Non-profit

California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG)

Website:

calpirg.org

Location:

SANTA BARBARA, CA

Tax ID:

94-2559710

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $1,718,415
Expenses: $1,233,274
Assets: $10,889,470

Formation:

1993

The California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) is the state-level affiliate of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) in California. It is a member of the federation of state left-of-center advocacy groups known as “PIRGs” under the Public Interest Network, a larger federation of left-liberal organizations.[1]

CALPIRG is one of the largest state affiliates of US-PIRG. The Network’s president, Doug Phelps, chairs the board of CALPIRG. [2] CALPIRG’s charitable arm is the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

CALPIRG is also closely connected to the National Association of Organizations in the Public Interest (NAOPI), a 501(c)(4) controlling organization headed by Phelps. In 2003, CALPIRG’s bylaws were amended to reflect NAOPI’s control over its board of directors.[3]

Issue Areas

Public Health

CALPIRG opposes what it claims to be an “over-prescription of antibiotics” and has called on restaurant chains like Wendy’s, Subway, KFC, and McDonalds to halt the practice of feeding antibiotics to livestock within large-scale farming operations.

Additionally, the group has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with elected officials to intervene in the areas of nicotine consumption and lead contamination. Specifically, the group wants the FDA to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other tobacco products. CALPIRG has also called upon schools across the state to update plumbing infrastructure in order to protect against lead contamination. [4]

Healthcare

CALPIRG promotes proposals to increase government control of the healthcare system. These reforms include creating a government-run insurance program for Americans under 65, ending anti-competitive practices amongst big pharmaceutical corporations, and implementing further scrutiny over private healthcare insurers. [5]

Economy

CALPIRG claims that more technology recycling and re-building programs, an expansion of the earned income tax credit, and a halt to food waste are necessary items to stimulate economic growth. The organization additionally promotes an expansion of the earned income tax credit for low-to moderate-income working individuals and couples. [6]

Environmentalism

CALPIRG advocates for the congressional passage of taxes on beverage packaging as a way to reduce the environmental effects of beverage containers. Additionally, the group promotes an expansion of both “green” and renewable transportation initiatives such as electric vehicle production, bike-friendly and walkable roadways, and bridge repair. [7]

Election Financing

CALPIRG advocates for government-funded campaigns under which federal funds would match small-dollar individual campaign contributions dollar-for-dollar.[8]

Controversy

CALPIRG has been involved in controversies over the years, particularly relating to its fundraising model which emphasizes the use of student canvassers. Both the statewide and national political lobbying arms have been accused of having “poor” funding models and a lack of organizational transparency.[9]

Legislation

In 2019, CALPIRG actively supported legislation within a variety of issue areas including a bill that would ban the sale of cosmetics tested on animals, a “right to repair” bill that would require technology manufacturers to provide a repair option to consumers, and a bill to would encourage school districts to transition over to zero-emission school buses. The prior year, in 2018, CALPIRG released a legislative agenda which included bills that would end the use of Styrofoam as a food takeout container, protect so-called “net neutrality” in the state of California, and that sought to require California to generate 100% of electricity from environmentalist-approved energy sources by 2045. [10]

Financials

Tax Return

According to 2017 tax return records, in 2016 CALPIRG took in $1,710, 971 in revenues and spent $1,125,305. Both CALPIRG’s revenues and expenditures were down from the previous year in 2015. By the end of 2016, CALPIRG’s net assets totaled $11,340,252. It is notable to mention that in 2016, CALPIRG took in more revenues than the state organization’s national counterpart, – U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US-PIRG) – which took in $1,333,347 in revenues in 2015. [11] [12] [13]

Grants Received

According to Foundation Search, between the years of 2000 and 2013, CALPIRG received $1,334,373 in grant funding. Of that total, the James Irvine Foundation accounted for more than half of CALPIRG’s grant inflow. The foundation gave CALPIRG $717,500 in grants to mainly to “conduct nonpartisan voter education and mobilization activities directed to low propensity voters at four community college campuses in Los Angeles.” Additionally, the Tides Foundation gave a grant worth $100,000 dollars to CALPIRG in 2008 for a “New Voters Project” the same year former U.S. President Barack Obama was elected. [14] [15]

Other organizations that have dolled out grants to CALPIRG include the Turner Foundation, the California Endowment, the California Wellness Foundation, the California Consumer Protection Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and the San Diego Foundation. [16]

Leadership

Doug Phelps, holds a number of prominent titles within the left-progressive movement. In addition to his position as the president of CALPIIRG and head of the Environment California Board of Directors, he is the president and executive director of the Public Interest Network, president of the National Association of Organizations in the Public Interest; U.S. PIRG president; board chairman of CALPIRG; and president and board chairman of Environment America, among other positions. In 2019, Phelps expressed support for the Green New Deal, a far-left policy package proposal that would remake the fundamentals of American economy and society. [17]

