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Accomplishments


2014

  • Public Citizen successfully argued that injury to corporate reputation doesn’t justify sealing a court case. In Company Doe v. Public Citizen, Public Citizen challenged a lower court order sealing court documents and permitting a company to litigate its case under a pseudonym. The company, later revealed to be baby carrier maker Ergobaby, had sued the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to stop a negative report about its product from being put in the commission’s online product safety database. Public Citizen’s victory solidified the integrity of the federal database designed to warn consumers about faulty products and confirmed the importance of public access to courts.
  • After six years and an impending date with Public Citizen in court, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a new auto safety standard to improve rear visibility of vehicles and prevent deaths that occur when drivers back over people that they cannot see. A 2008 law named after a young child that was killed in such an accident, Cameron Gulbransen, required the DOT to issue a rear visibility standard by February 2011, but the Obama administration delayed issuing the rule.
  • A judge substantially narrowed a restrictive injunction placed on Pennsylvania anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins. At the request of Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, Scroggins had been barred from more than 300 square miles of her native Susquehanna County, including her grocery store and the nearest hospital.
  • The federal government in February acknowledged that merchants who use images and names of the government agencies on parody merchandise are not violating federal laws. The admission settled a lawsuit against the National Security Administration (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In that suit, Public Citizen represented Libertymaniacs.com, which sold T-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and other items that used NSA and DHS seals for parody. Public Citizen argued that there exists a First Amendment right to sell parody merchandise using government seals.


2013

  • By the end of the year, support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision stood at around 40 percent of each of the three thresholds needed, due largely to the work of Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People campaign and its allies around the country. Thirty-one senators were sponsoring or co-sponsoring an amendment, which is 46 percent of the 67 senatorial votes needed. Additionally, 16 of the 38 states needed to ratify an amendment have passed official resolutions or ballot measures.
  • In response to a 2011 Public Citizen petition, the FDA in November 2013 proposed a rule allowing generic drug manufactures to update labels when they learn about new risks their medications pose. This important patient safety measure is needed because generic drug manufactures are not permitted to update their labels unless the brand-name manufacturer has done so. The rule still must be finalized.
  • A report co-authored by Public Citizen and the Ban the Bags campaign issued in October showed that the vast majority of the nation’s top hospitals have stopped infant formula promotion, including through the give-away of free samples. Public Citizen’s report was the next step in its national campaign to end formula promotion in health care facilities and proved that its efforts are paying off. Additionally, more than 16,600 people signed Public Citizen’s petition calling on the three major formula companies to stop marketing in health care facilities.
  • Two years after receiving a Public Citizen petition calling for the addition of a black box warning to the label of the risky anti-biotic tigecycline, the FDA agreed with the organization. On September 27, the FDA announced that this antibiotic – approved for use to treat a wide range of serious infections and sold by Pfizer under the brand name Tygacil – would now have to carry a black box warning, the strongest measure the FDA can take short of banning a drug all together.
  • In early March, following a 2012 letter Public Citizen sent to the FDA urging the agency to end the distribution, sale and promotion of the LipoTron medical device because it was unapproved and potentially dangerous, the FDA sent its manufacturer a letter telling it that the device needs FDA approval and should not be marketed until that approval is secured.
  • Due to the efforts of Public Citizen and the Corporate Reform Coalition, the Securities and Exchange Commission has received more than 700,000 comments in support of a petition by year’s end asking the agency to require disclosure of all political spending.
  • The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, which Public Citizen co-chairs, successfully opposed a series of anti-regulatory amendments that a number of U.S. senators attempted to add into the budget bill in March. These amendments, which would have made it much harder for federal agencies to do their jobs and protect the public, were eventually rejected before they reached a vote, thanks to the rapid response effort led by the coalition.
  • Charles Schwab Corp. announced in early May that it would remove a provision in its investor contracts that denied its customers the ability to band together in class actions defending it, three weeks after Public Citizen launched its “Stand Up to Chuck” campaign that prompted more than 17,000 activists to sign a petition calling on the corporation to remove the class-action ban.
  • The U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in August that a police officer from Burbank, Calif., who disclosed the abuse of suspects by his fellow law officers, was engaging in speech protected by the First Amendment, thanks to Public Citizen’s help in ensuring his case was heard before a federal appeals court.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously sided with Public Citizen in the Dan’s City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey decision, handed down in May, allowing that the owner of a car may sue a towing company under state law for impermissibly selling his or her towed car. Public Citizen’s Adina Rosenbaum was Supreme Court co-counsel in the case.
  • After an extensive push by Public Citizen, companies that proposed building two Texas power plants that would have burned dirty fossil fuels abandoned the projects; instead, the companies decided to focus on wind power.
  • Public Citizen publicized a jaw-dropping study which revealed that the federal government funded an experiment that exposed premature babies to death and blindness and that the parents were not informed of these risks. Public Citizen's study received national media attention.


