Former Vermont governor, onetime Democratic presidential contender, and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, big time Hillary Clinton supporter (which is odd, given that her Democratic presidential opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is also from Vermont), claims he’s no lobbyist, though he sure acts like one.
In recent weeks, The Intercept reported that Dean launched a broadside at Sanders for supporting a single-payer healthcare plan (think “universal Medicare,” and what a financial disaster that would be for a nation that is already broke and $20 trillion in the hole). He claimed that having the government pay for health care for all Americans (and our millions of illegal aliens), would “undo people’s health care” and result in “chaos.”
In that story The Intercept said that Dean, who at one time also supported single-payer, is currently employed by the lobbying firm Dentons, a law office retained to lobby on behalf of several pharmaceutical and for-profit health care interests.
In response to that report, Dean tweeted out, “I continue to support Single pay or [sic] and I do not Lobby.”
The following day Dean took an ideological swipe at the investigative news site, tweeting, “The Intercept=The Daily Caller of the left. Same propaganda techniques.”
Unsurprisingly, Dean – who bravely “tweets” but cowers face to face (or phone to phone), would not respond to multiple requests for comment by The Intercept. And Bennett Kleinberg, Dentons’ director of communication, emailed to say, “Howard Dean is a senior advisor with Dentons in our Public Policy and Regulation practice. However, he is not a registered lobbyist and does not lobby public officials on behalf of clients of the Firm.”
That might look accurate on its face, considering that Dean is no lawyer (by trade, he’s a family practice physician). But, The Intercept noted in a follow-up story that, on a number of occasions since joining the lobbying industry, Dean has argued that he does not lobby, but he protests too much:
[Dean] engages in virtually every lobbying activity imaginable, helping corporate interests reach out to lawmakers on legislation, advising them on political strategy, and using his credibility as a former liberal lion to build public support on behalf of his lobby firm clients.
[Note: Dean’s first degree was a BA in political science from Yale]
He has assisted Big Pharma with maintaining a monopoly over drugs, flip-flopped on Medicare prices, and worked to weaken a crucial aspect of Obamacare. Though well-known for his anti-war views in 2004, Dean has nevertheless accepted money from Mojahedin-e Khalq, an extremist organization that wants regime change in Iran, and has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s Iranian nuclear negotiations, The Intercept reported.
“The fact that Dean is not a registered lobbyist reflects a distinction that is largely meaningless in today’s Washington,” the investigative news site noted. “Thousands of other professionals in the lobbying business have either never registered or de-registered and lobby registration law has almost never been enforced. Newt Gingrich, who was widely criticized in 2011 for acting as a lobbyist for various clients without registering, was hired last year by Dentons’ lobbying practice, where he works closely with Dean to consult with clients on political strategy.”
And as the Legal Times reported, the combo of Dean-Gingrich, a former GOP speaker of the House, is a major selling point for the Dentons firm, since the “pair aims to become another Washington-based bipartisan tag team who can act as political soothsayers for whichever corporate clients call upon them.”
In previous lobbying work for a separate firm, Biotechnology Industry Organization, or BIO, a lobbying group for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, Dean advocated for policies and practices that actually kept drugs more expensive.
“After being retained by BIO, Dean authored an opinion column for The Hill newspaper arguing in support of a bill backed by his client that called for extending the exclusivity period for drugs made from living organisms, such as vaccines or Herceptin/trastuzumab, a treatment for breast cancer,” The Intercept reported.
It was a position that alarmed and shocked patient care and consumer advocate groups, because it was a stance that would drive prices up – or maintain already high prices – for life-saving medications.