NEWS

Hold BP Accountable
Public Citizen, Allies Protest BP in D.C.
By Dorry Samuels “We want safe jobs and clean energy. No more oil spills — ARREST BP!” A crowd of more than 100 people gathered June 4 outside BP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters to articulate Americans’ deep frustration with how the oil giant has handled the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The protest was organized by Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Energy Action Coalition, 350.org, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Hip Hop Caucus. And there was an arrest, of sorts. The protesters organized a mock citizen’s arrest of BP CEO Tony Hayward. However, no BP representative descended from the building, which houses BP’s 22,000-square-foot offices. At the base of a 13-foot-tall inflatable oil barrel, group leaders read from a list of charges against see BP, page 8

Vol. 30, No. 4 • July/August 2010

Energy Staffer Travels to La., Witnesses Spill’s Effects
Editor’s note: Allison Fisher, an organizer with Public Citizen’s Energy Program, recently traveled to Louisiana for a firsthand look at how the oil spill was affecting residents. Excerpts from her journal entries follow.

6/17: Made right?

Public Citizen Photos/Bridgette Blair

Above: Organization leaders rally activists at the June 4 protest in front of BP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. (From left) Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program; Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth; the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus; Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen; and Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace. Right: A protester holds a figure depicting BP CEO Tony Hayward in a prison jumpsuit.

On my first night in Baton Rouge, La., I sat in an auditorium on the Louisiana State University campus and watched a documentary on the legacy of Exxon Valdez called “Black Wave.” I saw footage from a 1989 town hall meeting in Cordova, Alaska, where an Exxon spokesperson told the angry citizens that they were in good hands. “Exxon will make you whole,” he pledged. The Valdez victims’ initial lawsuit, involving 32,000 plaintiffs, see Journal, page 10

Non-Profit Org. US POSTAGE

Frederick, MD Permit No. 435

Wall Street Hires Former Lawmakers as Lobbyists
By Joe Newman If people needed a lesson on how business is done in Washington, D.C., all they had to do this spring and summer was keep track of the men and women in crisp black suits making the daily circuit between their influential K Street lobbying firms and the U.S. Capitol. Although the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate approved a sweeping financial reform package, it didn’t pass without a fight. As Congress wrestled with reforming Wall Street, corporations affected by the legislation were employing a virtual army of lobbyists to weaken or eliminate proposals that would rein in the financial services industry. Many of these lobbyists had no problem navigating the hallways inside the Senate and House office buildings. Analyses by Public Citizen and the Center for Responsive Politics showed that the financial services industry lobbyists included at least 73 former members of Congress, of whom 17 served on the principal House and Senate committees that crafted the financial reform legislation. Prominent former members of Congress who lobbied this year on behalf of the financial services sector interests included two former Senate majority leaders (Bob Dole [R-Kan.] and Trent Lott [R-Miss.]), two former House majority leaders (Dick Armey see Revolving door, page 4

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PAID

INSIDE

U.S. Supreme Court again sides with business, page 6

Win! House passes election spending disclosure bill, page 16
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2 July/August 2010

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IN thIS ISSuE
Energy and climate

Vol. 30, No. 4

Get to Know Public Citizen
An ongoing series profiling Public Citizen staff members
Glenn Simpson is a self-proclaimed “lifelong radical.” As a high school student in the mid-1980s in Columbia, Md., he would frequently cut class to attend anti-apartheid and no-nukes rallies in Washington, D.C. Now, he brings this free spirit and love of activism to Public Citizen, Q: What sparked your where he has worked for interest in online more than a year. Simpson, communications? online communications SIMPSON: Most of the jobs coordinator, says the key to I’ve had boil down to making spreading the word about information available to peoPublic Citizen’s work is ple who need it. The Internet putting the power in the is a better tool for organizing hands of Public Citizen and presenting information members and supporters. — and interacting with those “Public Citizen’s 40who use that information — year track record and our than any other form of comreputation for doing what’s munications humankind has right are simply unparalso far developed. leled,” Simpson said. “The Glenn Simpson most effective way to Q: What recent call to action introduce new people to our work and the resulted in the largest response from our benefits of Public Citizen membership is for online supporters? people who already know and value what we SIMPSON: Our petition at www.DontGet do to tell their friends, family, neighbors and Rolled.org calling for a constitutional amendcolleagues about Public Citizen.” ment to prevent corporations from spending Prior to working at Public Citizen, Simpunlimited amounts of money to influence son held jobs ranging from managing online our political process has more than 50,000 communications at Workplace Fairness, a signatures so far. nonprofit organization with a goal of preserving and promoting employee rights; to doing Q: What Public Citizen issues motivate you? quality control for Internet search engine SIMPSON: With a seemingly insatiable hunGoogle; to indexing, editing and publishing at ger for profits, corporations are devouring the Alternative Press Index, a nonprofit with our democracy, our liberty and our lives. Evthe aim of providing access to and increasing erything Public Citizen does is fundamentally the public’s awareness of alternative press; to about standing up for things that make life coaching high school badminton. better for people and standing up to the ways His interests include bicycle commuting, corporations put profits before people. Along record collecting, playing Scrabble and folwith every Public Citizen member past and lowing the Washington Capitals. present, I’m fighting on the side of justice and righteousness. And we’re going to win! Q: What does your job as online communications coordinator entail? Q: What’s your favorite part of your job? SIMPSON: I help manage the online tools that SIMPSON: Contributing to the legacy and facilitate the dialogue among Public Citizen, ongoing good work that is Public Citizen. its members and the public. I help write and — Compiled by Arlene Tonoff
Public Citizen is a national nonprofit membership organization based in Washington, D.C. Since its founding by Ralph Nader in 1971, Public Citizen has fought for corporate and government accountability in order to guarantee the individual’s right to safe products, a healthy environment and workplace, fair trade, and clean and safe energy sources. Public Citizen is active in Congress, the courts, government agencies and the news media. Public Citizen does not accept government or corporate grants. Our funding comes from our supporters throughout the country who believe there should be full-time advocates of democratic principles working on their behalf, from foundations and from the sale of our publications. Public Citizen is an equal opportunity employer. To become a member of Public Citizen and receive the award-winning Public Citizen News, please call (202) 588-1000 or send a check payable to Public Citizen for $20 (or $35 to add one year of Health Letter) to Public Citizen Membership Services at the address below. Public Citizen News (ISSN 0738-5927), entire contents copyrighted 2010. Soy inks and 100 percent recycled paper (45 percent post-consumer material) are used in the printing of Public Citizen News. Postmaster: Send address changes to Public Citizen News at the address below.

Hold BP accountable: Public Citizen, allies protest BP in D.C. ...... 1 Energy staffer travels to Louisiana, witnesses spill’s effects ............................ 1 Spending bill devotes $9 billion to nuclear loan guarantees .......................... 14

edit website content, e-mail action alerts and online fundraising appeals. I help with the technical, “behind-the-scenes” work of our website and e-mail programs. And I help strategize about how to make our website a better resource, our e-mail more useful, and our online outreach more engaging and popular.

Government and financial reform
Wall Street hires former lawmakers as lobbyists .............................................. 1 Outnumbered: New report says bank shills exceed financial reformers 11-to-1 ............ 5 Win! House passes election spending disclosure bill ..........................................16

Litigation
Shutting the courthouse doors: U.S. Supreme Court again rules on the side of business .............................. 6 Win! Public Citizen scores victory in Maryland arbitration case ..................... 7 Claiming “personal privacy,” AT&T attempts to keep records from public .............................................. 7

Globalization and trade
Mining company case shows the need for a trade pact overhaul .......................... 11

Health and safety
Survey: Most support shorter medical resident shifts ............................12 Public Citizen to FDA: Unethical Avandia clinical trial should not continue ..............13

For your entertainment
Public Citizen crossword .........................15 “A Presidency in Peril” ............................15 “Casino Jack and the United States of Money” ..........................15 “The DeMarco Factor” .............................15

President
Robert Weissman

Public Citizen Inc. Board of Directors

Jason Adkins (chair), Barbara Ehrenreich, Joan Claybrook, Andrew S. Friedman, Jim Hightower, Joy Howell, Adolph L. Reed Jr., Cynthia Renfro, John Richard, Robert Weissman (ex officio)

Public Citizen Foundation Board of Directors

Other
Get to Know Public Citizen ....................... 2 President’s View ...................................... 3 Public Citizen News wins Apex Award ...... 3 In the Spotlight .......................................12

Robert C. Fellmeth (chair), Jim Bildner, Mark Chavez, Joan Claybrook, Liz Figueroa, David Halperin, Annie Leonard, Steve Skrovan, Anthony So, Robert Weissman (ex officio)

Directors

David J. Arkush, Congress Watch; Marilyn Berger, Chief Operating Officer; Angela Bradbery, Communications; Chris Helfrich, Development; Tyson Slocum, Energy; Tom Smith, Texas; Joe Stoshak, Chief Financial Officer; Lori Wallach, Global Trade Watch; Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D., Health Research; Allison Zieve, Litigation

Editor

Bridgette Blair

Graphic Designer
James Decker

1600 20th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009 • (202) 588-1000 • pcmail@citizen.org • www.citizen.org

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July/August 2010 3

EDItorIal
I

Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to editor@citizen.org or mailed to Editor, Public Citizen News, 1600 20th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Please include a daytime phone number for verification. Letters generally run 200 words or fewer. They may be edited for space, grammar or clarity.

