Poor conserva-dem Colleen Hanabusa. She had a nice, safe House seat. Not much competition. And her little peccadilloes involving her financial dealings were kept under wraps. No one examined her voting record and associations too closely.
That all changed when she decided to challenge the popular and progressive, Sen. Brian Schatz.
Her first problem was that she based her campaign on the meme, "Sen Inouye said I could have his seat so I deserve it."
Not persuasive in convincing voters to abandon a senator like Brian Schatz who has been doing an excellent job.
So what happens? A University of Hawai'i professor writes an article casting doubt on the authenticity of Sen. Inouye's alleged deathbed letter asking for her to succeed him.
We knew there was something fishy about the private letter being instantly leaked but not until Prof. Manfred Henningsen wrote his article did it occur to voters that the letter might have been faked.
According to Civil Beat, Inouye chief of staff, Jennifer Sabas admitted that she wrote the letter from notes and that it was robo-signed.
Bad enough. But now it has emerged that her staff may have crossed the line in campaign co-ordination with the Big Pharma PAC, PhRMA. Ironically Hanabusa is a member of the New Democrat Coalition which Pro Publica has called, "The Coalition Pharma and Wall Street Love". They got that right!
According to the Washington Post, email was sent from Hanabusa deputy chief of staff. Christopher Raymond, to ...guess who? Jennifer Sabas among others including Hanabusa's chief of staff.
The message described a practice that is often suspected but rarely revealed: interest groups coordinating their putatively independent efforts with the candidates they are backing.
“As I’m sure you have heard, PhRMA has committed to pulling together an independent expenditure on CH’s behalf,” Raymond wrote. “Nick Shipley (Government Relations VP) and Bob Phillipone (Senior VP) are the leads on this and would like to be put in touch with folks on the campaign. After having talked with Nick about this a little more, and based on our discussion, I came to the conclusion that is it the three of you the he would like to be in touch with. I am going to give him your email address so he can be in touch. I didn’t feel comfortable giving out your phone numbers.
“Should you be contacted by Nick or Bob please know they are good democrats,” he concluded.
Here is why voters are steamed about Hanabusa's funding by Big Pharma.
If you go to Walmart, you can get three month's supply of your medicine for an inexpensive price of $10. Why? Because Walmart uses the buying power of their hundreds of stores to negotiate rock bottom wholesale prices with the drug companies.
So you'd think the U.S. government could get even better prices, since their Medicare and Medicaid programs are even bigger.
Not so. Big Pharma lobbyists have donated to congresspeople like Hanabusa. In return,Hanabusa and others not only vote against rebates on Medicare purchases, they've put into law that the U.S. government is prohibited from negotiating for better prices!
The Washington Posts goes on to contrast Hanabusa's pro-corporate voting with Sen Schatz's pro-taxpayer position:
Hanabusa shares PhRMA’s opposition to proposals that would require drug companies to provide rebates for medications that low-income beneficiaries obtain through Medicare.
"how that may influence outside groups is simply not a consideration for the senator"
Schatz, the incumbent senator whom Hanabusa is challenging, takes the opposite view. In April, Schatz co-sponsored legislation by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) to require such rebates.
“Senator Schatz stands by his position because it’s the right thing to do for Hawaii, and how that may influence outside groups is simply not a consideration for the senator,” Schroers said.