By Doug Martin
When the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) arrives at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis at the end of this month for its annual conference, speakers will include Governor Mike Pence (who headlined ALEC’s 2013 event), Indiana’s U.S. Representative Todd Rokita (not a fan of free or reduced school lunches), online-school K12’s founder William Bennett and the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice’s Robert Enlow.
Indiana is a good fit for ALEC, a “bill mill” organization which works with corporate lawyers and lawmakers to write and pass anti-public legislation across the country. Up to 29 Hoosier state lawmakers (some Democrats, too) have had ties with ALEC at any given time.
And then there’s Eli Lilly, the Indianapolis-based global drug maker and longtime ALEC member.
Eli Lilly, ALEC, and Mitch Daniels all played a significant part in school privatization in Indiana, as I detail in my book Hoosier School Heist.
The former Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy at Eli Lilly and past Indiana governor, Mitch Daniels has schmoozed with ALEC, and his budget director, Chris Atkins, once directed ALEC’s tax and fiscal policy unit.
When Daniels helped launch Purdue’s Polytechnic Indianapolis High School recently, Julie K. Griffith—once the Private Sector Co-Chair for ALEC in Indiana (see pages 168- 170) and Purdue University’s current Vice President for Public Affairs— became a member of the charter school’s board of directors.
A while back, Greenpeace had this to say about Griffith, who was employed by Duke Energy Indiana from 1997-2011 and was the chair of the board of directors for the American Lung Association in Indiana, at one point, too (page 170):
Working alongside ALEC's State Chairmen in Indiana (Rep. David Wolkins and Sen. Jim Buck) is Duke's Vice President of Government Affairs, Julie Griffith. Beyond the numerous contradictions detailed in this blog, perhaps Ms. Griffith would like to explain her role in ALEC, a notable front for the tobacco industry, and her position as chair of the executive leadership team of the American Lung Association. That and her political work for a company that causes lung damage from coal pollution. Just as in South Carolina, Rep. Wolkins and Sen. Buck chose Duke's Julie Griffith to help them oversee ALEC's operations in Indiana, primarily fundraising.
As for the Polytechnic Indianapolis High School, Eli Lilly and the Eli Lilly Foundation’s Robert Smith was happy to write a letter of approval for its application to Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard’s Office of Education Innovation.
Some of ALEC’s bills presented in statehouses across the U.S. are worked over by lawyers from the defense firm Shook Hardy & Bacon. The firm’s Mark Behrens aided ALEC with the Trespasser Responsibility Act in 2010 (page 9). He also has advised ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force (page 37), alongside the firm’s Phil Goldberg (page 40), Cary Silverman (page 47), and Victor Schwartz, once ALEC’s tort reform lawyer and another Shook Hardy & Bacon star attorney (page 9).
A Big Tobacco defender, Shook Hardy & Bacon also has represented Eli Lilly, as has Victor Schwartz and others. In 2003 alone, Lilly paid Shook Hardy & Bacon $100,000 for lobbying.
Shook Hardy & Bacon’s Mark C. Hegarty represented “Eli Lilly and Company on a nationwide basis in cases involving Prozac® and diethylstilbestrol.”
Books like Let Them Eat Prozac, a shocking account written by psychopharmacologist David Healy, devote a good portion of their content to Lilly drug trials.
When Lilly was caught marketing Zyprexa for off-label use, it was fined $1.415 billion in 2009, which included a “a criminal fine of $515 million, the largest ever in a health care case, and the largest criminal fine for an individual corporation ever imposed in a United States criminal prosecution of any kind.” Some of this money was used for states to resolve civil allegations.
Tort reform, nationwide, would truly benefit Lilly’s bottom-line.
Eli Lilly pays $3000 yearly to be a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force, as its own internal documents show, and the drug company funds the campaigns of Indiana legislators who also are members of this task force.
