August 2014 media hits

Public Citizen is mentioned, or its experts quoted, every day in print and broadcast media around the world. Below are links to some of the recent stories in which we have appeared.

Lawmakers profit from stock boom

8/31/2014
The Hill: Lawmakers profit from stock boom by Megan Wilson - “Congressional stock holders have a greater return on investment than the average American,” said Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen. “Either they are geniuses on the stock market or they know something that we don’t. I suspect the latter.”

NPDB requirements still apply in states with DA&O laws

8/29/2014
HC Pro: NPDB requirements still apply in states with DA&O laws - “Physicians in states with disclose, apology and offer (DA&O) laws must still have payouts made on their behalf reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the ruling in May, but few knew about it until mid-August when watchdog group Public Citizen followed up on the department's efforts to close alleged loopholes making DA&O-related payments nonreportable.”

Navy vet fights back after email threat from online computer accessory company

8/28/2014
Daily News: Navy vet fights back after email threat from online computer accessory company by Dareh Gregorian - : "A disabled veteran turned special needs educator from Wisconsin is fighting back against an online computer accessory company that allegedly tried to charge her $250 for complaining about its shoddy service."

More Sketchiness Revealed About Retailer That Charges Customers $250 For Threatening To Complain

8/28/2014
Consumerist: More Sketchiness Revealed About Retailer That Charges Customers $250 For Threatening To Complain by Chris Morran - Follow-up story to Online Retailer Will Fine You $250 If You Even Threaten To Complain About Purchase by Chris Morran

Customer fined $250 for complaining, told "You are playing games with the wrong people"

8/28/2014
BoingBoing: Customer fined $250 for complaining, told "You are playing games with the wrong people" by Cory Doctorow - Public Citizen is helping Cindy Cox sue Accessory Outlet for charging her $250 when she complained that an Iphone case hadn't shipped when promised; the company's rep told her that he'd fine her even more for emailing him to protest, adding an ominous "You are playing games with the wrong people and have made a very bad mistake."

BPA officials using private emails for sensitive public business, avoiding scrutiny

8/28/2014
The Oregonian: BPA officials using private emails for sensitive public business, avoiding scrutiny by Ted Sickinger - “The Federal Anti-Lobbying Act of 1919 expressly prohibits agencies use of public funds to lobby federal officials or influence policy. But Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the government watchdog group Public Citizen, said subsequent interpretations by the U.S. Department of Justice have obliterated the intent of the original act and essentially allows almost everything short of large-scale, grass roots campaigns.”

How Reid holds veto power over Obama

8/27/2014
Politico: How Reid holds veto power over Obama by Darius Dixon - “The NRC and FERC appear to be unique in that Reid exerts influence over the selection of chairmen,” said Tyson Slocum, who directs Public Citizen’s energy program and has supported Obama’s FERC nominees. From the standpoint of promoting good government, he said, “I do think that it’s time that Reid hand over his control back to the Senate committee chairs.”

The New York Times: Bank Settlements Need to Reveal More Information

8/27/2014
The New York Times: The New York Times: Bank Settlements Need to Reveal More Information - Op-ed by Lisa Gilbert and Bartlett Naylor

Online Retailer Will Fine You $250 If You Even Threaten To Complain About Purchase

8/27/2014
Consumerist: Online Retailer Will Fine You $250 If You Even Threaten To Complain About Purchase by Chris Morran - “Accessory Outlet is using unfair terms hidden in fine print, along with threatening emails, to bully a customer into keeping quiet about her bad experience with the company,” said Scott Michelman, the Public Citizen attorney handling the case. “But terms that prevent a customer from speaking publicly about her transaction and from contacting her credit card company are unreasonable and unenforceable.”

Financial Advisor: New SEC Rules Impact Clients by Ted Knutson

8/27/2014
Financial Advisor: Financial Advisor: New SEC Rules Impact Clients by Ted Knutson by Ted Knutson - "While SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said the new rules should make a “real difference” for investors, consumer group Public Citizen’s financial policy advocate Bart Naylor said the new ABS guidelines are weak. “Mom and pop should steer well clear of ABS. These rules won't solve opacity and inherently unknowable factors in the securities, Naylor said. He added the credit-rating rule doesn't seem to make the necessary requirement of leaving selection to independent party, such as SEC."

