Larry Kurtz notices another small sign of big-money corruption in South Dakota politics. On Wednesday, Attorney General Marty Jackley and 41 other state attorneys general announced that they had shaken $35 million out of Pfizer Inc. to settle a lawsuit over subsidiary Wyeth Pharmaceuticals' illegal (allegedly, as settlement means no one admits guilt) marketing of kidney-transplant drug Rapamune. Pfizer shelled out $490.9 million to brush away a federal lawsuit over Rapamune marketing last year.
Wait, where's the corruption part? AG Jackley and his counterparts squeezed some money out of the corporate lawbreakers. That's good right?
I supposed Jackley et al. could have squeezed for more. But Pfizer is a campaign donor. According to FollowTheMoney.org, Pfizer gave Marty Jackley $2,000 to help him become attorney general.Marty Jackley got $2,000.
Hang on: if I were a prosecuting attorney, and if I had received a contribution from the defendant, wouldn't my client (here, the people of South Dakota) want to at least know that, if not consider seeking an attorney with no such conflict of interest?
But it's hard to find folks not somewhat in Pfizer's pocket. Pfizer has contributed to 25 of the 42 attorneys general of the states involved in the lawsuit settled last week. Top AG recipients include Greg Abbott of Texas ($27,500), Jon Bruning of Nebraska ($22,500), and Gary King of New Mexico ($20,000... come on, Marty! Tell Pfizer to step up the love!).
Here in South Dakota, from 2003 to 2012, Pfizer made donations worth $40,445 to South Dakota candidates. The Republican attorney general whom Jackley replaced, Larry Long, got $1,250 to keep his job in 2006. Mike Rounds got $3,000 while he was governor. Dennis Daugaard got $4,500 to help him become governor.
Pfizer sprinkles some money to Democrats, too—Susy Blake, Bernie Hunhoff, Spence Hawley, Jason Frerichs... Pfizer spends a lot of money to make sure a lot of people even in South Dakota remember their name and don't come down too hard on them with prosecutions and regulations.
Nationwide, from 2003 through 2012, Pfizer spent a bit over $6 million on Republicans and a bit under $4 million on Democrats. But they spent nearly $11 million on ballot measures, making them the leader in pharmaceutical companies in promoting the political addiction to big corporate money.