levy, staff attorney for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, blogged about the case in the hopes of finding a pro bono attorney for the defendant. Public Citizen itself usually doesn't take on cases such as Nicholls', at least at the trial court level."There are so many defamation cases out there, we couldn't defend everyone," Levy said, "and it would only scratch the surface."

Scope of threat in West a surprise to feds
4/20/2013

Houston Chronicle: Scope of threat in West a surprise to feds - Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen, also noted that the Texas House is scheduled to debate a bill that would eliminate public disclosure of a state evaluation of compliance history. He said he hoped the explosion in West would prompt lawmakers to reject a bill that would make it "difficult to know good actors and bad actors."

Texas plant explosion reveals wide gaps in workplace safety laws
4/20/2013

Huffington Post: Texas plant explosion reveals wide gaps in workplace safety laws - "The nation's number one resource is its workers," said Keith Wrightson, safety expert at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. "But the agency that's charged with protecting them is not given the resources to do it. I think it's worrisome for the nation."

Gov. McDonnell's wedding gift causes his first smear on governorship
4/19/2013

SBWire: Gov. McDonnell's wedding gift causes his first smear on governorship - “The gift has every appearance of being designed to influence Bob McDonnell and not to help pay for the wedding,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “We see a frequent pattern where special interests will find any way to throw money at the feet of a lawmaker to make sure the lawmaker is indebted to them.”

Instead of new ethics laws, a study- again
4/19/2013

Texas Tribune: Instead of new ethics laws, a study- again - The interim study dodge — and its relative, the “pilot program” — is not confined to ethics legislation. It is, however, a predictable outcome. Tom Smith, better known as Smitty, lobbies for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen in Texas and has been in the middle of ethics debates for decades. Over the years, he generally has argued for more disclosure, easier access to the disclosures that are made, and better enforcement of serious infractions by candidates and by people in office.

Bank regulator to recuse from Volcker to avoid conflict
4/19/2013

Bloomberg: Bank regulator to recuse from Volcker to avoid conflict - Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a Washington-based watchdog group, said Friend’s situation is “a very troubling abuse” of the so-called revolving door between government and business.“It sounds like a whole lot of work trying to live by this sort of recusal arrangement,” Holman said in an interview. “If the conflicts of interest are so common, she should not be appointed to that position.”

Lawsuit says UAB study harmed premature babies
4/18/2013

Real-Time News from Birmingham: Lawsuit says UAB study harmed premature babies - Alabama -- Parents of premature babies involved in a University of Alabama at Birmingham-led study to determine the best level of oxygen to sustain the tiny infants filed suit today, claiming negligence and failure to properly inform them of the risks. The lawsuit was brought by the parents of five Alabama children, who allege that wrongdoing by overseers of the study led to a range of severe health issues, including eyesight disorders, respiratory disease, and permanent brain damage.

Senate panel votes to weaken citizen rights to protect communities from pollution
4/18/2013

Utility Products: Senate panel votes to weaken citizen rights to protect communities from pollution - "When polluters apply for a permit to pollute, they are basically asking for the state's permission to contaminate our environment," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, Director of Public Citizen's Texas office. "Current law has protections in place to help reduce the impact on the neighboring communities, but this bill eliminates those protections and shuts the public out of the process."

FDA pre- approval of dietary supplements debated
4/18/2013

Natural Products INSIDER: FDA pre- approval of dietary supplements debated - Sidney Wolfe, M.D., the founder of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said on a radio program that dietary supplements should have to be pre-approved like prescription drugs before they enter the market. “Most people don’t realize dietary supplements don’t have to be shown to be effective or safe," he said Wednesday, April 17 during an episode of “AirTalk" on Southern California Public Radio. The dietary supplement industry, he added, “thrives on the fact it doesn’t have to spend money on research."

eBay seller who sued over bad feedback apologizes- but he's done it before
4/18/2013

