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This Week In Tarbell
Just as this week’s Democratic Debates started, Sen. Kamala Harris launched her health care reform proposal, where she would allow private companies to offer Medicare plans, just like Medicare Advantage, with supposed “strict controls.” Tarbell founder Wendell Potter watched how similar proposals unfolded back when he worked within Cigna, and as long as history holds up, he predicts big problems will emerge.
By the way, I’m taking a vacation next week! Under The Influence will resume on August 15.
Notable Investigations and Solutions
Hahneman University Hospital’s closure is just one dramatic example of a growing, concerning trend: private equity firms are buying up hospitals with a voracious appetite. Even when hospitals like Hahneman serve lower-income populations and therefore are less profitable (if at all), they have value for PE in the form of location.
In the first few months of this year, Huawei spent millions lobbying the Trump administration to soften its stance against China. But they have a lot to lose if trade relations stiffen: the US purchased $11 billion of tech components last year alone.
While the NRA was under scrutiny for questionable financial decisions that paid out for their top executives, they pulled in an outside counsel, and a whistleblower who worked in the NRA’s treasury said the counsel did all he could to block the investigation.
Now that former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is out of office, investigators are scoping out his use of private email for official business, within a larger look as to whether he paved the way for certain deals and blocked others.
Prominent PR shop Edelman proposed to clean up the image of GEO Group for its contracts to run immigrant detention centers. But the firm’s employees protested the move until Edelman ended the contract, and other firms are straying away from helping the contracted companies behind America’s mass campaign to detain immigrants.
More on detention centers: Sludge compiled a map of the companies that ICE contracts for its projects, namely immigrant detention centers, so you can find out which neighborhood businesses and employers are benefiting from massive arrest and detention of immigrants.
A powerful Republican super PAC finds its greatest supporter in the office next door: the Congressional Leadership Fund raised about half its donations in the first two quarters from the dark money group American Action Network.
Spotlight On Local Reporting
In a mammoth bet on another Trump administration term and the unsoluble future of plastic, West Virginia lawmakers are pushing to build a $10 billion storage facility for chemical byproducts of plastic manufacturing, which is out of the league of what the region’s industry would need.
Ohio’s utility provider FirstEnergy Solutions shelled out nearly $1 million to a tangle of lawmakers, candidates and parties. And it came to pay off this year, when the state government narrowly passed a $1 billion to the company to underwrite its nuclear plants that it threatened to close.
Utah’s small San Juan County alone managed to budget $500,000 to prevent the US government from establishing Bears Ears as a national monument — which was also a move to protect uranium mining in the area.
Two former staffers of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are now lobbying Congress to develop an aluminum mill in Kentucky that would be backed by a Russian company.
The distinction between public lobbying and political advocacy in New York is being blurred by the state’s case against a woman who is using three billboards to protest against the state’s sex abuse law.