Pharmaceutical companies are facing scrutiny over the opioid crisis, but that hasn’t stopped them from giving millions of dollars to members of Congress, including many in the Mountain West.
Two Republican senators, Colorado’s Cory Gardner and Montana’s Steve Daines, took in the most money for our six-state region this last year. Gardner got $81,000 while Daines pulled in $50,000.
Wyoming’s Republican Senator Mike Enzi amassed one of the largest cumulative donations since 2007, totaling about $680,000.
That’s all according to a database from Kaiser Health News, called Pharma Cash to Congress, which pulls data from federal filings.
Elizabeth Lucas, a data editor with Kaiser Health News, said the database isn’t able to track all the money these companies donate because some donations go through channels where their name isn’t linked to the money. Still, she said it can point to which lawmakers these companies are trying to influence or encourage.
“It’s more of a signal that this person is being tapped by pharmaceutical company PACs because they’re interested in what this person is doing on [Capitol] Hill and there’s probably a whole bunch of money elsewhere,” she said.
While some lawmakers got thousands, a handful took in nothing at all. Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado even refunded $5,000 in pharmaceutical company donations this year. However, he got more than $500,000 total from those companies since 2007 – more than most lawmakers in the region.
Some other notable donations to Mountain West members of Congress:
- Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo has received almost $600,000 since 2007, with $19,000 coming in this last election cycle.
- Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney received about $20,000 earlier this year, while filings show Utah Democratic Representative Ben McAdams received no money from pharmaceutical companies.
- Nevada Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen got $15,000 and $22,000 respectively in the first six months of this year.
To see how much your member of Congress takes in, you can search Kaiser Health News’s database here.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.