Ars Technica: eBay seller who sued over bad feedback apologizes- but he's done it before - This morning, Public Citizen's Paul Levy responded to Radey's apology. Normally, when a target of criticism apologizes so profusely, "it is also my practice to be gracious," wrote Levy. "Problem is, I don’t believe a word of what he says." Once he had an opportunity to check out Radey's history of litigating over eBay ratings, he found a troubling pattern. "Med Express typically files a complaint based on extremely vague assertions of falsity, against defendants who may be too far from Medina to respond effectively, seeks a temporary restraining order without giving any notice, and hopes to get relief before the defendant knows what hit him, her, or it," wrote Levy.

When an issue is too sensitive, order a study
4/18/2013

New York Times: When an issue is too sensitive, order a study - New York Times: When an issue is too sensitive, order a study - The interim study dodge — and its relative, the “pilot program” — is not confined to ethics legislation. It is, however, a predictable outcome. Tom Smith, better known as Smitty, lobbies for Public Citizen in Texas and has been in the middle of ethics debates for decades. Over the years, he generally has argued for more disclosure, easier access to the disclosures that are made, and better enforcement of serious infractions by candidates and by people in office.

'Cooking the books and the planet': Report slams State Dept. KXL findings
4/17/2013

CommonDreams.org: 'Cooking the books and the planet': Report slams State Dept. KXL findings - “Keystone XL proponents are relying on two key arguments to urge the project to be approved: reduced prices for U.S. consumers and national energy security,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program and report author. “Our analysis shows that the pipeline is almost certain to fail to advance either of these objectives.”

New survey of health impacts of Port of Houston to be released at town hall
4/17/2013

yourhoustonnews.com: New survey of health impacts of Port of Houston to be released at town hall - “Communities surrounding the Port have the highest air toxics rate in the Houston area and have elevated rates of cancer and asthma,” commented Tom “Smitty” Smith, the Executive Director of Coalition member Public Citizen. “The Port and the legislature need to listen to the voices of the community on such problems.”

eBay seller suing for negative feedback
4/17/2013

Inquisitr: eBay seller suing for negative feedback - An eBay seller has sued a dissatisfied customer for negative feedback despite the company’s attorney admitting the complaint was legitimate, TechDirt reported Tuesday. According to the website, customer Amy Nicholls purchased a product from company Med Express, a medical equipment sales company conducting all its business through the popular auction site.
When the product arrived postage due, Nicholls became annoyed at the unexpected inconvenience and committed the cardinal sin of leaving negative feedback.

Lawsuit over dentist's bid to bar unfavorable reviews allowed to continue
4/16/2013

Daily Business Review: Lawsuit over dentist's bid to bar unfavorable reviews allowed to continue - A proposed class action lawsuit accusing a Manhattan dentist of forcing patients to sign an unconscionable contract barring them from writing bad reviews on customer review websites may continue, a federal judge has ruled. Southern District Judge Paul Crotty (See Profile) on March 27 denied a motion by the dentist, Stacy Makhnevich, to dismiss the lawsuit, Lee v. Makhnevich, 11-cv-8665, on the ground that there was no actual controversy between the parties. The judge ruled that Makhnevich had created a controversy by threatening to sue the patient, Robert Lee, after he posted an unfavorable review on the websites Yelp and DoctorBase.

Audit lets 'lavish-spending' UH professor off the hook
4/16/2013

khou.com: Audit lets 'lavish-spending' UH professor off the hook - “He’s a professor living a rock-star life at the expense of University of Houston and its donors,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith in November. Smith is the Texas Director of the non-profit watchdog group Public Citizen.

Keystone opponents deepen criticism of proposed pipeline
4/16/2013

Inter Press Service: Keystone opponents deepen criticism of proposed pipeline - “When you look at the Keystone XL development, it’s clearly all about moving that oil to a global not a U.S. market,” Tyson Slocum, director of the energy programme at Public Citizen, an advocacy group, told IPS, noting that TransCanada’s own forecasts admit that current pipeline capacity is already adequate to provide oil for the U.S. market.

