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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Will Wells Fargo CEO Tell Senate "No Clawbacks" of Exec's Golden Parachute? | Ed Mierzwinski

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf goes before the Senate Banking Committee Tuesday (9/20) to explain the recent $185 million in combined civil penalties by the CFPB and other regulators over a sales goals incentive scandal that led to employees opening some 2 million fake, secret accounts without the knowledge of customers. How will he respond to the growing public clamor for a clawback of bonuses paid his top retail executive Carrie Tolstedt, whose retirement with a $125 million golden parachute package had been announced earlier this summer? 

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Blog Post | Public Health

Petition: FDA Needs To Act On Antibiotics | Emily Rusch

Today, CALPIRG joined NRDC in a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, challenging the agency to do what the law requires of it — protect the health of Americans from the misuse of antibiotics. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Wall Street Ramps Up Attacks on Wall Street Reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Friday, the House overwhelmingly approved a Wall Street-driven proposal to weaken oversight of private equity firms, taking a chunk out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But wait, there's so much more: On Tuesday the House Financial Services Committee takes up the so-called "Financial Choice Act," which eviscerates most of Dodd-Frank's key reforms, from stripping powers of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to repealing the Volcker Rule, which reins in risky betting practices that use depositors' money. As for the CFPB (which just this week issued its biggest fine to date, $100 million against Wells Fargo Bank for opening hundreds of thousands of fake and secret consumer accounts to meet sales goals), the proposal would defund and defang it and delay or stop its efforts to rein in unfair practices of payday lenders, debt collectors and banks. Many of the Financial Choice Act's provisions also pose threats as budget bill "riders."

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Media Hit | Democracy

Sacramento Bee Op-Ed: Bill would empower small campaign donors over special interests, megadonors

Imagine a private company is hiring new staff, but for 82% of the applicants who make it past a first round interview, the business decides to go with the wealthier job applicant. That sounds outrageous, it sounds unfair, and it certainly doesn’t sound like good practice when it comes to hiring the most qualified applicants. But that’s similar to what’s happening in American elections.

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Blog Post

And that's a Wrap! | Emily Rusch

On August 31st the California state legislature wrapped up its work for the year, sending hundreds of new bills to Governor Brown’s desk - including bills to reduce harmful global warming pollution protect consumers from surprise medical bills, protect homeowners at risk of foreclosure, restore campaign finance options to reduce the influence of big money in politics, and give voters more options for casting their ballot. 

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LATimes: Obama's consumer protection legacy defined by aggressive agency

[This weekend, the Los Angele Times chronicled President Obama's consumer protection record, with heavy emphasis on the history and fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):]

"[...] Launched in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the bureau is one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. [...] “I think you have to consider him a tremendous president for consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

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News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

Local and National Democracy Advocates Urge Governor Brown to Sign the Overturn Citizens United Act

Today the California Senate passed SB 254 The Overturn Citizens United Act in a 26 to 11 vote.  The bill now goes to Governor Jerry Brown's desk. SB 254 would place a voter instruction on the November ballot that would ask Californians if their representatives should “use all of their constitutional authority…to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and other applicable judicial precedents.”

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Why 164 Consumer Groups have called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to Restrict Forced Arbitration Clauses

Reporter Michael Finney from KGO radio interviews CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch about a new proposed rule to allow consumers to sue their banks for wrongdoing. 

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

CALPIRG Statement on Toxic Substances Control Act (TCSA) Reform

We are disappointed with the TSCA bill that was released by the House and Senate leaders and we urge Congress to reject the bill. When it comes to public health protections, the federal government should set a floor, not a ceiling. By unnecessarily preempting states’ efforts to regulate toxic chemicals, this bill does more harm than good.

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Result | Health Care

Fighting To Make Health Care Affordable

Thanks to a new CALPIRG-backed law, insurance companies actually have to justify rate hikes to the public, bringing some much-needed accountability. Thanks in part to the new law — and public pressure, including 1,200 public comments from CALPIRG supporters — Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California both backed off of double-digit rate hikes.

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Result | Budget

Keeping Public Libraries Public

To plug budget gaps, it seems that local governments will consider selling anything; some have even sold their public libraries. CALPIRG has stood up to and blocked a number of wrong-headed schemes to sell public assets to private companies — deals that all too often actually raise costs — including public libraries, state buildings and the privatization of red light camera enforcement.

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Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

For years, America’s schoolchildren have been eating beef, chicken and other foods that would have been rejected as substandard even by fast food chains. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the U.S.D.A. has stopped buying such low-quality meat for school lunches.

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Result | Democracy

Defeating Big Oil’s Ballot Proposition

CALPIRG helped run a campaign that identified 160,000 young voters who pledged to vote No on Prop. 23, the oil industry-funded attack on California’s landmark global warming law. To combat the millions of dollars Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro poured into electioneering, our organizers mobilized young voters — the segment of the electorate most likely to vote against Prop. 23, but most are in need of a reminder to get to the polls.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money 2015: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data

Accountability and public scrutiny are necessary to ensure that the public can trust that state funds are spent as well as possible. This report, our sixth annual evaluation of state transparency websites, finds that states continue to make progress toward comprehensive, one-stop, one-click transparency and accountability for state government spending. Over the past year, many states have launched new and improved websites to better open the books on public spending, or have adopted new practices to further expand citizens’ access to critical spending information.

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Report | CALPIRG

CALPIRG 2015 Legislative Priorities

When consumers are cheated or the voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by special interest lobbyists, CALPIRG speaks up and takes action. Attached is a list of the issues that CALPIRG is lobbying the California Legislature to tackle in the 2015 Legislative Session. 

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

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Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

The Cost of Running for US Senate in California

A comparison of fundraising practices for a U.S. Senate seat in California under current law and how fundraising could change if the Fair Elections Now Act became law.

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Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

The Money Chase: Moving from Big Donor Dominance in the 2014 Midterms to a Small Donor Democracy

Five years after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, what are the roles of large donors and average voters in selecting and supporting candidates for Congress? This report examines the role of money in the 2014 congressional elections from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives, and demonstrates how matching small political contributions with limited public funds can change the campaign landscape for grassroots candidates.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Consumers Count: Five years of the CFPB standing up for consumers | Kathryn Lee

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns five years old! As part of our efforts to tell more people about the CFPB, we're cross-posting this video blog and comments written by Zixta Q. Martinez of the CFPB (check out the infographic at the end, too!).

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Blog Post | Antibiotics

CALPIRG Celebrates National Fried Chicken Day by Calling on KFC to Save Antibiotics | Jason Pfeifle

Yesterday was National Fried Chicken Day. At CALPIRG, we decided to celebrate by calling on the largest national fried chicken chain to help stop the misuse of antibiotics on factory farms.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Delayed CFPB/Other Wall Street Reform Rollbacks Happening Today On House Floor | Ed Mierzwinski

Last month the House canceled floor consideration of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. FSGG is back on the floor today and tomorrow. We urge support of amendments to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but, since they won't pass, we urge a no vote on the bill. Here's an updated excerpt from my previous blog.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Five things you need to know about gray money | Sarah Friedman

Since the 2010 Citizens United ruling, we've heard about Super PACs able to spend unlimited amounts on our elections while obscuring the sources of the cash. Now, their tactics are getting even more creative.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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