The world’s biggest drug makers and their trade groups have cut checks to 356 lawmakers ahead of this year’s election — more than two-thirds of the sitting members of Congress, according to a new STAT analysis.
It’s a barrage of contributions that accounts for roughly $11 million in campaign giving, distributed via roughly 4,500 checks from the political action committees affiliated with the companies.
The spending follows a long tradition of generous political giving. Major manufacturers typically make hundreds of modest donations to incumbent members of Congress but avoid donating to presidential candidates, seeing little utility in placing presidential bets.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a race among drug makers eager to develop a vaccine and improve the industry’s standing in Washington — pharma’s giving underscores the breadth of its influence and its efforts to curry favor through lobbying and donations to the lawmakers who regulate health care.
“It’s less about a particular deliverable and more about creating a relationship,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a money-in-politics group that STAT contracted with to supply contribution records. “And, maybe, greasing the skids on a particular issue for which a company has great concern or sees great opportunity. On Covid, it’s certainly both — these corporations are being called to the aid of a country in crisis.”