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Harry Reid

Drug industry in bed with Harry Reid (and paying for his campaign ads)

Sunday, October 24, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Harry Reid, drug industry, health news

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(NaturalNews) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has received more donations from the drug industry than nearly any other political candidate this year.

As of late May, Reid was the only politician to have received $10,000 -- the maximum allowable contribution -- from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). He was also the only politician to have received the maximum amount from drugmaker Eli Lilly's Political Action Committee (PAC).

The healthy industry is Reid's single largest source of PAC funding. He is the overall number 2 recipient of funds from pharmaceutical PACs, trailing behind only Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, whose district includes the industry research hub known as Research Triangle Park.

Overall, Reid had received $154,000 in donations from drug industry PACs as of May 30.

In addition to PACs, Reid secures drug industry funding via volunteer lobbyist fundraisers known as "bundlers." One of these bundlers is Paul DiNino, a lobbyist whose firm represents PhRMA, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis. Another is Tony Podesta, who represents Amgen and Genzyme. A third is William Singer, who represents Pfizer. DiNino raised $23,950 for Reid in the last year, Singer raised $39,705 and Podesta has raised $78,400. A PAC for lobbying firm DLA Piper has raised at least $26,500 for his campaign.

Perhaps as a way to get beyond limits on campaign contributions, the drug industry has even started running a series of TV ads on behalf of Reid's campaign.

"Call Harry Reid today," one of the ads says. "Tell him to keep fighting for Nevada families."

What explains the drug industry's exceptional love for Reid? Washington Examiner lobbying editor Timothy P. Carney attributes it to Reid's central role in the passage of the recent health care reform bill.

"While the TV spot makes only passing reference to the health care bill passed in March," he writes, "there's no doubt this ad buy -- and the rest of the drug industry's generosity toward Harry Reid -- is a big thank you for the corporate-welfare 'reform' bill that Reid shepherded through the Senate."

Carney notes that during his election campaign, Obama actually singled out PhRMA -- the nation's biggest single-industry lobbying group -- and its president Billy Tauzin as an example of the kinds of monied politics as usual that his presidency would challenge. Then in July 2009, when the health care bill seemed threatened by Republican opposition, Tauzin paid two visits to the White House to strike a deal over the health care bill.

In exchange for PhRMA's support for the bill, the White House promised to leave current laws and subsidies favorable to the industry in place, and to add new mandates, subsidies, and a 12-year enforced monopoly on certain drugs into the bill.

"In the end, PhRMA shaped 'reform' as it wanted, and the group ran millions of dollars of ads supporting the bill," Carney writes. "Reid passed it. Now PhRMA is doing heavy lifting for Reid, whose approval ratings are in the 30s."

Two days after one of Tauzin's meetings with the White House, Eli Lilly's PAC sent Reid a check for $5,000. Three days later, Pfizer and PhRMA each sent him another $5,000.

"Within a week, drug giants Merck and Astra-Zeneca had ponied up, too," Carney writes. "That's at least $23,000 in pharmaceutical PAC money in 10 days."

Then when the bill passed, Reid received more donations from PhRMA, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and other pharmaceutical PACs.

And DLA Piper, the lobbying firm that has raised Reid more than $26,000? They cut ties with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, for opposing the health care bill.

Sources for this story include: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/D....

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