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This Week in Tarbell
Forging Connections: In its quest to push the Democratic party away from Medicare for All, the shady dark money group, the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, is hiring the same consultants that work for major Democratic institutions. This week, Andrew Perez charts out the connections that PAHCF is forging, including to consultants of DSCC and Biden.
ObamaCare Scams? If you’re partaking in the 2020 open enrollment period this year, you should not only mind what plan you’re selecting but also from where you buy it. In her column this week, Trudy Lieberman explores the small traps that might cause consumers to stray from the real Healthcare.gov.
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Notable Investigations and Solutions
Glamorous CMS: In one of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ bids for better PR and reputation, the agency was working with a high-profile consultants to get director Seema Verma a profile in fashion magazine Glamour. This was part of the agency’s one year, $2.25 million strategic communications plan.
Big, secret donors: Despite running a campaign on small-ticket donations and condemning the power of big money, candidate Elizabeth Warren has a small team tasked with currying favor from wealthy donors, showing she hasn’t completely severed ties with the Democratic establishment.
Free Shipping! FedEx went from holding a $1.5 billion tax bill in 2017 to paying zilch in 2018. This was no incredible disappearing trick: it was the work of the company’s large scale lobbying as President Trump authored his tax law.
Truth in tax forms: A dark money group, Citizens for Truth in Drug Pricing, has taken up tons of ad spots to lobby citizens to demand lower drug costs from pharma companies. Stat News found out this week that the individuals behind it are a top lobbyist for the American Hospital Association and a former lobbyist for CVS. (Behind a paywall, but you can read Stat+ with a free trial).
PhRMA Propaganda: The pharmaceutical company’s biggest industry group has always been a top lobbying spender, but while public health care options are growing more popular, PhRMA is teaming up with conservative organizations to feed messages against drug price controls to President Trump.
No friends of Amazon: Jeff Bezos’ behemoth of a company delved deep into lobbying, particularly to secure defense contracts, but they have few successes to show for those million-dollar investments. Bloomberg has a great roundup of the company’s attempts, and failures, to sway governments worldwide, particularly our own.
Lucrative contract: A former Interior Department official has used his former job to score a lucrative water contract for a company that supplies wealthy farmers, though environmental groups are deeply concerned.
Spotlight on Local Reporting
Lobbying for licensers: Nevada’s 21 occupational licensing boards – which set the standards for the state’s professions – hire some of the biggest lobbying contracts in the state house, and they’re often mired with conflicts of interest.
See any fascinating local stories or massive exploits of influence in your hometown? Send them to me, at firstname.lastname@example.org