How Congress quietly overhauled its insider- trading law
4/16/2013

NPR: How Congress quietly overhauled its insider- trading law - "There weren't too many members of Congress who were aware of this legislation," says Craig Holman, the government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. "And I suspect very, very few understood what a sweeping radical change it is to the STOCK Act."

Ethics commission up for review at Legislature
4/16/2013

khou.com: Ethics commission up for review at Legislature - Smitty Smith, director of Public Citizen's Texas office, supported the changes, but he complained that the commission has been a failed experiment. He said that last year, the commission looked at 374 complaints — none of which the commission initiated — and there had been no audits or referrals for prosecution of state ethics laws.

Suspend enrollment in baby trials, release details of ongoing and earlier experiments
4/15/2013

eNews Park Forest: Suspend enrollment in baby trials, release details of ongoing and earlier experiments - Last week, Public Citizen publicized a trial, known as the SUPPORT trial, that involved randomly assigning premature infants to one of two experimental groups. Researchers tried to keep blood oxygen levels in a high range for one group and a low range for the other. Parents were not informed that this experiment involved substantial risks for their babies, including increased risk of blindness, brain injury and death, depending on which group the babies were in.

Legal challenge leaves trucking regs, cos. in limbo
4/15/2013

Maine Biz: Legal challenge leaves trucking regs, cos. in limbo - The American Trucking Associations, a national trade association representing 2,000 member companies, says those assertions are not supported by science; it contends the existing rules have a proven record of reducing the number of large-truck crashes and should be left alone. A coalition of advocacy groups that includes Public Citizen, on the other hand, says the new regulations don't go far enough in making sure fatigued truck drivers involved in interstate commerce are kept off the highways.

Safety advocates want action on back-over accidents
4/15/2013

News Tribune: Safety advocates want action on back-over accidents -  Joan Claybrook, president emeritus, Public Citizen and former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), agreed. "Rearview cameras are available and affordable.  Many auto manufacturers are making them standard equipment on new makes and models," she said. "Rearview cameras as standard equipment will save lives and save consumers hundreds of dollars in potential repair costs when they can actually see when backing up.  Every day of delay costs consumers and puts children at risk."

Legislative notebook: Legislature urged to toughen rules on ethics
4/15/2013

Houston Chronicle: Legislature urged to toughen rules on ethics - Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of Public Citizen's Texas office, supported the changes, but he complained that the commission has been a failed experiment. He said that last year, the commission looked at 374 complaints - none of which the commission initiated - and there had been no audits or referrals for prosecution of state ethics laws.

Obama signs partial repeal of STOCK Act
4/15/2013

Roll Call: Obama signs partial repeal of STOCK Act - While some of the information will still be available to the public, people will have a much more difficult time accessing it without a searchable online database. Public Citizen had urged a veto, but on April 12 the Justice Department said in a related court filing that the president would sign the bill.

When to keep financial paperwork – and when to toss it
4/14/2013

The Buffalo News: When to keep financial paperwork and when to toss it - Medical bills are notoriously vulnerable to errors. Since they’re bounced back and forth between providers, patients and insurers and several parties may be billed at once, consumer advocate Public Citizen recommends hanging onto medical bills for as long as five to 10 years after treatment for the associated medical issue ends.

Facing questions, DAs suspend outsourcing of bad check cases
4/14/2013

Boston Globe: Facing questions, DAs suspend outsourcing of bad check cases - These types of bad-check programs may be poised to face increasing scrutiny. There are many who believe that the newly formed federal Consumer Protection Finance Bureau should take a look at them. “This is the very sort of thing that the agency was created to deal with,” said Deepak Gupta, a former attorney with Public Citizen in Washington, D.C., where he was director of the Consumer Justice Project.

