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Pharma industry fueling Morrisey's US Senate campaign

Floods of money from lawyers and lobbyists tied to the pharmaceutical industry are fueling Patrick Morrisey’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.

A close analysis of Morrisey’s financial disclosure to the Federal Election Commission shows registered lobbyists at the state and federal levels, as well as consultants, association representatives, attorneys and political action committees representing the pharmaceutical industry, contributed at least a combined $87,950 to the campaign in its first three months of existence.

As a lobbyist, Morrisey represented clients such as Sunovion Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Healthcare, Celgene Corporation and other major pharmaceutical accounts. A number of those companies have since retained new lobbyists who are now donating to Morrisey’s campaign.

Employees of two lobbying firms Morrisey used to work for have given thousands, as well. Before he was elected attorney general of West Virginia, Morrisey worked as a lobbyist for two white-shoe law and advocacy firms: King and Spalding, and Sidley Austin. In his current campaign, lawyers, partners and lobbyists who worked for those two firms donated a combined $11,050 and $19,300, respectively.

Additionally, Denise Henry Morrisey — the attorney general’s wife — currently lobbies for Capitol Counsel, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that represents the pharmaceutical industry. Lobbyists and attorneys with Capitol Counsel donated a combined $16,500 to Morrisey’s campaign through individual contributions.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who will face Morrisey in the May primary, called attention to Morrisey’s industry ties in a news conference Monday.

There, Jenkins pledged to return all campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry he has received since announcing his campaign and to no longer accept any such donations going forward. He also called on incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Morrisey to do the same.

Jenkins’ pledge came on the heels of two comparably slow fundraising quarters when measured against his likely opponents.

At an unrelated news conference Tuesday, Morrisey declined to answer when asked if he would take Jenkins’ pledge.

A spokeswoman for his campaign did not respond to a series of questions regarding whether Morrisey will take Jenkins’ pledge or the implication of the pharmaceutical industry’s contributions to his campaign.

Not the only one

While Morrisey’s count is more drastic, Jenkins received a few modest campaign contributions of his own from the industry.

In a survey of Jenkins’ campaign contributions from 2017, individuals who have represented the pharmaceutical industry have donated at least $2,750.

When asked how Jenkins would return the contributions he received from people who represent the pharmaceutical industry, his spokesman, Andy Sere, said he was not aware of any.

When sent an itemized list, Sere said Jenkins would only return donations received after he announced his campaign, and those that came from lobbyists from outside the state of West Virginia.

In May, one lobbyist who represents pharmaceutical clients at the state Capitol gave $250. In September, another gave $500. In June, Kent Hance, a pharmaceutical trade association lobbyist at the federal level, gave $250.

“Evan is honoring his pledge to put people over pills by returning Mr. Hance’s donation,” Sere said in an email.

In previous campaigns, as well as financial fundraising quarters from this election cycle while Jenkins was still fundraising for re-election to the House of Representatives, he accepted contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

Sere said Jenkins will not return contributions that came in before he announced his Senate campaign in May. Those include a $5,000 contribution, received March 31, from Novartis Corporation PAC, or another on that same day for $1,000 from Express Scripts PAC, among others.

Nachama Soloveichik, a spokeswoman for Morrisey’s campaign, accused Jenkins of hypocrisy for not returning those donations.

“Evan Jenkins explicitly promised to return all donations associated with pharmaceutical companies in a video he posted on his own Facebook page, and now, he’s moving the goal posts because he realized he’d have to return tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “A pledge that magically changes overnight isn’t worth more than a good chuckle.”

On the other side of the primary, Manchin’s campaign drew a comparatively light sum from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry in the third quarter when measured against his last Senate campaign.

According to an analysis of his campaign’s financial disclosure, registered, federal pharmaceutical company lobbyists gave Manchin $7,250 for the quarter. A PAC from AmerisourceBergen, a major drug wholesaler, also gave Manchin $2,500 for his campaign.

Additional data curated by the Center for Responsive Politics shows he has received $29,800 from the pharmaceuticals and health products industry in this election cycle. In the 2012 election, the pharmaceutical and health products industry contributed $272,900 to his campaign by way of individual contributions and PAC donations.

Manchin has other ties to the industry. His daughter, Heather Bresch, is the CEO of Mylan. His campaign and longtime adviser, Larry Puccio, is registered with the state to lobby for Mylan.

Grant Herring, a spokesman for Manchin’s campaign, accused Jenkins of using the opioid epidemic to grandstand for his own political gain.

“While Evan Jenkins wants to use the drug epidemic to grandstand for political gain, Sen. Joe Manchin continues to work with both sides of the aisle to fight the opioid epidemic,” he said.

He said Manchin is remaining focused on combating the epidemic through his work in the Senate.

Geography

Along with industry ties, FEC disclosures show out-of-state individuals comprise the majority of each of the three Senate campaigns.

Of Manchin’s roughly $2.9 million in receipts this year, just 3 percent of it came from West Virginians.

Of Morrisey’s $673,562 in receipts this year, roughly 22 percent of them came from West Virginians.

Of Jenkins $902,137 in receipts this year, roughly 40 percent of them came from West Virginians.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at

jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow

@jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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