Order on sketchy site goes awry, firm wants $250 in fees, customer sues

8/27/2014
Ars Technica: Order on sketchy site goes awry, firm wants $250 in fees, customer sues by Cyrus Farivar - “The woman, Cindy Cox, is being represented by the advocacy group Public Citizen, which recently won summary judgment and damages of over $300,000 earlier this year in a related case in Utah involving the French parent company of KlearGear, a similarly unscrupulous vendor. She is seeking declaratory judgment that the company’s self-imposed “debt” of $250 is invalid and that the company engaged in deceptive practices.”

NC Pension Deal: How Wall Street Ends Up Getting Cash Meant for Main Street

8/26/2014
International Business Times: NC Pension Deal: How Wall Street Ends Up Getting Cash Meant for Main Street by David Sirota - The SEC recently prosecuted its first case under the 2011 pay-to-play rule, and Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told IBTimes that he believes North Carolina warrants SEC scrutiny. "It stretches credulity to believe that Erskine Bowles, as founder and senior advisor to Carousel Capital, does not play a significant role in influencing the company’s investment decisions,” Holman, who leads Public Citizen’s efforts to pass pay-to-play laws, said.

Propane suppliers, after crisis last winter, are better prepared

8/25/2014
The Kansas City Star: Propane suppliers, after crisis last winter, are better prepared by Steve Everly - “There continues to be an unreasonable assumption that market forces are always a rational reason for price spikes,” said Tyson Slocum, head of the energy program at Public Citizen, a consumer group.

Candidates should agree to stop avalanche of outside spending

8/25/2014
McClatchy-Tribune News: Candidates should agree to stop avalanche of outside spending - circulated op-ed by Robert Weissman

Schnurman: Texas powers down

8/25/2014
Dallas News: Schnurman: Texas powers down by Mitchell Schnurman - All these things stack up, so we’re using less electricity to do more work than ever before,” said David Power, deputy director of Public Citizen in Austin, which advocates for clean energy.

Election Panel Enacts Policies by Not Acting

8/25/2014
New York Times: Election Panel Enacts Policies by Not Acting by Nicholas Confessore - “The Republicans on the commission realized they can render the commission toothless,” said Mr. Holman, whose organization favors tougher disclosure rules and is suing the commission for what it says is a failure to enforce existing disclosure rules against Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a leading Republican outside group.

Pawlenty-led financial lobby opposes posting details of consumer complaints

8/25/2014
StarTribune Business: Pawlenty-led financial lobby opposes posting details of consumer complaints by Jim Spencer - “Americans are rightly jaundiced about the financial system,” said Bart Naylor, a financial policy specialist with the consumer group Public Citizen. Naylor called the Financial Services Roundtable campaign against story posting “a self-interested response that belittles consumers."

Special interests swamp elections

8/24/2014
The Daytona Beach News Journal: Special interests swamp elections - op-ed by Aquene Freechild

Attacks ads are killing our democracy

8/24/2014
Miami Herald: Attacks ads are killing our democracy - op-ed by Robert Weissman

Franking privilege lets Texans in House boast to voters via taxpayer-funded mail

8/23/2014
Dallas News: Franking privilege lets Texans in House boast to voters via taxpayer-funded mail by Kimberly Railey - “Franked mail is designed to make the incumbent look almost heroic,” said Craig Holman, a registered lobbyist for Public Citizen, a Washington-based government watchdog group. “It’s electioneering, and that’s the point of it.”

The rise of ‘Obama Inc.’

8/22/2014
The Hill: The rise of ‘Obama Inc.’ by Peter Schroeder - “This is the revolving door, and David is cashing in his connections,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “They have essentially bought David Plouffe’s rolodex.”

FCC gears up review of Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable

8/22/2014
Los Angeles Times: FCC gears up review of Comcast takeover of Time Warner Cable by Meg James - "A merger of Comcast and Time Warner could create a Frankenstein we can’t control, with skyrocketing prices and plummeting service," Robert Weissman, president of the consumer activist group Public Citizen, said in a Friday email designed to rally opposition.

‘Obama Inc.’ catapults ex-advisers into lucrative careers

8/22/2014
The Washington Times: ‘Obama Inc.’ catapults ex-advisers into lucrative careers by Cheryl K. Chumley - “This is the revolving door,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen told The Hill. “Obama’s done a great deal in terms of trying to rein in the revolving door, but the revolving door is still very profitable and very common.”

Plans to make you pay more to keep coal-fired power plants running is a "bailout," and other key findings of new poll

8/21/2014
The Plain Dealer: Plans to make you pay more to keep coal-fired power plants running is a "bailout," and other key findings of new poll by John Funk - "These poll results demonstrate that consumers ... have concluded that this plan to try to force consumers to pay for uneconomic generation units is outrageous," said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program. "It's great to see this kind of unified position ... that these proposals should not go forward."