Latest Pa. scandal has some eyeing pay-to-play law
4/13/2013

New Jersey Herald: Latest Pa. scandal has some eyeing pay-to-play law - Craig Holman, who has helped several other states write pay-to-play laws and lobbies for the citizen advocacy group Public Citizen in Washington, D.C., said he finds that it is often business as usual for prominent campaign contributors to get government contracts in states without such restrictions. Government contracts are a leading source of corruption in state and local governments, and Pennsylvania would benefit from a strong pay-to-play law, Holman said.

Three reasons McDonnell’s wedding gift controversy should spark outrage
4/13/2013

Washington Post: Three reasons McDonnell’s wedding gift controversy should spark outrage -  “The gift has every appearance of being designed to influence Bob McDonnell and not to help pay for the wedding,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “We see a frequent pattern where special interests will find any way to throw money at the feet of a lawmaker to make sure the lawmaker is indebted to them.”

Congress scales back financial disclosure requirements
4/12/2013

Politico: Congress scales back financial disclosure requirements -  They were especially irked by the decision to remove congressional aides from the requirement to post financial details online — viewing it as a “knee-jerk” reaction to a legitimate security issue involving executive branch officials. “Boy, that’s a problem,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said in an interview, adding, “because congressional staff really was the heart of what I consider a lot of congressional insider trading and also the sources for the political intelligence consultants who are roaming the halls.”

While auto rule remains 'under review,' death toll grows
4/12/2013

CNN.com: While auto rule remains 'under review,' death toll grows - "After all, you must remember, they (carmakers) were against seat belts, they were against airbags, they were against rollover protection technology and other safety measures," said Joan Claybrook, former NHTSA administrator and chair emeritus of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Public Citizen: Parents not told of risk to babies
4/11/2013

CNN: Public Citizen: Parents not told of risk to babies -  The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen accuses researchers of not telling parents that their newborns could be at higher risk of blindness or death if the families took part in a study that examined oxygen levels in preemies.

US says preemie study didn't fully disclose risks
4/11/2013

CNS News: US says preemie study didn't fully disclose risks - In a letter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which led the study, the government agency concluded the research had violated regulations requiring that patients be fully informed of the risks of a clinical trial. The March 7 letter, which was publicized Wednesday by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, asked the university to take steps to ensure consent forms in future studies outline all the risks.

Sierra Club steps up campaign against Energy Future Holdings
4/11/2013

Texas Tribune: Sierra Club steps up campaign against Energy Future Holdings - One suggestion geared to East Texas’ geology is geothermal power, using natural underground heat instead of burning coal to drive generators. University research shows it’s an available power source in Texas’ lignite belt and is decreasing in cost, as wind power has done, said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen.

Experts: State's turnpike corruption 'the worst such case'
4/11/2013

Pittsburgh Live: Experts: State's turnpike corruption 'the worst such case' - Such schemes have surfaced in other states, though usually not with toll road agencies, said Craig Holman, lobbyist for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group in Washington. “Fifteen states have pay-to-play laws,” Holman said, the strongest of which are in Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut, which dealt with scandals.

Families of children killed in car backover incidents and safety groups urge Obama Administration to take action on rearview cameras in cars
4/11/2013

12 Fox: Families of children killed in car backover incidents and safety groups urge Obama Administration to take action on rearview cameras in cars - Joan Claybrook, president emeritus, Public Citizen and former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), stated, "Rearview cameras are available and affordable. Many auto manufacturers are making them standard equipment on new makes and models. Rearview cameras as standard equipment will save lives and save consumers hundreds of dollars in potential repair costs when they can actually see when backing up. Every day of delay costs consumers and puts children at risk."

Oil's financial ties to Texas legislators
4/11/2013

New York Times: Oil's financial ties to Texas legislators - Many state policies, on issues like air and water pollution, “are inexorably or inextricably woven to benefit the oil and gas industry,” said Tom Smith, the Texas state director of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Environmentalists often resort to trying to mitigate bad policies, he added.

