Biotech Firm Ghostwrote Identical Statements By Congress Critters On Health Care Bill

A lobbyist for one of the world’s largest biotech firms ghostwrote in whole or in part the official statements made by different Congresspersons in the Congressional Record regarding a provision of the House health care bill, a Times investigation found.

22 Republicans and 20 Democrats picked up the talking points drafted by lobbyists working for Genentech, a subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Roche.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) said: “One of the reasons I have long supported the U.S. biotechnology industry is that is is a homegrown success story that has been an engine of job creation in this country. Unfortunately, many of the largest companies that would seek to enter the biosimilar market have made their money by outsourcing their research to foreign countries like India.”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said: “One of the reasons I have long supported the U.S. biotechnology industry is that is is a homegrown success story that has been an engine of job creation in this country. Unfortunately, many of the largest companies that would seek to enter the biosimilar market have made their money by outsourcing their research to foreign countries like India.”

Rep. Yvette D Clarke (D-NY) said: “I see this bill as an exciting opportunity to create the kind of jobs we so desperately need in this country, while at the same time improving the lives of all Americans.”

Rep. Donald M Payne (D-NJ) said: “I see this bill as an exciting opportunity to create the kind of jobs we so desperately need in this country, while at the same time improving the lives of ALL Americans.”

Rep. K Michael Conway (R-TX) said: “I do believe the sections relating to the creation of a market for biosimilar products is one area of the bill that strikes the appropriate balance in providing lower cost options.”

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said: “I do believe the sections relating to the creation of a market for biosimilar products is one area of the bill that strikes the appropriate balance in providing lower cost options.”

Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) said: “I do believe the sections relating to the creation of a market for biosimilar products is one area of the bill that strikes the appropriate balance in providing lower cost options.”

Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.

…Mr Brady’s chief of staff…said: “We were approached by the lobbyist, who asked if we would be willing to enter a statement in the Congressional Record…I asked him for a draft. I tweaked a couple of words. There’s not much reason to reinvent the wheel on a Congressional Record entry.”

Is the health care debate really a fight between Democrats and Republicans, or a battle between lobbyists and the rest of us?

In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’ [NYT] (Photo: Wojtek Przywrzej)

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  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    I don’t think this is new here – and if anything, the Congressmen are to blame for being puppets of the industry.

    We pay them to think like their constituents. The only reason I’m incensed is that they’re not earning their keep.

    • sleze69 says:

      @zigziggityzoo: That’s not entirely true. We pay them because we believe they think like us and are putting our best interests first. We could easily change to a pure democracy system without representatives but then, pure democracy is only one step away from anarchy.

    • P=mv says:

      @zigziggityzoo: They have not been earning their keep for decades. Most are simply the puppet of whatever corporation or lobbyist is currently paying them the most. We elect them based on a certain set of principles, but those principles are only created in order to get elected. These politicians don’t actually intend to keep their word.

    • amberlink says:

      @zigziggityzoo:

      They’re earning their keep fine, just it’s Pharma whom they’re earning it from.

      • YardanCabaret says:

        @amberlink: Exactly, we give them $200,000(about) a year to work for us. Lobbyists give them untold millions a year to work for them. They are earning their keep just fine.

        We should just stop paying them since they’ve obviously stopped working for us.

    • H3ion says:

      @zigziggityzoo: You’ll find that large portions of legislation, not just Congressional Record pap, are also drafted by lobbyists. Whole section of the Tax Code are drafted by lobbyists on behalf of one industry or another. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

  2. QuantumRiff says:

    Wow.. the first two are especially funny when you consider Genetech is no longer a US company, they got bought out by a foreign firm….

  3. Hobz says:

    “Is the health care debate really a fight between Democrats and Republicans, or a battle between lobbyists and the rest of us?”

    BINGO

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      @Hobz: Every debate is controlled by lobbyists. PACs know how to run things and we pay them to do it. AAA. AARP. It’s how government goes round.

      If you want to make a pseudo-difference, I highly recommend writing letters or calling the DC office or the main office in your state for your representatives. The senator I worked for definitely paid attention to that stuff. Not all of them do, I’d imagine. But he did.

  4. parkj238 says:

    Business people call the shots in the U.S., no politician wants to say no to money they need to keep their jobs. We have indirect bribery here in America because of the needs of campaign financing.