DOJ reaches $17B Bank of America settlement

8/21/2014
Politico: DOJ reaches $17B Bank of America settlement by Jon Prior and Patrick Temple-West - “The public wants to know will anyone go to jail for crashing the economy? Sadly, shamefully, it appears the answer to these questions is no,” said Robert Weissman, president of the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen.

Bank of America looks ahead after levied $16 billion fine

8/21/2014
The Washington Times: Bank of America looks ahead after levied $16 billion fine by Phillip Swart- - “The public wants to know, will anyone go to jail for crashing the economy?” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit that represents consumer interests. “Will any executives or Wall Street Goliaths be held criminally liable for their misdeeds? Sadly, shamefully, it appears the answer to these questions is no,” he said Thursday.

Texas regulators OK expanding nuclear waste site

8/20/2014
Associated Press: Texas regulators OK expanding nuclear waste site by Betsy Blaney - And environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Public Citizen, have long worried about the local geology and contamination of underground water sources near the site, which can accept low-level nuclear waste from compact states Texas, Vermont and 36 other states.

Bank of America and DOJ near $17 billion settlement over mortgage securities

8/20/2014
Washington Post: Bank of America and DOJ near $17 billion settlement over mortgage securities by Danielle Douglas - “These frauds are massive and not immaculate; they must of been perpetrated by certain individuals, yet there is a lack of individual accountability,” said Bart Naylor, a financial policy advocate with the nonprofit group Public Citizen. “The penalties are being paid by shareholders, so where is the justice?”

Senators should vote to overturn Citizens United decision

8/19/2014
Richmond Times-Distpatch: Senators should vote to overturn Citizens United decision - Op-ed by Gail Beaman & Robert Weissman

Ryan opens new front in war on poverty

8/19/2014
The Hill: Ryan opens new front in war on poverty by Benjamin Goad - “The regulatory component trades on the fallacy that deregulation creates job growth and can alleviate poverty,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate for Public Citizen. “The empirical evidence simply doesn’t back this up, and the 2008 financial crash is a strong reminder that deregulation can be disastrous for our economy.”

Meet the ordinary people who are mobilizing around monetary policy

8/19/2014
The Washington Post: Meet the ordinary people who are mobilizing around monetary policy by Ylan Q. Mui - The Center for Popular Democracy is slated to release a letter Tuesday signed by more than 60 left-leaning organizations, ranging from community groups to bigger players such as the Economic Policy Institute, Public Citizen and Demos.

Here's Why North Carolina Keeps Getting Poorer

8/18/2014
Business Insider: Here's Why North Carolina Keeps Getting Poorer by Allan Smith - NAFTA allows free trade between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., and opponents of the agreement believed it would lead to the destruction of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs as well as plummeting wages, according to Public Citizen.

New medical technology poses safety problems if users not trained properly

8/18/2014
Crain’s Detroit Business: New medical technology poses safety problems if users not trained properly by Modern HealthCare - Determine true value: “Innovation that doesn’t advance medical care by making the quality better or by offering equal quality at better cost is not an advancement,” says Michael Carome, M.D., director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group.

Ethics Probe of Rep. Tom Petri Announced

8/18/2014
National Journal: Ethics Probe of Rep. Tom Petri Announced by Billy House - That report led one outside government-watch group, Public Citizen, to urge the OCE to begin a review of the potential conflict.

Feds delay implementing proposed 'factoryless' manufacturing category

8/15/2014
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Feds delay implementing proposed 'factoryless' manufacturing category by John Schmid - "This maneuver would obscure the erosion of U.S. manufacturing" and "disguise the mass-offshoring of U.S. middle-class factory jobs," blogged Ben Beachy, research director at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. "Let's just pretend we didn't offshore manufacturing," Beachy wrote.

Faster Drug Approvals Linked to Increased Safety Issues

8/14/2014
MedicineNet: Faster Drug Approvals Linked to Increased Safety Issues by Larry Hand - Drugs taken off the market before PDUFA "had an average review time for submission and approval of 3 years. The ones that were taken off after had an average review time of 1 year," says study coauthor Sidney M. Wolfe, MD, founder and senior adviser at the Health Research Group, Public Citizen, Washington, D.C. "That was certainly one of the purposes of PDUFA, but the failure to really treat these two groups of drugs [breakthrough and non-breakthrough] differently is what the problem is."