Public Citizen Takes on Giant Corporations — and Wins
wake up every morning excombination of litigation, lobcited about getting to work bying, research and grassroots and taking on the challenges of pressure. We are among the only the day at Public Citgroups advocating izen. I know we’re in all branches of going to be involved government. in something — usuAnd we get really many somesults. We boast an things — to make the unparalleled record world safer, healthiof achievement over er, greener, happier the past 40 years or more just. and continuing up Does that sound to today. I’m very corny? I don’t mean proud of our staff. to sound that way. They are passionate, PrESIDENt’S vIEw I’m absolutely sericommitted, smart, robErt wEISSmaN ous. And I hope you strategic and more. feel the same way We couldn’t do what about being a Public we do without our Citizen member. superb staff. There is no other organization At the same time, we couldn’t like Public Citizen. succeed without our members, First is what we do: Take on either. When we testify before the giant corporations that domiCongress, lobby a member of nate our economy, society and Congress or meet with a governpolitics. Fight for the people’s ment regulator, they know we interest. Assert common sense represent more than 150,000 against accepted corporate ficmembers and supporters. tions (like the idea that corporaAltogether, our voice is a tions are people entitled to the counterbalance to the influence same First Amendment rights as of corporate America. And, more living, breathing humans). Camand more, Public Citizen speaks paign for the things that matter: not just through our staff. You health, safety, a livable planet, — our members — are working an economy that works for all of together to carry strategic mesus, a working democracy. sages and powerful demands Then there is how we do it: No to Congress, corporate execupublic interest group matches tives, executive branch officials our breadth of work and depth and others. Through telephone of expertise. We frame broad calls, e-mails, electronic petipublic policy debates and then tions and in-person meetings, engage in disputes over the thousands and thousands of you minute details of statutes and are responding to timely calls to regulations, where a comma or action by becoming active public “and” can cost the public billions citizens. Of course, we rely on of dollars. We bridge the insideryou for financial support, as outsider dichotomy: We bring well. Our staff does extraordioutsider pressure into the halls nary things, and we operate as of power in Washington, D.C. frugally as possible. But it takes Our advocacy draws on a unique money to do what we do. Your

Getting Results

Public Citizen News Wins Apex Award
During the past year, Public Citizen News has updated the newspaper and added new features. Recently, we received recognition for our work in the form of a 2010 Apex Award for “Magapaper & Newspaper Design & Layout.” (A magapaper is a magazine-newspaper hybrid.) Our winning entry was our November/December 2009 edition. We are striving to make Public Citizen News better with each issue. Let us know what you think at editor@citizen.org.

generous support helps us keep the lights on and pay our staff. We are profoundly thankful for your donations. We know from communicating with so many of you over the years that you get it. You value what Public Citizen does, you know how unique our work is. You join Public Citizen to make your voice heard, to join together with others to build a powerful counterweight to the corporate lobbies, and to get information and incisive analyses of the key issues facing our country. You join to make change. At press time, both chambers of the U.S. Congress passed Wall Street reform legislation, which President Barack Obama will sign shortly. We’ll tell you more about this in the next issue of Public Citizen News, but our work on Wall Street reform illustrates my point. Public Citizen worked very hard over the past year to make Wall Street reform as strong as possible. When many said there was no point in talking about breaking up the banks, we insisted the issue was too important to ignore. We didn’t win, but we helped forced the issue to a vote in the Senate. And, thanks in no small part to the advocacy by Public Citizen members, the vote was much closer than anyone imagined possible just a couple months before. We kept you informed about these issues along

the way, and thousands of you mobilized into action when the issue was before the Senate. Despite the reform measure’s considerable shortcomings, Public Citizen is strongly supportive of it. It includes a number of very positive elements — foremost among them, creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and very little that is harmful. It’s a very imperfect victory, but it’s a big victory, and we should all be proud of the work we did to win it. One of the defining features of Public Citizen is our stick-toit-iveness. We won something important with Wall Street reform, but we know it’s not enough. We’re going to monitor the rules implementing the legislation, and we’re going to keep demanding that the giant banks be broken up, that out-ofcontrol executive and top trader compensation be brought under control, and more. Together, we are going to win a tamed financial system that serves the economy, rather than demands that everyone serve it. That’s what Public Citizen does. We stake a position on the merits, even if it seems “unreasonable” at first. But we keep plugging away, keep making the arguments, keep building support — and, ultimately, we do win.

4 July/August 2010

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Former Lawmakers, Staff Lobby on Behalf of Financial Sector
Revolving door, from page 1 [R-Texas] and Dick Gephardt [DMo.]) and a former speaker of the House (Dennis Hastert [R-Ill.]). Since the beginning of 2009, the financial services sector had employed at least 1,447 former federal employees to lobby Congress and federal agencies, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. “Wall Street hires former members of Congress and their staffs for a reason,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “These people are influential because they have personal relationships with current members and staff. It’s hard to say no to your friends, but that’s what Congress needs to do.” Along with the 73 former members of Congress, at least 66 industry lobbyists worked for the House or Senate banking committees as staffers, while 82 additional lobbyists once worked for members of Congress who currently serve on these key committees. Additionally, at least 42 financial services lobbyists formerly served in some capacity in the U.S. Treasury Department. At least seven served in the Office of the Comptroller of the that former members of the House and Senate should have at least a two-year cooling off period before they can make lobbying contacts — and that period should also ban any type of lobby work, such as strategizing. It’s one reason that Public Citizen called on the 47 lawmakers who are retiring this year to pledge not to take a job for two years with any business that lobbied the lawmaker or his or her committee. None of the lawmakers whom Public Citizen contacted agreed to take the pledge. “If you’re a member of Congress, you’re very unlikely to clamp down on Wall Street if you’re planning on taking a job with a Wall Street firm,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “You’re not likely to hurt Big Oil if you’re contemplating a job with the petroleum lobby. You’re going to be more inclined to do favors for Big Pharma if you think pharmaceutical companies will be signing your future paychecks. Our elected officials should pledge their loyalty to their constituents by pledging not to take jobs with businesses that have lobbied them.” Joe Newman is deputy director of communications for Public Citizen.

Currency, including two former comptrollers. These lobbyists have the inside track when it comes to dealing with members of Congress and agency directors. The six-figure and million-dollar salaries firms pay these lobbyists are a small price to shape legislation.

Barricading the revolving door

Public Citizen has long called for stronger rules to slow down the revolving door between Congress and K Street. Under current House rules, former members of the House are prohibited from making any lob-

bying contact with their former colleagues for at least one year. However, they can participate in lobbying strategy and are free to lobby the executive branch. Former senators are prohibited from making lobbying contacts with Congress for two years. Senior House and Senate staffers also face restrictions when leaving their jobs. Senior House staffers cannot make contact with their former office or committee for at least one year, while senior Senate staffers cannot make contact with any Senate office or committee for a year. Public Citizen has advocated

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A charitable gift annuity is a simple contract between you and Public Citizen Foundation that supports us while providing you (and/or another individual) with a charitable deduction and income on a quarterly basis for the rest of your life. The minimum gift to establish this annuity is $10,000 using cash or securities and the minimum age is 65. The following are some of the rates we offer for one individual. Rates for two people are available upon request.
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July/August 2010 5

