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Public Citizen's Congress Watch's
Special Interest and Policy Reports

Public Citizen's Congress Watch and other Public Citizen divisions regularly produce reports revealing how special interests seek to influence federal legislation, elections, and regulatory affairs. We also produce policy reports on important issues before Congress. Below are those reports.

The reports are listed chronologically. In addition, we have examined medical malpractice trends both nationally and on state levels. Click here to read those reports.

Bank-rolling Congress


(11/19/09) CA$HING IN: Ex-Government Officials Lobbying for the Financial Services Sector in 2009

Since the beginning of 2009, organizations in the financial services sector – including banks, investment firms, insurance companies and real estate companies – have commissioned 940 former federal employees as federal lobbyists, Public Citizen’s analysis of data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics shows.

Bank-rolling Congress

(11/16/09) Financial Industry Invests Heavily in Key Lawmakers

As Congress considers legislation to reregulate the financial services industry in response to the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the industry is focusing campaign contributions on the congressional leadership and members of the committees crafting reform legislation.

Bank-rolling Congress

(8/26/09) Bank-Rolling Congress

According to our new report, lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and trade associations tied to the banks receiving the most federal bailout money have scheduled 70 fundraisers for members of Congress since Election Day and have made $6 million in contributions

The report, “Bank-Rolling Congress,” contains Public Citizen’s analysis of fundraiser invitations collected by the Sunlight Foundation and campaign contribution disclosures that lobbyists and lobbyist-affiliated PACs are required to make to the Senate. The study was based on an examination of the 10 banks receiving the most Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money and five trade associations opposing a government agency to oversee consumer financial products.

prescription reform

(8/7/09) Basic Patient Safety Reforms Would Save 85,000 Lives and $35 Billion a year, Public Citizen Report Says

A report issued today by Public Citizen proposes 10 cost-cutting, patient-safety measures that would save an estimated 85,000 lives and $35 billion a year. In contrast to the high-tech tests and procedures that many experts blame for staggering increases in the nation’s health care costs, most of the reforms in Public Citizen’s report involve fundamentals as simple as practitioners consistently washing their hands, sufficiently tending to patients to prevent bed sores, and following simple safety checklists to prevent infections and complications stemming from operations.

medmal gurney

(7/2/09) Medical Malpractice Payments Fall to Record Low, Public Citizen Study Shows

Medical Malpractice Epidemic Persists Even as Compensation to Victims Decreases

Medical malpractice payments were at or near record lows in 2008, but the decline almost certainly indicates that a lower percentage of injured patients received compensation, not that health safety has improved. Medical malpractice is so common, and litigation over it so rare, that between three and seven Americans die from medical errors for every one who receives a payment for any malpractice claim, Public Citizen’s analysis of medical malpractice payment data and the best available patient safety estimates indicate.

  • READ our report.
  • READ our press release.
  • READ the statement of David Arkush, director of Congress Watch.
  • READ our coalition letter to Congress

(2/2/09) Obama Should Not Nominate Corporate Lobbyist Mark Gitenstein to Office of Legal Policy

Mark Gitenstein, a former Senate staffer turned corporate lobbyist, is reportedly President Obama’s top choice to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy (OLP). If this is true, Obama should reconsider.

Gitenstein has a long record of championing laws to shield corporations from accountability at the expense of ordinary Americans. Further, Gitenstein’s lobbying work appears to violate the executive order governing conflicts of interest that Obama signed on his first day in office.

Voters First Conventions

(8/20/08) Party Conventions Are Free-For-All for Influence Peddling

The Democratic and Republican national conventions are supposed to be publicly financed electoral events with reasonable ethics restrictions on influence-peddling by lobbyists. However, the conventions have become mostly privately financed soirees funded by corporations and lobbying firms that seek favors from the federal government. The unlimited soft money donations from special interests to pay for the conventions, and the lavish parties and wining and dining at the conventions, run counter to the federal election law and congressional ethics rules.

  Fine Print


(7/29/08) The Arbitration Debate Trap: How Opponents of Corporate Accountability Distort the Debate on Arbitration

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has painted a grossly inaccurate picture of the empirical evidence on binding mandatory arbitration, a comprehensive study issued today by Public Citizen reveals. In this type of arbitration, consumers lose their right to settle disputes in court and instead are routed to a private, secretive system that favors the company.



