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Drug firms poured cash into Hatch campaign
Politics » Big Pharma stepped in when the Utah senator needed it most.

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Like Freedom Path, FreedomWorks operates a nonprofit wing that does not reveal its donors. The non-disclosing nonprofit also accounted for about 15 percent of the $15 million raised by its super PAC arm.

Friend of PhRMA • Hatch received more than any other member of Congress in the 2011-2012 election cycle, some $448,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Individuals and political action committees connected to the pharmaceutical industry ranked as Hatch’s No. 2 campaign backer during the 2012 election cycle. Hatch was also the industry’s No. 1 congressional beneficiary during that time, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The 78-year-old lawmaker sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and is the ranking GOP member on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

As far back as 1984, he authored legislation with Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., that helped allow generic drugs to flourish but also gave brand-name pharmaceutical companies new powers to contest patent infringements by generics.

And he helped spearhead a successful effort to give pharmaceutical companies 12 years of exclusive rights to sell biologic drugs, rather than the seven-year period favored by President Barack Obama, during the health care reform debate.

Furthermore, his son, Scott Hatch, is a partner at a lobbying firm whose clients include PhRMA and drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline, though both Hatches have maintained that Scott does not lobby his father or his office.

In a written statement, PhRMA senior vice president Matthew Bennett said the group "often makes grants or charitable contributions to organizations that share PhRMA’s goals."

Other federal records show PhRMA has spent more than $14 million on lobbying through the third quarter and donated $185,500 to politicians via its PAC during the 2012 election cycle, including $6,000 to Hatch.

Long-time ALEC member • PhRMA has provided financial support to the Republican-dominated American Legislative Exchange Council for years. Jeffrey Bond, a senior vice president at PhRMA, sits on ALEC’s "private enterprise board."

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The organization opposes policies that would allow U.S. consumers to buy prescription drugs from countries such as Canada at bargain prices and bring them back to the United States. It has also pushed model legislation aimed at countering proposals that advocate for government-mandated price controls on pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, in a seeming departure, the trade group gave a large contribution to an organization active in Montana’s Supreme Court election.

Montana Growth,whose address is listed as a mailbox at aUPS store in Washington, D.C., on the IRS form, appears to be the "Montana Growth Network," which sought to influence the state’s nonpartisan judicial race. State district judge Laurie McKinnon defeated Missoula public defender Ed Sheehy for an open seat on the high court, after attorney Elizabeth Best was knocked out during a contentious primary.

McKinnon was endorsed by the Montana Chamber of Commerce and Montana Farm Bureau, while the Montana Growth Network attacked Sheehy for a case in which he argued that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

The $500,000 donation was far more than the candidates raised in a state where contribution limits are among the lowest in the nation.

McKinnon, who won with about 56 percent of the vote, raised about $87,000, while Sheehy raised roughly $67,000, according to the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Ad blitz • In 2010, Hatch’s Republican colleague Sen. Bob Bennett was targeted by tea party-aligned activists and defeated in his bid for a fourth term. Hatch wanted to avoid a similar fate.

Freedom Path’s first ad was released in July of 2011. It touted Hatch and tea party-backed freshman Sen. Mike Lee,R-Utah, who beat Bennett in 2010, as "leading the fight in Washington to get spending under control," though Lee had declined to endorse Hatch before the June primary.

Another ad in January championed Hatch as "leading the conservative charge to repeal Obamacare." And one ad in March trumpeted the balanced budget amendment introduced by Hatch and Lee.

The group also produced several advertisements attacking Liljenquist.

Ultimately, Hatch defeated Liljenquist with about two-thirds of the primary vote.

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