Press picks up on health care connections
By Ellen Przepasniak • Sep 15, 2009 at 08:40 EST
We’ve gotten two great mentions of our health care research this week in Politico and The Huffington Post.
Politico congressional reporter Manu Raju names Liz Fowler, Sen. Baucus’ current health adviser and former WellPoint lobbyist; Mark Hayes, Sen. Grassley’s health counsel who is married to a health care lobbyist; Frederick Isasi, Sen. Bingaman’s health policy adviser and former lobbyist at Powell Goldstein; and Kate Spaziani, senior health policy aide to Sen. Conrad, also a registered lobbyist at Powell Goldstein.
And according to the group Public Accountability Initiative, which tracks politicians’ ties to various interests, more than 500 former congressional aides have gone on to become health care lobbyists.
Both lobbyists-turned-aides and aides-turned-lobbyists say they offer unique expertise and experience as lawmakers try to rewrite the nation’s health care laws.
“It gave me a very different perspective, leaving the Hill,” said Debbie Curtis, who spent two years as a lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Consumer Action during the Clinton-era health care debate. Curtis is currently the chief of staff for Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the chairman of the powerful health subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee.
A few weeks ago, we set out to build a list of congressional-staffers-turned-health care lobbyists. With the help of some incredible citizen journalists at the Huffington Post Investigative Unit, our list of lobbyists has grown exponentially this week. Here are a few trends we’ve found thus far.
Where they work
Three lobbying firms have acquired a good number of staffers who have worked in congressional offices with close ties to the health care industry. For example, Cassidy & Associates employs former Olympia Snowe staffer Arran Haynes and Mehlman, Vogel & Castagnetti has picked up Chuck Grassley’s former health policy aid Colette Desmarais. Greenberg Traurig has also acquired a good number of folks who have worked on the Hill. These firms represent companies including AHIP, Humana and Community Health Systems. Having Hill heavyweights on their staff sure has made these firms attractive picks for the health care industry.
What about Cerberus?
By Kevin Connor • Mar 30, 2009 at 12:49 EST
President Obama issued an ultimatum to GM and Chrysler today, setting out strict guidelines for the carmakers to meet before obtaining more government aid. Coupled with the forced resignation of GM CEO Wagoner, the Obama administration’s heavy-handed approach to Detroit, as compared to its approach to Wall Street, seems to indicate a double standard. Why not bank CEOs? asks David Sirota. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein notes that Gibbs struggled to explain the differing approaches.
The irony of this is that a major Wall Street private equity firm actually owns 80% of Chrysler, but has managed to avoid serious scrutiny during the bailout process. Take it from Yahoo Finance’s Tech Ticker: