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Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, joined Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez this morning to talk about our new report that shows the pharmaceutical industry has overtaken the defense industry in the amount of fines paid for violating the Fair Claims Act.

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Defense contractors,who may never live down their reputation of overcharging the government (remember the $640 toilet seats?), can now offer up that there is a worse industry when it comes to cheating the government. A Public Citizen report released today found that the pharmaceutical industry has now become the biggest defrauder of the federal government.

The study found that pharmaceutical cases accounted for at least 25 percent of all federal Federal Claims Act violation payouts over the past decade, compared with 11 percent by the defense industry.

The fraud results were a key finding from a Public Citizen analysis of all major pharmaceutical company civil and criminal settlements on the state and federal levels since 1991 and found that the frequency with which the pharmaceutical industry has allegedly violated federal and state laws has increased at an alarming rate. Of the 165 pharmaceutical industry settlements comprising $19.8 billion in penalties during the past 20 years, 73 percent of the settlements (121) and 75 percent of the dollar amount ($14.8 billion) have occurred during the past five years.

Many of the infractions, and the single largest category of financial penalties, stemmed from the practice of off-label promotion of pharmaceuticals – the illegal promotion of a drug for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Off-label promotion can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the potential for serious adverse health consequences to patients from such promotional activities. Another major category of federal financial penalties was purposely overcharging for drugs under various federal programs, which constitutes a violation of the FCA.

Here’s the report: (more…)

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We figured there was no better place to mark the U.N.’s International Anti-Corruption Day (you missed it?) than in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that would like to seriously weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FCPA basically makes it illegal for a corporation to bribe foreign government leaders. Back in the 70s before the act was passed, it was pretty common for corporations to bribe foreign governments in exchange for all sorts of favors.

Friends of the Earth, Common Cause, U.S. Chamber Watch and Public Citizen all took a moment today to talk about the need for strong anti-corruption measures. Unfortunately, no one from the Chamber attended our rally.

From today's rally in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Dorry Samuels.

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Holman

In one of the most startling and biased jury surveys I have ever seen, the federal district court of D.C. is identifying “good government” people for possible disqualification from jury service in the Kevin Ring corruption scandal case.

Kevin Ring was an instrumental player on Team Abramoff, smack dab in the middle of the corruption conspiracy that so far has resulted in the conviction of one member of Congress and almost two dozen lobbyists and congressional staffers. Ring served as Rep. John Doolittle’s chief of staff — Doolittle was part of the “Ney, DeLay and Doolittle” congressional team that fought vociferously against limits on money in politics (all three have since been forced out of Congress because of corruption scandals) — before Ring moved on to the riches found in lobbying for Jack Abramoff. Ring appears to have (more…)

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When corporate lobbyists and CEOs hand over a wad of campaign cash to an officeholder, and then promptly receive a lucrative funding project for their company from the same officeholder, most of us know precisely what happened: The corporate executives and officeholder rewarded each other through the exchange of money, also known as a bribe.

But what we all know from common sense becomes clouded – and even denied – by the folly of our campaign finance system in which officeholders are required to raise campaign cash from the very same private interests that have business pending before them. The U.S.  Supreme Court codified this folly in its 1991 U.S. v. McCormick decision which said that the exchange of earmarks for campaign contributions cannot be assumed to constitute bribery because such conduct “in a very real sense is unavoidable so long as election campaigns are financed by private contributions or expenditures …”

So when Public Citizen pressed for the prosecution of Rep. Tom DeLay and others in the Westar bribery scandal – in which internal Westar Energy Company e-mails outlined the company’s plan to buy a “seat at the table” in a House energy conference committee by contributing cash to influential lawmakers in exchange for their support of a special regulatory exemption – neither the Department of Justice nor House ethics committee were willing to conclude it was bribery. Instead, the ethics committee concluded (more…)

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Originally posted at TexasVox.org:

I’ve heard it said that churches are supposed to make bad men good and good men better. Our campaign finance system seems to do the opposite: make good men bad and bad men worse (ie, Governors Richardson and Blagojevich, respectively). As far back as Socrates, outside observers have noticed the corruptive influence of money on public policy. Our public servants worshiping at the altar of campaign donations is sure path to hell for most of us. But the fact that we force them to do so by not providing a public financing system begs the question: Are we getting what we deserve?

As Richardson withdraws his name for consideration of being Commerce Secretary, more and more details are coming out about his ethical problems. Did he take campaign donations that changed his votes? Possibly, or at least there’s enough of an ethical cloud there that no one can know for sure.

And that’s the problem with how we finance our campaigns. No one can ever be truly sure that their Legislators, Representatives, Senators, Mayors, Governors, or Presidents are taking a position because of the merits of the proposals themselves, or because someone with deep pockets convinced them that’s how they should vote. The same can be said of incoming Senatorial appointee Roland Burris. It’s surely not his fault that Blagojevich is a slimeball, but the public just can’t be certain that he was appointed based on his merits alone and not because Blagojevich had some ulterior motive.

The only way to remove all doubt is by supporting public financing. We can only hope during this next Congress that we see some real leadership on this issue so that We the People can know that we are, indeed, still the ones in charge of our government and not the other way around.

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