Where Do Politicians Go In Their Afterlife?
December 19, 2001 by: Phyllis Schlafly
Where do politicians go after they leave office? Politicians and their staffs usually have career planning on their radar screen.
Liberal Republican Bob Franks was confronted with this issue during a heated New Jersey gubernatorial primary debate in 2001, and he responded by saying he would "never" become a drug company lobbyist. A few weeks after he was defeated, he reportedly became a $400,000-a-year lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature unanimously passed a good and sensible bill to prohibit conflicts of interest for those who serve on vaccine advisory panels. But the drug industry lobbyists held an ace in the hole: lame-duck Illinois Governor George Ryan, soon to be seeking new jobs for himself and his staff. He vetoed the bill.
The pharmaceutical corporations, whose generous political spending gives them unrivaled clout with public officials, now have big plans to capitalize on public fears after 9/11. The drug industry works closely with the federal agency called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and conflicts of interest are customary on federal and state drug advisory panels. The CDC has just released, and is urging state legislatures to pass, a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (EHPA). It is an unprecedented assault on the constitutional rights of the American people, as well as on our fundamental principles of limited government and separation of powers. EHPA's principal author is Lawrence O. Gostin, a former member of Clinton's discredited Task Force on Health Care Reform. Clinton's attempted takeover of the entire health industry failed and resulted instead in the Republican congressional victory of 1994.
The proposed EHPA would bring about government takeover of the health industry by the states instead of by the federal government. EHPA would give each governor sole discretion to grant himself far- reaching powers.
Under EHPA, the state legislature relinquishes its power to stop overreaching by the governor until at least 60 days after his actions. EHPA suggests requiring a two-thirds vote of the legislature declaring that the risk has disappeared before the governor could be restrained.
The bill wouldn't allow the governor to be reversed just because his actions are unwarranted, oppressive, or overreacting to the threat. The legislature would have to find that the risk doesn't exist any more, something many legislators would be reluctant to declare.
Here are some of the extraordinary powers EHPA would give to each governor. He could control, restrict or prohibit firearms, seize private property and even destroy it in many circumstances, and impose price controls and rationing.
He could order people out of their homes into dangerous quarantines where there would be no guarantee of safety from violence or contagious disease. Children could be taken from their parents and thrown into public quarantines managed by government officials.
The governor could demand that physicians administer certain drugs despite individuals' objections and with no provision for religious exemptions. Without any checks or balances, the governor would become both doctor and policeman. Under EHPA, government authorities would have full access, without meaningful limitation, to everyone's medical records. If the alleged emergency turned out to be grossly exaggerated or even a hoax, government need not return the private records.
Remember how Bill and Hillary Clinton got shocking access to, and were able to use, hundreds of FBI files about their political opponents? EHPA would authorize similar intrusions by government officials through access to the personal medical files of their enemies. No public health emergency justifies EHPA's draconian infringements on our liberties. EHPA would grant these powers to governors without any showing of a real emergency, and merely an isolated case of a serious disease, or even a misdiagnosis, could trigger the governor's seizure of power.
George Annas, chairman of the Health Law Department at Boston University School of Public Health, says that "this law treats American citizens as if they were the enemy." Already, the drug company lobbyists have gotten 43 states to order mandatory vaccination of all schoolchildren against hepatitis B, even though the CDC reports only a tiny number of cases among children under age 14, and the disease is avoidable by lifestyle choices. Some schools are even refusing to recognize medical and religious exemptions.
Money is behind these laws, not logic or emergency. If you check out who is pushing these drug mandates, you will usually find pharmaceutical corporation "research" grants, political contributions, and layers of conflicts of interest. The CDC and vaccine makers are pushing state legislatures to enact ever more far-reaching drug mandates and enforcement and to put EHPA on state legislative dockets starting in January. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has called for EHPA's passage.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) opposes EHPA, and state legislatures should heed the physicians' advice. Governors should not be playing doctor nor should they be
Latino Kids Focus Of Mandatory Hepatitis Vaccine Debate in California Critics argue the state is requiring too many vaccines too fast without weighing the accumulated risks.
[By Aurelio Rojas in the Sacramento Bee.]
