Maryland PIRG and U.S. PIRG Mourn The Passing of Sen. Paul Sarbanes

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BALTIMORE — To ensure our consumer rights and financial wellbeing, our elected representatives must prioritize the voices of their constituents over special interests. For decades, Sen. Paul Sarbanes was a stalwart advocate for the public, standing up to big banks and powerful corporations. 

Senator Sarbanes dedicated much of his life to public service, as a Maryland state Delegate, U.S. Congressman and five-term U.S. Senator. He chaired the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs when he authored the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which required better financial transparency from publicly traded companies.

“Sen. Paul Sarbanes was a giant worthy of a spot next to Iron Man,” said former MarylandPIRG Director, and current Maryland PIRG Board Member, Brad Heavner reflecting on awarding Sen. Sarbanes the Maryland PIRG Consumer Action Hero Lifetime Achievement Award. 

U.S. PIRG’s Senior Director of Federal Consumer Programs Ed Mierzwinski and Maryland PIRG’s State Director Emily Scarr released the following statements in response to the death of Sen. Sarbanes.

“Senator Paul Sarbanes was a consumer and investor champion. As chair of the Senate Banking Committee, his tireless and determined investigation of the Enron scandal exposed a massive failure of corporate governance and a stunning lack of disinterested auditor oversight,” said Mierzwinski. “His work provided a blueprint for reform. Powerful special interests then attempted to torpedo his efforts and substitute a weak, industry-approved House bill, but the collapse of another giant, WorldCom, assured final passage of a tough new investor protection law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, based largely on the work of Senator Sarbanes.”  

“Senator Sarbanes was a true public servant: humble and focused on making a difference over making a statement,” said Scarr. “Sen. Sarbanes helped deliver powerful reforms to protect Marylanders from fraud and abuse. We offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the friends and family of Sen. Sarbanes.”

Brad Heavner gives Sen. Sarbanes the Consumer Action Hero Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of Maryland PIRG


Maryland PIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests. For decades, we’ve stood up for consumers, countering the influence of big banks, insurers, chemical manufacturers and other powerful special interests. Maryland PIRG is part of U.S. PIRG.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. U.S. PIRG is part of The Public Interest Network, which runs organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world, a set of core values, and a strategic approach to getting things done.