  5. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    It’s always lobbyists and the rest of us. Dems/GOP is just a smokescreen to keep us distracted.

    Man I’m cynical this morning.

  6. PsiCop says:

    Of course it’s the lobbyists vs the people! It’s been that way through most of the post-war era and probably was, to an extent, even before that.

    It’s not news, to me at least, that so many Congresspersons would essentially prostitute themselves for businesses and lobbyists. They all do it, too, Left and Right, Dem. and Rep., they just do it for different cadres of lobbyists and outfits. Otherwise they’re all playing the same game … and we’re the pawns.

  7. Alys Brangwin says:

    Whoa! Let’s not associate crazy ass Joe Wilson with North Carolina. He’s not from my home state!

  8. kaceetheconsumer says:

    Having worked with my former-university-prof husband to try to curb plagiarism and found such a lack of concern about same amongst the students, this does not surprise me at all.

    One student actually told me that plagiarism is okay because “it’s not fair that other students are smarter and better than me so they get higher grades.”

    Translate that attitude into the political workplace and yeah, they’re going to be THRILLED that someone tells them exactly what to say. Plus, obviously they’re not going to encounter much criticism from their voting public about it if the voters do the same thing themselves in their daily lives.

    • PsiCop says:

      @kaceetheconsumer:

      One student actually told me that plagiarism is okay because “it’s not fair that other students are smarter and better than me so they get higher grades.”

      All I can say is, WTF!? You’ve got to be kidding me!

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    Helloooo…

    A 1900 page mostly unread bill passed late on a Saturday night and this is surprising ?

    Helloooo…

    • SacraBos says:

      @u1itn0w2day: Also, given the lack of time it took to come up with 1900+ pages of law, it’s not written by the Congressmen themselves, but written for them by someone else. If they assert they can’t be expected to read it, then obviously no one in Congress could have actually written such a large volume of legislation in such a short time frame.

      Obama promised us transparency. We need to know who truly authored this bill, who really wrote each section.

      If it’s not our Congressmen – whose job this is – then this is another reason why this is a BAD BILL and needs to be defeated.

  10. Coelacanth says:

    Perhaps that list should serve as a rubric of who should be voted out of office next election cycle… Obviously, they’re not doing their jobs.

    • MrEvil says:

      @Coelacanth: I think it’s pretty easy. I know we’ll lost some good people in the process, but we’ll gain far more. Just don’t vote for anyone listed on the ballot as the incumbent. I don’t give a rat’s ass what party they are, hell they could be Libertarian for all I care. If they’re the incumbent, vote for the other guy. Sure the other guy might be a complete scumbag…but you’re showing these retards who wears the daddy pants.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    A) We’ve got budget crises all over the country, be it state or federal level.
    B) Lobbyist get Congressmen/women in their pockets with various contributions and promises.
    Solution? Stop paying Congress. If they’re going to ignore the opinions of the people who are supposed to be paying them, then stop pating them. They clearly get perks elsewhere.

  12. Tim says:

    Is it sad that I didn’t find this too surprising? Hell, lobbyists have literally written legislation for decades.

    They occasionally write op-eds for newspapers too. There was a small controversy in Virginia a little while back when a few newspapers realized that their local state delegates were publishing identical op-eds. Turned out a lobbyist wrote one op-ed and gave it to the delegates to publish under their own names.

  13. ChrisC1234 says:

    What would just make my day is to then have the company that wrote these statements sue the congressmen for plagiarism and copyright infringement.

    • Tim says:

      @ChrisC1234: Copyright wouldn’t happen, because the companies gave the congressmen permission to do it.

      Plagiarism, you might have a case, but not coming from the lobbyists (obviously). But I believe anyone can file an ethics claim against … I don’t remember who does that sort of stuff, but there’s some office of ethics or something like that that oversees congress. Not sure if they have any power, but still.

  14. RandomHookup says:

    Heck, even I have written remarks that ended up in The Congressional Record. The Senator was quite happy to let me correct his random statements and bad grammar.

  15. MedicallyNeedy says:

    It’s not very smart at all to screw with Terminally Ill People!
    Why this hasn’t crossed their minds, I don’t know.
    Good luck to the powers that be, to peacefully enjoying a bowl of soup without thinking, did somebody spit in this?.