New Report: Bank Shills Exceed Financial Reformers 11-to-1
By Barbara Holzer Since the beginning of 2009, legions of lobbyists for financial institutions have fought tooth and nail on Capitol Hill to prevent the passage of any legislation that would crack down on Wall Street. On a much smaller scale, public interest advocates — including Public Citizen — battled back by calling for key reforms, chief among them breaking up the big banks and regulating derivatives transactions. We now have a better sense of the degree to which advocates on the side of the public interest have been at a disadvantage. Bank lobbyists pushing to retain as little oversight as possible of their lucrative and secretive derivatives business have outnumbered pro-reform public interest lobbyists 11-to-1, according to a new Public Citizen report, “Eleven to One: Pro-Reform Derivatives Lobbyists Vastly Outnumbered by Opposition,” released May 18. The report is the result of Public Citizen’s analysis of lobbying disclosure data filed with the U.S. House of Representatives between Jan. 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010. Because of the subjectivity of lobbying reporting and its lessthan-stringent requirements, Public Citizen cannot claim to know all of the lobbying work that has transpired on financial regulation reform in the past 18 months. But we do know this: At a minimum, nearly 1,000 lobbyists worked on at least one of nine key bills in 2009 or early 2010 — all bills designed to rewrite the rules governing derivatives, the complex financial instrument cited by many experts as one of the chief causes of the 2008 financial meltdown. In the report, Public Citizen shows that anti-reform lobbyists representing opponents of strong derivatives reform numbered 903, compared to only 79 pro-reform lobbyists. Among the 223 clients represented by the anti-reform lobbyists were the nation’s five largest banks, several major financial trade associations and the “Godzilla” of business lobbyists, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Outnumbered
“We always knew we faced an uphill battle to reform the financial system. This report confirms that we are vastly outgunned by Wall Street.”
David Arkush director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division

“We always knew we faced an uphill battle to reform the financial system. This report confirms that we are vastly outgunned by Wall Street,” said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. The report also shows that nine of the 10 organizations hiring the most financial lobbyists oppose financial reform on principle. The organizations with the most anti-reform lobbyists were the American Bankers Association (30), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (29) and the National Association of Manufacturers (28). Not all businesses were antireform, however. For instance, airlines want predictability in the future price of fuel, something they can use derivatives to manage, but the current opaque and mostly unregulated derivatives market leaves them vulnerable to price-gouging, fraud, manipulation and excessive speculation by Wall Street banks. In fact, two of the top three pro-reform organizations with the most lobbyists are part of the airline industry — the Air Transport Association of America (27) and Delta Air Lines (9). The Environmental Defense Action Fund (13) rounds out the top three. Of the 14 organizations lobbying for reform, all but the Environmental Defense Action Fund

are members of at least one of three public interest coalitions: Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), the Derivatives Reform Alliance or the Commodity Markets Oversight Coalition. (Public Citizen is a member of all three coalitions.) More than two-thirds of all the lobbyists in the study — pro- and anti-reform — worked on the Derivatives Markets Transparency and Accountability Act of 2009 (H.R. 977). That act called for requiring most over-the-counter derivatives to go through organizations regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This translates to increased authority for the CFTC to intervene in derivatives transactions, which historically have been shrouded in secrecy as private transactions between parties. The U.S. Senate’s version of the Wall Street reform bill included relatively aggressive derivatives regulation. The bill would have required that most derivatives be cleared and traded on open exchanges and would have denied federal deposit insurance to derivatives traders. This latter requirement would have forced commercial banks to spin off their derivatives trading operations, making them independent companies but still al-

lowing them to remain under the same holding company. Wall Street pushed to undermine these provisions, desperately lobbying for its old way of life. The House passed a final version of the bill in late June, and the Senate followed suit in July. Portions of the derivatives provision remained intact. Most important, the resulting bill makes the $600 trillion derivatives market transparent by requiring that transactions be handled through clearinghouses and exchanges. Among other measures, this legislation imposes new limits on credit card companies’ merchant fees and establishes a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “The lobbyists may have overrun Capitol Hill but, in the end, they did not prevail,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Certain provisions have been weakened or had their effective date delayed, but ultimately, public interest champions did a remarkable job beating back those horrible 11-1 odds. We will continue that work and push for additional reforms that should have been included but weren’t.” Barbara Holzer is Public Citizen’s broadcast and marketing manager.

6 July/August 2010

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Shutting the Courthouse Doors
U.S. Supreme Court Again Rules on the Side of Business
By Angela Bradbery The U.S. Supreme Court once again has sided with corporations, this time in a case involving an arbitration clause in an employee’s contract. In one of its last decisions of the 2009-2010 term, the U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 ruled 5-4 in Rent-A-Center v. Jackson that a company can force a person to go to an arbitrator, rather than a judge, to challenge the fairness of an arbitration clause. Because arbitration systems favor the companies that impose them, this decision will put workers, consumers and others at a great disadvantage, essentially giving them little recourse if they disagree with the terms of an arbitration clause. Public Citizen attorneys Deepak Gupta and Scott Nelson served as co-counsel for respondent Antonio Jackson, the Nevada resident who brought the lawsuit. “The court’s decision effectively puts the fox in charge of the henhouse,” Gupta said. “Under the court’s logic, the company’s hand-picked arbitrator can decide whether it’s fair for the company to hand-pick the arbitrator. That’s absurd.” Retiring Justice John Paul Stevens agreed. In a stinging dissent, he wrote that neither party had recommended the rule the court adopted, and he characterized the court’s reasoning as “fantastic.” Several U.S. senators expressed outrage. Sen. Patrick Leahy (DVt.) called the Rent-A-Center decision “a blow to our nation’s civil rights laws and the protections that American workers have long enjoyed under those laws.” Citing the decision, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), during confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Elena

Public Citizen attorney Deepak Gupta will argue another key arbitration case before the U.S. Supreme Court in November. In the case, AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the court will consider the extent to which companies can ban class-action lawsuits in the fine print of their contracts with consumers and employees. Class actions provide critical recourse when consumers are victims of wrongdoing but the individual claims are too small for people to sue the company individually. Companies have increasingly included class-action bans in their standard mandatory arbitration agreements.

Deepak Gupta

Kagan, said, “For all the talk of umpires and balls and strikes at the Supreme Court, the strike zone for corporations gets better every day.” Added Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), “Talk about not getting your day in court. Now you can’t get your day in court to get your day in court.” Arbitration clauses are often buried in the fine print of paperwork people receive when they take a job, buy a cell phone or new home, start a small business franchise or admit a relative to a nursing home. The clauses require people to give up their right to sue the company if disputes arise; instead, disputes must be decided through binding arbitration — a system that stacks the deck for the corporations. Rent-A-Center is another ruling in the corporate interest, against the public interest.

Arbitration clauses are often buried in the fine print of paperwork people receive when they take a job, buy a cell phone or new home, start a small business franchise or admit a relative to a nursing home.

In January, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court dramatically expanded corporate rights when it said that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections. In doing so, the court upended a century of precedent and gave corporations the ability to have a bigger voice in government than voters. The Rent-A-Center case stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Jackson, of Sparks, Nev., who was hired in 2003 as an account manager for Rent-A-Center, a rent-to-own company that provides furniture, electronics, appliances and computers. When he was hired, Jackson signed papers that included an arbitration agreement as a condition of his employment. Jackson, who is African-American, sought a promotion several times but was denied it, he said in a 2007 lawsuit alleging race discrimination and retaliation. Rent-A-Center asked the court to dismiss the claim because the arbitration agreement said that any dispute would be resolved by an arbitrator, not a court. The arbitration agreement Jackson signed also said that an arbitrator would have exclusive authority to resolve any dispute about the agreement itself, in-

cluding any claim that the agreement was unfair. Jackson’s lawyer argued that the arbitration agreement was unconscionable because, among other things, it was one-sided in favor of his employer and was presented to him as a non-negotiable condition of his employment. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with Jackson that the fairness of the agreement was a question for the courts. The company then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Next step: Congress

The court’s ruling further highlights the need for Congress to pass the Arbitration Fairness Act, Public Citizen says. That bill, which is pending in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate (H.R. 1020, S. 931), would allow parties to a dispute to choose whether to go to arbitration or court, rather than forcing people into arbitration. “At Public Citizen, we don’t give up,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “We will be spearheading aggressive efforts to get this legislation passed in Congress.” For more information, visit www.citizen.org/arbitration. Angela Bradbery is Public Citizen’s communications director.

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July/August 2010 7

WIN!

Public Citizen Scores Victory in Md. Arbitration Case
sign a home building contract, or, as in this case, admit someone to a nursing home, they may be signing away the right to go to court if they are harmed by the company. Forced arbitration provisions require people to use corporation-friendly arbitration panels instead of the court system. In addition to fighting forced arbitration in the courts, Public Citizen is pressing Congress to pass the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 1237, S. 512) — legislation that would bar forced arbitration provisions in nursing home, assisted living and other long-term care facility contracts. Public Citizen also is calling for passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act (H.R. 1020, S. 931), which would protect millions of other consumers from forced arbitration by allowing parties to a dispute to choose whether to go to arbitration or court, rather than forcing people into arbitration. “Forced arbitration contracts push people into a system where the deck is too often stacked against them,” Gupta said. “The court’s ruling in this case is a victory for all consumers.” Bridgette Blair is editor of Public Citizen News.

