The health care industry has found another way to influence Obamacare: get their lobbyists to donate to the same politicians they do.
A new report highlights just how hard the industry is going after key members of Congress as final decisions are made on health care reform. And it shows how the influence of a company can be multiplied by bundling contributions from the many K-Street influencers they employ.
CRP/Sunlight: A month-long collaborative investigation by the Sunlight Foundation and the centre for Responsive Politics has uncovered never-before-seen webs of campaign contributions from outside lobbyists and their clients, who are all important players in the healthcare reform, to key members of Congress.
The investigation identified outside lobbyists that donated to the same members of Congress as their clients, and strongly suggests that special interest giving is enhanced by the K Street contributors they hire.
A clear example of such bundling is seen in health care reform.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and author of the main health care reform bill now being debated in the Senate, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this one-two punch from the lobbyists and their clients. From January 2007 through June 2009, Baucus collected contributions from 37 outside lobbyists representing PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s chief trade association, and 36 lobbyists who listed drug maker Amgen Inc. as their client.
In all, 11 major health and insurance firms had their contributions to Baucus boosted through extra donations from 10 or more of their outside lobbyists.
In all, 61 members of Congress—39 in the Senate, 22 in the House, 38 Democrats and 23 Republicans—got money from 10 or more outside lobbyists whose healthcare or health insurance industry clients also contributed to their campaigns, according to the report.
“We expected to find some correlation between major donors and the lobbyists who work for them,” said lead researcher Larry Makinson. “But when we saw a dozen, two dozen, even three dozen lobbyists for a single company giving to the same members as their clients, we were frankly stunned.”
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