December 2017 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.

Consumers were the biggest losers of 2017

12/28/2017
NBC News: Consumers were the biggest losers of 2017 by Herb Weisbaum - In his first week in office, President Trump vowed to slash regulations by 75 percent or more. The administration’s goal of “cutting the red tape” has resulted in what Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, the non-profit consumer rights advocacy group started by Ralph Nader, calls “a disaster” for consumers.  “With companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax illustrating, yet again, that big companies feel completely free to exploit, rip off and endanger consumers, if it helps profits, the Trump administration rushed to remove the federal cops on the beat,” Weissman said.

Senate will not consider Buerkle, Auburn native, for consumer safety chair — for now

12/28/2017
The Citizen: Senate will not consider Buerkle, Auburn native, for consumer safety chair — for now by Robert Harding - Public Citizen is one of the consumer groups that opposed Buerkle's nomination. Remington Gregg, the organization's counsel for civil justice and consumer rights, said one reason why they are concerned about Buerkle leading the agency is they don't think she believes in its mission. "We have not seen a commitment from Ms. Buerkle ... We feel so strongly that she is the wrong person to lead this commission," Gregg said in a phone interview Wednesday.

FDA leaves tainted foods on shelves too long, report finds

12/28/2017
The New York Times: FDA leaves tainted foods on shelves too long, report finds by Sheila Kaplan - Dr. Sidney Wolfe, senior adviser at Public Citizen, an advocacy group he founded, said six years after the law was signed, the F.D.A. should have made more progress.  “The kinds of things that the inspector general has found are things that might be excusable in the first couple of years,” said Dr. Wolfe. “But not seven years into it.”

Ann Marie Buerkle among Trump nominees turned back by Senate

12/27/2017
Post-Standard Online: Ann Marie Buerkle among Trump nominees turned back by Senate by Mark Weiner - Public Citizen, a nonprofit group that advocates for consumer rights, opposed Buerkle's nomination and said she doesn't always protect the best interests of American consumers.

2018 could be even worse for consumers

12/26/2017
Yahoo Finance: 2018 could be even worse for consumers by Ethan Wolff-Mann - While Lisa Gilbert, VP of legislative affairs at Public Citizen, fears 2018 will be worse, she noted that some corporations are choosing to be good actors, picking up some slack left by the government.

Trump’s opponents plan demonstrations if Mueller is fired

12/26/2017
The Washington Post: Trump’s opponents plan demonstrations if Mueller is fired by Tim Craig - “It’s pretty rare that people would commit to mobilize around something that we don’t even know will happen, so it shows the energy and passion out there,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, a Washington-based environmental and government reform organization. “The reaction will be swift.”

EPA ends media research deal with GOP-tied firm amid complaints

12/22/2017
EPA ends media research deal with GOP-tied firm amid complaints by Jacqueline Toth - The Environmental Working Group and the left-leaning American Oversight watchdog group on Monday urged the EPA Office of Inspector General to look into why the agency awarded the contract without bidding, and consumer advocacy group Public Citizen filed a protest Tuesday with the Government Accountability Office about the contract on behalf of two communications agencies that “would have offered a bid” had they been asked. The protest requested the contract be rescinded.

Ivanka Trump botches some simple facts about tax reform

12/22/2017
Salon: Ivanka Trump botches some simple facts about tax reform by Matthew Rozsa - But, as the government watchdog group Public Citizen discovered, 6,243 of the nearly 11,000 lobbyists listed in 2016 disclosure forms focused on working with members of Congress on specific tax reform issues.

Ex-industry lobbyists win top jobs in agencies they once fought

12/21/2017
Bloomberg Businessweek: Ex-industry lobbyists win top jobs in agencies they once fought by Jennifer A Dlouhy and Jesse Hamilton - But experience and expertise don’t “cure fundamental conflicts,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen.  “You can claim these people have experience and expertise, but the public is losing faith in our government’s ability to protect the public and to act on behalf of the public and the public interest, rather than corporate special interest,” Narang said. “Even the appearance of corruption is deeply corrosive to faith in our government.”

