Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters
Key Senator Baucus Is a Leading Recipient
By Dan EggenWashington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
As liberal protesters marched outside, Sen. Max Baucus sat down inside a San Francisco mansion for a dinner of chicken cordon bleu and a discussion of landmark health-care legislation under consideration by his Senate Finance Committee.
At the table on May 26 were about 20 donors willing to fork over $10,000 or more to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, including executives of major insurance companies, hospitals and other health-care firms.
“Most people there had an agenda; they wanted the ear of a senator, and they got it,” said Aaron Roland, a San Francisco health-care activist who paid half price to attend the gathering. “Money gets you in the door. The only thing the other side can do is march around and protest outside.”
As his committee has taken center stage in the battle over health-care reform, Chairman Baucus (D-Mont.) has emerged as a leading recipient of Senate campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape the legislation to their advantage. Health-related companies and their employees gave Baucus’s political committees nearly $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008, when he began holding hearings and making preparations for this year’s reform debate.
Top health executives and lobbyists have continued to flock to the senator’s often extravagant fundraising events in recent months. During a Senate break in late June, for example, Baucus held his 10th annual fly-fishing and golfing weekend in Big Sky, Mont., for a minimum donation of $2,500. Later this month comes “Camp Baucus,” a “trip for the whole family” that adds horseback riding and hiking to the list of activities.
To avoid any appearance of favoritism, his aides say, Baucus quietly began refusing contributions from health-care political action committees after June 1. But the policy does not apply to lobbyists or corporate executives, who continued to make donations, disclosure records show.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is a leading recipient of campaign contributions from the hospitals, insurers and other medical interest groups hoping to shape health-care legislation.