Retailers imprinting their brands on public school district

8/14/2014
The Sacramento Bee: Retailers imprinting their brands on public school district by Loretta Kalb - Consumer advocates at Public Citizen acknowledge cringing at the level of marketing being directed at public school students. “They are selling the access to their kids and doing the marketing work for a gigantic corporation,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, which runs Commercial Alert, a project that focuses on excessive commercialism in society.

It Just Got Easier to Lobby Federal Agencies

8/14/2014
Government Executive: It Just Got Easier to Lobby Federal Agencies by Eric Katz - Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, called the rule “disheartening,” and said Obama decided to “surrender to K Street.” The reversal “gives lobbyists the opportunity to tout their access and raise their lobbying fees,” Holman said. He added the original ban prevented “hired guns” with no real expertise on the issue they were lobbying on to have a voice on major policies. “It marks a full retreat by the Obama administration,” Holman said.

Unions Question Obama's Manufacturing Plan

8/14/2014
Career Magazine: Unions Question Obama's Manufacturing Plan by Matt Shelly - Lori Wallach, director of the Global Trade Watch division of the advocacy group Public Citizen, denounced the proposed changes as "Orwellian." According to Wallach, the reclassification would obscure the real state of manufacturing in the United States, making it easier for politicians to go ahead with trade pacts that could destroy even more American manufacturing jobs.

Energy Regulators, Advocates Wary of Merger’s Impact on Consumers

8/14/2014
NJ Spotlight: Energy Regulators, Advocates Wary of Merger’s Impact on Consumers by Tom Johnson - Public Citizen Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based public interest group, also weighed in against the merger, saying it would shift the operational risk stemming from Exelon’s dealings in the wholesale power market from the company’s shareholders to Pepco’s nearly 1.4 million “captive” household ratepayers.

On Use Of Experimental Ebola Drugs, U.S. Under Increased Pressure

8/14/2014
Mint News Press: On Use Of Experimental Ebola Drugs, U.S. Under Increased Pressure by Carey Biron - “It’s not surprising that drug companies aren’t aggressively seeking treatments for Ebola. They wouldn’t be moneymakers,” Michael Carome, a physician and director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group here, told MintPress News. “For this reason, this is exactly the type of area where we need government support, from U.S. agencies and from other governments.”

Report Finds Keystone XL Would Be Even Worse Than Predicted

8/13/2014
EcoWatch: Report Finds Keystone XL Would Be Even Worse Than Predicted by Nicole D'Alessandro - How important are these findings? Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program, joins Hartmann to discuss oil prices, tar sands, climate—and the big question on opponents’ minds: Could this be the final nail in the coffin for the Keystone XL pipeline?

GOP looks to shake loose more Wall Street cash

8/13/2014
Politico: GOP looks to shake loose more Wall Street cash by Patrick Temple-West - “It’s the same sort of tired argument that all opponents to money in politics use — that any kind of practical regulation is just intended to stifle free speech,” said Lisa Gilbert, a director with the left-leaning advocacy group Public Citizen. “It is even more ludicrous in this area where there is a long-standing precedent of regulating to protect investors.”

Banks Woo Treasury Sanctions Pros to Navigate Complex U.S. Rules

8/13/2014
Bloomberg: Banks Woo Treasury Sanctions Pros to Navigate Complex U.S. Rules by Kasia Klimasinska, Dakin Campbell and Ian Katz - Robert Weissman, president of the Washington-based government watchdog Public Citizen, said that while “it’s always a problem when regulators leave their job and go to work for the businesses they previously were regulating,” he is less troubled in this case.

Obama Donors Embrace Corporate Inversions He Criticizes

8/13/2014
Bloomberg: Obama Donors Embrace Corporate Inversions He Criticizes by Richard Rubin and Annie Linskey - It’s to Obama’s credit that he’s willing to criticize his donors, said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a Washington-based group that describes itself as a “countervailing force” to companies.

U.S. trade deal might loosen Europe’s chemical safety rules

8/13/2014
McClatchy DC: U.S. trade deal might loosen Europe’s chemical safety rules by John Moritz - “It appears the EU and U.S. regulators have bought the chemical industry’s argument that this trade deal should go beyond trade to regulation,” said Ben Beachy, the research director of Global Trade Watch, a division of Public Citizen, a nonpartisan public policy group.

‘All of Us Feel Absolutely Betrayed’

8/12/2014
In These Times: ‘All of Us Feel Absolutely Betrayed’ by Cole Stangler - Tyson Slocum, director of the Energy Program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, stresses the chief prize of Monday’s compromise—the 18-member advisory commission—is no consolation. “You’ve taken a big step down from giving the people of Colorado a direct say to an advisory committee that can give recommendations that aren’t binding,” Slocum says. “It’s replacing something that had teeth with something that’s window dressing.”

