Five of the 20 veterans who’ve served on Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s advisory council since 2019 wrote a blistering letter to her today—one she is not likely to soon forget. The five resigned and indicted Sinema for “hanging your constituents out to dry.”
The letter is featured in a new advertisement by Common Defense, the nation’s largest grassroots, progressive veterans’ activist group.
The letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, condemns Sinema for her ongoing resistance in supporting parts of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion ambitious social policy bill to expand America’s safety net, education, climate action, and tax plan.
Additionally, the vets slam Sinema’s hostility toward crushing the filibuster, a rule that would make it easier to push legislation through Congress on a simple majority vote.
“You have become one of the principal obstacles to progress, answering to big donors rather than your own people,” the letter reads. “We shouldn’t have to buy representation from you, and your failure to stand by your people and see their urgent needs is alarming,” they added.
Sinema is facing a world of outrage from Democrats (progressives and moderates alike) over her recent behavior. Between her temperamental communication with her Senate colleagues and her recent jaunt overseas to Europe on a fundraising trip, she is becoming loathed in her home state.
And no surprise to anyone, her poll numbers show unfavorable opinions of her and a real chance that she’ll lose her seat in 2024.
“Democrats were out desperately trying to help her win the seat, and now we feel like, what was it for?” Sylvia González Andersh, one of the veterans who signed the letter, told the Times. “Nobody knows what she is thinking because she doesn’t tell anybody anything. It’s very sad to think that someone who you worked for that hard to get elected is not even willing to listen.”
Common Defense placed a seven-figure ad buy to encourage Sinema to get behind the Build Back America bill, and according to the Times, has plans to invest another seven figures for a new spot.
“While it is unfortunate that apparent disagreement on separate policy issues has led to this decision,” Sinema said in a statement about the letter. She added, “I thank them for their service and will continue working every day to deliver for Arizona’s veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe and secure.”
Her lack of open communication continues to be an issue for the inscrutable senator.
A video of several activists confronting Sinema in a bathroom went viral recently. The youth organizers from Living United for Change (LUCHA) followed the senator into the bathroom after she refused to speak with them.
LUCHA Communications Manager César Fierros told The Hill via email: "Senator Sinema has ignored us and all the people who fought hardest to elect her for years.” He added: "She’s denied our requests, ignored our phone calls, and closed her office to her constituents. She hasn’t had a public event or town hall in years. No one wants to meet with their senator in the restroom. But it seems like there’s a price tag of several hundred thousand dollars to meet with her anywhere else.”
In the end, Sinema has some very troubling relationships. Starting with her constituents, but also with the pharmaceutical industry. And her consistent and recalcitrant opposition to measures lowering drug prices may be a result of the hundreds of thousands of dollars she’s pocketed from pharmaceutical and health companies over the last five years.
According to reporting from Politico, Sinema raised more money ($1.1 million) in the last three months than any quarter she’s been a senator—with most of it coming from pharmaceutical and financial industries during the time she’s been stalling, dodging, and traveling.
Her individual donors include some big names in the pharmaceutical industry.
Top donors included the pharma giant Gilead’s CEO, Daniel O’Day, who gave $5,000 this past quarter. Another $2,900 came in from Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks. The executive chair of Merck’s board, Kenneth C. Frazier, also gave $2,900, as did the chair and CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, Giovanni Caforio. The CEO of Genentech, Alexander Hardy, gave $2,500. Meanwhile, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s Executive Vice President for Policy and Research Jennifer Bryant, Senior Vice President for Federal Advocacy Anne Esposito, and Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Debra DeShong each gave $1,000.
Sinema campaigned on lowering drug prices and boasted on her website about fighting to “ensure life-saving drugs” would stay affordable. But now she seems to have taken the money and run, leaving those who put her in office out of luck.
“You left us holding the bag, saying you were going to do something about Big Pharma,” Andersh told the Times.