For Immediate Release
Obama’s Rumored Choice for Justice Department Post Has Long History of Working Against Consumer Rights
Public Citizen Urges Obama to Nominate an Individual Who Has Demonstrated a Greater Commitment to the Public Interest
WASHINGTON - President Obama's reported choice to head the U.S. Department of
Justice's (DOJ) main policymaking unit has a long record of championing
laws to shield corporations from accountability at the expense of
ordinary Americans, Public Citizen said in a report released today.
The report, along with a letter sent to Obama,
raises concerns about the lobbying activities of the prospective
nominee, Mark Gitenstein, who is reportedly in line to head the DOJ's
Office of Legal Policy. Gitenstein has served as a registered lobbyist
for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other corporate clients
for whom he has consistently lobbied for measures to reduce corporate
Since the mid-1990s, Gitenstein has lobbied for a law that made it
more difficult to hold businesses and their auditing firms liable for
false earnings predictions; a measure that would have dulled the
government's primary tool to penalize and deter fraud by contractors;
and a law aimed at reducing consumers' ability to pursue class action
Further, some of Gitenstein's most recent work appears to conflict
with Obama's newly announced ethics policy prohibiting executive branch
employees from working in "issue areas" on which they lobbied in the
past two years. Gitenstein lobbied on "legal reform issues" for the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2007 and 2008. This topic is fundamentally
intertwined with the Office of Legal Policy's responsibilities, which
include formulating Justice Department policy on those very issues and
advising the president on judicial nominations.
"Someone who spent years fighting corporate accountability and
working to undermine the legal rights of ordinary Americans should
never have a place in a key Justice Department policy position," said
David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division.
"But particularly not with the economy reeling from corporate
misconduct and unaccountability. The nation needs a new direction, and
the nation voted for a new direction. Voters do not want a continuation
of the failed policies of the past eight years - placing corporations
above the law and putting foxes in charge of henhouses."
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.