Monday, November 09, 2009

Family ties

How much money has the Lieberman family earned from the health care industry?

At the time she joined the public relations and lobbying conglomerate in the spring of 2005, she expressed the touching hope that she would somehow be able to help those in need. "I have had a lifelong commitment to helping people gain better healthcare," she said in a press release. "I am excited about the opportunity to work with the talented team at Hill & Knowlton to counsel a terrific stable of clients toward that same goal." Less than a year later, having pocketed $77,000 in salary, she quit without explanation -- just as her husband was facing a tough primary that he would eventually lose. Throughout the campaign, Hadassah Lieberman, her husband and their spokespersons explicitly refused to discuss her professional activities, except to note that she had not been required to register as a lobbyist.

To be fair, Hadassah no longer works as a health care lobbyist. That's not the case for another "centrist" who may vote to filibuster a health care bill.

The best that can be said about the Lieberman family's conflict of interest is that it appears to have ended in 2005 -- while the Bayh family continues to collect enormous amounts of money from the same health insurance and drug companies that will benefit from her husband’s actions. Indeed, the smell of ethical rot arising from the Bayh household is even worse than the self-serving aroma that surrounds the Liebermans.

Susan Bayh was invited to join the board of Wellpoint back in 1998, when the Indiana-based company was still called Anthem Insurance and had not yet completed the mergers that made it the largest health insurer in America (and gave it monopoly status in many regions of the country). According to her official biography on Wellpoint's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, her qualifications to sit on the board of a billion-dollar corporation were minimal, to put it politely. She was 38 years old, teaching law at a local university, with limited experience as a corporate attorney at Eli Lilly & Co., the big pharmaceutical company that is also headquartered in Indiana. But then her husband, Evan, after two terms as governor, had just been elected to the United States Senate.

Hadassah, Conason notes, is now an "ambassador" for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. So you'd think that covering uninsured women who are most at risk from breast cancer would be something important to her. But, as we learn repeatedly, the Liebermans' moral compass often points in the opposite direction of Joe's ambition to be both the GOP's BFF and a weekly guest on the Sunday Idiot Shows.



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