WASHINGTON, July 21 (UPI) -- Healthcare industry lobbyists have showered the Democratic U.S. senator leading reform efforts with $1.5 million in donations, records indicate.
Many of the donations have come to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., during at-times extravagant fundraising events, such as a $2,500-donation fly fishing event in Big Sky, Mont., and a $10,000-per-plate dinner at a San Francisco mansion, held while liberals angered by "giveaways" to the healthcare industry marched outside, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Since he began steering congressional efforts to achieve healthcare industry reforms, Baucus' contributors have included Schering-Plough, New York Life Insurance, Amgen, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and such individual executives such as Merck chief executive Richard Clark, most of whom strongly oppose a establishing a public insurance option, the Post said.
Baucus declined to comment to the newspaper, but spokesman Tyler Matsdorf said Baucus "is only driven by one thing: what is right for Montana and the country."
The contributions amount to "a huge down payment" by companies expecting friendly treatment, Jerry Flanagan of the advocacy group Consumer Watchdog told the Post.
"That is the cold reality of big-money politics," he said.