Rebuffed twice in its effort to make the hepatitis A vaccine mandatory for children entering California schools, drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has inched closer this year by focusing its efforts on Latino children and legislators. The strategy has included funding a $50,000 study by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, which found epidemic rates of the disease among Latino children in Southern California. The virus is usually mild in children but can seriously affect adults. Now a measure is moving through the Legislature that would require children in seven Southern California counties with large Latino populations to receive the vaccination before being admitted to kindergarten. Never before has the Legislature made a vaccine mandatory for schoolchildren in one geographic area of the state.
The UCLA findings are cited by supporters of the mandatory vaccination but are disputed by the state's latest statistics, which show historically low rates of hepatitis A throughout California. GlaxoSmithKline has been a generous campaign contributor in the Capitol, giving at least $234,550 to members of both parties in the past two years alone. Latino members of the Legislature have introduced a mandatory hepatitis A vaccine bill in each of the past three years. And Latino legislators have received a significant share of the money from GlaxoSmithKline. As its focus on Latinos has intensified, the leading manufacturer of the vaccine used in public health also has contributed money to new candidates with ties to the 22-member Latino Caucus and a Latino political action committee.
The company did not sponsor the current measure -- Assembly Bill 915 -- as it did similar bills in the past. Instead, the latest bill is sponsored by the Latino Issues Forum, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that received $20,000 from GlaxoSmithKline to hold a community health care forum this year. Efforts to make the vaccine mandatory statewide were scaled back amid opposition in the Senate Health Committee, which killed a similar bill last year. AB 915 faces its next hurdle Aug. 5 in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, said he introduced the bill after consulting with health and community officials and reviewing the UCLA study. Frommer said he was unaware the study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline. But he said he still believes the vaccine should be mandatory because Latinos have less access to health care than other ethnic groups. "What persuaded me was the Latino Issues Forum's health forum, where we heard about the high rates of infection among Latino children," Frommer said. "It was not that someone from GlaxoSmithKline came to me and said, 'We're going to help you, and you help us.' " Ramona DuBose, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, said the UCLA study shows rates of "hepatitis A in epidemic proportions in California." "Our only interest is in providing medicines that will help people," she said. "And in this particular case, we're looking at a serious illness that can devastate whole families."
Medical and public health officials, however, are divided about whether the vaccine should be mandatory. The California Medical Association, which represents about 34,000 physicians in the state, supports the measure. The California Conference of Local Health Officers, which represents physicians who run the local communicable disease departments, opposes it. The rate of the disease has been declining since the vaccine was introduced on a voluntary basis in 1995, the organization says.
The complexity of the issue has raised concerns among health officials about whether the Legislature -- where money often drives agenda -- is the best forum in which to make science-based decisions. Spurred by advances in biotechnology, California has mandated three other vaccines since 1994. Most experts agree vaccines are safe. But a growing number of parents and activists believe there is a correlation between increased rates of asthma, diabetes, allergies and autism in children and the increasing number of vaccines.
Critics argue the state is requiring too many vaccines too fast without weighing the accumulated risks. Supporters of the hepatitis A vaccine maintain it would stem the spread of one the most common viral infections in the world. While most children who contract the virus do not feel any symptoms, they can pass it on to adults who can suffer permanent liver damage. The virus is spread by human feces or contaminated water or food.
Raquel Donoso, health policy director for the Latino Issues Forum, dismisses anti-vaccine sentiment as an "upper-middle-class movement." "It's not an issue for working-class Latinos," she said. "We want our people to be vaccinated, and we want access to health care." The state Department of Health Services has not taken a position on the legislation. But officials say the UCLA study masks the facts that the rate of disease has dropped dramatically and that the incidence among Latino children is approaching the level of non-Latinos. "We could be at the bottom of a seven- to 10-year cycle, or we could be on our way to eliminating hepatitis A in California," said Celia Woodfill, acting chief of the department's Surveillance, Investigations, Research and Evaluation Section.
State officials say the reasons for the drop are a mystery and may be due, in part, to the voluntary use of the vaccine. The bill would make the vaccine mandatory in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Ventura and Imperial counties, which were not part of the UCLA study, have recently been added to the measure. State law exempts parents from requirements to vaccinate their children if they file an affidavit stating that immunization is contrary to their beliefs.
Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, acknowledges that hepatitis A rates are dropping. But he denies the center's study is misleading. Hayes-Bautista said the study averaged rates in the five-county area between 1996 and 2000 because the method provided a more accurate picture of the cyclical nature of the "volatile" disease. The study found infection rates of 36 per 100,000 Latino children 14 years and younger. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine vaccination of children against hepatitis A in states with an infection rate of 20 per 100,000. But according to state statistics, the infection rate in the five counties measured in the UCLA study was nine per 100,000 Latino children in 2001 -- a level below the overall national rate. Hayes-Bautista said 2001 rates were not available when the center conducted its study. Southern California counties, he said, still have a very high rate of the disease if the new numbers are factored in over a six-year period.
"It's a difference of interpretation," Hayes-Bautista said. "Do you want to use a one-year study or a six-year study?" He said the center chose the long-range methodology, employing a formula the CDC uses to measure communicable diseases. He denied the findings were influenced by the contribution the center received from GlaxoSmithKline.
"When we were approached by GlaxoSmithKline, we didn't know what the trend was going to be, and we told them we would publish what we found," he said. The center, he noted, followed research protocol by publicly disclosing that the company funded the study. Hayes-Bautista acknowledges that making the vaccine mandatory is a "judgment call." But he said he supports the bill, which health officials estimate would require an estimated $2.7 million from the general fund in the coming year.
Deborah Ortiz, chair of the Senate Health Committee, said the state's $24 billion budget shortfall may doom the measure this year. Ortiz, D-Sacramento, said she voted for the bill despite misgivings "because you cannot ignore the high rates of hepatitis A in Latino children."
But she has concerns about whether the legislative process is the proper forum to shape the state's immunization program. "I think we need the state Department of Health Services to tell us what vaccinations we should require," Ortiz said. Department spokesman Ken August said the department offers legislators "technical assistance." But he said it does not recommend how legislators should vote because bills are subject to many amendments. Dawn Winkler, head of California Vaccine Awareness, an anti-vaccine group, said the Legislature is the wrong place to decide such issues. Winkler said vaccines are a "warm and fuzzy issue" that tug at legislators' hearts as pharmaceutical companies are filling their coffers. "Here we are trying to mandate this medical procedure, and you have this political influence and money being passed around," she said.
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Subject: Another Eli Lilly employee???
Bush Names AIDS Czar
WASHINGTON, July 2, 2003
President Bush named a former pharmaceutical company executive director of a new $15 billion program to battle the disease in Africa and the Caribbean. The president, making the announcement Wednesday, said Randall Tobias would have the rank of ambassador. The former chief executive officer for Eli Lilly & Co., will coordinate all the administration's international AIDS/HIV activities for all government departments and agencies as well as faith-based community groups. The Senate still must confirm Mr. Bush's selection.
"Randy Tobias has a mandate directly from me to get our AIDS initiative up and running as soon as possible," said President Bush, who leaves Monday on a trip to Africa. Tobias would report to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Five weeks ago, the president signed into law the emergency action plan for AIDS relief. The plan will provide $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS primarily in 14 African and Caribbean countries. Tobias, of Indiana, is a major contributor to the Republican Party. He retired from Lilly in 1998. He also has been vice chairman of AT&T and chairman of AT&T International.
"The statistics that describe the HIV/AIDS pandemic are really nearly incomprehensible," Tobias said. "AIDS has already killed almost 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, where it is the number one cause of death. And without intervention it will claim the lives of one quarter of the population in the next decade." In a CBS News interview, Dr. Paul Zeitz with the Global AIDS Alliance described Tobias as "a henchman" for the drug industry. Zeitz questioned Tobias' stand on less expensive generic AIDS drugs. The White House responded that the former Eli Lilly Chief will work with ethics officials to deal with any conflicts, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer. A White House official says Tobias will "fully comply with all ethics regulations."
PhRMA Appears to Have Funneled Up to $41 Million To "Stealth PACs" to HelpElect a Drug Industry-Friendly Congress Four Seniors Groups Campaigned for Pro-PhRMA Candidates; Public
Citizen Requests IRS Review of Compliance with Tax Laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. - With its eyes on passage of an industry-friendly Medicare prescription drug bill, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) appears to have quietly channeled as much as $41 million to four stealth PACs in 2002 to help elect a Congress sympathetic to the pharmaceutical industry's interests, according to a new Public Citizen report.
Money that likely came from PhRMA, the drug industry's trade association, enabled the United Seniors Association, 60 Plus Association, the Seniors Coalition and America 21 to broadcast ads and send direct mail in 39 U.S. Senate and House contests that year, supporting candidates friendly to PhRMA's agenda and criticizing those who weren't, the report reveals.
