Get the latest on influence straight to your inbox! Subscribe to our newsletter here.
This Week in Tarbell
Tarbell founder Wendell Potter is returning this weekend to the Remote Area Medical dental clinic in Smyth County, Virginia. This time, he’s meeting a French documentary team seeking to learn firsthand why Americans travel miles and wait in endless lines for dental care. Wendell wrote about his upcoming trip and will be writing more about Americans’ inability to afford dental care.
It took the death of a young woman denied health coverage by his former employer for Wendell Potter to realize how much power he held as a health insurance executive. This week, he tells Real News Network about the impact that incident held on his life, as well as the many ways that health insurance companies control American lives.
NOtable Reporting and Solutions
To gain the lucrative deals and land they need for new and bigger plants, energy companies have spent millions building a vast network of hired citizen campaigners — a tactic called “astroturfing” or faking grassroots support.
Every pharmaceutical company that’s on-the-spot for raising their drug prices uses one go-to excuse: they must raise prices to fund more research. A new study debunks that myth, finding that just 22% of average revenues go to R&D.
A California couple was awarded $2 billion from Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) because the weed killer Roundup had been shown as the cause for their cancer. This is the third case showing Roundup causes cancer, and maybe the first punitive award that could send a message to the company: Roundup profits were $892 million in 2017.
The EPA blocked consumer sales of a deadly paint stripping chemical last week, but they simultaneously backed off broader restrictions that would have stopped its use in workplaces too.
Former senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly are launching a dark money group that aims to bring rural voters to the Democratic party, but the new nonprofit is deeply tied to the shadowy organization working against Medicare for All, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.
With health companies consolidating and removing transparency, a Federal Trade Commissioner is calling for a more aggressive approach to big pharma and health system mergers from her agency.
Behind 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden’s “middle ground” climate policy, his informal climate adviser is sitting on the board of a major liquefied nitrogen gas company and earning more than $1 million from that role.
The racist political attack ads connecting 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to an obscure casino bill has been linked to the Coalition to Restore American Values, a conservative dark money group.
And here’s one last story connecting my two worlds, the U.S. and Southeast Asia (where I currently live). The US Department of Justice is lobbing new charges at the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal, a multibillion dollar money laundering scheme that rocked Malaysian politics and global trade. The financier behind the global-spanning heist allegedly sought to connect Malaysia’s former prime minister to the Obama administration via lobbying contracts and campaign contributions, with help from rapper and former Fugees member Prakazrel Michel.
Spotlight on Local Influence
In Chicago City Council, legislative committees are supposed to work like oversight bodies, making sure aldermen are acknowledging specific issues and taking actions. Instead, these bodies function as a pot of rewards, “enabl[ing] mayors to rule like monarchs distributing favors to loyalists,” a new Propublica investigation finds.
Florida’s high-performing nursing homes are expected to take a huge cut to state funding while the worst nursing homes will rake in millions more in Medicaid dollars, thanks to a change in the funding plan propped up by the state’s nursing home lobby.
The charitable fundraisers that once filled the gilded (and costly) Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach are now cancelling en masse. And to fill the void, the Trump-owned venue is now hosting a roster of Republican fundraisers and conservative events, according to the Palm Beach Post.