But as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) group, the Utah Families Foundation doesn’t have to release its list of donors, making the release of the 2007 tax form so rare.
In a Feb. 18, 2008, report to the IRS listing its 2007 revenue and expenses, the Utah foundation said Eli Lilly and Co. gave the charity $25,000; medical supply company Becton Dickerson, $25,000; Barr Pharmaceuticals, $30,000; AstraZeneca Pharm LP, $25,000; drug maker Sepracor, $27,500; and PhRMA, the major health-care lobbying group, $40,000.
The donor information had been available on Guidestar.org, a nonprofit organization that gets public tax filings from the IRS and charities and then posts the information online. However, the company removed the Utah foundation’s donor information immediately after being contacted by The Times.
“The IRS is supposed to withhold that information,” said Guidestar spokeswoman Suzanne Coffman. “It’s an error. I’m assuming the error was with the IRS. It’s a mistake we take seriously. It’s a mistake that happens very, very rarely.”
The IRS did not return messages concerning the Utah foundation.
The man in Congress
At the time of the PhRMA donation to the Utah charity, Scott Hatch was a named partner and registered lobbyist at Walker, Martin & Hatch LLC, a Washington lobbying firm that was paid $120,000 by PhRMA to lobby Congress on pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legislation.
PhRMA, which both donated to the charity and hired the senator’s son, said it has never asked Scott Hatch to discuss any issues with his father.
“Clearly, Scott’s a very bright guy,” Mr. Johnson said. “He provides strategic advice.”
Walker, Martin & Hatch was formed as a partnership in 2001. Jack Martin was a staff aide to Mr. Hatch in Utah for six years, and H. Laird Walker has been described as a close associate of the senator’s. The Los Angeles Times quoted the elder Mr. Hatch in 2003 as saying that the firm was formed with his “personal encouragement” and that he saw no conflict of interest in championing issues that benefit his son’s clients.
Neither Senate rules nor federal laws forbid relatives from lobbying members of Congress.
The elder Mr. Hatch was a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee when the Walker, Martin & Hatch contract with PhRMA was signed. The committee oversees the FDA, among other agencies.
Walker, Martin& Hatch has been paid more than $1.5 million by pharmaceutical and medical companies since 2001, according to Senate lobbying records.
Since 1998, Mr. Hatch also has been a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he plays a key role in influencing patent disputes, and the Senate Committee on Finance, whose jurisdiction includes health programs under the Social Security Act and health programs financed by a specific tax or trust fund.
He has been one of the biggest recipients of political funding from the nation’s health industry and pharmaceutical giants. He often has been criticized for his close ties to the industry.