2012

  • The STOCK Act was passed by Congress and signed to law by President Barack Obama. Since 2006, Public Citizen lobbied tirelessly to get the STOCK Act passed. As a result of the new law, senators, representatives and their staff must abide by the same insider trading rules as everyone else.
  • The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the substantial parts of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which required that new, government-selected graphic warnings be placed on cigarette packages. Public Citizen, along with various other groups, filed a friend-of-the-court brief which urged that the law be upheld.
  • By the end of 2012, 11 states, more than 350 localities and more than 125 members of Congress endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This was made possible due to the successful campaigning done by Public Citizen and other organizations.
  • Public Citizen and the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards successfully pushed back against the Regulatory Accountability Act and the Independent Agency Regulatory Analysis Act, both bills that would have obstructed the regulatory process by introducing major delays and limiting the ability of agencies to implement regulations.
  • Largely due to the work of Public Citizen and its allies, the Austin City Council reduced the size of its originally proposed electric rate. The city reduced its monthly fees for residential customers from $22 to $10.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court reversed an injunction issued against a woman who posted criticisms about her former contractor on Yelp. Public Citizen successfully argued that the injunction violated the First Amendment.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a temporary suspension to BP; the suspension barred BP from engaging in new federal contracts. This was after intense lobbying by Public Citizen and other organizations.
  • Public Citizen pushed for and helped pass the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which extends whistleblower protections beyond the first person who discloses fraud, waste and/or abuse of authority. It gives federal workers more opportunity and resources to ensure a more efficient and well run government.
  • Public Citizen won a U.S. Supreme Court case, successfully defending consumers’ right to recover damages based on abusive “robocalls.” In Mims v. Arrow Financial Services, the justices ruled that consumers can continue to turn to the federal court system when victimized by corporations abusing the auto-dialed calls.

  • President Barack Obama rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried tar sands crude oil – the dirtiest type of oil in the world – through the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for millions of Americans and provides 30 percent of the nation’s irrigation groundwater. Public Citizen played a major role in protesting the Keystone XL pipeline through means such as orchestrating turnout for protests, helping document the environmental threat and participating in a sit-in in front of the White House.

  • Public Citizen successfully defended activists from Occupy Chattanooga in court who were being sued by the county government for violating a new anti-protesting ordinance, arguing that a local government cannot sue its citizens to get a court ruling that its own law is constitutional and then force the individuals to pay the county’s litigation costs

  • Because of a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and other groups, a federal court said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must address the growing human health threats resulting from the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed.

  • Public Citizen persuaded the Wyoming Department of Health to require the Sheridan Memorial Hospital – where medical devices were not adequately sterilized – to inform patients about the possible exposure and risks, offer to screen patients for possible infections the exposure may have caused and treat any patients found to have been infected. A whistleblower brought the insufficient sterilization to Public Citizen’s attention; Public Citizen urged the Department of Health to act and alerted the media.

2011

  • A Louisiana Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Public Citizen in late January finding that several rules governing lawyer advertisements in Louisiana were unconstitutional. The rules, which took effect in 2009, prohibited references to past successes as well as portrayals of judges and juries. They also required disclaimers to be in such large type that they would overwhelm the ad. The ruling was a victory for consumers as the rules violated free speech and imposed unfair and vague restrictions on lawyer advertising.

  • In February, Public Citizen led the charge against the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) regarding a webinar the groups held that contained inaccurate advice on breast implant-related cancer. Specifically, one of the organization’s presidents advised members to avoid using the word “cancer” when talking about a rare type of cancer found in women with implants. Public Citizen reported their concerns to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the webinar was subsequently taken offline.

  • Public Citizen was involved in three successful court cases relating to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) – Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T and Milner v. Department of the Navy in the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as Taylor v. Babbitt in Washington, D.C., district court. The rulings represented a victory not only for Public Citizen, but also for the public, thanks to the courts’ emphasis on accountability.

  • Public Citizen defended a group of activists’ First Amendment right to parody online in a case against Koch Industries. The case dealt with climate change activists who issued a mock press release and created a fake website to call attention to Koch’s bankrolling efforts to deny climate change. In May, the judge rejected all of Koch’s legal claims, which included trademark infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting, computer hacking and breach of the company website’s terms of use.

  • In May, Public Citizen protected members in a class-action lawsuit against membership-buying service DirectBuy by preventing a bad settlement from being approved. The proposed settlement provided almost no relief to class members; it even required more than 836,000 members to forgo pursuing other claims against DirectBuy. A federal judge ruled in favor of Public Citizen’s complaint and denied the suggested settlement, noting that the relief proposed was meager in light of the potential recovery against DirectBuy.

  • Public Citizen successfully lobbied the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in late June to reject in part a request by comedian Stephen Colbert to expand the reach of the “press exemption” for his Super PAC under campaign finance law. This would have created a large loophole in campaign finance laws and allowed any company involved in media to foot – in secret and without limit – the electioneering expenses of political committees. Instead, the FEC approved a narrower version of Colbert’s request, which is consistent with the current press exemption.

