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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Despite the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Congress has done nothing to end our addiction to oil.

Wondering why? Crude is not the only thing flowing from Big Oil. The industry’s money is flowing through the halls of Congress and polluting our political system.

The members of Congress have oil on their hands.

Sign the “Congress: You Have Oil on Your Hands” petition.

The corporate control of our government – in particular, the influence of oil and gas money – has endangered our environment and the people who depend on it. The situation in the Gulf of Mexico is a tragic example of what can result from this corrupt political process.

We are collecting signatures to build public pressure on our elected officials to give their BP money – and all their oil and gas industry contributions – to the Gulf recovery effort.

We will deliver the petition on July 20 – the three-month anniversary of the disaster – following a rally on Capitol Hill.

And if you’re in Washington, come join us for the protest. It’ll be on Tuesday at noon. Meet in the upper Senate park, located at Constitution and New Jersey Avenues.

Speakers include:  (more…)

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It’s been hot on the East Coast this past week. As they tend to do, the recent heat waves have intensified the national discussion about climate change. Of course most scientists agree that there is no clear correlation between the 103-degree weather Central Park visitors experienced on Tuesday and the effects of greenhouse gases.

That is not to say they do not continue to agree on climate change. According to a recent study, over 97% of climatologists and scientists studying related fields agree that climate change, caused by human activity,  is real. Yet, just as the snowstorms East Coast citizens experienced this past winter (more…)

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Despite multiple willful transgressions of federal law, BP continues to receive billions of dollars worth of federal contracts and purchases, The Washington Post reported on Monday. In one notable example, the Department of Defense has purchased close to $1 billion worth of petroleum products from BP. Of course, none of this is news to Public Citizen; we called for the Department of Defense to suspend contracts with  BP back on June 7 in a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

BP has repeatedly shown that it cannot be trusted to act as the American public wishes. It is therefore imperative that the federal government stop rewarding BP with lucrative contracts.

When Congress returns from holiday next week, it is expected to continue discussing barring BP from new oil and gas drilling leases. Lawmakers have yet to discuss suspending fuel purchases by the government. They should do so immediately.

Also, remember to sign our pledge to Boycott BP at beyondBP.org and check out our Facebook page, 1,000,000 strong to Boycott BP.

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In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of the Wall Street reform bill, “This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.”

Wall Street, an ant? You mean the bankers who have been spending more than a million dollars a day on lobbyists to kill the bill? You mean the gargantuan institutions whose reckless, predatory actions caused the near-collapse of the financial system and plunged us into the Great Recession? Sorry, I’m really not seeing anything ant-like here.

And then he says the reform bill is like a nuclear weapon. I guess he’s trying to say it’s too strong. Yeah, there are some good, strong regulations in the bill, like the consumer financial protection bureau and increased transparency in the derivatives market. (more…)

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When the Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of Rent-A-Center in another controversial 5-4 decision, the justices again put the interests of corporations above those of the people.

The New York Times published this great editorial about it over the weekend, highlighting the absurdity of SCOTUS’s decision:

The court ruled last Monday there was nothing wrong with requiring that the fairness of an arbitration clause be determined by — an arbitrator.

Congress is working to fix the problems with mandatory binding arbitration agreements as the members hash through the Arbitration Fairness Act (H.R. 1020 and S. 931) and the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 1237 and S. 512).

While it was scheduled for markup last week, the committee did not get to the AFA and the nursing home bill last Wednesday. Stay tuned for a rescheduled date for Congressional action on these bills because your representatives in Congress will need to hear from you.

Learn more about forced arbitration and the problems with it.

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The army of “revolving door” lobbyists bidding for the financial services industry is even larger that we thought. After combing through Senate lobbying disclosure records, we reported in November that at least 940 lobbyists in the financial services sector.

This week, we partnered with the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) on an update to that report that included data from CRP’s in-house revolving doors database (catching lobbyists who do not report to their employment histories on their lobbying disclosure forms) as well as Senate records showing an additional two reporting quarters.

