An Unholy Alliance : MN08 Pete Stauber’s Award and BigPharma’s Marketing

On Friday, July 24th, Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08) issued a press release announcing that he had received the Champion for Healthy Seniors Award from the Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases.

Impressed ?

Well, Congressman Stauber is not the first Minnesotan to receive this “rare” award as Minnesota’s First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn issued a similar press release earlier this month … which was followed up by stories in community papers and online announcements through MediaVine. (Read more about “Representative” Hagedorn’s award on this MN Political Roundtable commentary )

The award is marketable … and that’s what is being done here. And that’s what is happening here as the International Fall Journal and Brainerd Dispatch have already republished the story.

And the timing of the award is interesting … not only as the November elections are approaching but just days after the FBI’s announcement of a $60 million bribery scheme which used commercials and mailings to promote campaigns of Republican House candidates.

The headline of the FBI indictment is very telling … “‘Unholy alliance’ of power, money fueled corruption scheme ” with some of these details of how the influence of one company now is dominating the political talk in Ohio. (Reference

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

FBI Agent Blane Wetzel’s detailed 81-page affidavit supporting the criminal complaint names [Speaker of the House Larry] Householder’s longtime political adviser, Jeffrey Longstreth, and two lobbyists for a FirstEnergy subsidiary, including former state Republican chair Matt Borges.
All the alleged members of the conspiracy benefited personally from the scheme, using sums Wetzel described colloquially as “bags of cash” from FirstEnergy.
Roughly $3 million of FirstEnergy-affiliated money was spent to help 15 Householder-backed House candidates in the May 2018 primaries and six more in the November general election.
Once the House approved the bill, $7.4 million was spent on a pressure campaign to convince the Senate to follow suit. That worked, too, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill on July 29, the day the final version was approved by both chambers.
The final stage of the alleged conspiracy proved the most expensive: FirstEnergy affiliates through Generation Now spent $38 million to keep a referendum on the bailout off the ballot, according to the affidavit.
The dirty tricks campaign included hiring some of the largest signature-gathering firms in the country so that they couldn’t work for Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, hiring people to gather signatures for fake petitions to sow confusion and intimidating legitimate signature collectors, according to the affidavit.
Most of the $38 million was spent on xenophobic commercials and mailings that rocked the state by warning that China would take over Ohio if the bailout was killed.
The citizen group failed to meet its Oct. 21 deadline to gather enough signatures and the measure remains law.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Yep, ‘Unholy alliance’ – corporations, politicians, lobbyists, corporate-affiliated groups, commercials – yep, an ‘Unholy alliance.

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases’ Champion and its Healthy Seniors Award may not utilize cash payments, but their messaging is clearly to promote their objectives.

Is there anything illegal with Congressman Stauber getting recognized by an advocacy group … nah … but shouldn’t we know the criteria and who participates in the group ?

The Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases has been around for over a decade and its funding source include grants from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association of America.

The name of the organization, “Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases“, is indeterminate … like the Generation Now group … and should not be confused with other similar sounding foundations, like the Chronic Disease Fund, Inc. SideNote The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on October 25, 2019, that the foundation, Chronic Disease Fund, Inc. d/b/a Good Days from CDF (“CDF”),agreed to pay $2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by enabling pharmaceutical companies to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients taking the companies’ drugs.

There is little known about the “Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases” other than they operate out of the second floor of a Washington DC office building and list their “partners” such as, Delta Dental, Eli Lily, Glaxo Smith Kline, Johnson & Johnson, United Health Group, WellPoint (which is now part of Anthem Holding Corp which includes Blue Cross Blue Shields) and other pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

The PFCD issues these awards without providing any criteria that distinguishes one Representative versus another … thus they appear to be more of an effort to market certain politicians. So without a “scorecard” listing votes and bills, Congressman Stauber’s award should be considered nothing more than attempt to dupe voters … but if you do want to know Congressman Stauber’s rating by the Alliance For Retired Americans, he rates a 40% … notable for his opposition to lower drug prices (H.R. 987 Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act which would reduce drug prices by removing barriers that will allow generics to come to market more quickly); and drug price negotiations (H.R. 3 Lower Drug Costs Now Act which would require the HHS Secretary to negotiate lower drug prices for 250 of the highest cost drugs. The bill caps out-of-pocket spending for Medicare Part D at $2,000. Savings from the bill will be used to provide Medicare vision, dental and hearing benefits.)

Based on the two reference items in the Champion for Healthy Seniors Award statement (sponsoring a pro-drug company bill and writing a letter ), this award could be given out to over 100 Republicans … but thus far it appears that only five have been publicized (Tom Reed NY-23, Ann Wagner MO-02, Guy Reschenthaler PA-14, Hagedorn and Stauber – all in districts that can be considered competitive for this November’s elections) … so why Pete Stauber ?

Could it be because his opponent in November’s election is diabetes advocate Quinn Nystrom … and Eli Lilly and Johnson and Johnson have a strong presence in selling diabetes products ?