Monday, December 8, 2014

Attorney General of Missouri Denies Doing Favors for Lobbyists

Attorney General of Missouri Chris Koster (left) reading a document... or staring into our souls.

From time over time, we tend to see government officials changing legislation or turning a blind eye to some cases because of campaign contributions from corporations. These contributions and benefits are given either directly to their campaigns or even privately to the person himself. Some may call this corruption however it is not uncommon for government officials to do favors for lobbyists. One huge case would be when John Boehner handed out checks from a tobacco company to fellow republicans in late 1995.

Denying allegations of being influenced by campaign contributions while tracking consumer fraud issues, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has denied such claims on Monday, December 8th. Koster has reportedly received $13,500 from a law firm that was representing a large bio-pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer and $20,000 directly from the drug makers themselves -- whom allegedly falsely marketed some drugs. In addition, Koster met with lobbyists and spoke to PACs while investigating the company to ultimately negotiate a $750,000 deal with the company.

Do you think that this case deserves a deeper investigation ?
Besides this case, what is your take on money influencing politics as a whole?
If Pfizer is marketing false drugs, should it even be allowed to sell drugs in the first place?

Articles:New York TimesWashington Times

5 comments:

Vivian Shen said...

Just a clarification: I don't think Pfizer is marketing false drugs, but rather, it is incorrectly marketing drugs. They have already paid up quite a sum to settle this lawsuit, so hopefully they learned their lesson?

Personally, I believe that money influencing politics is just causing politicians to become more corrupt. How are they supposed to cater to their own moral/ethic standards, if the path of corruption carries large sums at the end of it? This has been the debate since the beginning of time: does money cause corruption? Unfortunately, it is only the big corporations and the so called "1%" that can afford to dole out these large sums to politicians. This gives these companies a leg up in legislation, since they can control the politicians "behind the scenes."

Therefore, I do believe that this needs a deeper investigation, because we must set a precedent for the future that it is not okay to behave like this. It seems that there is some lobbyist influence at play when such large sums are given out, and we should definitely investigate further into this so that politicians can realize that they won't be able to dance around this issue anymore!

Lindsay Block said...

I agree with Vivian, that money influences politics in less than positive ways. Some say money just magnifies someone's personality, but in instances involving politics and larger interests, I think that money leads to a severe decline in integrity towards a person's standards. This "leg up," as Vivian called it, promotes a horrible form of conducting politics, as influencing politicians with money just to secure support. I think deeper investigated is needed on this issue as a whole, as it has become a huge part of politics as a whole. The public sees this kind of corruption as a common occurrence, and that needs to be stopped; future generations should not grow up in a world where people benefit from dishonorable actions.

Karen Chow said...

I agree that further investigation is necessary. Before it was shut down, the investigation obtained email records that were made between Koster and the companies, which showed that the cases were settled or canceled soon after. Instead of just investigating officials after they've already been accused of corruption, I think more significant and necessary action would be to modify lobbying and campaign contribution policies, similar to what Koster is advocating. His proposed policy is especially needed in Missouri, being the only state where "elected officials can legally accept both unlimited campaign contributions and unlimited gifts from lobbyists."

Because it is unlikely that such legislation would pass, as stated by the Washington Times article, Koster may be just publicly supporting it to seem less suspicious. Nevertheless, it would still be an ideal measure to enact. This type of legal change is especially necessary as the number of cases rises. Just a few days after this case hit the news, another attorney general has been accused of lobbyist influence, and situations like these ware only more likely to occur if contribution policies don't change.

Records of Koster's emails that arouse suspicion: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/us/lobbyists-bearing-gifts-pursue-attorneys-general.html
Related case:
http://www.argusleader.com/story/news/politics/2014/12/11/jackley-says-inappropriate-influence-lobbyists/20271121/

Rene Chen said...

Further investigation is absolutely necessary, for not only does money play a big part in influencing politics(thank you Vivian), their decisions can benefit those who fund them and can lead politicians in office to steer away from good government. This would make public interest coming second-something the framers obviously didn't intend nor want when creating the government.

Brian Yee said...

This reminds me of Andros's post about the medicinal industry and how big corporations pay doctors to advertise their medicine even if it's not in the patient's best interest. Studies have shown that politicians may say that they're not influenced by money, but on a more subconscious level, they actually are. This case definitely deserved a deeper investigation, because as Vivian pointed out, we need to set a precedent for the future. While this may take a lot of work, considering that this is a legacy of a troubled and politically corrupt past, I think that it's needed and it would actually expedite legislation that could resolve national affairs.