Max Baucus Hearts Lobbyists (397th Edition)

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Money buys results in Washington. And health insurance companies and their lobbyists are spending a lot of money trying to buy results from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus is playing a key role in writing health care reform legislation. The health insurance industry has all the reasons in the world to make sure they’re on his good side. That’s probably why, as an investigation by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics recently revealed, it’s not just health insurance companies giving Baucus money—it’s their lobbyists, too:

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. (See chart here and full list here.)

Of course, it’s considered impolite in Washington to point out, as Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor once delicately did, that no one except politicians seems to understand the difference “between contributions and bribes.”

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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