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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
David Axelrod's Very Big Problem
Posted by: Hugh Hewitt at 6:27 PM
The allegations in this Bloomberg story --if true-- pose a huge problem for a senior advisor to the president, David Axelrod. This is the heart of the problem:
Axelrod was president and sole shareholder of AKPD from 1985 until he sold his interest after Obama’s victory, government records show. The firm owes Axelrod $2 million, which it’s due to pay in installments beginning Dec. 31. Axelrod’s son, Michael, still works there. He didn’t return a phone call. The firm’s Web site continues to feature David Axelrod’s work on the Obama campaign. (Emphasis added.)
The problem is that Axelrod's former firm is currently receiving huge fees "from Healthy Economy Now, a coalition that includes the Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA," as well as AARP, the SEIU and other big players in the health care debate.
If Axelrod has been negotiating any part of any deal involving any of these players which are funneling money to the firm that owes him money, or if he is advising the president on the deals with any of these groups, that's a conflict of interest. Laundering the money through a "coalition" doesn't remove the conflict much less the appearance of impropriety. The coalition is in effect partially funding David Axelrod's severance package though its members might have done so unknowingly. These forthcoming payments to Axelrod are much more significant than the sort of "retained ties" that Democrats blasted Dick Cheney for vis-a-vis Halliburton even though there was no high level negotiations between the vice president and his former company.
David Axelrod has some tough questions to answer, and according to Politico's Mike Allen, Politico's Ken Vogel will be publishing more on matters Axelrodian tomorrow. (Thetranscript of my interview with Allen will be posted here later tonight.) Vogel's story on Axelrod's son from a few days back casts doubt on the Bloomberg story's accuracy as Bloomberg has Axelrod's son still at Axelrod's old firm, but Vogel has him at The Huffington Post.
If it was Karl Rove in a similar set of circumstances, the blogs and some in MSM would already be demanding a special prosecutor. There are lots of questions for Mr. Axelrod, the first one being whether the Bloomberg story is accurate. if the answer is "yes," the second will be: "Have you lawyered up?"
UPDATE: Ken Vogel just confirmed that his story in tomorrow's Politico delves into this issue and that Axelrod did not respond to Vogel's e-mail on the subject, though he has done so in the past. The transcript of the Vogel interview will also be up later tonight at the transcripts page.
Vogel also informed me that Axelrod has two sons, one of whom does indeed continue to work at his dad's old firm which is powered up on health care debate dollars.
UPDATE 2: Senator Jon Kyl just expressed surprise when I told him the outline of the story and, without prompting, suggested as I have above that if Karl Rove had been discovered to be in the same situation as David Axelrod, the hounds would be in the hunt already. Of course, this is the Obama-smitten MSM, so it remains to be seen whether any of them start asking the obvious questions. The transcript of my conversation with Senator Kyl will be posted later at the Transcripts page.
According to The Associated Press, the drug industry's trade group PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and the drug company Pfizer "reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year" - $6.2 million from PhRMA, $5.6 million from Pfizer. "Including its latest report, PhRMA has now spent $13.1 million lobbying so far this year. Pfizer has reported $11.7 million in lobbying expenses for 2009."
One of the most powerful players in health care is a group called the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA. It represents just 32 brand-name drug companies, but it has so much influence that when Congress passes a bill, PhRMA almost always gets its way. One big reason why: PhRMA and its members have spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress as lawmakers work to overhaul health care.www.npr.org...
As part of the preparation for the swine flu crisis, Rx Response -- an unprecedented partnership created to help ensure the continued flow of medicines in public health emergencies -- has been placed on "Alert Status." Rx Response members are closely monitoring the influenza cases in the United States and working with local, state and federal officials to make sure the nation's pharmaceutical supply chain continues to operate efficiently.
Besides PhRMA, Rx Response members include the American Hospital Association, American Red Cross, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
Rx Response, a single point of contact for the entire pharmaceutical supply system, has been in touch with federal and state crisis managers over the past several days to share information about the system's flu response capabilities.
Originally posted by jsobecky
Great posts, StormDancer!
The corruption is staggering....
Hiring Obama’s campaign advisers makes sense, said Julius Hobson, a senior policy adviser in the Washington office of the St. Louis-based law firm, Bryan Cave LLP.
“If you’re in support of the president, then you use the people he used,” said Hobson, 61, who teaches a graduate course in lobbying at George Washington University in Washington.
HEN’s other members, according to its Web site, are the AARP, the biggest advocacy organization for retirees; the Advanced Medical Technology Association; the Business Roundtable; Families USA; the Service Employees International Union, all based in Washington, and the American Medical Association based in Chicago. PhRMA represents 28 drugmakers, including New York-based Pfizer Inc. and London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
Larry Grisolano, a partner at AKPD, said his firm and GMMB are splitting the fees on the $12 million campaign, though neither firm would specify its take. In an e-mail, Margolis declined to comment.
Grisolano said an interview that the firm’s history with Obama made it “kind of a logical place to go” for the health- plan ad work.
“We were one of the president’s ad firms, and so we have familiarity with how he spoke about health care during the campaign, what his viewpoints were on health care during the campaign,” he said. “And so I think if you’re interested in reform, we bring some valuable insight in that regard.”
Last year, the Obama campaign paid $2.77 million in consulting fees to AKPD and $340.53 million to GMMB to produce and place ads, Federal Election Commission records show. Firms such as GMMB typically receive a low-to-mid single-digit percentage of ad spending as their fee for an account of that size, said Glenn Totten, a Democratic political consultant.
Last year, the Obama campaign paid $2.77 million in consulting fees to AKPD and $340.53 million to GMMB to produce and place ads, Federal Election Commission records show.
Dear lord DR, how much into history can he be if he can't remember what he said about the American healthcare system just last year.