What Does $11M in Donations to Congress Buy Pharma?

August 12, 2020

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and trade groups have recently contributed $11 million and cut 4,500 checks to Congressional lawmakers ahead of the upcoming presidential electing, according to a recent analysis by STAT.  The companies’ PACs have donated $8.6 million to individual candidates or their committees.  The analysis suggests an array of connections between US lawmakers and the drug companies they regulate.

STAT’s analysis focused on 23 of the biggest drug makers and the two major trade associations: PhRMA and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, (BIO). It includes a series of data visualizations that map the pharmaceutical industry’s spending and the lawmakers who’ve accepted its PAC donations.

The political action committees have given more money to Republicans than to Democrats and this cycle is no exception: So far in 2020, 53.5% of drug industry PAC donations to lawmakers or groups affiliated with a political party have gone to Republicans, while 46.6% have gone to Democrats.

The difference is more stark at the leadership level. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) got $129,000 in drug industry campaign cash. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), meanwhile, received just $11,000. And while McConnell’s $197,386 make him the leading recipient of industry PAC contributions, according to STAT’s analysis, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has accepted only $77,500 from drug makers to date.

Though drug industry PACs most commonly wrote checks to high-profile lawmakers like McConnell or Schumer, many also targeted comparatively rank-and-file members of Congress of both parties. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), who holds a coveted seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel, has accepted $108,147 from drug industry groups so far this cycle. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who also sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, was a leading recipient among Democrats with $86,000.

STAT’s analysis focuses on the Federal Election Commission’s July quarterly reporting filings, and will be updated as drug companies, candidates, and affiliated political committees disclose additional contributions. See more results from this analysis here.

(Source: Lev Facher, August 10, 2020)

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