The result: At least 1,447 of the lobbyists employed by the financial services sector since 2009 previously held a government job. That is nearly 56 percent of the 2,603 lobbyists, all told, who worked for the sector in the time period.

Among these “revolving doors” are 73 former (more…)

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While we expected lobbyists for opponents of strong derivatives reform to have something to say about the legislation to reform the industry, maybe we didn’t expect them to come out with such fervor. Turns out they outnumber the pro-reform lobbyists by 11-1, a Public Citizen report found. That’s right, when it comes to financial reform, Wall Street has thrown 903 lobbyists against our 79. This means we have to work 11 times as hard to make sure We, the People are protected in this legislation. We could use your help. Take action.

From the press release:

“Wall Street is fighting hard to keep its casino open for business,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “They want to keep making risky bets, awarding themselves billions in bonuses and running to Uncle Sam for handouts when they lose. Their position is ridiculous and discredited, so it’s not surprising that they would hire nearly a thousand lobbyists to drown out reform advocates.”

Want to make sure your voice is heard when the Senate tries to rein in Wall Street? Sign the petition. Call your senators. Tell a friend. We can’t let Wall Street’s sheer man power overtake this much-needed overhaul of the abusive financial sector.

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On Friday, May 14, Public Citizen published an open letter to Congress in CQ Today, an “insider” newspaper hand-delivered to every senator and representative. The letter calls for strong financial reform legislation and includes the names of well over 500 Public Citizen supporters who signed on by making a contribution to help us continue fighting corporate power. The letter was published as critical financial reform legislation is being hotly debated in the Senate.

You can still sign on! Although it’s too late to be listed in CQ Today, support Public Citizen today and we’ll add your name to the letter on our home page, where everyone who visits our website can see it.

See the letter as it appeared in CQ Today.

LEARN MORE and TAKE ACTION.

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Last night, Public Citizen participated in a panel discussion about the solutions to the crisis of money in politics following a sneak peak screening of Casino Jack and the United States of Money at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Panelists included Angela Canterbury of Public Citizen (above right), Heather Smith of Rock the Vote, Mark McKinnon of Change Congress and Ilyse Hogue of MoveOn.org. You can now watch a recording of the discussion on ustream.tv.

The documentary tells the story of uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and teaches tough lessons about the “way Washington works” – an all-too-frequent euphemism for how corporate interests warp the political process to serve their agenda against the public interest.  

In the early 2000s, Abramoff siphoned money from lobbying clients into the political war chests of mostly conservative members of Congress. In particular, he cultivated a close (and lucrative) relationship with then-House Majority Leader Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas), who was indicted and forced to resign because of his association with the scandal.  

Abramoff subsequently was convicted of fraud and corrupting public officials. He is now serving a four-year prison sentence. But while Abramoff is out of business, film makes it clear that the corrupting incentives for lawmakers to exchange campaign donations for legislative favors are stronger than ever. (And the film’s Web site also has an interesting tool you can use to compare your members of Congress’ voting record to the interests of their biggest campaign donors.)

Among the solutions panelists discussed was a constitutional amendment to limit corporate influence in elections, as well as the Fair Elections Now Act and the recently proposed DISCLOSE and Shareholder Protection Acts.

Clearly, there is much to be done. But momentum is building to fight for the solutions. This film will help educate and engage activists and spark the necessary discussions that will help push the American people to repair our wounded democracy.

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Newly empowered by the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, corporate executives are ready to spend unprecedented millions to influence upcoming elections.

If you or someone you know has a 401(k), a similar retirement account or other investments, the corporations funded by these investments could be part of the problem.

Don’t let families’ nest eggs become political weapons for the corporate agenda. If a majority of shareholders tell a corporation to stay out of politics, then the corporation should do exactly that.

Corporations aren’t people, but shareholders are. The Shareholder Protection Act (H.R. 4790) proposed by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) would empower shareholders to vote on whether or not to allow executives to spend corporate money on political campaigns. (more…)

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