Industry Sees ‘Returns’ on Bush Campaign Investments
For businesses that invested "more money than ever before" in President Bush's "costly" bid for the White House, the Wall Street Journal reports that the returns have already begun." For example, the Journal reports that the pharmaceutical industry made its "biggest contributions" to the GOP,
spending $14 million on Republican campaigns during the past two years and an additional $60 million to fund an independent political advertising campaign. Industry executives hope that the Bush administration will ensure that any proposals to overhaul Medicare and include a prescription drug benefit do not "lead to drug price controls." In addition, they will "press" for revised federal patient privacy rules. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, in a move that has "infuriated" consumer groups, has already invited additional public comments on the rules until the end of this month, which the industry hopes will lead to "more delays and, ultimately, significant revisions."
However, in addition to money, the drug industry has "deeper" ties to the Bush administration. Raymond Gilmartin, CEO and chair of Merck & Co., and Anne Marie Lynch and Bill Walters, top officials at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, served as advisers to the Bush transition team on health issues, while Bush offered Deborah Steelman -- a "prominent" lobbyist for PhRMA and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. -- a "top job" at HHS, a position she declined. Mitch Daniels, an executive at Eli Lilly & Co. accepted an offer to serve as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, which oversees budget and regulatory issues.
Meanwhile, the tobacco industry, "well-connected" with the Bush administration, hopes to "snuf[f] out a multi-billion dollar federal lawsuit" filed by the government pending in federal court. The Journal reports that tobacco interests contributed about $90,000 to Bush's campaign, part of $6.7 million that they provided to the Republican Party and GOP candidates in the last election cycle. In addition to donations, industry "titan" Philip Morris Cos. spent $100,000 and another $100,000 through subsidiary Kraft Foods on Bush's inauguration. Philip Morris also has "numerous long-standing ties" to the Bush administration. Karl Rove, a senior White House adviser, served as a political consultant for the company from 1991 to 1996, and Kirk Blalock, a Philip Morris public relations official, assumed a position in the White House in January as a liaison to the business community. In addition, Secretary Thompson received more than $70,000 in Philip Morris campaign contributions while serving as governor of Wisconsin and owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in Philip Morris stock. The Journal also reports that British American Tobacco PLC's Brown & Williamson unit and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. have "well-positioned" themselves under the Bush administration (Hamburger et al., Wall Street Journal, 3/6).