(07/10/08) Public Citizen Presses CPSC for Data Showing its Record on Notifying the Public About Dangerous Products

Public Citizen appealed a blanket rejection by the Consumer Product Safety Commission of a Freedom of Information Act request that sought information on how long the agency takes to warn the public about dangerous products after it learns about potential hazards. Public Citizen submitted the FOIA request in January, shortly after the organization reported that the CPSC had taken an average of 210 days to warn the public about hazards for which the agency eventually levied fines.

(03/03/08) Held Back: Unfinished Consumer Product Safety Commission Rules, Class of 2007

Although charged with creating rules to protect public safety, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in no hurry to get to the finish line. The seven rules that the agency has been working on since 2004 or earlier have languished for an average of nearly 10 years. These proposed rules cover hazards that the CPSC blames for more than 900 deaths and more than $460 million in property damage annually. The CPSC’s unfinished rules would reduce deaths, injuries and property damage from hazards such as bed rails, crib slats and baby bath seats that can suffocate, strangle or drown infants; excessively flammable upholstery, bed linens and clothes that are among the leading causes of fire-related death in U.S. homes; and cigarette lighters that, by the CPSC’s own analysis, fail to meet an industry-created voluntary standard at least 60 percent of the time.

(01/31/2008) Hazardous Waits: CPSC Lets Crucial Time Pass Before Warning Public About Dangerous Products

Despite a law requiring manufacturers to provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with “immediate” notification of dangerous products, the agency typically delays nearly seven months after learning of dangerous, defective products before telling the public. A new Public Citizen study reveals that companies fined for tardy reporting took an average of 993 days – 2.7 years – between learning of a safety defect in their products and notifying the CPSC. Perhaps as shocking, the CPSC then took an average of 209 additional days before disclosing the information to the public – even though each case concerned a product defect so dangerous that the item was recalled.

(01/29/2008) Lobbyists Playing Bigger Role in Presidential Fundraising

The number of lobbyists raising money for the 2008 presidential candidates already has eclipsed the total for the entire 2004 campaign. A new Public Citizen study shows that so far, candidates still in the race have recruited 142 federal lobbyists to raise money for their campaigns, compared to 136 lobbyist fundraisers in 2004. It underscores the need to update the presidential public financing system so that presidential candidates wont rely on influence peddlers to fuel their campaigns.

Read more and the report.


(12/20/07) Fundraising Central: Majority of Presidential Bundlers and Other Fundraisers Hail from Only Five U.S. Industries

More than half the major fundraisers for the presidential campaigns hail from just three segments of the U.S. economy: lawyers and law firms, representing both corporate and consumer interests; the financial sector; and real estate, according to a joint study released Thursday by Public Citizen and Campaign Finance Institute.

(11/29/07) A Self-Inflicted "Crisis:" New York's Medical Malpractice Insurance Troubles Caused by Flawed State Rating Setting and Raid on Rainy Day Fund

Shortsighted policy decisions by New York’s government in the 1990s are responsible for the purported medical malpractice “crisis” in the state, according to this report released by Public Citizen, New York Public Interest Research Group and the Center for Medical Consumers. Gov. Eliot Spitzer and a task force studying malpractice are urged to focus on ways to improve patient safety and to resist pleas from the insurance industry and the state’s doctors to pare back patients’ legal rights.

(09/27/07) The Arbitration Trap: How Credit Cards Companies Ensnare Consumers

This report details how arbitration firms and credit card companies enjoy a cozy, mutually beneficial relationship at the expense of consumers they force into binding mandatory arbitration. With only data from California available, the findings provide a glimpse of how arbitration traps consumers throughout the country in unfair, secret proceedings where for-profit arbitrators make the rules. Public Citizen's research uncovered consumers who spent years fending off collection agencies, cleaning up identity theft messes and struggling to bounce back from credit rating hits.

(09/06/07) Number of Lobbyist-Fundraisers for 2008 Presidential Candidates Likely to Eclipse 2004 Totals

With more than a year left until the 2008 election, the presidential candidates already have been raking in bundles of cash from at least 92 registered federal lobbyists. If this pace continues, contributions collected by lobbyist-fundraisers could mushroom in the coming months. Find out whose got lobbyist bundlers in our blog post and get all the details in our new report.