By Bridgette Blair Public Citizen has won a major victory in the effort to curb the pervasive corporate practice of inserting forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of nursing home contracts. Dickerson v. Longoria raised the issue of whether one person (a relative or friend) can sign an agreement on behalf of another person who is being admitted to a nursing home, waiving the rights of the admitted person to resolve disputes in court and requiring instead that any disputes be submitted to arbitration. Public Citizen argued that the forced arbitration agreement in question, which gave the nursing home the unfettered right to choose the arbitrator, should not be enforced. In a decision issued in May, the Maryland Court of Appeals — the highest court for the state of Maryland — agreed. The court held that the authority to make health care and financial decisions on a nursing home resident’s behalf does not give that person authority to sign away the resident’s right to go to court. “Admitting a family member to a nursing home can be a stressful experience, and most people have too much on their mind to concentrate on the fine print,”

“Forced arbitration contracts push people into a system where the deck is too often stacked against them. The court’s ruling in this case is a victory for all consumers.” Deepak Gupta Public Citizen attorney

said Deepak Gupta, a Public Citizen attorney who worked on the case. “This decision makes it harder for nursing homes to force people into signing away their right to seek redress in court for abuse or neglect.” The nursing home resident, Carter Bradley, died from infected bedsores that spread and deteriorated while he was a resident at St. Thomas More Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hyattsville, Md., operated by the nursing home company Heritage Care Inc. Bradley’s niece, Carman Dickerson, filed a medical malpractice claim against Heritage Care and two doctors, but Heritage Care said that the case had to be arbitrated because Dickerson

had signed the forced arbitration agreement when Bradley was admitted to the nursing home. When Bradley was being admitted to the facility, he was groaning in pain and suffering from dementia. At the time, Dickerson signed a “large stack of admissions documents, including Heritage Care’s arbitration agreement,” according to court documents. The appeals court ruled that Dickerson did not have the legal authority to sign away Bradley’s rights. The ruling means that Dickerson can now pursue the legal claim in court. Most people don’t realize that when they sign contracts to purchase a cell phone, accept a credit card, open a retirement account,

Claiming ‘Personal Privacy,’ AT&T Attempts to Keep Records From Public
By Bridgette Blair Recently, corporations have been asserting that they have First Amendment rights, just like people. And in its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed. Now, a major corporation is claiming that it has personal privacy rights, just like people. In a recent decision, a federal appeals court agreed. Public Citizen and other groups want the Supreme Court to overturn this decision. In Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T, AT&T invoked “personal privacy” to prevent the government from disclosing records about the corporation to the public. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the public has a right to access documents of government agencies unless those records are classified or otherwise exempt. In this case, a FOIA request was submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for certain records relating to AT&T. The agency determined that FOIA required it to release some documents related to an agency investigation of AT&T for overbilling the government. AT&T sued the FCC to stop the release and claimed that making the records public would violate the company’s “personal privacy.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled in AT&T’s favor. The FCC filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the decision. In May, Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the National Security Archive, OpenThe Government.org, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a friend-of-thecourt brief, supporting the agency’s petition and urging the court to hear the case. “Corporations’ valid competitive interests are already protected under FOIA,” said Margaret Kwoka, the Public Citizen attorney who wrote the brief. “They should not be allowed to circumvent the limits of those protections by shoehorning their fears of bad publicity into a FOIA exemption meant to protect only the intimate details of individuals’ lives.” What could be hidden from the public? Records pertaining to federal investigations involving the economic downturn, the BP oil spill and the Massey Energy mine explosion might potentially be withheld as a result of the appeals court’s ruling, according to the brief. “If this lower court ruling stands, the number of now-public records that agencies and corporations may claim can be kept from the public is breathtaking,” Kwoka said. “We urge the Supreme Court to grant review and not allow important records to be withheld based on the idea that corporations have personal privacy interests.” The Supreme Court is expected to decide this fall whether to review the case. For more information, visit www.citizen.org/documents/FC CAmicus.pdf.

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Pu

Clockwise, from left: TV cameras surround organization leaders — including Robert Weissman (center), president of Public Citizen — during the June 4 protest in front of BP’s Washington, D.C., headqu hold a “Crude Awakening” sign. Allison Fisher, an organizer with Public Citizen’s Energy Program, participates in the protest. Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, takes part in the

Public Citizen Organizes
BP, from page 1 the corporation, including a disregard for worker safety, criminal negligence, the price-gouging of consumers and taxpayers, and violations of environmental laws. The groups found Hayward guilty as charged and held aloft a prison jumpsuit for him. The crowd waved signs with Hayward’s face atop prison garb, as well as with BP’s logo dripping with oil. Police officers shut down the street in front of BP’s offices during the energetic protest. “If you were driving a car, you look away, you were on your cell phone … you were tired, you didn’t drink enough coffee, and you swerve … and you hit someone [and] you kill them, the district attorney is coming after you. He’s going to charge you with negligent homicide. BP was far more reckless than that,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said at the protest. “[BP] shouldn’t have been drilling there in the first place. They didn’t invest in modest safety precautions that could have stopped this. They bullied their contractors not to take safety measures. They ignored test data coming in … the rig exploded. Eleven people are dead from their recklessness. They have got to be criminally prosecuted. And it’s up to us … to take the first step.” Public Citizen has organized a nationwide boycott asking people to avoid buying gas and products from BP and its subsidiaries for three months to show BP what consumers think about its negligence and the environmental devastation in the Gulf. The boycott has earned worldwide attention, ranging from The New York Times to NPR, The Guardian (U.K.) to Al Jazeera. A petition Public Citizen posted online asking people to pledge to boycott the company has garnered more than 22,000 signatures, and more than 13,000 people have joined Public Citizen’s Facebook group, “1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP.” (Find more information about the boycott at www.BeyondBP.org.) gallons poured into the Gulf daily since the explosion. The oil spill has caused untold environmental damage and robbed many in the fishing and tourism industries of their livelihoods. Birds, sea turtles and other animals have been found drenched in thick, sludgy oil; now even manatees are being monitored. Tar balls litter the beaches in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The disaster also has focused attention on BP’s abysmal worker and environmental safety record, which is the worst of any oil company operating in America. In just the past few years, BP has pleaded guilty to two crimes and paid more than $730 million in fines and settlements to the U.S. and state governments, and in civil lawsuit judgments for environmental crimes, willful neglect of worker safety rules and penalties for manipulating energy markets. Despite all this, BP still manages to successfully navigate the government. Since the beginning of 2009, BP has employed 49 lobbyists at a cost of $19.5 million. Of these 49 lobbyists, 35 — or 71 percent — previously worked for federal agencies and members of Congress, according to a Public Citizen analysis released in June. One is Kenneth Duberstein, who was chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan; another is former U.S. Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas). The trouble doesn’t stop there; the revolving door between the oil industry and the former Minerals and Management Service (MMS), the government agency tasked with overseeing offshore drilling operations, was spinning out of control. In fact, just a few years ago, Jim Grant, the MMS chief of staff overseeing the government’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico region, left to take a job with BP. And that’s not all. Some MMS regulators even allowed drillers to fill in their own safety inspection forms in pencil, only to trace over the words themselves in pen later, according to news reports. Regulators readily accepted gifts from Big Oil, allowing BP and other oil companies to continue to manipulate the system.

The making of an environmental disaster

Following the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig — which is owned by Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, and leased by London-based BP — the world’s attention focused on the millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. While the exact amount of oil that has poured from the broken well is still unknown, experts estimate that as much as 4.2 million

Pattern of negligence

BP failed to install a backup safety device that could have prevented the explosion — a valve that would have cost only $500,000. Now, BP is faced with fees and penalties that could amount to tens of billions of dollars. “BP made a conscious decision not to install a $500,000 safety

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ublic Citizen Photos/Bridgette Blair

Public Citizen Photos/Bridgette Blair

uarters. Protesters e event.