Parents not informed premature babies at risk in study
4/11/2013

Bloomberg.com: Parents not informed premature babies at risk in study - In the study, infants were given different amounts of oxygen, a critical component of their care. The parents weren’t told previous research suggested more oxygen may be tied to blindness and lower levels might boost the risk of death. The department’s letter was made public yesterday by Public Citizen, a watchdog group that criticized the HHS response as insufficient and urged U.S. officials to apologize to the families of the infants.

Feds fault preemie researchers for ethical lapses
4/10/2013

NPR: Feds fault preemie researchers for ethical lapses - "The word 'unethical' doesn't even begin to describe the egregious and shocking deficiencies in the informed-consent process for this study," Dr. Michael Carome of Public Citizen's Health Research Group says in a press release. He says it's likely that many parents would not have agreed to enroll their infants in the study if they had known about the risks.

Watchdog agency criticizes ethics of study of premature infants
4/10/2013

Washington Post: Watchdog agency criticizes ethics of study of premature infants - OHRP, which investigates complaints of fraud and unethical research for the Department of Health and Human Services, sent a chastising letter to Marchase on March 7. Its contents became widely known this week when advocacy organization Public Citizen’s Health Research Group called upon Kathleen Sebelius, the HHS secretary, to publicly apologize to the parents of the infants for what it called “indefensible, highly unethical” research.

Officials: Baby study didn't fully disclose risks
4/10/2013

USA Today: Officials: Baby study didn't fully disclose risks - In a letter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which led the study, the government agency concluded the research had violated regulations requiring that patients be fully informed of the risks of a clinical trial. The March 7 letter, which was publicized Wednesday by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, asked the university to take steps to ensure consent forms in future studies outline all the risks.

Appeals Court rules in favor of former Cooley Law School student
4/9/2013

JD Journal: Appeals Court rules in favor of former Cooley Law School student - Paul Levy, from Public Citizen, was the counsel for Doe 1. He said on Friday in a statement that the decision was a “mixed blessing for anonymous Internet speakers in future cases.” From February 2011 to May 2012, Doe 1 published a blog called “Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam.”

Obama's man in frackademia
4/9/2013

In These Times: Obama's man in frackademia - Tyson Slocum, head of the Energy Program at Public Citizen is also alarmed by these developments and answered PAI's question bluntly. “Moniz represents the status-quo all-of-the-above fossil-energy approach at a time when we can’t afford the status quo,” says Slocum.

DEA backs tighter labeling for opioids
4/8/2013

American Medical News: DEA backs tighter labeling for opioids - The Drug Enforcement Administration said it supports a petition filed by a group of 37 physicians that asks the Food and Drug Administration to change the indication for instant-release and extended-release opioids.The petition, filed in July 2012 by Public Citizen and the New York-based advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, says the FDA should change the labeling so the drugs are no longer approved for patients with moderate noncancer pain. The agency also should limit the maximum daily dose to the morphine equivalent of 100 mg and limit daily use to 90 days for patients with noncancer pain, the petition said. 

Obama Administration takes aim at TPP countries' public interest policies in new report
4/8/2013

Truth Out: Obama Administration takes aim at TPP countries' public interest policies in new report - “Even before the Obama administration’s not-so-diplomatic target list of other countries’ domestic policies, the Trans-Pacific Partnership was on rocky ground, with negotiators from many countries rejecting U.S. demands to expand patent monopolies for foreign pharmaceutical corporations and to subject their financial, health and environmental policies to foreign investor challenges before international tribunals empowered to order government compensation,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “By openly listing the domestic policies in other TPP countries that it wants dismantled, the Obama administration can only intensify growing public concern about the TPP in these countries.”

How Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Coke buy Latino friends in Congress
4/8/2013

Mother Jones: How Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Coke buy Latino friends in Congress - Before Congress passed several waves of ethics rules impacting caucuses and lobbyists, corporations and unions that hire lobbyists could pay for trips, conferences, and other perks for federal lawmakers. Today, nonprofits like CHCI offer lobbyists a way to sidestep those rules, says Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the watchdog group Public Citizen. "It's a simple dance to evade the ethics rules that apply to members of Congress as well as to caucuses," he says. "Lobbying entities can't give gifts, but they can launder the money through nonprofits and let the nonprofits do the giving."

Cooley Law loses bid to unmask online critic on appeal
4/8/2013

National Law Journal: Cooley Law loses bid to unmask online critic on appeal - Even so, his lawyer warned that the decision did not go far enough to protect anonymous online speech in Michigan. Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with the Washington-based consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen, called the outcome a "mixed blessing for anonymous Internet speakers in future cases."

HHS to combine licensure-tracking databases
4/8/2013

Fierce Health IT: HHS to combine licensure-tracking databases -  A Public Citizen study of data from the NPDB from 1990 to 2009 criticized state medical boards for failing to discipline 55 percent of the nation's doctors who had their clinical privileges revoked or restricted by their hospitals. "Either state medical boards are receiving this disturbing information from hospitals but not acting upon it, or much less likely, they are not receiving the information at all," Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's Health Research Group and overseer of the study, said. "Something is broken and needs to be fixed."

Companies face pressure on political spending
4/5/2013

USA Today: Companies face pressure on political spending -  "We are at a tipping-point moment where the SEC has an opportunity to move this rule forward," said Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen, one of the groups backing the SEC petition. "It's almost impossible to ignore the many investor constituencies that have weighed in and said this issue matters to them."

America’s “second best” law school sues online critic and loses on appeal
4/5/2013

Ars Technica: America’s “second best” law school sues online critic and loses on appeal - The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled (PDF) unanimously in favor of a former law student who used his blog to anonymously complain about his former law school, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, based in Lansing. Doe 1’s counsel, the famed freedom of speech lawyer Paul Levy, of Public Citizen, wrote in a statement on Friday that the decision was a “mixed blessing for anonymous Internet speakers in future cases.”

Political intelligence or insider trading?
4/4/2013

Marketplace: Political intelligence or insider trading? - When we say political “intelligence,” we’re not talking spying.  Or CIA cloak and dagger stuff. Political intelligence gatherers get their information from paling around with congressional staffers. They meet with people working at federal agencies. Sucking up information as they go. Craig Holman follows the political intelligence biz for Public Citizen, a government watchdog group. He says, "They tap into that insider information and then sell it to their clients for the whole purpose of cashing in on the stock market."

Avoid Pradaxa, Xarelto Due to Emerging Health Risks
4/4/2013

AboutLawsuits: Avoid Pradaxa, Xarelto Due to Emerging Health Risks -  The prominent watchdog group Public Citizen is warning consumers to stay away from a new class of anticoagulants that includes Pradaxa and Xarelto, indicating that there is increasing evidence of severe bleeding issues with the drugs and a lack of information to establish that they are superior to warfarin, which has been the go-to stroke prevention medication for decades.  In the latest edition of the group’s Worst Pills, Best Pills newsletter, Public Citizen highlights how doctors are reporting an increasing number of bleeding problems with Pradaxa and Xarelto, which they sometimes cannot stop because these new drugs lack a reversal agent to counteract their blood thinning effects.

Schmidt skirts legal bills by leaving Congress
4/4/2013

The Blade: Schmidt skirts legal bills by leaving Congress - Craig Holman, government ethics lobbyist for the left-leaning political action group Public Citizen, said Schmidt is not obligated to repay the money as long as she doesn’t run again for Congress. “The House Ethics Committee has no enforcement authority over her so she has left the whole realm of ethics rules that would apply in this case,” he said. “If she is committed to leaving public service altogether she can just cleanly walk away from this.”

