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2018 Year in Review: Introduction

2018 was marked by unprecedented challenges. We faced an administration hostile to the rule of law, dominated by corporate interests, rife with authoritarian tendencies, dismissive of ethics and scornful of facts. Congress was dominated by a party that didn’t stand up to – or question – the administration, instead focusing on pushing extreme corporate policies. And the political, social and economic crises gripping the country grew worse in part because of the staggering political and economic inequality stemming from the corporate dominance of government.

But together, we defended our democracy, advanced justice, protected the nation’s health and safety, battled against corruption and stared down corporate power. We undertook groundbreaking research, mobilized massive nationwide protests, successfully sued the Trump administration and got dangerous substances removed from the market.

And we scored some amazing wins.

We helped launch a bold and broad coalition to win transformational democratic reform. That work has helped make reform the first order of business for the incoming U.S. House of Representatives.

We helped lead the massive national network of activists ready to respond whenever President Donald Trump works to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The work paid off when Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired. In just a day, the network organized nationwide demonstrations involving more than 100,000 people to condemn the acting attorney general’s threats to Mueller.

We coordinated national support for the Florida Second Chances initiative, which restored voting rights to 1.4 million people with a past felony conviction. And we successfully urged the Federal Election Commission to begin rulemaking on disclaimers for Internet advertising.

We exposed pervasive conflicts of interests and violations of ethics standards, filing 29 separate ethics complaints against former lobbyists working in the Trump administration in violation of the administration’s ethics order.

And in the summer, a year and a half after Public Citizen called for an investigation into the stock trading activity of U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), the lawmaker was arrested and indicted on charges of insider trading.

We also helped force out of office – amid ethics scandals – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke.

In 2018, we also advanced bold and innovative proposals to limit the power of Big Pharma and the health insurers, and slash medicine prices. We organized, lobbied and built momentum for Medicare-for-All. And we brought to light unethical trials being conducted throughout the country.

On the legal front, one of our successful lawsuits forced the administration to implement important protections for students victimized by predatory for-profit colleges. Another successful lawsuit forced key White House agencies to make public their visitor logs, so the public knows who is influencing policy.

Our litigation preserved funding for grant recipients from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and we helped force the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement an important low-income housing rule that it had tried to delay.

Through an open records request, we discovered the systematic mismanagement of a U.S. Department of Education grant program for school teachers, forcing major reform.

In 2018, Public Citizen pulled out the stops to win a final NAFTA deal we can support – or to block one that fails to deliver for people, not just corporations.

We also worked feverishly in 2018 to address climate change. In July, with the United Farm Workers and more than 100 organizations, we filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Labor demanding the first federal heat protections for workers. We also released research detailing the extreme heat conditions faced by tens of millions of U.S. workers and how climate change will continue to exacerbate these dangerous temperatures.

We shamed Ford Motor Company over its hypocrisy in supporting the Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Car standards. And we bolstered our Cover Climate initiative to encourage the major media to start covering climate seriously. We pushed for major climate action plans in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Because of our activism, a large San Antonio coal power plant shut down on Dec. 31.

Public Citizen also led the fight to defend the nation’s health, safety, consumer and other regulatory protections from attacks coordinated by Big Business and the Trump administration.

We published groundbreaking research showing that fines levied against corporations plunged once Trump took office. And we played a leading role in winning reforms to the congressional procedures for addressing and responding to claims of discrimination and harassment.

We did all this and more not only with the extraordinary and committed Public Citizen staff, but also the 500,000 Public Citizen members and supporters who work alongside us every day. Together, we are making extraordinary things happen.