The New York Times revealed today that over 40 members of Congress read statements on the floor that parrotted talking points prepared for them by lobbyists for pharmaceutical giant Genentech. As sundin notes, the story is a must-read and perhaps “all too believable,” given the way Washington works.
But the Times misses a key piece of the puzzle: two of the Genentech lobbyists at the firm that wrote the pharma-friendly talking points are ex-staffers to Anna Eshoo and Joe Barton, co-sponsors of a key measure in the bill designed to benefit Big Pharma.
Nick Kolovos, a former legislative aide to Eshoo, and Jeffrey Mackinnon, former legislative director in the office of Joe Barton, have both lobbied on behalf of Genentech this year for the firm Ryan, Mackinnon (of which Mackinnon is a co-founder).
As Marcy Wheeler points out, Eshoo and Barton are missing from the Times’ (partial) list of Representatives who used the talking points, despite the leading role they played in delivering Genentech’s favorite piece of the legislation.
Eshoo and Barton were co-sponsors of a key measure in the healthcare bill that grants brand-name drug companies like Genentech a major windfall by severely restricting access to cheaper generic versions of life-saving biologic drugs. In other words: Eshoo and Barton chose profits for Big Pharma over survival for cancer victims.
Given the close ties between Eshoo, Barton, and Genentech’s lobbying firm, it’s hard to believe that the two Representatives were not involved in delivering or distributing the talking points.
Matthew Berzok, the Ryan, Mackinnon lobbyist named in the piece, is an ex-staffer to Bart Stupak, the sponsor of the anti-abortion amendment in the House bill.
Kolovos, MacKinnon, and Berzok were all on our list of staffers-turned-healthcare lobbyists, prepared in partnership with the Huffington Post Investigative Fund. Priscilla and heaney tracked them down.
Update: Here is the lobbying disclosure report filed by Ryan, Mackinnon, which notes that Berzok, Kolovos, MacKinnon, et al lobbied on behalf of Genentech on the issue of biologics in the third quarter. The complete list of 2009 Genentech lobbyists can be found at Open Secrets.