Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is apparently not pulling any punches as the founder of Progressives United. In an email to supporters about the Amgen subsidy in the fiscal cliff deal, Feingold called out Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) by name for being part of the corruption that permeates government:
Amgen’s strategy to achieve this coup was certainly brilliant — and a perfect example of the kind of corruption that permeates our government and cripples public trust.
On one side of the revolving door, Amgen hired lobbyists who had been chiefs of staff to the senators most able to do Amgen’s bidding: Finance Committee leaders Max Baucus (MT) and Orrin Hatch (UT) along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY).
On the other side, one of the top aides assembling the bill for Senator Hatch was a former Amgen analyst — and he met with representatives from his old employer in constructing the unfair provision.
Feingold’s email goes on to suggest that Baucus, Hatch and McConnell were essentially bought and paid for by Amgen:
Amgen’s PAC and employees have spent huge amounts — roughly $60,000 to $75,000 — to fund each of the campaigns of these three influential senators. This is a textbook case of a corporation that, at a minimum, appears to be buying the policies that give it a special break.
It is highly unusual for a former senator to target a fellow member of their party in such direct manner. Especially when that senator is up for re-election soon and potentially could face a very tough primary and/or general election.
This language should definitely hit a nerve with the Baucus camp because he significantly damaged his favorable numbers thanks to his role in drafting the Affordable Care Act. One of the big complaints about that law was also that it contained a sweetheart deal for the drug industry.
It’s hard to imagine a world where a Baucus opponent wouldn’t use this against him.