THIS WEEK: Legal defense for occupiers, congressional insider trading, trade talks

Today, folks are still buzzing about our late afternoon release re: Ron Paul’s YouTube lawsuit last Friday. In other news, Scott Michelman, another star Public Citizen litigation team member is dealing with a troubling issue of unchartered legal "Public Citizen Lady Liberty"territory. While police were mobilizing for the removal of Occupy DC protestors today, Occupy Chattanooga protestors were grappling with a lawsuit– that’s right, a lawsuit.

Although Occupy movements in various cities have initiated court battles over the extent of their rights, this lawsuit appears to be the first of its kind against Occupy demonstrators. Michelman explains,

By suing demonstrators for a ruling on its own law and seeking to recover fees and costs, the county is trying to impose a monetary penalty on a group of innocent people for their political activity – or, in the case of the defendants who are not associated with the Occupy movement, for other people’s political activity. Allowing this case to proceed would set a dangerous precedent for local governments using the threat of court costs to chill political speech.

For more on this troubling case see our press release.

Meanwhile, Public Citizen’s campaign finance and governmental ethics expert Craig Holman has his fingers crossed, as should all Americans. Holman has lobbied hard for the passage of the STOCK Act. Don’t let acronyms deceive! This isn’t a bill for Wall Street elites. STOCK stands for Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act. The STOCK Act, which would prohibit insider trading by members of Congress and their staffs (yes, right now it’s legal), got a much-needed boost last week when President Barack Obama during his State of the Union speech called on Congress to pass it. The bill, which Public Citizen has been advocating for years, got a shot in the arm late last year after a “60 Minutes” segment. However, lawmakers put it on the back burner – until now. This week, likely on Wednesday or Thursday, the Senate will vote on the STOCK Act.

Also this week, Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines program, is in Los Angeles and San Diego to monitor negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement. From what we’ve heard, it likely will include some of the same damaging provisions of NAFTA. The trouble is, officials aren’t releasing the negotiating text – which means they are keeping the public in the dark on a critical international pact. Check out Maybarduk (1:33:15) in this video from today and be sure to follow @PCMedsAccess for the latest on intellectual property debates with real-world applications happening there!