Health Bill Author Baucus Reaps $1.5M From Industry

Finance chairman raked in donations while crafting measure
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2009 3:21 AM CDT
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., appears on Capitol Hill yesterday.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
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(Newser) – It's no secret that Capitol Hill is awash in money from the health-care industry but the amounts involved are far larger than many realize, according to a new report from a watchdog group. The Sunlight Foundation found that many senators—especially Montana Democrat Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and author of the main health bill—received donations not only from health care companies, but from the private lobbyists that represent those firms. Baucus alone received $1.5 million.

"When we saw a dozen, two dozen, even three dozen lobbyists for a single company giving to the same members as their clients, we were stunned," said a Sunlight spokesman. The health care industry has pumped close to $400 million into donations and advertising in efforts to influence legislation in recent months. The funds have killed the chances of a public option and bought a "total victory for the health insurance industry,"  a Harvard professor tells the Guardian.