Health Insurance, Drug Lobbyists Continue to Fuel Clinton Campaign

Clinton has taken more than $4 million from lobbyists despite declaring their clients ‘enemies’

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton / AP
February 2, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign has received more than $4 million in bundled lobbyist contributions from those who lobby on behalf of industries she claims to be her "enemies," according to FEC documents.

Clinton, who officially launched her presidential campaign in April 2015, accepted almost $2.1 million from lobbyists between April 1 and June 30, 2015 with an additional $2 million coming in between July 1 and December 31, 2015.

These sums bring Clinton’s total bundled lobbyist contributions to over $4.1 million for the 2016 elections.

During the first Democratic debate in October 2015, candidates were asked to list the enemies they were most proud of making during their lives. Clinton listed health insurance and drug companies alongside Republicans, the National Rifle Association, and Iran in her answer.

"Well, Anderson, there are plenty of folks who might think of me as their enemy: the NRA, the health insurance and drug companies, Iran and probably the Republicans," Clinton said.

Even though Clinton cited health insurance and drug companies as "enemies," lobbyists who represent those sectors have bundled heavily for her presidential campaign.

David Jones, a partner at the Washington, D.C.-based Capitol Counsel, is a top bundler for Clinton, netting $386,961 for the campaign so far. Richard Sullivan, also a partner at Capitol Counsel alongside Jones, bundled $319,750 for Clinton.

In 2015, Capitol Counsel had a total lobbying income of over $17 million and represented 11 pharmaceutical companies, netting $2.6 million for its services. The company also pulled in hundreds of thousands from the health insurance industry, led by a $360,000 payment from Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Tony Podesta, a Democratic fundraiser and owner of the Podesta Group, brought in $205,475 in bundled lobbyist contributions for Clinton. Tony’s brother, John Podesta, is the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Last year, the Podesta Group lobbied on behalf of seven pharmaceutical companies and received over $1.5 million from the industry. The group also pulled in six figures from the health insurance industry.

Heather Podesta, the former wife of Tony Podesta and owner of Heather Podesta and Partners, bundled $379,731 for Clinton’s campaign.

Heather Podesta’s firm reported lobbying income of over $7.5 million and represented clients from the health insurance industry such as New York Life Insurance and Cigna Corporation, receiving hundreds of thousands from the industry.

None of the lobbyists returned a request for comment by press time.

Clinton came under heavy scrutiny in 2008 from fellow Democrats for taking lobbyist contributions during a time when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) pledged he would not accept money from officially-registered lobbyists or bundlers.

Clinton defended her actions at the time.

"A lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not, represent real Americans," she said, adding that "based on my 35 years of fighting for what I believe in, I don’t think anybody seriously believes I’m going to be influenced by a lobbyist."

A spokesman for Clinton’s campaign announced in April 2015 that while Hillary "strongly supports" campaign finance reform, she would continue to accept lobbyist cash to help "fight back" against attacks directed at her.

"She strongly supports campaign finance reform and has voted for tough lobbying reform, but as long as Republican groups and candidates are going to spend millions attacking Hillary, we need the resources to fight back," spokesman Jesse Ferguson told Politico.

Clinton has taken more bundled lobbyist contributions than any candidate from either party during the 2016 elections and has received millions from drug companies and life insurance industries throughout her political career, at times a top recipient of both industries.

Clinton’s campaign did not return a request for comment.