Clockwise, from left: A 13-foot-tall inflatable oil barrel bears the message “Boycott BP.” Tyson Slocum (left), director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, protests alongside other activists. James Ploeser, senior field organizer with Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, leads chants. Protesters, including Rick Claypool (right), online organizer with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, stand outside BP’s Washington, D.C., headquarters.

s Protest, Boycott of BP
device that could have prevented the Gulf disaster,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program. “A company that made $14 billion in profits in 2009 — and that was a bad year — refused to spend a fraction of a percent of its profits to safeguard against the worst oil spill in U.S. history. The sheer greed at the expense of safety and the environment is mind-boggling.” Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. But this plan doesn’t go far enough, Slocum said. It still concentrates too much authority in the tainted Department of the Interior, he said. Public Citizen advocates moving regulatory oversight functions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency so that scientists — not government employees who maintain close ties to the oil industry — are in charge of conducting the scientific reviews of oil drilling requests. With Obama’s prodding, BP established a $20 billion escrow fund over four years to pay for claims resulting from the oil gusher. The oil giant will contribute $100 million to support jobless oil rig workers. he extended a moratorium on drilling until a commission completes its investigation of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and makes recommendations. However, amid pressure from Gulf Coast states over the loss of jobs and income resulting from the moratorium, the Obama administration indicated June 7 that it would move quickly to release new safety requirements that would allow the reopening of offshore oil and gas exploration in shallow waters. On June 22, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled against the sixmonth moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, suggesting that the administration’s suspension was “arbitrary and capricious.” The White House appealed the ruling, but a federal appeals court upheld it. The White House then issued a new order July 12, banning most new deepwater-drilling activities until Nov. 30. This latest order, amended to address the court’s “arbitrary” argument, takes into account new evidence regarding safety concerns, shortcomings in industry equipment to control blowouts and capabilities to respond to spills, according to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. Slocum said that Congress must act immediately to ensure that future deepwater drilling does not compromise the health and safety of oil rig workers and Gulf residents. “Deepwater drilling currently represents a fraction of our domestic oil production. Banning this practice won’t lead to higher gasoline prices or force us to import more oil — but it would help ensure that our environment is protected,” Slocum said. “Deepsea drilling poses catastrophic risks to workers and the environment. It is bad policy to allow the practice to continue.” Public Citizen will continue to denounce offshore drilling and advocate clean energy alternatives to fill our energy needs. You can help. Sign the Beyond BP petition. Join the Facebook group, “1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP.” Urge President Obama to ban the expansion of offshore drilling. Most important, tell your friends. For more information, visit www.BeyondBP.org. Because, as the June 4 protesters said, “Oh, BP, don’t you know? Dirty oil has got to go! My, my, my, my. BP ain’t got no alibi. Oh, BP, don’t you know? Dirty oil has got to go! Hey, hey, hey, hey. We are not a-goin’ away!” Dorry Samuels is Public Citizen’s press office coordinator.

Power to the government

“Hey, Obama, who’s in charge? BP oil is livin’ large!” shouted the crowd at the June 4 protest. It’s time to take power back from the corporations and restore it to the regulators that are supposed to monitor the industry, protest leaders said. A recent inspector general audit of the MMS found widespread cronyism, ethical breaches, decimated auditing staff and overreliance on information provided by Big Oil, all of which contributed to a culture of cozy relationships and lax regulation. There must be more regulation of oil companies and drilling procedures, Slocum said. The Obama administration unilaterally announced that it would divide MMS into three parts to better regulate and enforce drilling practices: the Bureau of Ocean

A look toward the future

The Obama administration must focus on developing clean, sustainable alternative energy sources, not rely on dirty energy resources that threaten the environment and lives of workers, Public Citizen maintains. President Barack Obama, who had supported efforts to expand offshore drilling, took a step in the right direction May 27 when

10 July/August 2010

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The Oil Spill’s Effects
Energy Organizer Witnesses the Gusher’s Impact on La. Residents
Journal, from page 1 found Exxon “reckless” and rendered an award of more than $5 billion, $5 billion of which was for punitive damages. Over the course of the next 14 years, Exxon’s onslaught of appeals eventually landed the case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In June 2008, the court ruled that Exxon could not be required to pay more than $507 million (equivalent to the total compensatory damages paid to the plaintiffs) — one-tenth of the original punitive award. The American people have heard the same promise from BP — a promise to “make it right.” If “make it right” is a different version of the same “make you whole” playbook, the communities that surround the Gulf of Mexico have reason to be nervous. If the government can intervene and laws can be enacted to ensure just compensation for victims and full accountability for environmental clean-up and restoration, some level of wrong could be made right.

The BP Gulf of Mexico disaster should yield its own set of lessons that warrant new amendments to the Oil Pollution Act. To that end, funding should be set aside not only to remediate the impacted area but to invest in new clean energy infrastructure, manufacturing and generation.

6/19: Beauty and the Beast

My first day driving down the bayou to Louisiana’s coast presented a dichotomy of the area’s vast beauty and the consequences of the beast that has long dominated the local economy. My first stop landed me at a BP Claims Center in Chauvin. Before arriving in Louisiana, I thought that compensation meant BP accountability — that those harmed

by the disaster would receive a stipend to supplement their lost incomes. We all want BP to pay for the environmental disaster and economic upheaval it has created. And to some extent, the claims process ensures an immediate infusion of cash to those who have bills to pay and mouths to feed now. The downside is that the monthly payments feel more like welfare checks than restitution for those who want their way of life back. The claims officer I spoke with could not speculate how long the checks would be administered. The claims process was triggered by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, enacted after the Exxon Valdez spill. The act seeks to address both the resources necessary to respond to spills and damages compensable to those impacted by a spill. But the act did not anticipate a spill of this magnitude. Some analysts estimate the total cost of reimbursement at more than $40 billion over the next two decades. Whether BP will be able to shell out the necessary reimbursements over the long haul

is unclear. What is evident is the need for economic diversity — without which the beautiful wetlands of Louisiana will only be known as the oil and gas fields. The BP Gulf of Mexico disaster should yield its own set of lessons that warrant new amendments to the Oil Pollution Act. To that end, funding should be set aside not only to remediate the impacted area but to invest in new clean energy infrastructure, manufacturing and generation.

6/20: Beyond a price

Public Citizen Photos/Allison Fisher

Louisiana residents post signs, like the above, telling passers-by their viewpoints about BP and the effect the oil spill has had on them.

Local sentiment toward BP in Grand Isle, La., the large barrier island located on the Gulf of Mexico, is understandably harsh, but the sentiment toward offshore drilling is generally favorable. While fishing, shrimping, crabbing and oyster harvesting were declared dead by the arrival of oil in the bays and wetlands that surround Grand Isle, offshore drilling remains a large part of Louisiana’s tenuous economy. Louisiana and other states that line the Gulf rank among the bottom 10 U.S. states in per-capita income. One needs only to take in the billboards that line the one road that leads to the coast to understand the limited opportunities of those who reside there. The landscape is dominated by advertisements for offshore oil jobs, interrupted only by the occasional personal injury lawyer services — a suitable companion or harbinger of these high-risk jobs. Below the glossy billboards are hand-painted signs that read “live crabs” and “fresh shrimp,” but since the waters have closed, these signs are less about encouraging passers-by to stop for local seafood and more a stark reminder of an extinct livelihood.

While the rest of the country is measuring the oil crisis in the time since the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Raleigh and Kay Leseigne are measuring the crisis in the days since they discovered oil in their oyster beds. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries closed waters in the Grand Isle area on May 22. A sign outside their Grand Isle home, addressed to BP, notes the number of days since their business was shut down. It reads, “[O]n 5.24.2010 your oil got into our inshore waters … you robbed us of making a living with crabs-oyster-shrimp. How much longer? Months or years?” Sixty-five-year-old Raleigh, who has been crabbing and harvesting oysters for 50 years, has no illusions about his livelihood. He told me over lunch that he doesn’t think he’ll ever work the waters again. The couple already received their first compensation check for their crabbing business, but the money will never replace the way of life that they have lost. Raleigh told of loving to wake in the morning to look over the heaven that is Grand Isle. Now he feels that BP has brought hell to his community. These days, Raleigh is unsure how to spend his time. His health and age preclude him from seeking a job as a contract worker for the clean-up operation. As I prepared to leave their home, I commented on their good nature and smiling faces despite the disaster. Kay replied that I would need to visit them again in the coming months to see if the smiles were still there. To see Fisher’s full journal about her trip, visit http://citizen vox.org/2010/06/30/five-days-inlouisiana/.

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Mining Co. Case Shows Need for Trade Pact Overhaul
By Angela Bradbery A mining company’s attempt to use a trade agreement’s foreign investor rights to squeeze hundreds of millions of dollars out of the El Salvadoran government over a cyanide leach gold mine the company sought to open there provides yet another example of why trade agreements must be dramatically overhauled. In making the claim, the Canadian-based multinational firm, Pacific Rim Mining Corp., brought the first environmental case to date under the investorto-state arbitration mechanism of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). This system allows foreign corporations to sue governments and demand compensation when they believe their investor rights, as spelled out in the trade pact, have been violated. A World Bank tribunal heard initial arguments in the case in early June. Pacific Rim Mining planned to use hundreds of tons of cyanide and hundreds of millions of liters of water per year to recover gold from ore in the basin of El Salvador’s largest river. This proposed project, as well as applications filed by various companies for 28 other gold and silver mines, generated a major national debate about the health and environmental implications of mining in El Salvador, a densely populated country the size of Massachusetts with limited water resources. Leaders of El Salvador’s major political parties, the Catholic Church and a large civil society network expressed concerns about contamination of water resources on which millions of people rely. The firm never completed its application process. Instead, shortly after the government formed a commission of experts to review the country’s mining policy, Pacific Rim Mining turned to CAFTA, using it to demand hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and claiming that El Salvador had violated its trade pact investor rights. The case spotlights the concerns that have led Public Citizen, environmental and human rights advocates, and many in Congress to demand changes to the past model of trade pact foreign investor rights and their private enforcement. Tribunals have ordered more

“Increasingly, multinational companies are invoking trade-agreement investor rights in situations where natural resources and public health are at stake. As the Obama administration launches new trade talks and considers whether it will renegotiate the leftover Bush [free trade agreements], negotiators need to close the door to the kinds of outrageous challenges to essential environmental laws like we now see in the Pacific Rim case.”

