EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Hatch’s secret drug firm links

continued from page 3

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

During a speech to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association in 2005, Mr. Hatch described himself “as one of your good friends in the Senate,” urging those in attendance to “get on the Congress’ radar screen,” and adding, “I will do everything I can to help you.” In addition:

• Mr. Hatch cast the only dissenting vote in the Senate in 2003 on an amendment that would reduce protections that the pharmaceutical companies used to block generic drugs from entering the market.

• The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a nonprofit government watchdog organization, said that in 2006 Mr. Hatch took seven trips costing a total of $12,000 sponsored by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as two industry trade groups, the California Healthcare Institute and the Healthcare Leadership Council. At the time, he held $18,000 worth of stock in Pfizer and Novartis, the Swiss-based manufacturer of Ritalin, the drug that treats attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.

• Mr. Hatch co-sponsored a Medicare bill while holding shares in Pfizer and Novartis, according to his 2003 financial disclosure forms. In statement at the time to CPI, Mr. Hatch defended the stock holdings, saying they represented a small percentage of his investment portfolio. He also characterized his travel as “legitimate activity under Senate rules,” adding that he “likes to have open communication with industry leaders.”

• After using a complimentary Gulfstream executive jet provided by drugmaker Schering-Plough Corp. for his long-shot presidential campaign in 2000, he drafted legislation extending the drug company’s patent on the drug Claritin.

An ‘oversight’

According to filings with the Utah Secretary of State’s Office, the Utah Families Foundation has been delinquent for years in filing its required annual reports.

Guy Morris, the foundation’s accountant, said the paperwork is being updated and called the failure to file “a very innocent situation” that likely happened when the organization switched addresses.

“It was just an oversight,” he said. “They do a ton of good work. I wish all of the people I donate to were as efficient as Utah Families Foundation.”

Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, said he doesn’t doubt that charities run or founded by members of Congress often put their money to good uses. But he said the donations nonetheless can help provide special interest groups with important access to lawmakers.

“There are any number of ways in which individuals and interests looking to influence Congress can provide financial help to members,” he said. “And contributing to a foundation is certainly one of those ways.”

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus