Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people – not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.
We don’t participate in partisan political activities or endorse any candidates for elected office. We take no government or corporate money, which enables us to remain fiercely independent and call out bad actors – no matter who they are or how much power and money they have.
We use every tool at our disposal to take on big fights – and win . We mobilize activists to grow democratic movements, watchdog Congress, sue the government when it fails to do its job, petition regulatory agencies to safeguard the public and engage in cutting-edge research that effects change.
Need someone to explain how corporate influence in a policy area affects people? We can help. We have experts on a wide array of issues — from money in politics, trade and health care to energy, banking and access to the courts.
See who works in the public interest every day.
Join us at Public Citizen, and help us represent the public interest in the halls of power. We champion good government, a strong regulatory system, a clean and sustainable environment, affordable and safe health care, citizen access to the courts, corporate accountability in the trade arena and more.
Board of Directors
Our boards of directors work in tandem to plan Public Citizen’s future and adjust to the ever-changing present. Public Citizen Foundation board members focus on research and public education, while Public Citizen Inc. board members focus on lobbying and organizing.
In the halls of power, Public Citizen has represented citizens for nearly two generations – through the awakening of the consumer movement; the struggle for health, safety and environmental and marketplace safeguards in the 1960s and the 1970s; the corporate backlash of the 1980s and 1990s; and into the new millennium’s fight against abuses of globalization. The organization has battled for patients who are prescribed dangerous drugs, workers exposed to toxic chemicals, motorists with unsafe vehicles, voters with corrupt representatives, citizens exploited by energy companies and many more.
“Public Citizen, the Sentinel of Democracy,” a book published in 2016, takes readers through the years and highlights the most salient accomplishments by the first generation of Public Citizen leaders – achievements that have altered the American marketplace, government and political culture in ways that reverberate today.
At Public Citizen, our starting point is what we think is right, not what others say is ‘reasonable.’ Time and again, we’ve shown that we can take on corporate power, change the terms of debate and win transformative victories for health, safety, justice and democracy.
Robert Weissman, president
Often the best way to fight for change and stand up for ordinary people is by joining forces with like-minded allies. Public Citizen leads and partners with dozens of state, national and international coalitions.
Public Citizen, Inc. Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.
For example, Public Citizen has been a public voice on matters related to drug policy and pricing, exemplified by advocacy surrounding Gilead Sciences and remdesivir, and the potentially cheaper alternative GS-441524.
Organization and history
Founded by Ralph Nader in 1971, Public Citizen is funded by dues and contributions from its members and supporters, foundation grants, and publication sales and does not accept government or corporate funds.
Public Citizen's slogan is “Corporations have their lobbyists in Washington, D.C. The People need advocates too.” As explained on its website, its overarching goal is “to ensure that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.” It is a nonprofit organization unaffiliated with any partisan political activity, and it does not endorse anybody running for public office. It survives on donations from its 80,000 supporters and on other income, and it does not accept donations from governments or corporations.
According to their website, Public Citizen consists of two legal entities: Public Citizen, Inc., to which donations are not tax-deductible, and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc. to which donations are tax-deductible.
Disassociation from Ralph Nader
In the aftermath of Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign, Public Citizen disassociated itself from its founder.
Progressive magazine Mother Jones wrote about the so-called "rank-and-file liberals” who faulted Nader’s U.S. presidential run in 2000 for taking votes away from Al Gore, thus ensuring George W. Bush’s victory.
Mother Jones also pointed out that Nader’s association with Public Citizen was causing fundraising problems. Mother Jones cited a letter by Public Citizen to its readership with the disclaimer: "Although Ralph Nader was our founder, he has not held an official position in the organization since 1980 and does not serve on the board. Public Citizen—and the other groups that Mr. Nader founded—act independently."
WASHINGTON, DC 20009-1001 | Tax-exempt since June 1972
Classification (NTEE) Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (Public, Society Benefit — Multipurpose and Other)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(4) Defined as: Civic leagues, social welfare organizations and local associations of employees, created to promote community welfare for charitable, educational or recreational purposes.
Donations to this organization are not tax deductible.
Our mission is to advance the liberation and well-being of Black and Brown communities through education, self-empowerment, mass-mobilization and the creation of new systems that elevate the next generation of change leaders.
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Dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of social justice and equal opportunity will become a reality.