(05/08/07) The Wrong Person for the Job: Consumer Groups Express Concern about Nominee to Head Consumer Product Safety Commission

Bush nominated industry shill Michael Baroody to chair the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency charged with protecting consumers from potentially dangerous products, such as flamable children's pajamas or collapsing cribs.  Baroody has spent the past 13 years lobbying to limit the ability of regulatory agencies like the CPSC to protect consumers as executive vice president for the National Association of ManufacturersRead the case against him issued by Public Citizen and allies.


(04/11/07) Non-Profit Front Group Violates Tax Status, Electioneering Laws

Americans for Job Security is a sham front group that would be better called Corporations Influencing Elections. This group is masquerading as a non-profit to conceal its funders and the scope of its electioneering activities. Read why Public Citizen has called upon the IRS to revoke AJS's tax status and asked that the FEC fine the group for election-law violations.

(03/28/07) Breaking Free With Fair Elections

Want to restore honesty and accountability to Congress? Public funding of congressional races would end the chase for campaign dollars. A Fair Elections bill now pending in the Senate would free our representatives from deep-pocketed donors, cost just a fraction of the nation's budget and save billions by ending wasteful, corporate kickbacks.

  • Check  this resource page to read a new report about Fair Elections.
  • Read  the report (in pdf)


(01/17/07) The RPSEA Rip-Off: How the Natural Gas Industry Extracted a Billion-Dollar Boondoggle from Congress

Learn how Big Oil is trying to rip off the public by slipping a subsidy into the enormous Energy Bill giving them up to $1.5 billion in taxpayer money to look for oil and gas in "ultra-deepwater" areas. 

(11/3/06) Taking the Public Trust: How a New York Real Estate Developer Is Threatening State Governments in the West

A wealthy New York developer holds leadership positions in groups that have funneled more than $8.5 million into statewide campaigns in an attempt to enact ballot initiatives in eight states that would eviscerate environmental protections while threatening to bankrupt state treasuries.

(10/31/06) The Chamber of Commerce Spent Millions to Influence State-Level Attorneys General, State Supreme Court and Federal Races

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) failed to report millions in taxable spending from 2000 to 2004 intended to influence state attorneys general, state supreme court and federal races around the country, according to a Public Citizen complaint filed today with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

(10/18/06) Under the Influence: Special Interest Money and Members of Congress

A new report and interactive website showing how much money federal lawmakers accept from special interests versus ordinary citizens. Is your Rep. under the influence?

(05/22/06) The Bankrollers: Lobbyists' Payments to the Lawmakers they Court, 1998-2006

Lobbyists and their political action committees (PACs) have contributed at least $103.1 million to members of Congress since 1998, according to a new report released today by Public Citizen. This is the first comprehensive effort to match names of lobbyists with Federal Election Commission campaign contribution data.  It also highlights the top lobbyist-contributors and what they have achieved with their influence.

(05/04/06) Willful Misconduct: How Bill Frist and the Drug Lobby Covertly Bagged a Liability Shield

Drug industry lobbyists conspired with the White House and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) last year to craft a sweeping liability provision that shields the industry from lawsuits over products used to treat pandemic illnesses, even in cases of gross negligence or gross recklessness, according to a report issued today by Public Citizen.

(04/25/06) Spending Millions to Save Billions: The Campaign of the Super Wealthy to Kill the Estate Tax

While the estate tax has been attacked as a burden on average Americans everywhere, our new report, co-written with United for a Fair Economy, demonstrates that the estate tax affects only the very wealthiest Americans, about one quarter of one percent - and that the campaign to kill this progressive and fair tax has been bankrolled by some of the wealthiest familes in America, who stand to save tens of billions of dollars even as they would deprive the U.S. Treasury of more than one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) over the next ten years.

(01/23/06) How a Washington Lobbyist Gives Lawmakers Free Trips Despite the Ban on Lobbyist-Funded Travel

Elaborate schemes concocted by prominent Washington lobbyist Richard Kessler, head of Kessler Business Services, have allowed registered lobbyists to spend millions of dollars taking members of Congress on luxurious trips to Europe and U.S. resorts without technically violating congressional ethics rules that forbid registered lobbyists from paying for congressional travel.

(01/13/06) Rep. Roy Blunt: Unfit to Lead

In this report, Public Citizen compiles a disturbing dossier on Blunt, based on original research and a comprehensive compilation of news accounts of recent months. In the end, what emerges is a portrait of a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency.


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