Get the latest on influence straight to your inbox! Subscribe to our newsletter here.

This week in Tarbell

Medicare for Whom? Medicare sales pitches ramp up this time of year. This week, Trudy Lieberman reminds us that Congress and the health industry are trying to shoulder minimal amounts of the cost through the plans they promote, and taxpayers often inherit that burden.

Click Here to Read the Story – “Be Wary of the Complex Pros and Cons of Medicare Plans – on!


Ask Tarbell: Are you flummoxed why your favorite presidential contender is concerned about the December Dem Debate? Have any other pressing policy and influence questions? Reach out to, and check out our new short series!

Click Here to Read the First Edition of “Ask Tarbell” on!

NewsMatch starts tomorrow! If you were reading this last year, you might remember NewsMatch, the magical two months where all your Tarbell membership subscriptions are doubled through generous grants to the Institute for Nonprofit News. If you’re planning to make some charitable donations during the holiday season, I hope you can consider supporting Tarbell and our investigative and informative journalism. We recommend try out a Tarbell membership at $12/month, but even a small single donation helps us. I’ll be sending out more details tomorrow. And THANK YOU for tuning in!

If you haven’t been receiving newsletters each week and you want to be, write to me at I’ve been getting some reports that newsletters are going straight to spam.


Notable Investigations and Solutions

Trade Unions Against Drug Transparency: Big Pharma is recruiting more and more industry associations to fight expected Democratic legislation injecting transparency into health bills. The latest to join is the Pharmaceutical Industry Labor-Management Association.

Click Here to Read the Story

Automakers Pushed to Switch Lanes: Sometimes lobbying works in the opposite direction. Giants in the auto industry, including GM and Toyota, originally refused to take a stance on California’s desire to set their auto emissions cap lower than the federal limit. They swerved under pressure from the Trump administration.

Click Here to Read the Story

Big Pharma Wants to Export US Price Tags: The U.K.’s Channel4 this week caused a stir with a report showing that U.S. pharmaceutical companies are lobbying the U.K.’s National Health Service to raise drug prices throughout the nation. But the post-Brexit move might provoke a clash over trade deals after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

Click Here to Read the Story

I haven’t been able to find a video of that U.K. broadcast, but you can read Channel4’s article here. 

(Corporate) Climate Solutions: The Senate’s Climate Solutions Caucus intends to change America’s wasteful and polluting habits, but its leadership may already be leaning toward energy companies’ needs. Sludge found that the caucus’s co-chairs are known for taking five-figures worth of sponsorship from oil and gas companies.

Click Here to Read the Story

Big Tech Wielding Power on K Street: As heat from Congress and potential Democratic candidates starts scorching Big Tech, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google are all ratcheting up their spending to unprecedented levels. And Facebook has become the second biggest spender in lobbying in the whole nation.

Click Here to Read the Story

Meanwhile, CNBC notes that Facebook is rolling out a range of journalism support programs and publisher platforms, which might be a convenient distraction from their status as a modern monopoly.

Click Here to Read the Story

Spotlight on Local Reporting

“Cancer Alley” Metastasizes: Louisiana contains a massive stretch of industrial zones that carries the sorry title for most polluted region of the country. And an investigation by Propublica, The Time-Picayune and The Advocate show that more factories are moving in, and the pollution is getting unbearable.

Click Here to Read the Story

Kentucky’s Climate Crisis: Flash floods have been a common phenomenon throughout the state for generations, but people living in Kentucky today notice the storms are getting worse, yet state government won’t budge from its climate change denial.

Click Here to Read the Story

VA Abortion Lobbying Heats Up: The federal court may have blocked state bans on abortion, but the timing of when an abortion can happen is still under debate. And the current battleground for that debate is Virginia, where opening health care access would also expand access to abortion. You can bet both sides are lobbying up.

Click Here to Read the Story 

Lobbyists Weren’t Scorched in CA Fires: California utility company Pacific Gas & Energy turned the lights out on customers, but not their lobbying. The company already contributed $150,000 to federal candidates since they filed bankruptcy.

Click Here to Read the Story

+ posts

Danielle Keeton-Olsen is the Engagement Editor at and a freelance journalist based in Southeast Asia.