» Government Ethics and Lobbying Reform

» Money in Politics

» Open Government

» Stealth PACs

» Public Protections

Sign Up

To receive regular updates on our campaigns for government accountability. 

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

Cause for Concern

More than 40 Percent of Hill Staffers Say Lobbyists Wield More Power Because of Citizens United

May 2011 — An informal survey of congressional staffers suggests that the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has left significant numbers of congressional staffers fearing retaliation against their bosses if they act in ways that displease lobbyists.

Citizens United lifted the century long ban on corporations spending money for messages expressly intended to influence the outcomes of elections. The opinion permitted corporations to spend unlimited sums to influence elections, provided that they do not coordinate their expenditures with federal candidates.

Public Citizen’s survey was sent to the e-mail addresses of 3,401 congressional staff members, split nearly equally between those who work for Republicans and Democrats. Responses were received from 80 staff members, of whom 70 percent work for Democrats. Survey recipients were asked if they believe Citizens United has strengthened the influence of lobbyists in the policymaking process; if they personally feel a need to respond differently to lobbyists in the wake of the opinion; and to describe why they think the opinion has or has not affected the relationships between lobbyists and congressional staff members.

Copyright © 2015 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.