Sen. Roy Blunt: Monsanto's man in Washington
4/4/2013

Mother Jones: Sen. Roy Blunt: Monsanto's man in Washington - While serving as House whip under the famously lobbyist-friendly former House Majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the Bush II administration, Blunt built a formidable political machine by transforming lobbying cash into industry-accomodating legislation. In a blistering 2006 report, Public Citizen declared Blunt "a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency."

Government report examines 'Political Intelligence,' But questions remain
4/4/2013

Blog of LegalTimes: Government report examines 'Political Intelligence,' But questions remain - Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for government watchdog Public Citizen, said in a written statement that his organization will push for legislation that brings transparency to political intelligence gathering. "The political intelligence industry is flourishing, enriching itself and clients in the stock market, yet the report notes that it could not document who these people are or how much they profit," he said. "Without full transparency of the activity of these political intelligence consultants and their clients, it is nearly impossible to know if they are trading on illegal insider information."

Low Lake Granbury levels raise concerns about nearby nuclear plant
4/4/2013

CBS-DFW: Low Lake Granbury levels raise concerns about nearby nuclear plant -  “With the increasing sales of water downstream and the lowering levels of Lake Granbury, the ability of that lake to serve as a backup is now being diminished,” Tom Smith, Director of Public Citizen, explained.  “The question is how are you going to keep the lake cool in case of an emergency."

'Cassandras' of Financial Crisis Blast Justice, Treasury Departments
4/4/2013

Government Executive: 'Cassandras' of Financial Crisis Blast Justice, Treasury Departments - Born spoke at a panel convened by the liberal-leaning Public Citizen group to mark release of a book, “Reality Check: The Forgotten Lessons of Deregulation and Unsung Successes of Sensible Safeguards,” by Lincoln Taylor. The discussion centered on how the powerful financial services industry shifted the regulatory agenda from a consensus on a need for a crackdown soon after the meltdown to a view currently popular in Congress that the main effect of regulations is to kill jobs.

Activists on both sides of Atlantic denounce US/EU FTA as corporate power grab
4/3/2013

Common Dreams: Activists on both sides of Atlantic denounce US/EU FTA as corporate power grab - Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Trade Watch, was quoted: "The dirty little secret about [the negotiation] is that it is not mainly about trade, but rather would target for elimination the strongest consumer, health, safety, privacy, environmental and other public interest policies on either side of the Atlantic. The starkest evidence ... is the plan for it to include the infamous investor-state system that empowers individual corporations and investors to skirt domestic courts and laws and drag signatory governments to foreign tribunals."

An unusual search warrant and what it says about how Texas regulates drilling
4/3/2013

NPR StateImpact: An unusual search warrant and what it says about how Texas regulates drilling - Tom Smith, Texas Director of environmental group Public Citizen, said while the Railroad Commission may be taking enforcement action somewhat more often, it’s way behind another state where gas and oil well drilling is surging. “When you look at Pennsylvania, it was one out of four of the referrals that resulted in some sort of a penalty. And so we’re under-performing,” Smith told the committee.

Obama's EU trade deal would include new political powers for corporations
4/3/2013

Huffington Post: Obama's EU trade deal would include new political powers for corporations - "The dirty little secret about [the negotiation] is that it is not mainly about trade, but rather would target for elimination the strongest consumer, health, safety, privacy, environmental and other public interest policies on either side of the Atlantic," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "The starkest evidence ... is the plan for it to include the infamous investor-state system that empowers individual corporations and investors to skirt domestic courts and laws and drag signatory governments to foreign tribunals."