Unregulated herpes experiments expose 'black hole' of accountability

12/21/2017
The Washington Post: Unregulated herpes experiments expose 'black hole' of accountability by Marisa Taylor - “This researcher basically violated all of the regulatory requirements and ethical principles guiding human subject research,” said Michael Carome, a doctor who directs the health research group for the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen. “Unfortunately, it seems everyone is trying to distance themselves here to avoid legal liability and a public relations embarrassment.”

How the tax bill will impact Silicon Valley: Great for big tech, good for startups

12/21/2017
Fast Company: How the tax bill will impact Silicon Valley: Great for big tech, good for startups by Marcus Baram - To push for that reduced rate, they spent a lot of money on lobbyists, increasing their spending in the third quarter of 2017 by 24.3% (compared to the same quarter in 2016). Microsoft alone had 81 lobbyists from 16 different firms (and Amazon had 64 lobbyists) working for them to influence Congress specifically on tax issues in the first three quarters of 2017, according to Public Citizen.

FDA to study if consumers, doctors can spot deceptive drug ads

12/21/2017
Bloomberg BNA: FDA to study if consumers, doctors can spot deceptive drug ads by Bronwyn Mixter - Not many people will know when an ad is deceptive because they either don’t know what’s in a drug’s label or they don’t know what a company is required to disclose in a website advertisement, Sammy Almashat, a researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told Bloomberg Law recently. “We would like to point out that the FDA has primary responsibility to enforce its own laws and unfortunately, this has been happening less and less over the previous decade or so,” Almashat said.

Consulting firm whose staff scoured EPA employees' emails loses media contract

12/20/2017
The New York Times: Consulting firm whose staff scoured EPA employees' emails loses media contract by Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman - The move to drop the contract came after a liberal nonprofit group, Public Citizen, filed a formal protest late Monday with the Government Accountability Office saying that Definers had illegally been granted the deal. Public Citizen cited contract records indicating that no other bidders had been considered. The protest was filed on behalf of two other companies that offer similar services to the ones that Definers had been hired to deliver.

EPA to end controversial contract with conservative ‘media monitoring’ firm

12/20/2017
The Washington Post: EPA to end controversial contract with conservative ‘media monitoring’ firm by Brady Dennis - Previously, the liberal nonprofit group, Public Citizen, had filed a formal complaint on behalf of firms that provide similar services, questioning the process the agency used in awarding the contract to Definers. It claims the contract was “impermissibly awarded on a no-bid basis.” The EPA said Tuesday one other vendor had responded to a notice about the contract posted on federal websites, but it ultimately was awarded to Definers. Agency officials would not disclose the identity of the other firm.

Senators want EPA to "immediately" cancel contract with Republican research firm

12/20/2017
Mother Jones: Senators want EPA to "immediately" cancel contract with Republican research firm by Andy Kroll, Rebecca Leber and Russ Choma - “Everything about this contract looks bad,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen. “In the best case scenario, the contract was outrageously issued on a sole-source basis for work that dozens of firms could perform, to a partisan firm that just so happens to be investigating EPA employees for opposition to Trump’s anti-science agenda. In the worst-case scenario, something far more nefarious is going on.”

Battle rages over tax rules for churches

12/19/2017
The Hill: Battle rages over tax rules for churches by Megan R. Wilson - Should a repeal pass, “it’s going to be a brand new unregulated space,” said Lisa Gilbert, the vice president of legislative affairs at Public Citizen. “The IRS doesn’t have capacity to grapple with it.”

GOP pushes back as Trump’s lawyer tries to stack the bench

12/19/2017
Daily Beast: GOP pushes back as Trump’s lawyer tries to stack the bench by Sam Stein - Craig Holman, the Government Affairs Lobbyist for the good government group Public Citizen, said that the problem with the current system was not, necessarily, that McGahn had centralized control of the nomination process so much as the type of picks that he was making. They seem, Hollman told The Daily Beast, “nearly all based on ideology rather than merit or experience.”

More than 100,000 people vow to protest if Trump fires Mueller

12/19/2017
The Hill: More than 100,000 people vow to protest if Trump fires Mueller by Mallory Shelbourne - The effort includes groups like the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Truman National Security Project, Public Citizen, Stand Up America, MoveOn.org Civic Action, March for Truth, Indivisible, People for the American Way, Common Cause and Democracy 21.

