Non-profit

Public Citizen

Website:

Citizen.org

Location:

WASHINGTON, DC

Tax ID:

23-7104508

DUNS Number:

14-026-2812

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $5,587,919
Expenses: $5,934,777
Assets: $4,933,628

Locations:
Washington, D.C., and Austin, TX
Founder:

Ralph Nader

President:

Robert Weissman

Public Citizen, Inc. is a liberal 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy organization created by left-wing activist and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader.[1] The organization supports a broad liberal policy agenda focused on opposing to the free-market interests of American business owners.[2]

Throughout its more than 30-year history Public Citizen touts that it successfully advocated for numerous left-wing policy mandates. The group’s anti-free-market lobbying agenda supports increased government spending[3] and opposed multiple tax cuts.[4] The group also touts its support for enacted policies that increased civil liabilities,[5] and imposed costly environmental mandates[6] and regulatory red-tape[7] on businesses.

PC chastises special interest lobbying for undermining the legitimacy of American Democracy.[8] However, Public Citizen is a lobbying entity[9] funded by a number of liberal financiers and special interests such as liberal billionaire George Soros, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Rockefeller Foundation.[10]

Organizational History

Liberal activist and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader created Public Citizen, Inc. in 1971 to act as a fund-raising conduit for his two other Washington-based organizations, the Center for Study of Responsive Law and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Thomas A. Troyer, a tax lawyer, and Paul Gikas, a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, both served on PC’s initial board of Directors.[11]

In 2001 Public Citizen distanced itself from its founder Ralph Nader in order to avoid criticisms from Democrats who believed Nader’s Green Party presidential candidacy cost Democratic nominee Al Gore the presidency in 2000.[12]

Programs

Public Citizen uses lobbying, litigation, research, and advocacy[13] to push a broad liberal policy agenda opposed to free-market interests.[14]

According to its annual tax filings, in 2015 Public Citizen, Inc. funded three main programs. Congress Watch pressures Congress and lobbies for anti-free market legislation,[15] Global Trade Watch advocates for nationalist protectionism, [16] and a communications and outreach program supporting the organization’s wide range of left-wing policy goals.[17]

Public Citizen Foundation

Also see Public Citizen Foundation (nonprofit)

Public Citizen Foundation supports the lobbying and advocacy efforts of Public Citizen,[18] Inc. sharing the costs for the Public Citizen, Inc.’s programs, while also funding a Litigation Group program, the Health Research Program, and the Energy Program.[19]

Public Citizen runs many of its campaigns in coordination with other left-of-center advocacy groups. In 2017, the group teamed up with Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Safe Climate Campaign, and Environment America to push for environmentalist mandates on auto manufacturers.[20] In 2016, Public Citizen partnered with over a hundred liberal advocacy groups and labor unions including Planned Parenthood, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and a number of labor unions including the AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to oppose numerous conservative budget policies and to support corporate regulations.[21]

Lobbying Activities

Since 2007, Public Citizen has spent over $2.4 million lobbying Congress[22] and federal agencies[23]on 460 bills.[24] The group’s anti-free-market lobbying agenda supports increased government spending; expanded civil, environmental, and regulatory burdens; and a wide array of other left-wing policy prerogatives.[25]

Public Citizen claims to have successfully lobbied against multiple tax cuts,[26] in favor of retaining the death tax,[27] and against policies that would have limited federal spending.[28] In 2017, the group expressed “outrage” at the passage of a Republican-backed tax cut package,[29] and the group’s President Robert Weissman opposed the 35% decrease in the corporate tax rate.[30]

In 1975, Public Citizen successfully lobbied Congress for environmentalist legislation, including fuel economy mandates for cars.[31] In 1980 the group pushed for the Superfund law, which exposed corporations to unlimited liability for environmental cleanup efforts.[32] It fought against President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to reign in environmentalist regulations,[33] and the group claims to have played a major role in President Barack Obama’s 2012 decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.[34]