White House vs. K Street

8/12/2014
Politico: White House vs. K Street by Byron Tau - “K Street lobbyists want to attack the ethics waiver and argue that it isn’t doing anything, but it has had a very, very significant impact,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the watchdog group Public Citizen.

White House drops part of lobbyist ban

8/12/2014
USA Today: White House drops part of lobbyist ban by Fredreka Schouten - The rule change, reported earlier Tuesday by Politico, was criticized by at least one ethics watchdog. Craig Holman of Public Citizen argued that the administration should have kept the legal fight going. "It's a complete retreat from what Obama had started four years ago," he said.

What Happens in Geneva…

8/11/2014
In These Times: What Happens in Geneva… by Cole Stangler - “You only have to wonder what’s in there, if they’re so afraid of citizens and civil society and workers to actually see what they’re negotiating,” says Melinda St. Louis, international campaigns director with Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a watchdog group.

Waiting for the next Watergate

8/9/2014
Politico: Waiting for the next Watergate by Byron Tau - “One of the jobs of the reform community is to identify the problems in the system as it stands and to try to create good policy proposals — and then wait for the scandal,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of the Congress Watch division at the pro-reform group Public Citizen.

Why Germany is Backing Away from a Trade Deal that Lets Corporations Sue the Government

8/8/2014
Nation of Change: Why Germany is Backing Away from a Trade Deal that Lets Corporations Sue the Government by Alexis Goldstein - The fallout has been dramatic: Corporations have used the NAFTA tribunals to win big-ticket monetary settlements from the taxpayers of nations whose domestic laws interfere with corporate profits. According to a report by the consumer-rights advocacy group Public Citizen, there are 17 pending claims in which corporations are seeking a total of $38 billion through NAFTA and other deals.

Made in the U.S.A.?

8/8/2014
In These Times: Made in the U.S.A.? by David Sirota - “These Orwellian data rebranding proposals would hide the damage wrought by past trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement, greasing the way for more-of-the-same job-killing, deficit-boosting trade deals,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

They shut off our water: When I was 13 and poor, this is what we endured

8/8/2014
Salon: They shut off our water: When I was 13 and poor, this is what we endured by Robert Hennelly - Public Citizen reports that across the country, once a private water company takes over the public system, consumers typically see on average an 18 percent spike every two years in their rates.

County of 95 Sees Opportunity in Toxic Waste

8/7/2014
The New York Times: County of 95 Sees Opportunity in Toxic Waste - “Interim” storage, though, would mean adding a cumbersome job: shipping the fuel a second time, for burial. Or maybe not. “If we let this waste into Texas, it’s likely never to be shipped anywhere else, because nobody really wants it,” said Tom Smith, an energy advocate at Public Citizen in Austin.

Democrat vying for Eric Cantor’s seat neglected to file financial disclosure

8/6/2014
The Washington Times: Democrat vying for Eric Cantor’s seat neglected to file financial disclosure - by Jim McElhatton - Craig Holman, legislative representative for the watchdog group Public Citizen, said financial disclosure forms contain critical information that provide the public with a way to discern potential conflicts of interest and “judge the merits of those who want to be our elected representatives.”

To pick staff, Scalise turns to lobbyist

8/6/2014
Politico: To pick staff, Scalise turns to lobbyist - By Anna Palmer - Public Citizen’s Craig Holman said that this is just one of the many ways that Republicans have “inappropriate” connections with lobbyists, pointing to how House GOP leaders culled a list of K Street figures who could make chiefs of staff when Republicans took control of the chamber in 2010.

Safety concerns about new drugs revealed

8/4/2014
Science Daily: Safety concerns about new drugs revealed - by Boston University Medical Center - "The FDA's resources for reviewing drugs have increased dramatically since the passage of PDUFA, amounting to $760 million this fiscal year from pharmaceutical companies, about two-thirds of the agency's drug review budget," said study co-author Sidney Wolfe, MD, founder of Public Citizen's Health Research Group and author of "Worst Pills, Best Pills.

Chamber lost its way in right turn

8/1/2014
Las Vegas Sun: Chamber lost its way in right turn - In the 16 years he has run the Chamber of Commerce, Donohue has turned it into a potent force, in no small part by making it more partisan. But by being so blindly pro-Republican, the chamber “unleashed a Frankenstein that has spun out of control,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, which monitors the Chamber of Commerce.