Ron Arnold's Left Tracking Library

Citizen Action
Citizens Fund

defunct

Citizen Action
Citizens Fund
Defunct national organizations.
Revived as U.S. Action.
Numerous former affiliates in various states remain intact.

Formerly at:
1401 W. 6th Street, Suite 200
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Phone: (216) 861-5200
(Now Ohio Citizen Action, which split from the national.)

Once-important national organizations destroyed by scandal surrounding the group's involvement in a 1997 money laundering scandal with the Teamsters Union. Former EPA director Carol Browner and her husband Michael Podhorzer once worked for the Washington, D.C. office of Citizen Action / Citizen Fund.

Citizen Action pioneered environmentalist door-to-door canvassing, teamed with Greenpeace and the Nader-founded Public Interest Research Groups.

Citizen Action is profiled in Ron Arnold and Alan Gottlieb's book, Trashing the Economy: How Runaway Environmentalism is Wrecking America

Background:
Citizen Action was founded by

Heather Booth, Chicagoan whose activist career began in the Mississippi Summer civil rights projects in 1964. She returned to Chicago and organized an early woman's group in 1967. She founded the Midwest Academy in 1973 to provide training for organizers in neighborhood organizations.


Her husband, Paul Booth, was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the early 1960s, and was president of Chicago's Citizen Action Program formed in 1969 by organizer trainees from Saul Alinski's Industrial Areas Foundation.

The Midwest Academy and IAF worked together on CAP's campaigns. In 1977, Heather Booth got together with William Winpisinger, president of the International Association of Machinists and William Hutton of the National council of Senior Citizens.

In 1978, the leaders of about 70 labor, citizen, senior, and farm organizations met in Washington, D.C. to found the Citizens/Labor Energy Coalition (CLEC).

In 1979, five state groups met in Chicago to form a national federation, Citizen Action. The founding organizations were:

  • Oregon Fair Share
  • Massachusetts Fair Share
  • Illinois Public Action Council
  • Connecticut Citizen action Coalition
  • Ohio Public Interest Campaign

Heather Booth and Ira Arlook (of Ohio Public Interest Campaign) were co-directors until 1988, when Booth left for another leadership position, leaving Arlook as sole director.

By 1985 Citizen Action had 20 state organizations representing 2 million people, a budget of $12 million and a total staff of 1,500 organizers, door-to-door canvassers, and researchers.

In 1989 Citizen Action consolidated its various nonprofit structures as Citizen Action Fund, with a 32-member board of directors representing affiliate state organizations. During the early 1990s Citizen Action / Citizens Fund had 22 state affiliates with 10 more organizing. Then the Teamsters scandal emerged in 1997 and the national organizations collapsed, leaving scattered state affiliates, which disengaged from the national before and during the scandal.

After the 1997 scandal destroyed Citizen Action, Ira Arlook moved to Washington D.C. where he established New Economy Communications, a media relations firm.

Heather Booth joined with activists in 1999 to revive Citizen Action as USAction, where she now serves as co-chair.

Foundations that funded Citizens Fund:

  • Samuel Rubin Foundation

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