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The large and powerful companies in Corporate America (sometimes referred to as “Fat Cats”) have always had ready access to the seats of power at the national level, and that has also been the case in almost every state capitol in America. In recent years that access has become much easier. Lobbyists representing these Fat Cats, who actually are more powerful than some of the elected officials, virtually control much of what happens in government. To say that Corporate America is well stocked with lobbyists is a gross understatement. Unfortunately, there are few organizations that really represent the interests of working men and women, the owners of small businesses, senior citizens and minorities. Groups such as AARP, Common Cause, Public Justice, Center for Justice & Democracy, and Public Citizen are a few that readily come to mind. I have known for several years of the good work that Public Citizen has done. I am not sure, however, that most American citizens really know much about the consumer advocacy organization. For that reason, I will discuss some of what Public Citizen has done and some of its current projects.

For 35 years Public Citizen has taken on and challenged the corporate Fat Cats in our country and has represented the public’s interest in the halls of power. The consumer advocacy group has also had to take on the federal government in the process. They have done all of this with a relatively small staff. Currently, Public Citizen has a number of issues and projects they are involved with. Some of them include:

• Public Citizen is spearheading efforts to clean up corruption in Washington and expose Congressional abuses;

• They are challenging limits on compensation to victims of corporate wrongdoing;

• They are opposing federal pre-emption of state liability claims;

• They are advocating strong safety and health standards for motor vehicles, food, drugs, and medical devices;

• The group is pushing for energy conservation and fuel economy to reduce global warming;

• They are seeking public financing of elections;

• Public Citizen continues to be a leader in the fight for victims of asbestos exposure;

• They have battled the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other tort reform groups which undermine citizen access to the courts; and

• Public Citizen has opposed price-gouging by oil companies.

We need other groups that – like Public Citizen – refuse to accept corporate or government gifts or donations. As a result they can be free and independent in their work. Over the 35 years of their existence, Public Citizen has been a steadfast beacon for independence, truth, and justice. Their goal is to secure corporate and government accountability. I sincerely believe that Public Citizen is a group that should be supported by any citizen who believes in freedom and justice for all Americans. I also believe strongly that we need more groups like Public Citizen to carry on the fight.

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