Dem presidential hopeful Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has been a loud critic of the pharmaceutical industry, vocally supporting a slew of anti-industry bills — especially since he set his eyes on the White House. So he can’t have been too pleased in late June when President Trump got on Twitter at the end of June to tell the nation Booker has pocketed more than $400,000 in campaign contributions from — the pharmaceutical industry. But is this true, or has Trump got it wrong?
- If pushed about drug company donations, Booker will say that he hasn’t taken any money from the pharma industry since June 2017. That’s what he told NPR that month.
- It wasn’t like that for most of his political career, though. As mayor of Newark, Booker raised millions in donations for his election campaigns. Large chunks of it came from people in the pharma industry — for example, in 2019 Johnathan Sackler, whose family owns the company that makes OxyContin, gave Booker Team for Newark $26,000.
- However, Booker first ran for the Senate in 2013 — and that’s about when he really started looking for campaign funding. Some of his major donors were pharma companies.
- Donations from the health industry to Booker’s personal campaign funds, between 2013 and 2017, totaled $411,948. On top of that, he set up a leadership PAC, giving him an extra source of funds that’s less obvious than straightforward donations. The PAC got another $56,000 in pharma industry contributions, bringing it to a total of just under $468,000.
- This only accounts for donations from manufacturers. It’s not totally clear how much pharma wholesalers donated to Booker and his PAC, but it’s estimated to be somewhere around $50,000.
- When Booker started contemplating a White House run, in the months after President Trump’s inauguration, he or someone on his team seems to have decided that pharma funding had become a liability. To fit in with the leftward drift of the Democratic Party he would need to attack the companies, which is a lot harder if they’re paying for the campaign. So he announced that he wouldn’t take any more donations from the pharma industry.
- However, it turns out that this only applies to donations from pharma companies. Booker and his PAC are still collecting cash from people who own or run those companies. The total volume is down, but we’re still looking at tens of thousands of dollars a year.
- It’s pretty obvious that what President Trump said about Booker being supported by the pharma industry is a solid fact. The Left might not like that, but they’re going to have to live with it.
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