Turncoat Lobby

Senators for sale


As the health care debate dragged on last year, Democrats searched high and low for Republican support. But aside from Olympia Snowe, the ever-coy centrist senator from Maine, everyone with an R attached to his or her name was consistently opposed to Democratic plans. The always-useful bipartisan label remained elusive.

Finally, in October, the majority party found four prominent Republicans to support the cause: former Senate majority leaders Bill Frist and Bob Dole, and former health and human services secretaries Louis Sullivan and Tommy Thompson. This was big news: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and ABC News all published stories on the endorsements, and President Barack Obama praised the four Republicans in his weekly radio address.

But it turns out the turncoats were not necessarily motivated by bipartisan concern for the greater good. As reported by Timothy Carney in The Washington Examiner, all four had direct financial ties to health care interests that stand to gain from ObamaCare. Dole lobbies for a firm that represents the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies. Frist has a partner stake in an investment firm that, according to its online description, has "deep expertise in the healthcare reimbursement and regulatory environments." Thompson works as a health care consultant for Akin Gump, a lobbying firm paid by the pharmaceutical industry, medical device makers, and hospitals. And Sullivan made millions working with drug makers and insurers.