Bachmann's leadership PAC could be key to ethics investigation
4/3/2013

MinnPost.com: Bachmann's leadership PAC could be key to ethics investigation - But if the payments are found to be improper, Public Citizen lobbyist and campaign finance expert Craig Holman said the Bachmann campaign could have broken the law: If the campaign didn’t have enough money on hand to pay staffers' salaries, and, as Waldron alleges, had to dip into Michele PAC’s funds to close the gap for Short, that could be a violation of federal contribution laws.

Democrats are undermining Wall Street reform, too
4/3/2013

Mother Jones: Democrats are undermining Wall Street reform, too - "The default position of many members of Congress is to do what Wall Street wants. They are a main source of funding," says Bartlett Naylor, a financial-policy expert at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. "These are relatively complicated [bills]. It's easy to come to the misunderstanding that they are benign."

Brooksley Born says too-big-to-fail banks are still economy risk
4/3/2013

Bloomberg News: Brooksley Born says too-big-to-fail banks are still economy risk - Brooksley Born, whose effort to regulate over-the-counter derivatives was thwarted when she served as a regulator in the 1990s, said a large U.S. bank failure would require a bailout to avoid disrupting the economy. “Too big to fail is the primary problem,” said Born, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Born, a retired partner of law firm Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, was speaking at a panel discussion in Washington today held by advocacy group Public Citizen.

Ex-SEC chief Schapiro takes revolving door back to private sector
4/2/2013

CBS money watch: Ex-SEC chief Schapiro takes revolving door back to private sector - Yet the services Promontory provides, like many such Washington creations, puts many former government officials in service to companies they once oversaw. "It's a regulatory fixer," said Bart Naylor, the financial policy advocate at Public Citizen. "The version they advertise is that they promote compliance beyond the letter of the law. But I don't know why banks would need to pay extra to find out what the speed limit is and be told to drive 20 miles slower."

Study finds Super PACs not independent of campaign influence
4/2/2013

IVN: Study finds Super PACs not independent of campaign influence - Public Citizen, a non-partisan corporate and government watchdog organization, released a study that analyzed outside spending during the 2012 election. The study concluded that the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v FEC, “failed on its own terms.”

Regulators scrutinize compounding pharmacies in Tennessee, nation
4/2/2013

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Regulators scrutinize compounding pharmacies in Tennessee, nation - "The proposed law would create a loophole in the current requirement that compounded drugs be dispensed based on individualized patient need, thereby freeing doctors and hospitals in Tennessee to purchase standardized, mass-produced drugs that are neither FDA-approved nor made under appropriate manufacturing standards," said Sarah Sorscher, attorney with the Public Citizen Heath Research Group.

Big banks take advantage of money laundering epidemic in US
4/1/2013

RT: Big banks take advantage of money laundering epidemic in US -  Last December, the US government demanded Standard Chartered Bank — the fifth largest bank in the UK—pay up $327 million in fines after being caught guilty of laundering a quarter of a trillion dollars. Bartlett Naylor, the financial policy reform advocate for Public Citizen's Congress Watch, writes for Huffington Post that the sum is “paltry” when put into perspective of what banks should be paying, but even the attorney general — the nation’s top prosecutor — cannot figure a way to pursue much more.

Tennessee lawmakers rack up privately paid travel
4/1/2013

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Tennessee lawmakers rack up privately paid travel - “What you’re documenting in Tennessee is a nationwide trend,” said Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen. “Members of Congress are flying much more frequently on special-interest vacations [than] I could ever dream of. We have to ban these privately sponsored trips altogether.”

Judge has questions about lawyers behind porn copyright actions
4/1/2013

Law.com: Judge has questions about lawyers behind porn copyright actions - In 2011, U.S. District Judge David Godbey in Dallas granted a sanctions motion against Evan Stone, an attorney in Denton, Texas, after he sent unauthorized subpoenas on behalf of the producer of Der Gute Onkel (The Good Uncle). The EFF and Public Citizen, a consumer group in Washington, which represented "John Doe" defendants in the case, had filed the motion. On July 12 of last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed that decision, which required Stone to pay $10,000.

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