Lori Wallach director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

than $200 million in payments to investors under similar terms in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “At stake is whether the operations of the fragile democracy that emerged from 12 years of civil war in El Salvador and the policies by its elected leaders to ensure mining does not further damage the country’s ravaged environment will prevail — or whether CAFTA will allow the demands of a multinational mining firm to reign supreme over the rule of law in El Salvador,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division. “It also shines a spotlight on the extreme foreign investor rights provided in NAFTA, CAFTA and now in the leftover Bush trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama that the Obama administration recently announced it wants to complete.” Public Citizen has been out front in publicizing the case and its ramifications. In May, the organization held a press briefing with Friends of the Earth and two Salvadoran community leaders from the region where the proposed mine would be built: Miguel Rivera, founder of the Association of Friends of San Isidro Cabañas, whose brother was murdered last year after speaking out against the project, and Vidalina Morales de Gámez, with

the National Coalition Against Metallic Mining. In addition, Wallach organized congressional briefings with the visiting Salvadorans for staffers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Public Citizen has urged activists to contact President Barack Obama and demand a better trade model.

Pacific Rim Mining’s plans

A 1996 Salvadoran law establishes a two-step process for companies wishing to establish a mine. Pacific Rim Mining completed the first step when it acquired an exploration permit and began exploratory drilling for gold in 2002. However, to operate a mine, the company needed an exploitation permit, which requires an environmental impact assessment and a feasibility study. In 2005, Pacific Rim Mining submitted its environmental impact assessment to the government. A geologist hired by a local community group found it lacking detail about the amount of water required for the project and the prospect for cyanide contamination. The region is subject to earthquakes and torrential rains, which heightened concerns about the proposed mine’s safety. A 4.7-magnitude earthquake occurred directly below

the proposed Pacific Rim mine site in 2001. Public concerns grew about this project and the dozens of other mining permits being sought. In March 2008, then-Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca, leader of the conservative ARENA party, announced that he would establish a commission to review the country’s mining law and would not grant mining permits until the commission reported. Meanwhile, Pacific Rim Mining, a Canadian company that would not have standing under CAFTA because Canada was not a party to the trade agreement, reincorporated a subsidiary as a Nevada corporation, Pac Rim Cayman LLC. The U.S. subsidiary, newly covered by CAFTA, filed its CAFTA claim in December 2008. The company claims that the Salvadoran government capriciously halted progress on approving the proposed mine for political reasons. The Salvadoran government argues that it has a right to set the terms for mining in its country. CAFTA’s investor-to-state dispute settlement provision is very similar to NAFTA’s investor-tostate provision and those in the Bush-era free trade agreements (FTAs) the Obama administration has said it will send to Congress, Wallach said. This system empowers foreign corporations to demand government compensation in foreign tribunals, skirting domestic courts and laws, for government actions, including environmental regulations, that the investors believe violate their trade pact rights. Under NAFTA, corporations have challenged dozens of environmental and other public interest laws in the United States, Canada and Mexico. “This problem extends beyond El Salvador. Increasingly, multinational companies are invoking trade-agreement investor rights in situations where natural resources and public health are at stake,” Wallach said. “As the Obama administration launches new trade talks and considers whether it will renegotiate the leftover Bush FTAs, negotiators need to close the door to the kinds of outrageous challenges to essential environmental laws like we now see in the Pacific Rim case.”

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Survey: Most Support Shorter Medical Resident Shifts
By Arlene Tonoff A new study — the first of its kind — shows that most Americans object to medical residents working longer than 24-hour shifts and favor tighter regulations for resident work hours. The study, released June 1, was published by the online journal BMC Medicine and showed that 90 percent of those surveyed believe the maximum shift duration for medical residents should be 16 hours or less. (A 2008 Institute of Medicine [IOM] report said that resident physicians who work more than 16 consecutive hours without sleep pose a safety hazard for themselves and patients.) In contrast, current work hour rules permit residents to work up to 30-hour shifts twice weekly. These long shifts result in fatigued residents who are more prone to errors. The research was conducted by Lake Research Partners and sponsored financially by Public Citizen and the Committee of Interns and Residents/Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The study authors included representatives from Public Citizen, Harvard Medical School, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU. These groups have pressed the body overseeing resident physician training, the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), to improve medical resident work hours. In June, ACGME did propose some slight improvements to its guidelines for medical resident work hours. An ACGME task force is recommending that the maximum length of shifts for new doctors in their first year of residency training programs in hospitals be cut from 24 hours to 16 hours. The group also is recommending closer supervision by experienced doctors. However, maximum work shifts for residents in their second year and beyond would still be very long — 24 consecutive hours plus an additional four hours for transitioning care. These 28hour shifts can be scheduled every third night. Maximum work weeks would remain at 80 hours for all hospital residents. The weekly hours may be averaged over one month, meaning that a resident may work 60 hours one week, followed by 100 hours the next week. The long shifts still would lead the residents to a chronic state of fatigue. The ACGME is accepting public comments on the recommendations until Aug. 9 at www.acgme. org. The new standards are scheduled to go into effect in July 2011. Public Citizen and other patient safety advocates will continue to push for further improvements to medical resident guidelines. “The improvements in the new ACGME guidelines are largely swamped by the failure to cover the majority of medical residents with the protection of not having to work more than 16 hours continuously,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “This is the second revision of ACGME requirements in the past seven years, and the organization still does not get it right.” • • medical residents; The majority of respondents said they believe that resident physicians work shifts of less than 12 hours; 81 percent of the general public believes that reducing resident physician work hours would be very or somewhat effective in reducing medical errors; When asked about specific recommendations of the IOM, four of five respondents support limiting the duration of individual work shifts to 16 hours, capping weekly work hours at a maximum of 80 hours in any single week and ensuring that medical residents have at least one day off per week; 68 percent favor the IOM recommendation that resident physicians not work more than 16 hours over an alternative IOM proposal that would permit resident physicians to remain in the hospital for 30 hours, as long as they were provided the opportunity to sleep for five hours without interruption after 16 hours of work.

The following are some highlights from our recent media coverage. Robert Weissman, Public Citizen president: On the June 4
BP protest: The New York Times, The Baton Rouge Advocate, PBS’ “Nightly Business Report,” Bloomberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, The San Francisco Chronicle. On the call to boycott BP: The Philadelphia Daily News, Los Angeles Times. On the financial reform bill: PBS’ “Nightly Business Report,” ABC’s “World News Tonight.” On the case for implementing a financial speculation tax: The American Prospect.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
On the need for more transparency and disclosure from the Food and Drug Administration: Reuters, The Associated Press, Fox Business, Bloomberg Businessweek, San Francisco Chronicle, The Charleston Daily Mail (W.Va.), FDA Week, The Akron Beacon Journal. On the safety of the diabetes drug Avandia: ABC News.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group:

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program: On the

call to boycott BP: Financial Times, USA Today, CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” The Guardian (U.K.), NPR. On the June 4 BP protest: Fox News, MSNBC with Chris Jansing, NPR. On the BP oil spill: NPR, The Dallas Morning News, The St. Petersburg Times.

ican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement: BNA Daily Report. On former trade czar Rob Portman’s ties to former President George W. Bush: The Columbus Dispatch.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division: On fixing the U.S.-Domin-

Allison Zieve, director of the Public Citizen Litigation Group: On the
Department of Justice keeping secret the names of people whose applications for pardons were denied by Bush: The National Law Journal, Legal Intelligencer, The American Lawyer, Texas Lawyer.

Survey says: fewer hours for residents

David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division: On the revolving door

between Congress and Wall Street: The Boston Globe, CNN Money, Politico, Bloomberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, The Huffington Post. Featured in Time magazine on the lobbying culture in Washington, D.C.

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office: On

reconciling Texas air quality with new national standards: The Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express, The Texas Tribune.

