Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.), claimed he rejected pharmaceutical industry donations in a NowThis News interview with lawyer and health care activist Ady Barkan, despite raking in hundreds of thousands from the industry.
The interview video posted to YouTube on Tuesday is titled "Cory Booker Faces Blunt Health Care Questions From Ady Barkan."
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Barkan warned Booker before asking him the "blunt question" as to why Booker believes it is okay to accept big pharma donations.
"Senator, I know you will forgive me if some of my questions seem blunt. But this topic is life and death for me," Barkan said. "I'm not sure I'll ever get to interview you again so I'm just going to speak my mind. You would never take money from the NRA and the gun manufacturers, for example, and you're a national leader in the fight against gun violence. The pharmaceutical and insurance industries profit off of denying people necessary care, resulting in tens of thousands of preventable deaths year after year. Why do you think it’s okay to take their money?"
Booker explained he does not believe it is okay to accept pharmaceutical money and denied ever having accepted donations prior to his presidential race.
"I actually don't think it's okay to take their money," Booker responded. "Years before I got into this presidential primary I said, ‘You know what, I'm not taking corporate PAC money, I'm not taking federal lobbyist money.' I decided before I became a presidential candidate that you can't campaign wrong and think you're going to govern right."
Since Booker's Senate campaign in 2013, he has received $411,948 in pharmaceutical industry contributions and over $560,000 from insurance industries.
Separately, Booker's leadership PAC received $56,000 in pharmaceutical/health industry donations since 2014, according to a PolitiFact report.
During the first Democratic debate, Booker said, "There are too many people profiteering off of the pain in America, from the pharmaceutical companies to insurers."
Booker is qualified for the next Democratic presidential debate on Sept. 12, and holds a national average poll of 2 percent.