How does congressional leadership handle sexual harassment cases? It depends.

12/18/2017
USA Today: How does congressional leadership handle sexual harassment cases? It depends. by Eliza Collins - "It seems to me that there isn't (a new normal) yet. I think people are grappling with it on a very case-by-case basis," Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs at Public Citizen, a progressive watchdog group told USA TODAY. "This is perhaps a PR gambit to slightly get ahead of things and show that they are taking it seriously."

Under threat of regulation, profiteers blame each other for high drug prices

12/18/2017
Truthout: Under threat of regulation, profiteers blame each other for high drug prices by Mike Ludwig - Steven Knievel, an advocate with Public Citizen's Access to Medicines campaign, said insurance companies have been raising deductibles and copays in order to keep premiums down, which are what customers pay the most attention to when shopping for plans.  "This has been their response to higher drug prices generally, to hold down premiums as far as getting more customers to buy insurance," Knievel told Truthout in an interview.

Social-media stars are turning heads—of regulators

12/18/2017
The Wall Street Journal: Social-media stars are turning heads—of regulators by Matthew Dalton - “Until there are actual consequences for breaking this rule, I don’t think people are going to take it seriously,” says Kristen Strader of Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group.

With billions at stake, lobbyists played hardball

12/15/2017
The New York Times: With billions at stake, lobbyists played hardball by Kenneth P. Vogel and Jim Tankersley - In all, more than half of the 11,000 registered lobbyists in Washington reported working on tax-related issues through the first nine months of the year, according to a report released this month by the nonprofit group Public Citizen.

Trump pledges to cut regulations down to 1960 levels — but that may be impossible

12/15/2017
The Washington Post: Trump pledges to cut regulations down to 1960 levels — but that may be impossible by Juliet Eilperin - Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, said in an email that Trump’s move to require to offset the costs of any new regulation will delay needed public health protections. “The latest unified agenda is a perfect illustration of the deeply harmful real-world impacts of Trump’s deregulatory push,” Narang said in the email. “Corporate interests may celebrate, but the public will pay.”

Trump is playing a fascinating game with NAFTA negotiations

12/15/2017
The Nation: Trump is playing a fascinating game with NAFTA negotiations by David Dayen - Just before yesterday’s national day of action on NAFTA, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch put the negotiations into three buckets. In the first were Lighthizer proposals that mirrored long-standing demands of NAFTA critics. The corporate lobby, on the other hand, is trying to shut down the process, imploring Canada and Mexico to refuse to engage. “Their theory is that ultimately the administration will back off on what they’re revising, and they will get what they want: adding TPP to NAFTA,” said Lori Wallach.

Trump touts deregulation by his administration

12/15/2017
The Hill: Trump touts deregulation by his administration by Lydia Wheeler - “Trump wants to take our country back to a 1960’s level of regulation. I don’t think any Americans are nostalgic for burning rivers, haze you can’t see through, exploding cars and cars with no seatbelts. But apparently President Trump is,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen.

Bernie Sanders tells Trump to keep his promise on NAFTA

12/14/2017
Bloomberg: Bernie Sanders tells Trump to keep his promise on NAFTA by Andrew Mayeda - Trump may need votes from the left if he hopes to pass a revised Nafta. That means courting organizations such as advocacy group Public Citizen, which opposes much of Trump’s agenda, including his views on climate change and bank regulations. However, the non-profit is tentatively backing several U.S.

Many comments on regulations are fake, WSJ investigation finds

12/14/2017
The Hill: Many comments on regulations are fake, WSJ investigation finds by Lydia Wheeler - Amit Narang, a regulatory policy advocate at Public Citizen, said he's worried agencies will start limiting the public's ability to comment, given the pervasiveness of fake submissions.   "It would be damaging to democratic public participation in the rulemaking process and democratic accountability over our government if agencies restricted the ability of the public to comment during rulemakings," he said.

