Democrats for Consumers or Big Pharma?

Democrats endorsed several November ballot initiatives at this weekend’s meeting of the Democratic Party, but took no position on a measure that would lower drug prices in California.

Last week, Matier and Ross foreshadowed how money might trump principles on an issue that should have been a no-brainer for Democrats. Eric Bauman, the Vice Chair of the state Party and top advisor to the Assembly Speaker, is being paid by the pharmaceutical industry committee against the Drug Price Relief Act.

Are Democrats for Consumers or Big Pharma? Every activist at the meeting this weekend would answer the same way: Consumers. Why not their leadership? Money talks.

Matier and Ross wrote:

Records show that Eric Bauman wears many hats these days, and that he has critics in his own party questioning his role in the $68 million campaign to defeat the California Drug Price Relief Act initiative.

The measure, backed chiefly by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, would cap the price that any state agency or care program could spend on prescription drugs at what the federal Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

Records on file with the secretary of state’s office show that VictoryLand Partners, a consulting firm registered to Bauman’s home address in North Hollywood, has been paid $12,500 a month since early February to consult with the pharmaceutical industry and its allies that are fighting the measure.

Last year, Bauman reported receiving more than $100,000 from VictoryLand Partners, some of it paid by health care interests. VictoryLand was active in the industry’s successful campaign against Proposition 46, the November 2014 ballot measure that would have lifted the cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The paid political work comes while Bauman pulls down $145,000 a year as a full-time senior adviser to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Los Angeles.

The Drug Price Relief Act would ensure the state of California doesn't pay more for drugs than the Federal VA. It implements a core Democratic value – affordable health care. 

Again from the Chronicle: 

Bauman isn’t the only high-powered Democrat being paid to oppose the measure. Sacramento lobbyist Jason Kinney is working on the “no” campaign while also being paid by the state Democratic Party to act as communications director for Senate Democrats.

The Democratic Party might want some new conflict-of-interest rules to prevent party insiders from being paid by the most hated industries in America. Or at least while they're debating the fate of those paymasters.

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