Armey Leaves Lobbying Gig Over Health-Care Astroturfing
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UPDATE 2: Just had a conversation with Mary Kathryn Covert of FD, the public relations firm that represents The Medicines Company. Covert clarified the lobbying activities for which The Medicines Company retained DLA Piper, the lobbying firm that, until Friday, employed Dick Armey, chairman of FreedomWorks. Covert said that The Medicines Company did not lobby at all on any of the pending health-care bills, instead focusing its efforts on patent law.
The Medicines Company missed an application deadline for a patent extension of one of its two products, and is seeking a change in the law that would allow it to extend the patent. For further explanation, she recommended this story from the business site, BNET.
I still find myself scratching my head, though, trying to figure out why a company with the clout held by The Medicines Company within its chosen lobbying shop would simply sit on its hands -- taking no position -- while Armey organized the mobs that target town-hall meetings on health-care reform.
UPDATE 1: A representative from The Medicines Company has been trying to reach me; we're playing phone tag right now. Will keep you posted.
In recent days, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Tex., has become the face of all that's wrong with the health-care debate at the ground level. While chairing a right-wing non-profit that organized rowdies to disrupt town-hall meetings on health-care reform, Armey also served as the senior policy analyst for DLA Piper, a lobbying firm that counts among its clients a number of drug companies.
Among those drug companies is The Medicines Company, whose business, AlterNet reported, accounts for 15 percent of DLA Piper's lobbying income. When we sought comment from The Medicines Company for its position on the health-care reform bills currently before Congress -- as well as comment on Armey's involvement with the astroturfing FreedomWorks -- all we got by press time was a vague statement denying that the company had taken an opposing position on any of the bills currently under consideration.
How, we asked, could Armey continue his activities with FreedomWorks without the tacit approval of a company that provided his employer such a substantial portion of its income?
Less than a week later, reports David Mark of Politico, Armey was out the door. Reports are that Piper's drug company clients were none too pleased at being tarred with the rabble at the town halls, though Armey denies that any client asked him to leave. [UPDATE: Mary Kathryn Covert, spokesperson for The Medicines Company, said that the company had not asked Armey to leave DLA Piper.]
We first learned of the FreedomWorks-DLA Piper connection via the reporting of Rachel Maddow on her prime-time MSNBC show (video below). This Sunday, both Armey and Maddow will appear on "Meet the Press" to discuss health-care reform. Check your local listings.
Video of Maddow's FreedomWorks coverage on next page.
Adele M. Stan is AlterNet's Washington bureau chief.