  16. hi says:

    Is this Obama’s healthcare plan? If it is, are you still for it? Do you still beleive what they are pushing is for the good of the people or for special interests such as Genetech and Roche.

    Roche makes the swine flu vaccine by the way. Now does it make sense to anyone yet? Connect the dots.

    If you still don’t see I will try to explain as well as I can: Roche pays lobbyists to get laws made, and to pay congressmen & congresswoman to scare people into the swine flu propaganda as well as the news outlets, TV, radio, newspapers, etc… They push (pay off people) for a healthcare bill in their favor to make the billions, trillions, whatever. It is an actual conspiracy and not a theory. People/corporations/businesses do things for a reason. There is always a reason, it’s not hundreds of coincidences.

    [www.google.com]

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @hi: I put gas in my car, I’m benefitting Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, and all of those big oil companies. Likewise, by putting gas in my car, I pay a state tax, and that benefits my state. If I get sick, I buy medicine, and that lines the pockets of pharmas. When I take public transportation, I grease the wheels of the private company that controls the system.

      Everything we do benefits someone other than us. It’s called business. Of course companies do things for benefit.

      • hi says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: Buying stuff is not illegal. What they are doing is illegal. Lining the pockets of congressman to get laws passed to benfit special interests and corporations, and not the American people, is unconstitutional.

        What you’re describing is capitolism (business, and thats fine), what they are involved in is more of a political scandal.

  17. ihatephonecompanies says:

    Asked about the Congressional statements, a lobbyist close to Genentech said: “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.

    It seems to me that this is the problem right here.

    Yes, it happens all the time, and yes, there IS something nefarious about it.

  18. pot_roast says:

    And these are the people going for our “health care reform.” Remember that.

  19. savdavid says:

    That’s right…..the industry and lobbyist have ONLY the best interest of Americans at heart. They are in no way interested in their own profits. They say this “happens all the time”. Yep, I will believe that since they own the Congress. As far as say there is “nothing nefarious” about it, that is debatable. I guess that is how you see whores doing what they are paid to do.

  20. HooFoot says:

    And yet people still believe that there are differences between the Democrats and the Republicans.

  21. consumerd says:

    yep, I think it’s the lobbyists vs. us. If you don’t like health care now… Speak up and speak often! it’s the only way the little guy is going to win. Either that or another American revolution!

  22. stlbud says:

    It’s so nice to see our Missouri representatives can think for themselves.

    Bill B

  23. iron_chef says:

    it’s like a bunch of below average college freshmen turning in the same term paper.

    Geez!!!

  24. B says:

    Err, what do the rest of us have to do with it? Far as I can tell, it’s the lobbyists vs the other lobbyists. Insurance firms vs hospitals vs drug companies.

  25. silver-spork says:

    “This happens all the time.”

    I’m sure that’s true.

    “There was nothing nefarious about it.”

    Bull. This is just further proof that the lobbyists are in control and that the meatbags in Congress are just mouthpieces.

  26. Ben Popken says:

    @QuantumRiff: Swiss.

  27. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @subtlefrog: I think the issue is that most constituants (regardless of political party or where they’re from) don’t even have a working knowledge of the biotech industry. I certainly don’t, and it would be ludicrous for my congressperson to take a cue from my opinion if it were not carefully researched. Most people wouldn’t even try.

  28. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @subtlefrog: Most people don’t watch C-Span. If they did, they’d be put to sleep most of the time. This so-called “debate” on the House floor was a charade, as it usually is. No one’s mind was changed by anything anyone said, and the whole exercise was just a big waste of time. If I ran the Rules Committee, I’d dispense with the whole dog-and-pony show altogether, instruct members to submit their remarks in writing for inclusion into the Congressional Record, and go straight to the vote.

    There is no need for wasting hours and hours on this silly nonsense. It’s just grandstanding, and I suspect the goings-on in Congress had a whole different character before they turned on the television cameras. You certainly wouldn’t have family members turning on the water works at Senate confirmation hearings, or congressmen bringing babies in to use as props, or any of the other circus acts that have us wondering whether we’ve just elected a bunch of retards to run our government.

    If you want to know what any given congressman thinks about HCR or anything else, all you have to do is visit that congressman’s website, or read his or her correspondence (you do get mailings from time to time, right?), or pick up a newspaper, or turn on the local TV news (not the “news” channel on cable, but the real local news broadcast). It is unfortunate, and certainly unintended, but one learns nothing at all from watching C-Span other than that members of Congress like to be on TV, and many of them are pretty horrible stand-up comedians.

