Sinema Leaves DC for High-End Corporate Fundraiser as She Blocks Biden Spending Bill

The Arizona senator is cozying up to groups that are aiming to kill Biden’s domestic agenda

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) departs the Senate before meeting with President Biden at the White House on September 28, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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As congressional Democrats frantically tried to reach agreement on passing President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and $3.5 trillion social spending bill, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), one of the key moderates blocking the Build Back Better Act, abruptly left Washington DC for Arizona on Friday. Her spokesperson said she had a medical appointment for a foot injury, but it turns out Sinema will be attending a fundraising “retreat” for her political action committee at a high-end Phoenix resort and spa on Saturday.

It’s the second time in a week Sinema will have fundraised with corporate interests who oppose Biden’s spending bill. On Tuesday, at an undisclosed location at Capitol Hill, she held a fundraiser with five business lobbying groups who agreed to write checks between $1,000 and $5,800 after spending 45 minutes with her. The fundraiser was hosted by corporate groups including the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors as well as political action committees for the supermarket industry and various construction interests that are trying to kill Biden’s signature domestic agenda.

“Passing the largest tax increase in U.S. history on the backs of America’s job creators as they recover from a global pandemic is the last thing Washington should be doing,” Eric Hoplin, the chief executive of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, said in a statement last month.

Sinema has told the White House she opposes the $3.5 trillion spending plan and has reportedly been working to take out key provisions such as raising tax rates on corporations and wealthy Americans and lowering prescription drug prices—policies that are very popular with the public but opposed by the corporate interests funding Sinema’s campaigns.

Sinema has received more than $750,000 from pharmaceutical and medical firms and more than $920,000 from industry groups leading the fight against the Build Back Better plan.

Her opposition to Biden’s agenda and support for the filibuster, which is blocking key legislation ranging from voting rights to gun control to immigration reform, has infuriated Democrats in Arizona. The Arizona Democratic Party recently voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution threatening a vote of no confidence against Sinema if she “continues to delay, disrupt, or votes to gut” Biden’s spending plan and does not reverse her support for the filibuster.

Progressive activists recently launched a crowdsourced fundraising campaign to recruit a primary challenger against Sinema in 2024 if she does not vote to reform or end the filibuster. A recent tracking poll by Civiqs shows that 65 percent of Arizona Democrats disapprove of the Sinema is doing, with only 17 percent supporting her.

Though Sinema fashions herself as a John McCain-style maverick, she may not remain in office if she continues to turn her back on the voters who elected her.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

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And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

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