Max Baucus Hearts Lobbyists (397th Edition)


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.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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