Our Drug Puppet Congress

The New York Times reports that 42 members of the House read health care reform statements into the official record that were ghostwritten by lobbyists from pharmaceutical giant Genentech.

E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans. The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress. Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists. In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: “I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was.” He said he got his statement from his staff and “did not know where they got the information from.”

One lobbyist shrugged off the revelation, saying, “This happens all the time. There was nothing nefarious about it.” Right. Daily Kos diarist Bink rants:

They just said what they were told to say. And they aren’t embarrassed about it at all. Oh, joy. That’s bipartisanship for you! No reason to bring the concerns of your constituents to the table when your words are already being written for you by one of the biggest companies on the globe. Both Republicans and Democrats. If the Congress was an honorable institution, this would be a scandal. The members involved would resign.