Tax bill: John Cornyn’s fossil fuel provision would personally enrich Republican lawmakers

12/13/2017
International Business Times: Tax bill: John Cornyn’s fossil fuel provision would personally enrich Republican lawmakers by David Sirota, Alex Kotch, Josh Keefe and Jay Cassano - “Trump has set the tone for Republican officials, from the White House to the administration to Congress: self-dealing by public officials for personal gain is to be treated as business as usual and, if politically possible, no longer subject to ethics constraints,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman told IBT after learning of lawmakers’ personal financial interest in the tax provision. “Public officials in the Trump administration and the Republican Congress today have a green light to use their trusted positions to enrich themselves — and they are doing so.”

FDA Plans New Medical-Device Approval Processes

12/12/2017
Wall Street Journal Online: FDA Plans New Medical-Device Approval Processes by Thomas M. Burton - Michael Carome, director of the consumer-oriented Public Citizen Health Research Group, said this step “ultimately will weaken the process for clearing medical devices, and the gold standard for devices already was weak.”

Lobbyists bring holiday cheer to lawmakers and congressional staff with glitzy parties

12/8/2017
The Intercept: Lobbyists bring holiday cheer to lawmakers and congressional staff with glitzy parties by Lee Fang - “Businesses and their lobbyists use holiday receptions as significant influence-peddling events,” said Craig Holman, an ethics and campaign finance expert with Public Citizen.

The 4 companies that lobbied most on tax overhaul — and what they got for it

12/8/2017
Vox: The 4 companies that lobbied most on tax overhaul — and what they got for it by Alexia Fernández Campbell - With Republicans in control of the House and Senate, and the prospect for a deal on tax reform looking promising, lobbying reached a pinnacle this year, with 2,065 groups pushing their cause, according to reports published by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The efforts are employing more than 6,000 lobbyists, the nonpartisan Public Citizen counted.

Tax breaks for beer, unborn children are among goodies in Republican bill

12/7/2017
Los Angeles Times: Tax breaks for beer, unborn children are among goodies in Republican bill by Lisa Mascaro - "Charities and nonprofits don't want this," said Emily Peterson-Cassin, a project coordinator at the watchdog group Public Citizen. "They believe it's going to be super divisive and open them up to partisan manipulation."

Tax bill: Former House staffers return, now representing special interests

12/7/2017
International Business Times: Tax bill: Former House staffers return, now representing special interests by Alex Kotch and David Sirota - The prospect of sweeping tax reform has generated a lobbying blitz in Washington. More than 6,200 lobbyists tried to influence members of Congress on tax issues this year, according to a report by Public Citizen. That K Street army descended on Capitol Hill as the public was left largely in the dark: There were no public hearings on the Senate version of the bill — which in any case was changed at the last minute by Texas Sen. John Cornyn’s lengthy amendment late on Friday night.

Some of the worst stuff in Congress happens quietly

12/7/2017
Esquire: Some of the worst stuff in Congress happens quietly by Charles P. Pierce - And, according to an analysis by Public Citizen, it removes what has been called “enhanced supervision” from banks that control $3.5 trillion in assets and that received $48 billion in bailout money back during the height of the crisis. There are various provisions regarding mortgages, all of them favoring the lender, and the bill offers pale relief to the victims of the massive Equifax data breach. Stress tests also disappear for all banks. Small bank relief, my elbow.

Analysis: More than 6,000 lobbyists have worked on taxes in 2017

12/4/2017
The Hill Online: Analysis: More than 6,000 lobbyists have worked on taxes in 2017 by Megan R. Wilson - Tax reform is taking over Washington, so much so that more than half of all registered lobbyists have disclosed working on the issue, according to an analysis from Public Citizen, a government watchdog group. “The mind-boggling number of lobbyists corporate America has hired to reshape the tax code is of almost biblical proportions and undoubtedly cost a fortune,” said Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president of legislative affairs.

5 Ordinary People Who Captured the Internet's Heart in 2017

12/1/2017
TIME Online: 5 Ordinary People Who Captured the Internet's Heart in 2017 by Ashley Hoffman - A person dressed as the Monopoly man spurred national coverage when they showed up to a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Equifax data breach, spreading long-lasting joy across the Internet in October. (The person was Amanda Werner, an arbitration campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform who wore the Rich Uncle Pennybags getup to raise awareness about forced arbitration that happened as a result of the credit bureau’s data breach). People had questions about the stunt, and Werner’s Reddit AMA garnered a whopping 80,000 points.