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Feel it: Democrat Rusche ‘berns’ his big pharma donors

Feel it: Democrat Rusche ‘berns’ his big pharma donors

Dustin Hurst
October 14, 2016
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October 14, 2016

Democrat John Rusche wants his Facebook friends to know he’s no fan of big pharmaceutical companies.

At least in the public eye.

Just days ago, Rusche, the top Democrat in the Idaho House, shared to his personal Facebook page an anti-pharma meme originally posted by Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Sanders’ meme pulled no punches: “The pharmaceutical industry is the biggest bunch of crooks in this country!” the words, pasted just above the elderly senator’s head and outstretched arm in the photo, read.

Sick bern, bro.  

Rusche, a six-term incumbent fighting for his political life against legislative challenger Mike Kingsley, shared the image to his Facebook page Oct. 8.

Three days later, Rusche’s re-election campaign filed his finance disclosure report, which lists a politician’s contributions and expenses. At the top of Rusche’s Oct. 11 report? None other than Pfizer Inc. listed at an address in Sacramento, California.

You know, one of the ringleaders of the supposedly hated big pharma “crooks.”

Pfizer, which paid CEO Ian Read more than $18 million last year, boasts a market cap of more than $205 billion, according to Forbes. The company, Forbes also reported, generated nearly $50 billion in sales in 2015.

OpenSecrets.org, a project of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, reveals Pfizer has spent more than $1.04 million funding the campaigns of federal politicians.

Pfizer’s favorite politician this year? Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ choice for president.

Locally, Pfizer has spent $15,000 on Idaho candidates, including donations to Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon, Sen. Lee Heider of Twin Falls and Rep. Eric Redman of Athol — all Republicans.

Rusche, who took $500 from Pfizer, is the only Democrat in Idaho to receive money from the pharma giant, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

That’s not Rusche’s only pharma-related contribution. The Democrat took $500 from Express Scripts, a multi-billion dollar Missouri-based prescription management company. This company has donated more than $10,000 to Idaho politicians in the 2016 election cycle.

Express Scripts supports the re-election bids of 18 state legislators, including 16 Republicans. Rusche is the only House Democrat to take money from the company. Democrat Sen. Dan Schmidt of Moscow claims that honor in the Idaho Senate.

PHRMA, also known as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, supported Rusche’s re-election bid, too. According to his latest disclosure report, PHRMA has contributed $600 to Rusche’s campaign.

Statewide, PHRMA, which lobbies on behalf of more than 100 pharmaceutical companies, has given more than $20,000 to candidates, Republicans and Democrats, this election year.

Caremark RX Inc., commonly known as CVS Caremark, donated $100 to Rusche earlier this year.

Rusche, for his part, didn’t return two emails seeking a comment on the donations. It’s unclear whether Rusche plans to return the big pharma donations.

Note: Here's a screenshot of Rusche's Facebook post:


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