Can You Say "Conflict Of Interest"?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on August 20, 2009

I knew you could:

President Barack Obama’s push for a national health care overhaul is providing a financial windfall in the election offseason to Democratic consulting firms that are closely connected to the president and two top advisers.

Coalitions of interest groups running at least $24 million in pro-overhaul ads hired GMMB, which worked for Obama’s 2008 campaign and whose partners include a top Obama campaign strategist. They also hired AKPD Message and Media, which was founded by David Axelrod, a top adviser to Obama’s campaign and now to the White House. AKPD did work for Obama’s campaign, and Axelrod’s son Michael and Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe work there.

The firms were hired by Americans for Stable Quality Care and its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now. Each was formed by a coalition of interests with big stakes in health care policy, including the drug maker lobby PhRMA, the American Medical Association, the Service Employees International Union and Families USA, which calls itself “The Voice for Health Care Consumers.”

Their ads press for changes in health care policy. Healthy Economy Now made one of the same arguments that Obama does: that health care costs are delaying the country’s economic recovery and that changes are needed if the economy is to rebound.

There is no evidence that Axelrod is profiting from any of this directly. Indirect profits? Well, on that score, the picture may be muddied a bit. In any event, if it were the Bush Administration that was involved in a legislative effort that featured “financial windfalls” for Republican consulting firms involved in the legislative effort in question, I am willing to bet any amount of money that Democrats in Congress would have called for some kind of investigation. Just sayin’.

Previous post:

Next post: