Gillibrand Took $2,400 From Family She Would Prosecute for Profiting Off Opioid Crisis


March 19, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) on Monday pointed the finger at a prominent family in the pharmaceutical industry for helping create the opioid crisis, without mentioning that she received money from one of them.

Gillibrand singled out the Sackler family for their company, Purdue Pharma, profiting off the opioid crisis, suggesting they should be prosecuted. In 2009, the senator received $2,400 from one of the founder's sons, Jonathan Sackler, who was formerly on the board.

During an MSNBC town hall in Auburn Hills, Mich., moderator Chris Hayes asked Gillibrand whether these pharmaceutical corporations who have been profiting off the opioid crisis should be held accountable for their actions.

"Absolutely," Gillibrand said.

Hayes followed up by asking whether accountability is something she would pursue through the Justice Department if she was elected to be the next president, prompting her to say they should be "prosecuted."

"What we know from the evidence that's been gleaned from what the Sackler family did and how they looked at drugs as a way to make billions of dollars and making sure that the dosage was higher, so they are more addictive, the way they they dampened down any investigation, any transparency and accountability, that is what we have to take on," Gillibrand said.

She went on to talk about the importance of getting money out of politics and being transparent, but she did not mention that her senate campaign took $2,400 from a former board member of Purdue Pharma. Jonathan Sackler is one of eight Sackler family members named by Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey (D.) as defendants in a complaint that accused Purdue Pharma of spinning a "‘web of illegal deceit’ to boost profits."

Sackler has donated thousands of dollars to both Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Chris Murphy (D., Conn.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Michael Bennet (D., Colo.), and Tim Kaine (D., Va.), as well as former senator Hillary Clinton. He has also donated to Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.), the Democratic National Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

One of the politicians now refusing to take money from the Sacklers is Murphy, who donated the money he got to Shatterproof, a national nonprofit group that advocates for improvements in the treatment of addiction. Himes said earlier this year that he's not taking any more money from the Sacklers.

Updated 1:54 p.m.: This post was updated to say Murphy donated the money he received and Himes is not taking any more money.