Emily Rusch is the executive director for CALPIRG and its 501(c)(3) Education Fund. Rusch has worked within the organization in the consumer department for upwards of a decade. Her main role as listed on the website is to direct advocacy efforts on promoting public health, consumer policy, and “defending democracy.” Rusch additionally sits on the Board of Directors for Health Access California and the Consumer Federation of California. Her main areas of focus include efforts to stop the overuse of antibiotics in livestock operations and work aimed at lowering the cost of healthcare. In 2019, Rusch spoke out against drug companies raising medication prices while using back-door deals to keep lower-priced generic drug brands off the market calling the practice “outrageous.”  [18]

Wendy Wendlandt is listed on the CALPIRG website as a senior staff member. She is also the senior vice president and political director of The Public Interest Network and president of Environment California. According to her staff biography on CALPIRG, as the head of the elections program she directs “nonpartisan efforts” to register people to vote. Wendlandt was previously treasurer of Fair Share Action, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, and executive director of its nonprofit arm Fair Share. [19]

Susan Rakov is listed on the CALPIRG website as a senior staff member. Rakov is the senior vice president for Environment California and the Public Interest Network and founding director of the Frontier Group, a left-of-center nonprofit think tank operated by the Center for Public Interest Research. Rakov mainly engages environmentalist work. Rakov has led opposition to disposable plastic products such as drinking straws, which she claims will fill oceans with plastic. [20]

References

  1. “CALPIRG About Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/page/cap/about-calpirg. ^
  2. “CALPIRG Staff Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/staff. ^
  3. “CALPIRG About Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/page/cap/about-calpirg. ^
  4. “Healthy Living.” CALPIRG Issue Page. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/feature/cap/healthy-living. ^
  5. “Making Healthcare Work Better for America.” CALPIRG Issue Page. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://calpirg.org/issues/cap/make-health-care-work-better-america. ^
  6. “New Economy.” CALPIRG Issue Page. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/feature/cap/new-economy. ^
  7. “All Issues.” CALPIRG Issue Pages. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://calpirg.org/issues. ^
  8. “Democracy for the People.” CALPIRG Issue Page. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://calpirg.org/feature/cap/democracy-people. ^
  9. Given, Casey. “Beware of CALPIRG’s Con.” The Daily Californian. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://www.dailycal.org/2011/11/07/beware-of-calpirg’s-con. ^
  10. “CALPIRG’s 2018 Legislative Agenda.” CALPIRG. Accessed July 1, 2019. https://calpirg.org/reports/cap/calpirgs-2018-legislative-agenda. ^
  11. “CALPIRG All Issues.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/issues. ^
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). CALPIRG. 2017. Schedule A, Part I, Lines 12, 18, 22. Accessed July 1, 2019. ^
  13. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). CALPIRG. 2016. Schedule A, Part I, Lines 12, 18, 22. Accessed July 1, 2019. ^
  14. The James Irvine Foundation “home page.” Accessed July 1, 2019. https://www.irvine.org. ^
  15. The Tides Foundation “home page.” Accessed July 1, 2019. https://www.tides.org. ^
  16. Information from Foundation Search. CALPIRG. Accessed July 1, 2019. www.foundationsearch.com. ^
  17. “CALPIRG Staff Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/staff. ^
  18. “CALPIRG Staff Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/staff. ^
  19. “CALPIRG Staff Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/staff. ^
  20. “CALPIRG Staff Page.” CALPIRG. Accessed June 28, 2019. https://calpirg.org/staff. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Doug Phelps
    Chairman
  2. Faye Park
    Former Campus Organizer (1992-1997)
  3. Andre Delattre
    Former Campus Organizing Director

Coalition Memberships

  1. Public Interest Network (PIN)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1993

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Aug Form 990 $1,718,415 $1,233,274 $10,889,470 $648,148 N $1,699,144 $0 $19,271 $26,318
    2015 Aug Form 990 $1,725,997 $1,293,802 $10,304,354 $667,484 N $1,722,953 $0 $3,044 $16,281 PDF
    2014 Aug Form 990 $1,985,778 $1,765,949 $9,889,295 $714,613 N $1,960,709 $0 $25,069 $21,771 PDF
    2013 Aug Form 990 $1,942,732 $1,939,124 $9,551,894 $817,849 N $1,935,960 $0 $6,501 $12,386 PDF
    2012 Aug Form 990 $2,102,741 $1,807,735 $10,203,523 $1,649,716 N $1,946,652 $100,000 $54,591 $16,181 PDF
    2011 Aug Form 990 $1,492,917 $1,094,084 $9,082,158 $628,034 N $1,452,465 $0 $38,252 $17,760 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG)

    1129 STATE ST STE 10B
    SANTA BARBARA, CA 93101-6761