Westen was an official of the Federal Trade Commission during the Carter administration who has been described as an "agent provocateur, Web-based political organizer, former Federal Trade Commission official, and part-time professor at USC."
Westen managed the campus radio station at Pomona College and was a "law student and activist" at Berkeley in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he formed Public Communication Inc., which billed itself as the nation's first public-interest law firm and advertising agency. Public Communications Inc created the 1972 Chevrolet engine-mount-recall spot featuring Burt Lancaster.
Westen founded the California Channel in 1989. It provides C-SPAN-like coverage of California's state government.
He says that his goal is "...to shape the architecture of democracy."
Westen was appointed to join the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program as a senior fellow on February 1, 2001.
Westen founded Grassroots.com, described as a "premier Internet political action destination." Grassroots.com later became "Grassroots Enterprise," and was acquired in November 2009 by Edelman, a for-profit public relations agency that represents major corporations such as Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Kraft, Microsoft and Royal Dutch Shell.
- Fast Company, "Social Justice - Tracy Westen," December 19, 2007
- Aspen Institute, "Clinton Administration Internet Strategist Elliot Maxwell and Electronic Democracy Pioneer Tracy Westen to Join Aspen Institute"
- Electronic Democracy
- Edelman, "Edelman acquires digital advocacy firm Grassroots Enterprise"