Respondents to the study published in BMC Medicine said that patients should be informed if the doctor treating them has been working for 24 hours. Most of the respondents to the study, which surveyed 1,200 people, also said that if told that their doctor had been awake for a day, they would request care from a different doctor. Other findings include: • Only 1 percent of the general public supports shifts longer than 24 hours for

“Working for 24 hours without sleep impairs performance to a degree that is comparable to being legally drunk,” said Dr. Charles Czeisler, a senior author of the study and professor of sleep medicine at Harvard School of Medicine. “Patients have a right to be concerned for their safety when doctors work marathon 24-hour shifts. Reducing resident physician work hours is an effective way to improve patient safety.” Currently, New Zealand and most European countries have restrictions that limit the number of consecutive hours residents are allowed to work. “The leaders within academic medicine who are resisting these sensible changes are out of step with the public, and that jeopardizes the notion of patientcentered care and threatens the health of patients as well as doctors,” Wolfe said. For more information, visit www.wakeupdoctor.org. Arlene Tonoff is an intern in Public Citizen’s communications office.

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Public Citizen To FDA: Unethical Avandia Clinical Trial Should Not Continue
By Kate Resnevic Public Citizen is calling for the immediate halt of an unethical diabetes drug trial aimed at assessing the heart risks associated with the diabetes drug Avandia, saying that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seen enough research to know that the drug is more dangerous than the closely related drug Actos. “The price of such definitive proof will almost certainly be measured in the lives of study subjects who have been incompletely informed about the risks and benefits of participation,” Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, and Dr. David Juurlink, a Toronto researcher who has published one of the studies finding Avandia to be more dangerous than Actos, wrote in a May 11 letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. The drug company GlaxoSmithKline began the Thiazolidinedione Intervention in Vitamin D Evaluation (TIDE) trial in May 2009 at the request of the FDA. The study involves 14 countries, including the U.S. and developing countries such as Mexico, Chile, India, Pakistan and Colombia, and is intended to include as many as 16,000 subjects. The targeted completion date is 2015. A major objective of TIDE is to compare the safety risks of Avandia (generic name: rosiglitazone) with those of Actos (generic name: pioglitazone). “Surely no patient would willingly participate in a trial in which they have a substantial likelihood of taking a drug that, in the opinion of a large group of experts, has no role in present day therapeutics because of its risks,” Wolfe said. “The trial shouldn’t continue because the question has been answered. If the trial continues, the health of thousands of patients will be jeopardized. It is unethical to continue this trial.” A large body of research has shown Avandia to be more dangerous than Actos. Avandia is more likely to cause heart failure; even FDA scientists estimate that the risk of heart failure with Avandia is roughly 50 percent higher than with Actos. Avandia also is associated with a higher risk of death than Actos. Avandia and Actos have both been associated with a host of side effects, including fluid accumulation in the eye and other places, anemia, congestive heart failure, heart attack, bony fractures and acute liver injury — some cases of which have been fatal. And in mid-July, Wolfe testified before an FDA advisory committee and urged members to ban the drug. The committee gave no clear recommendation on how the FDA should proceed; the final decision lies with Hamburg. In 2008, expert committees from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, the European equivalent of the ADA, advised against using Avandia, and the Saudi Arabian drug regulatory agency has recently removed Avandia from the market. The FDA has ordered a black box warning to be placed on Avandia (but not Actos) because of concerns about heart attacks. Juurlink led a study, published in 2009, comparing adverse effects in 39,000 people who began using either Avandia or Actos between 2002 and 2008. Juurlink and his colleagues found a significantly higher risk of congestive heart failure and death from any cause in patients taking Avandia. The authors estimated that one additional hospitalization for heart failure would occur annually for every 120 patients prescribed Avandia rather than Actos, and that one additional death would occur each year for every 269 patients treated with Avandia rather than Actos. Kate Resnevic is managing editor of Worst Pills, Best Pills News.

Are your medicines
Many drugs that come to market have risks that outweigh their benefits. Others, found to have risks only after they are approved, are left on the market for dangerously long periods of time. Find out which drugs are safe — and which you should avoid — with Public Citizen’s WorstPills.org and Worst Pills, Best Pills News. To subscribe to WorstPills.org, our online database, for only $15 a year, visit www.WorstPills.org, and type in promotional code PCNJAWPA when prompted. To subscribe to the monthly print edition of Worst Pills, Best Pills News for $10 a year, please fill out the form below.

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14 July/August 2010

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Spending Bill Devotes $9 Billion To Nuclear Loan Guarantees

Thanks for Your
In each issue of Public Citizen News, we will recognize new and renewing donors to our leadership giving programs. This list includes donations that were received in April and May 2010. Torchbearers Peter G. Angelos The Attias Family Foundation Jere Beasley Allan W. Bernat Elspeth G. Bobbs Peter & Alice Broner Philip Harnett Corboy, Jr. Thomas Demetrio Jeffrey L. Dennis Richard Epstein Louis F. Farese Jr. Ronald & Mary Forthofer Jordan Fox Andrew Friedman Paul Friedman Marie Lee Gaillard Francis Hagan Frances Harmon John Irsak David Irwin Milnor & Miriam Jones Sydney K. Kay Shannon Liss-Riordan Donna Litowitz Royceann Mather Patricia McSweeney Thomas J. Methvin Lisa Mezzetti Nicholas & Barbara Millhouse Wilma S. Mills Nancy & Herbert Milstein Victoria Nugent Jean Nunes Wesley H. Quigley Eugene & Jeanne Rondeau Mary M. Russell Joseph Sellers Marlowe Steege Harold L. Stokes Ailene S. Taylor Murray Tobak Robert Van Ry Gibson Vance Barry & Elisa Waxman J. Dix & Barbara Wayman Henry W.H. Weis F.R. Wollaeger ParTners David Arpi & Natalie Gubb William & Ilene Birge David & Kay Brennan Guy Coheleach Marie L. Farr Audrey Gerson Robert Ginsberg Barbara Grodd Clara Harari Wade C. Johnson Stewart & Sherry Kahn Charles L. Kerstein Donald L. Knutson Edgar Lyngholm Janet Morrow Paul & Margaret Nelson Michael Nimkoff Carol D. Norberg David Pinkham Jr. Juliet Sabit Peter & Judith Sager Michael Shannon Robert Sherman George & Sheryl Sinas Andrew E. Stein George & Glenna Stewart Margaret E. Truman J.P. Villedrouin Mary B. Williams

Leadership support
Public Citizen is proud to recognize new and renewing Torchbearers and Partners in Citizenship. These donors provide a critical source of funding for our most important work.

Public Citizen is battling to stop loan guarantees and nuclear reactors.
By Dorry Samuels A closed-door deal between President Barack Obama and Congress would put taxpayers on the hook if companies investing in nuclear reactors default on their loans. In the current version of the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Bill (H.R. 4899), $9 billion in loan guarantees (on top of $18.5 billion already allocated by the Obama administration) would be devoted to building new nuclear reactors that could include two reactors at the South Texas Project (STP) in Bay City, Texas, and two reactors in Calvert Cliffs, Md. But all hope is not lost — this measure has yet to pass Congress, as of press time. Public Citizen is fighting hard to stop the new reactors. Generating nuclear energy contaminates soil, air and water, and produces dangerous, long-lasting radioactive waste. In addition, not only are cost overruns all too common in nuclear reactor construction projects, but with the loan guarantees, taxpayers will end up footing the bill when costs skyrocket and investors can’t make up the difference. Chances are high that companies will default — according to a May 2003 Congressional Budget Office report, the risk is “very high — well above 50 percent.” With the STP plans, for example, no shovel has hit the ground, but costs have ballooned from around $5 billion to more than $18 billion because developers underestimated costs. This project is expected to be completed by 2016 — still plenty of time for costs to rise even higher. And this is for a project whose investors have already flirted with the idea of backing out; one reduced

its share in the project more than five-fold. To block the STP, Public Citizen appeared in April before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to contest the project’s environmental impact statement. Public Citizen, along with other environmental groups, also filed comments with the NRC contesting the need for the plant and have intervened in the licensing process. “There is no need for the plant. The energy needs can be provided by renewables and energy efficiency for only a fraction of the cost,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “STP is a poster child for why we shouldn’t be giving nuclear loan guarantees. It has more than tripled in cost before construction even begins and there are no buyers for the energy.”

Even more loan guarantees?

To become a leader, contact Alice Butler in the development office at (202) 588-7753, or via e-mail at abutler@citizen.org.