  • Nixon’s 1975 grand jury testimony was released after Public Citizen successfully argued in federal court that it had great historic value.

  • Public Citizen scored a victory in a decade-long campaign to stop expansion of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the WTO Director General and numerous signatory countries recognized that there were “insurmountable” differences between countries in the Doha round of WTO expansion.

2010

  • Public Citizen's argument in the Alaska Supreme Court against shady debt collectors is successful.

  • Public Citizen wins a major case in an effort to curb the pervasive practice of inserting forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of nursing home contracts. In Dickerson v. Longoria, the court held that the authority to make health care and financial decisions on a nursing home resident's behalf does not give that person authority to sign away the resident's right to go to court.

  • Congress passes financial reform legislation that is stronger because of pressure from Public Citizen and its members. The measure, known as the Dodd-Frank bill, created a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and curbed some of the worst practices in the derivates markets. 

  • Public Citizen wins a battle in its fight to stop a White Stallion coal and petroleum coke-fired power plants near Bay City, Texas, from being built after two judges ruled against recommending a permit necessary for the plant to operate.

  • The Food and Drug Administration decides not to approve the diet drug Qnexa after Public Citizen testified before an advisory committee describing how it could be harmful.

  • After pressure from Public Citizen, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections) that would require corporations, unions and other organizations to identify how much they spend on elections and from where the money is coming.

  • After Public Citizen argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices held that state procedural rules barring class-action lawsuits cannot trump federal court rules allowing them. 

  • Darvon and Darvocet are pulled off the market. Public Citizen petitioned in 1978 and 2006 for the painkillers, which are associated with deadly heart problems, to be taken off shelves. Public Citizen in 2009 asked the FDA to reconsider its denial of the 2006 petition. In 2010, the FDA finally responded.

  • The dangerous diet drug Meridia is pulled off shelves. Public Citizen petitioned for its removal .

  • The FDA revokes its approval of the Menaflex device designed to replace damaged knee cartilage. Public Citizen warned the agency that no evidence existed to show the device was beneficial.

  • After more than 30 years of Public Citizen’s petitioning, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the manufacturers of the dangerous painkiller propoxyphene to remove it from the market . The ban includes the version of the drug sold as a single ingredient (brand name: Darvon) and the version sold in combination with acetaminophen (brand name: Darvocet), as well as their generic equivalents.

  • A Massachusetts Superior Court backed Public Citizen in December when it ruled that including a company’s name in a website’s meta tags did not constitute trademark infringement. In the case, the documentary company, Long Bow Group, made a film about the Tiananmen Square protests featuring Ling Chai, a student leader in the protests, and included her company’s name, Jenzabar Inc., in the meta tags on the film’s website. Chai claimed that including “Jenzabar” in the website’s tags infringed upon and diluted her company’s trademark. The judge sided with Public Citizen and ruled that they did not.

2009

  • Public Citizen sues the government to get documents about the safety of using a cell phone while driving. Public Citizen's efforts are successful; the records provided fodder for a New York Times story that sparked a national debate about cell phone usage in automobiles.

  • A Public Citizen lawsuit, part of an ongoing battle, prompts the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to agree to rewrite Bush administration policies on truckers. Public Citizen had filed a lawsuit claiming that truckers working hours were too long. The agencies agreed to rewrite the policies that allowed truck drivers to work for so long.

  • Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defense Council win a lawsuit against the Consumer Product Safety Commission, stopping the agency from allowing phthalate-laden children’s products that were made before a ban of such items to be sold after the ban took effect.

  • As a result of a Public Citizen lawsuit, the federal government makes public a database that allows potential used car buyers to check the validity of a vehicle’s title, mileage and history of theft or damage.

  • The Food and Drug Administration grants Public Citizen’s 2008 petition and requires strong warnings to be issued to doctors and patients about the dangers associated with the use of botulinum toxin (Botox, Myobloc, Dysport).

  • The Chrysler Group agrees to assume responsibility for product liability claims brought by people injured in post-Chrysler bankruptcy crashes involving cars sold before the bankruptcy after considerable pressure from consumer advocacy groups, including Public Citizen.

2008

  • After pressure from Public Citizen, Congress passes the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which makes critical reforms to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  • The Food and Drug Administration announces that it will require its most serious “black box” warning about the risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture on all packages of fluoroquinolene antibiotics, which include Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox, partly in response to a lawsuit filed by Public Citizen.

  • Public Citizen helps a Georgia resident win a major victory for online free speech, when a federal judge upholds the resident’s right to criticize Wal-Mart’s business practices by using satire.

  • Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division publishes two books, “Federalism and Global Governance” and “The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority”.

  • Public Citizen files a friend-of-the-court brief and argues in support of New York City's health regulation requiring certain fast-food restaurant chains in the city to post calorie information on their menu boards; a federal judge upholds the regulation.

2007


2006

2005


2004

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