The Washington Post this morning prints an lengthy article and elaborate chart showing the numbers of drug lobbyists at work on the health reform legislation. This list includes a little congress in itself of former aides and members that only lots and lots of money could buy.
The nation’s largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.
The tactic is so widespread that three of every four major health-care firms have at least one former insider on their lobbying payrolls, according to The Washington Post’s analysis. Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers….
The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.
Valuable as this information is, you have to wonder whether the paper would have published any of this without Politico’s expose of publisher Katherine Weymouth‘s audacious plan to hold a salon where, in exchange for fees running as high as $250,000, from the lobbyists, she would bring the paper’s reporters, key administration sources, and other notables to her home for a private confab on health care—like a little closed committee session, if you will, where the Post could facilitate Obama’s reform on industry’s terms. Once the plan was made public Weymouth cancelled the salon and apologized.