Under The Influence, Tarbell's Weekly Newsletter

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This Week In Tarbell

Cost of Doing Business LogoPharmaceutical manufacturers Amgen and Astellas were caught by the Federal Trade Commission for using their so-called charitable assistance to score kickbacks out of the Medicare system. The companies were fined millions of dollars, but this hardly registers as a blip in their billions in U.S. sales. This is the first in a new series we’re launching a series of shorts called “Cost of Doing Business”, where we illuminate the fines slapped on companies for doing wrong, and how they are little more than a slap on the wrist for massive corporations.

Click Here To Read Cost of Doing Business On Tarbell.org!

As the Ballad Health System is under increased scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission for a merger that covers parts of four states, Tarbell is revisiting a series of columns from Dr. Raymond Feierabend, a retired physician who had served within the coverage area and has insights into how residents will be impacted – and not for the better.

Click Here To Read The Story – “A Retired Physician Serving Northeast Tennessee Analyzes The Ballad Hospital Merger. He Sees Peril For His Patients” – On Tarbell.org

 

Notable Investigations and Solutions

Sludge found that the federal government issued more than $3.8 billion in contracts to companies in order to detain undocumented immigrant children, showing that plenty of for-profit companies are not opposed to making millions off suffering children.

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“Put Vets First!”, a political action committee that pledges millions to care and issues of vets, has been found to be spending nearly all its funds raised into telemarketing and salaries, and now it closed under investigation.

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Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper originally promised to recuse himself from decisions involving his former employer and defense industry giant Raytheon, but he’s now attempting to set up a few instances where he could re-enter decisions involving the influential company.

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Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has sworn off hiring an outside polling firm in her fundraising campaign, showing another way her campaign is defying conventional wisdom, while raising an impressive $19.1 million in the second quarter alone.

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Montana’s governor and new 2020 presidential hopeful Steve Bullock claims to be against “dark money,” but one of his biggest fundraisers is known for moving corporate cash into groups that don’t disclose their donors.

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Amazon and Microsoft are waging a war of influence over the opportunity to run the Department of Defense’s “war cloud” platform, which would come with an enticing $10 billion contract, to be decided in August. And lawmakers are concerned that Amazon – which is known for unloading money on DoD – has been given an advantage.

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An antitrust attorney and lobbyist who once helped Google architect a merger that placed it ahead in digital advertising now serves as the Justice Department’s top antitrust enforcer. And he’s looking into this case with a strict eye, according to observers.

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After pulling out of an economic blockade in the region and a cold shoulder from the U.S., Qatar has invested more than $24 million into lobbying the U.S., which seems to have paid off for the country, the Daily Beast reports.

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While we’re talking foreign influence: the New York Times Magazine released this incredible look at how Saudi Arabia has invested tens of millions of dollars in American universities – and how that’s benefited its leaders.

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The Hill spoke with some of the most powerful voices in tech lobbying (who happen to be female!) about how the male-dominated Silicon Valley is now increasingly represented by women in Washington.

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Spotlight on Local Reporting

E-cigarette lobbyists seemed confident in their lobbying blitz among Vermont’s legislature and governor, but in the end, Gov. Phil Scott ended up supporting a high tax on profits, VT Digger reports.

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Maryland Matters breaks down the heavy lifting carried out by the state’s lobbyists, including bills to change education policy and how asbestos cases are arbitrated. The six biggest names in lobbying all earned more than $1 million for their work, reports show.

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The Illinois-based transparency nonprofit Open The Books released a new report this week, revealing the $203 billion that nonprofit hospitals invest in state and federal lobbying campaigns.

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Oklahoma’s governor signed an executive order this week, ending state agencies’ ability to hire outside lobbyists to bend legislature.

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