Documents Uncovered by Judicial Watch Detail Big Pharma Campaign Access to Democratic Governors During 2012 National Governors Association Meeting

Pfizer Sponsored Private Event for DGA Donors $100,000 and Above; Major Contributors Included Unions, Drug Companies and Other Health Concerns

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Mar 28, 2012) - Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has uncovered documents detailing private events involving Democratic governors during the February 2012 winter meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA). These events were widely attended by unions, drug companies and other health concerns.

The events included a Pfizer-sponsored evening reception and dinner for members of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Chairman's Board, which include donors of $100,000 or more to the organization. The reception provided attendees with personal access to the Democratic governors. A second, private reception held the following night included donors of $250,000 or more to the DGA, as well as members of the chairman's board. Both events were closed to the press.

The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch pursuant to a March 7, 2012, request submitted to the office of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin under the Vermont Public Records Law, were received on March 16, 2012. The records show:

  • Pharmaceutical companies attending both of the privately held events for major donors to the DGA included Allergan, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Pfizer. Amgen, Lilly, and Merck attended only the first event. Bristol-Myers Squibb attended the second reception open to donors of $250,000 and above.

  • Donors attending both receptions from the health care industry included Aflac, Amerigroup, Norvo Nordisk, and the United Health Group. American Health Care Association and eHealth attended only the first event. Blue Cross Blue Shield attended the second reception.

  • Union organizations attending both receptions included International Council of Shopping Centers, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, National Education Association, and the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Also attending the Pfizer-sponsored dinner and both receptions was former governor of South Carolina, James Hodges, representing MAXIMUS, the for-profit company that provides program management and consulting to local and state governments on health and human services. MAXIMUS has been embroiled over the years in a number of controversies, including a lawsuit brought against it by the United States Government for falsifying Medicare claims adding up to some $30.5 million. MAXIMUS settled the lawsuit.

The documents also show that Steve Janson, Pfizer's VP of Public Affairs, requested to sit next to Vermont Governor Peter Shulman at the Chairman's Dinner. The request seemingly was granted.

The stated purpose of the National Governors Association meetings beginning on February 25 and ending with the White House dinner with President and Mrs. Obama on February 27 was to discuss job creation and expanding economic growth. However, the DGA meetings inserted before and during the weekend provided pharmaceutical and health care companies direct access to Democratic governors.

As reported by The New York Times, the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations have become major targets of influence for lobbyists: "Operating outside the laws that block federal candidates and party committees from taking money from unions or businesses, the Democratic governors' group -- and its Republican counterpart -- are case studies in corporate political fund-raising."

"No wonder Big Pharma did not want the press around while they were busy wining and dining Democratic Governors," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "These documents show the ugly underbelly of American politics, where large corporations and unions 'pay to play' to get access to politicians."

A separate Judicial Watch investigation into the Republican Governors Association meeting(s) is underway.


Contact Information:

Jill Farrell