Rep. Timothy Brown (R-41), who sits on the ALEC Health and Human Services Task Force, has received $13,900.00 total in campaign financing from Eli Lilly and the Eli Lilly PAC.
ALEC State Legislator of the Year in 2014, Rep. David Frizzell (R-93), who has also been an ALEC board member and member of its Health and Human Services Task Force, has been handed $7,050.00 from the mega-drug company/PAC.
What is the role of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force? For one, it seeks to deregulate an already overly industry-friendly and incestuous FDA in an attempt to weaken the review of medical therapies and new drugs. The task force also opposes any cost control on prescription drugs and seeks to let drug makers self-regulate and “opposes binding regulations on sales incentives for doctors to prescribe certain drugs.”
Rep. Bill Friend (R-23), a member of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force, has received $6,700.00 from Lilly and its PAC for his campaigns. Eli Lilly’s lobbyist Shook Hardy & Bacon is a member of ALEC’s Civil Justice Task Force, which deals with tort reform.
LILLY’S ALEC FUNDING
ALEC operates a “scholarship fund” which pays for lawmakers to travel across the country to its conferences and meetings. Alongside PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), which has given $356,075 to the scholarship fund, as Common Cause points out, Eli Lilly has donated at least $70,750.00.
In 2011, Lilly was a $5,000 sponsor of ALEC’s annual conference and again in 2013. In 2014, Lilly moved up a notch to a “Director” level donor, alongside Big Oil and Big Coal.
For creating Improving Outcomes or Undermining Quality? A Look at "Comparative Effectiveness Research" in Medicine, Lilly handed ALEC a $20,000 grant in 2008 (page 2).
LILLY’S FOUNDATION AND ALEC
The Eli Lilly Foundation, funded by Lilly, is also connected to ALEC via the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), a think-tank started by former Republican and Tea Party leader Dick Armey.
Lilly’s Foundation gave the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) $10,000 in 2008 (see page 33).
As the Center for Public Integrity’s Alex Cohen has written, “IPI has published reports opposing drug re-importation and price controls and defending the industry's lavish spending on advertising, especially the kind of direct-to-consumer advertising also touted by the American Foundation for Urologic Disease. Dr. Merrill Matthews Jr., the IPI expert who authored the drug advertising report, also works as an advisor for the American Legislative Exchange Council,” which has “taken stands against importation and legislative price controls.”
The Lilly Foundation, too, has funded the Galen Institute (a free-market healthcare policy group supported by the pharmaceutical and medical industries), whose CEO, Grace-Marie Turner, spoke at ALEC’s 2004 Seattle conference about the benefits of the Medicare Drug Card Program.
First offered in 2004, the drug card discount program appears to have been partially a ruse.
Joseph Antos—the American Enterprise Institute’s healthcare guru who also presented at ALEC’s 2004 meeting—said that if the drug discount program was a public relations success, the reimportation issue, which infuriates seniors who want to purchase cheaper medicine from other countries, "loses its steam," so then "Republicans can say 'look what we did, it worked.'"
The Eli Lilly and Company Foundation handed the Galen Institute $30,000 in 2008 for a “Prescription Drug Education Project” (see page 29) and another $10,000 in 2007 for “Health Care Policy Research” (see page 39)
Galen’s CEO Turner in 2011, pulled in over $241,000 (page 7).
THE INDY RALLY AGAINST ALEC
The movie The United States of ALEC will be shown on July 10, 2016 at 6:00pm at the Center for Inquiry.
On July 11, 2016, a panel discussion on ALEC will take place at 6:00pm at the Central Library.
Also, there will be a protest against ALEC in Indianapolis on July 27, 2016 from 3:30-6:30pm at the Indiana State House.
As the author of Hoosier School Heist, Doug Martin’s research has been used by or referenced in Salon, Alternet, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, PBS, and newspapers and radio shows across Indiana and America. His newest book project deals with Big Pharma, Big Medicine, the Cancer Industry, hospital fraud, and nursing home and health care corruption in Indiana.