  29. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    @subtlefrog:

    One more example of why lobbying should be illegal, period.

  30. MostlyHarmless says:

    @HurtsSoGood: Rubbish. Watching C-Span is like THE.BEST.DRINKING.GAME.EVER. (Second only to concession speeches, and – if your only interest is in getting hammered – or to NOT drink at all – Sarah Palin ramblings.)

    I can give you the rules if you are interested.

  31. ExtraCelestial says:

    @HurtsSoGood: I say keep the charade if only for the Daily Show material it provides.

  32. JennQPublic says:

    @HurtsSoGood: “…or any of the other circus acts that have us wondering whether we’ve just elected a bunch of retards to run our government.”

    Umm… You’re still wondering?

  33. kaceetheconsumer says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): @pecan 3.14159265: It was actually said to me in my ceramics class after I refused to ghostwrite an essay for another student and gave a brief rant on ethics vs cheating. So my husband didn’t hear it directly, but having sent more than one plagiarist to the dean (like the ones who forget to take the blue hyperlinks out of their stolen text, duh), he wasn’t that surprised when I reported it back to him.

    @PsiCop: I wish. The really sad thing was that the student who said this wasn’t stupid and probably could have done well if he’d put in some effort.

  34. Trai_Dep says:

    @YouDidWhatNow?: You want to see every lobbyist freak out all at once? Suggest public funding of elections.

  35. frodoUnderhill says:

    @gStein_has joined the star bandwagon: Actually the plant in Indiana is closing. They still have plants in the US, but biotech seems to be fleeing the midwest.

  36. bhr says:

    @econobiker: So no more unions, no more NEA, AARP, AAA, Bay Foundation….

  37. drkkgt says:

    @QuantumRiff: Nice, Izzard in the morning, what an eye opener

  38. econobiker says:

    @bhr: Interesting point: would these be considered “affinity corporations” created to represent a group of actual people (membership) sharing a commone issue versus a corporations (created to make a profit) bonding together under the banner of a certain industry?

    There are various arguments flowing around about how a corporation now has a quasi-legal type “personhood” status that was never considered years ago. There is also the issue on just when does an industry or professional association change from being a technical resource to being a lobbying group?

    Then too how does anti-trust fit into this- say would the banking and credit card industry’s actions to get the bankruptcy laws changed been considered a monopoly action in the early 1900s?

    In truth I see both sides of the coin as I am a member of several “affinity” groups along with being a member of several “industry” groups both of which have lobbying as a component of the activities.

  39. PsiCop says:

    @hi: It pretty much doesn’t matter that they’re not all “sell outs.” Enough of them are, that the lobbyists and special interests run the show. The occasional decent Congressperson who hasn’t sold him/herself to the highest bidder, pretty much can do nothing about it — aside, perhaps, from giving evidence against them or helping to expose the payoffs and backroom deals (assuming they have any inside knowledge of them, which they may not).

    So long as Congress is — say — 80% bought and sold, the remaining 20% is voiceless and of no account in Washington.

  40. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    @kaceetheconsumer: gee, at least back in the pre home computing days you had to actually copy the homework in your own handwriting.
    hehe

  41. u1itn0w2day says:

    @Trai_Dep There is no need to tuck stuff away in bill verbage . If the legislators want to barter for votes on A PARTICULAR bill then fine do it on a seperate bill. Just because back room deals and snuck in verbage is standard practice for a professional politician doesn’t mean it’s a good practice or even accepted.

    Stuff like discrimination was legal for hundreds of years should we follow those practices.

    And how is it even a democracy if the public thinks their legislature is voting on one bill when they are actually adding/sneeking in less than fully disclosed legislation. If professional politicians want to do business that way fine. But I do NOT want to pay them to do business that way as a citizen/tax payer/their EMPLOYER.

  42. dragonfire81 says:

    @Eyebrows Mcgee (now with more baby!): “But it should never be businesses at the expense of the citizenry or the Republic. Their highest duty is to the nation and its citizens, not its corporations.”

    This is true no longer. The new version is: “Their highest duty is to the people who will fund their re-election campaign”