Consumer Group Asks Schwarzenegger To Cancel Fundraiser Because of Uncollected Medi-Cal Rebates
Consumer group Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights on Friday called on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to cancel a New York fundraiser to be hosted by Robert Wood Johnson, an heir and stockholder of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, because of a possible conflict of interest in collecting money that prescription drug firms owe the state, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Nissenbaum, San Jose Mercury News, 2/7). According to an audit conducted by the HHS Office of Inspector General, pharmaceutical companies owe California about $1.3 billion in rebates that state health officials failed to collect under a 1990 federal law that requires drug makers to sell prescription drugs to state health programs at a reduced rate (California Healthline, 2/5). "The public must not perceive that Mr. Johnson's sponsorship of the most expensive fundraiser in the history of the world will have influenced your decision on this budget matter or on other legislation the pharmaceutical industry lobbies in the state," Jamie Court, president of FTCR, wrote. Marty Wilson, chief fundraiser for Schwarzenegger, said that there were no plans to cancel the Feb. 24 fundraiser, adding that the governor is concerned about the perception of fundraising but "he has an obligation to raise a substantial sum of money to pass two very important ballot measures, and in California it costs a lot of money to educate voters." Participants at the fundraiser are asked to contribute at least $50,000, while participants who would like to become co-chairs of Schwarzenegger's political committee are asked to contribute $500,000 (San Jose Mercury News, 2/7).
KPBS' "KPBS News" Friday reported on the uncollected rebates. The segment includes comments from Court (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 2/6). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.