Public Citizen claims to have successfully pushed congress and federal agencies to implement numerous other regulations banning products,[35] extending labor protections,[36] and opposing the deregulation of electric utilities.[37] It also touts that it helped create new federal regulatory agencies such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission[38] and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.[39]

Funding

Public Citizen chastises special interest lobbying for undermining the legitimacy of American Democracy.[40] However, it has received funding from a number of left-wing organizations including George Soros’ Open Society Foundations (formerly the Open Society Institute), the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the Joyce Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, and the Surdna Foundation.[41]

The group also often chastises “Dark Money” organizations that air electioneering communications without fully disclosing their donors.[42] But Public Citizen is registered as a 501(c)(4) lobbying group and touts that it has run ads against President Donald Trump,[43] including one internet attack ad titled “An Honest Campaign Ad.”[44] The group also touts that in 2003 it ran a special website attacking President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign for taking alleged special-interest contributions. [45]

Public Citizen touts that it has sought to lead other left-of-center allies in a unified fight against President Trump.[46] It has sharply criticized President Trump’s decision to roll back multiple environmentalist policy mandates,[47][48]opposed his repeal of numerous regulations,[49] and was critical of the President’s budget.[50]

People

Robert Weissman has served as president of Public Citizen since 2009. Prior to joining Public Citizen, Weissman was executive director at Essential Action where he pushed for stringent legislative and regulatory actions against banks and other companies.[51]

Public Citizen, Inc.’s board of directors includes high profile trial attorneys Andrew Friedman, Shannon Liss-Riordan, and Jason B. Adkins.[52]

