It seems U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) has a friendly relationship with Big Pharma. In fact, it is more than friendly — his longstanding relationship with the multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry has been good for campaign contributions.
South Carolina’s longest-serving congressman has collected more campaign contributions in 10 years from powerful political action committees attached to the pharmaceutical industry than anyone else in the House or Senate, according to Kaiser Health News and a Post and Courier analysis.
Clyburn, who has been in office since 1992, has brought in more than $1 million in campaign contributions from Big Pharma, Post and Courier reported.
Big Pharma donations represent about 5 percent of the money Clyburn accepted in 2017 and 2018.
This doesn’t sit well with renowned political activist, Ivy League professor and author Cornel West.
“Look at Brother Clyburn. Clyburn gets more money than any member of Congress from big pharmaceutical companies…,” West said in June on The Useful Idiots podcast with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper, according to Corporate Crime Reporter. “He can act Black as he wants to. Monday through the next Monday. But that’s not going to be enough because you have Black people and other working poor people who want healthcare and want it for everybody.”
West went to Twitter recently to repeat his criticism of Clyburn. He tweeted: “Even my dear brother Clyburn, he’s one of the major recipients of big pharmaceutical companies. So he’s not gonna come out for Medicare for All, he’s partly an extension of Big Pharma companies.”
West’s tweet didn’t sit well with some.
MNMHolloway @Hjamesmar responded, “I respect you sir, but now is not the time. I remember when you and Smiley were going after Pre. Obama on a regular basis, that just added talking points for the republicans to demonize his presidency. Please stop.”
Tabaeiouvowel @All_Vowels pointed out that Sen. Bernie Sanders — the candidate West vigorously supported for president — has not been immune to big pharma donations. “Bernie received money too. I think it is more complicated than that prof.”
Clyburn, 78, has come under scrutiny as he was recently elected to House Majority Whip, the No. 3 leadership position in the House.
The congressman received the Big Pharman donations because of his “strong support for medical and scientific research,” according to Clyburn spokesman Patrick Devlin. Devlin also pointed out Clyburn was an architect of the Obama Affordable Care Act, which was later ruled a win for the pharmaceutical industry.
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Clyburn is not the only recipient of donations from Big Pharma — politicians on both sides of the aisle have accepted donations from the industry. U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, for example, brought in about $193,000 over 10 years, according to Kaiser Health News.
“Still, Clyburn’s share of the industry’s money — $79,000 so far this year, according to a review of Federal Election Commission data — is only a small slice of the industry’s spending in Congress,” Post and Courier reported.
So far in 2020, the pharmaceuticals and medical device industry have spent about $216 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The industry’s sales in 2016 reached $333 billion, a U.S. Department of Commerce report states, Post and Courier reported.