Of the original $18.5 billion in nuclear loan guarantees allocated by the Obama administration, $8.3 billion will go to Southern Company for two reactors in Georgia. The remaining $10.2 billion is widely expected to be offered to Unistar, a consortium of Constellation Energy and the French government-owned utility Électricité de France, for two reactors in Calvert Cliffs, Md. The administration is requesting more money to finance both the Calvert Cliffs reactor and STP. Further, even more government (read: taxpayer) funds are likely to be allocated to nuclear energy in the near future. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) proposed $54 billion in nuclear loan guarantees in their proposed American Power Act, which was released to the public on May 12. That’s a lot of taxpayer money on the line. Call your representative and senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them not to support taxpayer-financed nuclear power — or nuclear power in general.

PublIc cItIzEN NEwS

July/August 2010 15

For Your ENtErtaINmENt
Public Citizen Crossword
ACROSS 1 Seize illegally 6 Runway safety org. 9 St. Louis landmark 13 “Got it” in radio-speak 14 Robbins of ice cream fame 15 Senate investigation 16 Deepwater Horizon event, in the news 19 City on the Ouse 20 Japanese affirmative 21 Facades 22 Zero in on 24 Recyclable item 25 Subject of the Kyoto Protocol 30 Garlicky condiment 31 Treasure of mine 32 Nuke 34 Art teacher’s deg. 35 La Brea attractions 39 Golf phenom Michelle 40 Fax cover-sheet letters 42 Fed. drugbusters 43 Downsizing phase 45 Off ___ (led to 16 Across) 49 Dedicatory words 50 Grand Central arrival 51 In abundance 55 Place to pay and stay 56 Cycle starter 59 They contribute to 25 Across 62 Ramshackle 63 Test for master’s entrants 64 Letters without envelopes 65 Bombay housemaid 66 Former Border Patrol agcy. 67 Part of NRA By Sam Bellotto Jr. 1 13 16 19 22 25 30 34 40 45 49 51 59 62 65 63 66 52 53 54 60 64 67 41 46 50 55 61 56 57 58 35 36 42 47 48 37 26 31 38 43 44 20 23 27 32 39 17 21 24 28 29 33 2 3 4 5 6 14 18 7 8 15

Answers are on page 16.
9 10 11 12

DOWN 1 Implore 2 Motown music 3 Not pretty 4 KO counter 5 Place a ban on 6 Of a child 7 End of a drunk? 8 Part of an Israeli city 9 Atomic number 33 10 Habitual 11 Radio-active trucker? 12 Miss-marked 15 Vintage travel bag logo 17 “___ lineman for the county ...” 18 Off-the-record 22 It merged with Time Warner 23 Type of question 25 Shower items 26 Unwilling 27 Former press secretary Fleischer 28 Kind of situation 29 On one’s way 30 Org. for court figures 33 St. Bernard’s burden 36 “Why, thou owest God ___”: Shak. 37 Election Day state color 38 Kennedy press secretary Pierre 41 Phrase used to describe feel-good laws 44 Mark a ballot 46 Cox in “RoboCop” 47 Perennial flowers

48 Interstate division 51 Taj Mahal city 52 Hyde Park baby buggy 53 “___ Smile Be Your Umbrella” 54 Bear who is smarter than average

56 Boeing Co. customer 57 First name on the moon 58 Ocean oasis 60 Starbucks dispenser 61 Pierre’s pal

Public Citizen Recommends ...
‘A Presidency in Peril’
By Robert Kuttner; Chelsea Green; $25 Wall Street (financial reform) or insurance companies (health reform). President Barack Obama needs to get a little partisan and stand up for the American people, says Kuttner, who spoke about his new book at an April event held at Public Citizen’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. However, after laying out a sharp critique, Kuttner ends the book optimistically. “Despite a year of disappointment and disillusion, we have three things on our side,” Kuttner writes. “We have reality— most people are not experiencing the economic recovery being enjoyed on Wall Street. We have a clever but empty opposition— a right-wing Republican Party offering nothing to solve this severe crisis. And, in Barack Obama, we have a president who has only begun to realize his full potential as a leader. Whether he does will be a test of his character—and ours.” — Bridgette Blair

‘Casino Jack and the United States of Money’
Written and directed by Alex Gibney; for more information, visit www. takepart.com/casinojack Jack Abramoff was not just the ultimate Washington lobbyist but a political “fixer” on a grand scale — that is, until he became the poster child for the very worst aspects of political life: the buying and selling of influence over lawmakers. The documentary follows Abramoff’s early escapades with high-profile conservatives to his big-time fleecing of American Indian tribes and his downfall. With interviews from reporters, watchdogs, former Abramoff colleagues and ex-congressional staffers, filmmaker Alex Gibney connects the many ugly dots of Abramoff’s sordid career. One of the choicest moments in the film — and there are many — is when one of Abramoff’s

former allies said that he was so slick, he could talk a dog off a meat truck. — Barbara Holzer

‘The DeMarco Factor’
By Michael Pertschuk; Vanderbilt University Press; $24.95 Vinny DeMarco has made dreams of social justice come true. The relentless and tireless public interest advocate has won against the gun lobby and big tobacco companies, and has obtained health care coverage for Maryland’s uninsured. In this book, author Michael Pertschuk, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, details DeMarco’s history and provides an insider’s look at public advocacy. The book offers lessons in reaching out to media, framing messages, organizing communities and securing technical and financial assistance. It promises to inspire all those who seek to fight for the greater good. — Arlene Tonoff

The Obama administration has had an opportunity to make strong progressive change but thus far has failed to do so. In “A Presidency in Peril,” Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect and distinguished senior fellow at progressive think tank Demos, critiques the administration’s missteps — whether they were policies developed with influence from

To order books, contact the publisher or visit your local bookstore or library.

16 July/August 2010

PublIc cItIzEN NEwS

WIN!

House Passes Election Spending Disclosure Bill
who donate $1,000 or more for campaign ads. Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government affairs lobbyist and expert on campaign finance reform, said the measure closes gaping loopholes in current law that allow corporations to hide their campaign spending by funneling their money through front groups. “Revealing the funders behind these groups is perhaps the most valuable tool voters can use in evaluating the merits of the campaign messages that are about to besiege them,” Holman said. The act also would ban major government contractors and foreign corporations from paying directly for such ads. The Senate is expected to vote on the DISCLOSE Act before the end of July. Its fate there is uncertain because of fierce opposition from Republican leaders and efforts to defeat the bill by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other big business lobbyists. In May, Holman testified about the need for the DISCLOSE Act before the House Administration Committee. “Today, corporate lobbyists can walk into a lobbying meeting carrying a big stick to intimidate lawmakers,” Holman said. “A healthy democracy is going to have a hard time surviving this corporate onslaught without meaningful measures to mitigate the corrupting role of unlimited corporate money.” While Public Citizen lobbied hard to get the DISCLOSE Act through the House, the measure by itself falls far short of repairing the damage done by the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. In that Jan. 21 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that corporations should have the First Amendment rights of people when it comes to spending on elections. Public Citizen maintains that Congress must pass the Shareholder Protection Act (H.R. 4790) to ensure that corporations do not spend shareholders’ money on elections against their wishes. And lawmakers must pass the Fair Elections Now Act (H.R. 1826 and S. 752) to ensure that candidates who do not have corporate backing have a foundation to run viable campaigns. But even if those measures become law, they won’t be enough, said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. Ultimately, there needs to be a constitutional amendment specifying that forprofit corporations are not entitled to First Amendment protections, except for freedom of the press, he said. “Democracy is rule of the people — real, live humans, not artificial entity corporations,” Weissman said. “Now it’s time for the people to reassert their rights.”

By Joe Newman This summer, Congress took its first steps to counter the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on elections. The U.S. House of Representatives in June passed the DISCLOSE Act (Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections), a measure that would require corporations, unions and other organizations to identify how much they spend on elections and from where the money is coming. Election-related advertisements purchased by these groups would have to list the top five donors to their election-activity accounts and contain a stand-byyour-ad disclaimer, in which an organization’s top official and its biggest funder must declare on camera that they agree with the content of the ad and are responsible for its airing. Under the DISCLOSE Act, groups would have to identify their major donors. In the House-passed version of the bill, that means disclosure of donors of $600 or more for campaign ads, while in the Senate bill, it means disclosure of those

Crossword Answers
(from page 15)
F I L I A L R E D Y O G I A A R V D I S V E T C W A R O R E P I T A R I L T R A I N U S E R E N S P A N A M U R G E S O U L U R P G E R L F O I Y H A A I M L O B A O L I A T A T N D H O R E T O A L E N T E E N H T T Y A H A R S E N I C R O T E C B E R H E R S

G A I B F A T S A G R A P R A M

N O S W A X I L I N I N N U G A S E M A R I F

G O K I E N G G N E I L I S L E

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Public Citizen’s 2009-2010 congressional scorecard

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