References

  1. “Nader Forms Unit To Seek Donations.” N.Y. Times. June 2, 1971. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.nytimes.com/1971/06/02/archives/nader-forms-unit-to-seek-donations.html
  2. “Public Citizen: About Us.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/about-us
  3. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  4. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  5. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1986-1991.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1991-1986
  6. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  7. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  8. “Public Citizen: Lobbying Reform.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/lobbying-reform-0
  9. “Public Citizen: About Us.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/about-us
  10. Discover the Networks: Public Citizen (PC). The David Horowitz Freedom Center. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=6430
  11. “Nader Forms Unit To Seek Donations.” N.Y. Times. June 2, 1971. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.nytimes.com/1971/06/02/archives/nader-forms-unit-to-seek-donations.html
  12. Margolis, Jon. “Nader Unrepentant.” Mother Jones. July/August 2001. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2001/07/nader-unrepentant/
  13. “Chamber Watch: Sacrificing the Pawns.” 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. Public Citizen. https://www.chamberofcommercewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Sacrificing-the-Pawns-final.pdf
  14. “Public Citizen: About Us.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/about-us
  15. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  16. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1992-1997.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1997-1992
  17. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Public Citizen. Part III. 2015. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/annual-report/[note]
  18. “Guidestar Profile: Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.” Guidestar.org. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/52-1263996
  19. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Public Citizen Foundation. Part III. 2014. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/annual-report/[note]
  20. Laing, Keith. “Ford accused of mileage hypocrisy.” The Detroit News. October 25, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2017/10/25/ford-accused-mileage-hypocrisy/107005498/
  21. “Letter: Clean Budget Coalition Opposes FY 2017 Appropriations Riders.” February 8, 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://sensiblesafeguards.org/outreach/2017-riders-sign-on/
  22. Public Citizen: Lobbying Summary. Center For Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.org. Updated January 24, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000055782&year=2017
  23. “Public Citizen: About Us.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/about-us
  24. Public Citizen: Bills Lobbied 2007-2017. Center For Responsive Politics. OpenSecrets.org. Updated January 24, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientbills.php?id=D000055782&year=2007
  25. “Chamber Watch: Sacrificing the Pawns.” 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. Public Citizen. https://www.chamberofcommercewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Sacrificing-the-Pawns-final.pdf
  26. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  27. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 2004-2017.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments
  28. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  29. Weissman, Robert. “Press Release: House Republicans Pass Plan That Raises Taxes on the Middle Class, Gives Cuts to Corporations.” November 16, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/house-republicans-pass-plan-raises-taxes-middle-class-gives-cuts-corporations
  30. Weissman, Robert. “Press Release: The Republican Tax Plan is a Complete Corporate Sellout.” Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/republican-tax-plan-complete-corporate-sellout
  31. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  32. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1980-1985.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1885-1980
  33. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1980-1985.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1885-1980
  34. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 2004-2017.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments
  35. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  36. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  37. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1992-1997.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1997-1992
  38. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1971-1979.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-1979-1971
  39. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 2004-2017.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments
  40. “Public Citizen: Lobbying Reform.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/lobbying-reform-0
  41. Discover the Networks: Public Citizen (PC). The David Horowitz Freedom Center. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=6430
  42. “‘Dark’ Money Casts Shadow Over Top Senate Races.” Public Citizen Website. November 8, 2012. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/our-work/government-reform/dark-money-casts-shadow-over-top-senate-races
  43. “Public Citizen Year In Review: 2016: Advancing a Progressive Agenda.” Public Citizen. 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/system/files/case_documents/2016yearinreview.pdf
  44. “Public Citizen: An Honest Campaign Ad: ‘Donald Trump’s Corruption of America.’” Youtube.com. December 12, 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2NigiFeguM
  45. “Public Citizen: Accomplishments: 1998-2003.” Public Citizen Website. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/accomplishments/accomplishments-2003-1998
  46. “Public Citizen Year In Review: 2016: Advancing a Progressive Agenda.” Public Citizen. 2016. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/system/files/case_documents/2016yearinreview.pdf
  47. Arkush, David. “Press Release: Trump Rollback of Climate Policies Is a Historic Move Toward Catastrophe.” Public Citizen. March 28, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/trump-rollback-climate-policies-historic-move-toward-catastrophe
  48. Arkush, David. “Press Release: Trump’s Rejection of Paris Climate Accord Is Epic Blunder.” Public Citizen. May 31, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/trump%E2%80%99s-rejection-paris-climate-accord-epic-blunder
  49. “Press Release: Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations Violates Constitution and Should Be Blocked, Groups Tell Court.” Public Citizen. May 16, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/trump%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98one-two-out%E2%80%99-executive-order-regulations-violates-constitution-and
  50. Harley, Susan. “Press Release: Trump Budget Would Slash Public Protections and Programs, Threatening Basic Standards of Living.” May 22, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/media/press-releases/trump-budget-would-slash-public-protections-and-programs-threatening-basic
  51. Public Citizen: About: Robert Weissman. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/robert-weissman
  52. Public Citizen: About: Board of Direcrtors. Undated. Accessed January 22, 2018. https://www.citizen.org/about/boards-directors

Directors, Employees & Supporters

Coalition Memberships

  1. Not One Penny (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: September - August
  • Tax Exemption Received: June 1, 1972

  • 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
    2015 Sep Form 990 $5,587,919 $5,934,777 $4,933,628 $868,148 N $4,929,872 $0 $87,761 $455,818 PDF
    2014 Sep Form 990 $5,965,884 $4,765,079 $5,499,949 $903,475 N $5,381,061 $0 $40,643 $114,630 PDF
    2013 Sep Form 990 $4,400,924 $4,283,228 $4,002,828 $616,075 N $3,835,082 $0 $14,627 $80,696 PDF
    2012 Sep Form 990 $5,756,464 $4,654,980 $4,054,135 $814,909 N $5,335,628 $0 $13,432 $78,927 PDF
    2011 Sep Form 990 $3,756,108 $3,642,212 $2,844,521 $742,663 N $3,324,511 $0 $11,666 $73,332 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Public Citizen

    1600 20TH ST NW
    WASHINGTON, DC 20009-1001