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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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During that nomination contest, all that was known about Freedom Path was its leadership, which has ties to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

In addition to Bensing, the group’s board members include GOP operative Mark Emerson.

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Bensing is a lobbyist at the firm SB Strategic Consulting, whose clients include the Nevada Department of Transportation, Station Casinos in Las Vegas and Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship of mixed martial arts fame.

He previously worked as Ensign’s chief of staff and as the executive director of the NRSC.

Emerson, meanwhile, previously worked for Hatch and served as Ensign’s chief of staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. He once was the executive director of the Utah Republican Party.

During the campaign, Freedom Path also hired the consulting firm November Inc., which is headed by Mike Slanker, a former NRSC operative and Ensign aide.

Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California-Irvine law school, said that voters should have been informed of PhRMA’s $750,000donation because it would have helped them judge the "credibility of the ads."

"Groups adopt anodyne names like ‘Freedom Path’ which reveal nothing to voters about who is really behind political advertising," he said. "Voters may have liked or not liked that Senator Hatch’s election was being supported by the pharmaceutical industry, but they should have known about it."

The Center for Public Integrity is a non-profit, independent investigative news outlet. For more of its stories go to publicintegrity.org

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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