Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Right-Leaning For-Profit Medical Insurance Super PAC Gives $4,000 To Swalwell

ELECTION '12//CONGRESS 15 | Last weekend, the business website, Bloomberg, reported a $4,000 campaign contribution to congressional candidate, Eric Swalwell, from Wellpoint Inc., the second-largest private insurance company in America, for this reporting period. During the summer, the politically active insurance company contributed $1,000 to Swalwell.

Bloomberg cites a filing made by Wellpoint Inc’s political action committee (WellPAC) that was made on Oct. 3 to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Bloomberg says that Swalwell is the only candidate to receive funding from Wellpoint that is running for federal office that is challenging an incumbent.

But what makes Wellpoint Inc. more notable than their status in health insurance is their essential financial support to two for-profit groups that former presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, utilized when he was eyeing for a political comeback that surmised into a run for president. The for-profit groups were pillars of “Newt Inc,” Gingrich Group, a consulting firm, and the think tank, Center for Health Transformation which Wellpoint Inc, paid expensive fees to be a member of. Gingrich is well known for his fervent opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act when he ran for president despite his previous support for a health care mandate. His think tank also supported a mandate for those who made above $50,000-a-year and Wellpoint, who although hasn’t publicly opposed Obama’s health care act, did take a financial hit after the Supreme Court upheld the health law. Since then, Wellpoint accomplished a landmark merger in response to the Affordable Health Care Act with Amerigroup who mainly services Medicaid customers.

Newt Gingrich
While Wellpoint Inc. contributes money to both Democrats and Republicans they tend to spend considerably more on Republican candidates. Wellpoint Inc, according to the last reporting period on OpenSecrets.org, had contributed $147,000 to Democrats and $342,000 to Republicans running for office in the House of Representatives. For the Senate, Wellpoint gave a mere $11,500 to Democrats compared to $90,000 to Republicans.

Wellpoint Inc., and their Anthem Blue Cross unit, stirred up controversy in 2010 when they roped in billions in profits while lowering their medical coverage to its consumers as they spiked premium rates. Stark was critical of this in 2010 noting that since Wellpoint Inc. had made so much money that it was time for them to return “those windfalls to their enrollees in the form of reduced premiums.” Stark also was critical of Swalwell when Bloomberg contacted his campaign, “I’ve never been afraid to take on for-profit health insurance companies and special interests,” said Stark. “I’m proud to be supported by doctors, nurses, teachers and firefighters, and not surprised that a for-profit insurance company would support my opponent.”

Eric Swalwell’s spokeswoman, Lisa Tucker says that although donors may not always agree with Swalwell they do agree "100 percent with Eric and the constituents in the 15th Congressional District that it is time for Pete Stark to retire.” Swalwell has ran on a campaign slogan of "new energy and new ideas" and has been consistently attacking Stark on his long term incumbency, controversial antics towards others and large PAC donations that consists largely of donors from the medical industry. Stark has received large sums of money from medical insurer, Blue Shield, which has donated more to Republicans than Democrats nationwide. Swalwell supports the Affordable Health Care Act.

Wellpoint’s PAC also donated to California politicians Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) among others. Also, according to Bloomberg, "the PAC also donated to the re-election campaign of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who polls show is in a close race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren."

Shane Bond is a regular contributor to the East Bay Citizen.


  1. Bottom line, besides all the theoretical "the big toe is connected to the heal bone and the heal bone is connected to the hip bone"
    Besides that stretch of connections we end up finding out that Wellpoint gives to lots of Democrats, even liberal Democrats.

    Besides Swalwell, as you stated,
    Mike Thompson
    Anna Eshoo
    Becerra from LA
    Judy Chu from LA

    Karen Bass, Democratic Congresswoman from Los Angeles and former Speaker of the California Legislature

    The Congressional Black Caucus also given contributions by Wellpoint.

    So yes, Swalwell also received a contribution just as the other Democrats did.

    And Pete Stark took contributions from outfits like Blue Shield as well as perhaps a hundred or more medical industry PACS...
    PACS make up 80% of Petes listed contributions.

  2. Considering that Wellpoint is the only major medical insurer to donate money to Swalwell's campaign thus far, in large amounts, then it is noteworthy. Yes, they have given money to both Democrats and Republicans, as many large scale PACs involved in the medical industry (and Wallstreet as well) do. But historically Wellpoint gives far more to Republicans than Democrats (when the Republicans took the house in 2010 Wellpoint rated at 76 percent of their funding to Republicans). Furthermore, they played an important role in the comeback of a once appeared to be defeated former congressman, Gingrich that major new outlets from Washington Post, to ABC to the Institute of Public Integrity reported on. Money is power and to know where that money is coming from and its connections shows whose trying to pull strings or look for favors/support in the future.

    You mention Blue Shield, they have also historically given more money to Republicans than Democrats (info added) and their California PAC gave money to Stark. The CA PAC though has given more money to Democrats than Republicans though but I suspect that is because the Demos control the state.

    I'm not saying Swalwell is secretly connected to Gingrich, I'm saying he is receiving money from a political powerhouse that has history with Republicans more than Democrats and its unique because it is the first major medical PAC to support Swalwell over Stark. Stark has been reported before by this site to have major special interests in the medical field.

    Also, Bloomberg never gave Swalwell a response to their story. I went ahead and contacted his campaign and allowed him to respond to the Wellpoint donation despite their connections. Not to mention they received a hell fire of criticism in 2010 when they jacked up rates. Probably why they are supporting Swalwell over Stark.

  3. Voting Swalwell! Stark was good, but time for him to leave. How long was Stark a congressman? 40 some odd years I believe. That's long enough. It's time for change. Enjoy your retirement Mr. Stark and thanks for your service. Stark has taken money from major pacs, this is nothing new.

  4. As expected, the Oakland Tribune, Daily Review, and its counterparts over in the Tri-Valley area, have come out and endorsed Swalwell.

    We saw that coming, but it is one more reminder of the reasons why so many people are refusing to support Pete any longer.

    Some will say that won't sway many voters, but it still carries more weight than a mailer.
    BTW, where is Pete? In Maryland or has he finally come back?

  5. Nice to see that you guys have the attention of the Swalwell folks and they are out trying to refute these points before they get any legs.

    My vote is with Stark because we like what he's done and appreciate the work he continues to do. All Eric does is complain - and then talk about new ideas? What new ideas? Pointing a finger and putting the behavior of Congress on one's man's shoulders is preposterous.

    The "newspaper" endorsements don't really matter since i gave up reading that garbage years ago.

  6. Yeah, like Stark has had any new ideas on the past 10 years.

    Bottom line, a member of congress should not be afraid or unable to even appear in public.
    That is some minimal threshold which Pete Stark no longer achieves, either because of inability or fear.

    He may still win, but he is no longer a viable and productive member of congress. Just reduced to a lever puller on some votes. Certainly he is no longer a resident of our local community.

  7. Question: Why does this punk, who's like 10, need a spokeswoman?
    Also, this little guy will go back there and get steamrollered. I am certain his ego would be quite responsive to the forces in DC.

    No thank you. Rooting for Stark. Slightly nutty, but his votes are right. We're all a little nutty, aren't we?

  8. ummm....sorry, but you're one of 435, and as a freshman member of congress, you ain't getting any of your 'new ideas' turned into law.

  9. 9:14, Uh, have you checked out the last piece of legislation that Pete Stark has authored and passed?
    Anything in the past decade... Check it out.
    Keep searching...and searching