At least one of the groups, United Seniors Association (USA), is again active in the 2004 elections, recently sponsoring TV ads in 17 or more House races that praise incumbents who supported the PhRMA-backed Medicare drug law pushed by President Bush and passed by Congress in 2003.
Released today, Big PhRMA's Stealth PACs: How the Drug Industry Uses 501(c) Non-profit Groups to Influence Elections report is available at www.stealthpacs.org <http://www.stealthpacs.org/> , a new Public Citizen Web site and comprehensive database to track 501(c) non-profit groups active in
elections, which Public Citizen has dubbed the "new stealth PACs."
"The Medicare drug bill is a gold mine for the pharmaceutical companies because it expands their base of paying customers for brand-name drugs and protects them from lower-cost foreign imports and government attempts to negotiate price discounts," said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch. "PhRMA's apparent bankrolling of these stealth PACs left voters with no way of knowing whether the campaign messages aimed at them were bought with the drug industry's money or whether PhRMA helped elect a Congress that will do its bidding and enact industry-friendly bills like the Medicare drug law."
The four groups PhRMA apparently financed are registered within Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code as social welfare organizations. These and other politically active groups also registered under Sections 501(c)(5) and 501(c)(6) of the tax code are allowed to accept unlimited amounts of money
from any donor without ever having to publicly divulge the source of the funds, according to Public Citizen.
Groups with these three tax statuses are permitted to make substantial political expenditures, which the IRS defines as expenditures intended to influence the outcomes of elections, but they are prohibited from making electoral activities their primary purpose. In a letter sent today to IRS Commissioner Mark Everson, Public Citizen asked the agency to "consider initiating a formal investigation into the financial transactions and electioneering activities" of the four groups that appear to have been funded by PhRMA. Public Citizen believes that in 2002, the PhRMA stealth PACs may have engaged in enough activities intended to influence elections to raise the question of whether they violated the prohibition against allowing political work to be their primary activity.
Further, each of the four PhRMA stealth PACs declared zero political expenditures to the IRS, claims that do not seem plausible given the content of the groups' television commercials and direct mailings, the timing of their messages, and the groups' decisions to direct the messages disproportionately to voters who lived in politically competitive states and congressional districts.
Additionally, PhRMA failed to disclose its grants to USA and 60 Plus, to which it is known to have given money in 2002. And if PhRMA is the source of the other large contributions to the Seniors Coalition and America 21 identified in the Public Citizen report, it again failed to disclose these grants.
In its report, Public Citizen also documents that:
* In 2002, USA received $20.1 million from a single source, according to its IRS filing - 79 percent of its total revenue that year. PhRMA acknowledged providing an "unrestricted educational grant" to USA in 2002. USA also received $1.5 million from PhRMA in 2001, according to its IRSfiling. Public Citizen estimates that USA spent at least $13.6 million onpolitical ads in 25 races in 2002.
* Almost $11 million of 60 Plus' $12 million in revenue came from a single source in 2002. PhRMA also is reported to have provided an "unrestricted educational grant" to 60 Plus that year. The $11 million allowed 60 Plus to increase its revenue more than sixfold from its $1.9 million in 2001 revenue. During the lead-up to the 2002 elections, 60 Plus distributed direct mail or other election-oriented communications in at least 24 political contests, praising or criticizing candidates on prescription drug issues.
* In 2002, the Seniors Coalition reported that it received a contribution of $6 million - nearly 48 percent of that year's revenue - from a single person or organization. That year, the group disseminated communications in at least 11 political contests, praising candidates who favored the Medicare drug bill. Although the identity of the $6 million donor was not disclosed, the Seniors Coalition had received a $2.1 million gift from PhRMA in 2000.
* America 21's funding increased dramatically in 2002 with a $3.65 million gift.After failing to raise even the $25,000 in revenue that would have required an IRS disclosure for 2000 or 2001, America 21 reported $3.7 million in revenue in 2002 - including $3.65 million (98.3 percent) from a single donor, according to the only tax filing of the group that has been made public. The group proceeded to distribute direct mail in at least 20 political contests in 2002. Most, if not all, of the mailings prominently mentioned a candidate's support for the Medicare prescription drug bill.