Case Study: How Public Citizen Scales Resources To Advocate for the Public with the Help of POLITICO Pro

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Public Citizen is a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that works to ensure that the government is operating in citizens’ best interests. Founded in 1971, Public Citizen acts on behalf of the public to 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.

The Challenge: Limited Resources & A Wide Legislative Portfolio

Since its founding nearly 50 years ago, Public Citizen has served as “the people’s advocate.” Advocating for the public means having a diverse legislative portfolio and working to hold powerful actors accountable.

As Public Citizen’s list of policy priorities expanded, it needed a way to scale up and “level the playing field” with corporations and trade associations that have many more resources at their disposal. “Given my wide portfolio, responsibilities, and managing a team – I’m short on time, but I need to stay up-to-date on the issues,” says Susan Harley, Managing Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. Congress Watch engages in public education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy before Congress and administrative agencies on issues like money in politics, open government, corporate accountability and more.

The Solution: Scaling Resources to Advocate for the Public

Since 2013, Public Citizen has relied on POLITICO Pro to help scale up their advocacy efforts, save time, and be the first to know when news breaks. As Managing Director of Congress Watch, Harley’s responsibilities include meeting with congressional stakeholders and strengthening relationships with coalition partners across various issues. POLITICO Pro provides her and her team access to actionable intelligence and information critical to their success.

Here’s what a day in the life with Harley looks like:

  • Harley starts her morning with POLITICO Pro’s daily newsletters to get an overview of what’s happening across the issue areas important to her work, “it’s just such a digestible way to get information,” says Harley.
  • In one of Pro’s newsletters, Harley reads about the introduction of a new bill that Public Citizen supports. Harley logs into the platform and accesses Pro’s Congressional Directory to pull contact information and bios for congressional staffers and starts to set up lobby meetings. “Many times, I’ve gotten that important nugget of information from a directory bio that helps me build a relationship,” says Harley.
  • When a bill gets to the hearing stage, Harley can’t always be in the room, so she relies on Pro to be in the room for her, “Just the other day I missed a hearing and was able to access the hearing transcript through the Document Drawer.”

Most recently, Harley has been tracking the controversial “net operating loss” provision included in the CARES Act, the first coronavirus stimulus package passed in March. The provision was intended to allow companies to get quick cash infusions from the IRS, but opens new opportunities for tax arbitrage. Public Citizen argues the provision gives too much to wealthy business owners and corporations. “The ability to quickly dig into an esoteric issue, like net operating losses, is invaluable. If you’re not an accountant but are working on tax issues, having the ability to get all sides of the issue presented and get down into the weeds, it’s priceless,” says Harley of POLITICO Pro’s coverage on the issue.

The Results: Leveling the Playing Field

With POLITICO Pro, Public Citizen has a trusted resource to rely on as it continues to grow its capacity and hold powerful actors accountable, even when they may have more resources at their disposal. “With POLITICO Pro, we have the information before others, so we’re ahead of the curve. In addition, it puts us on a level playing field with some of the corporate actors that have many different resources at their disposal. Information is such a key resource for us, it’s just absolutely essential to our work,” says Harley.

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