Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a vocal advocate for the medical device industry, has collected thousands in individual donations from med-tech executives and industry political action committees during the 2011-2012 campaign, federal documents show.
Between January and October, Brown received more than $42,000 in PAC donations and individual contributions from medical device groups and executives as he campaigned for re-election.
The junior Senator has been an active supporter of medical device companies and has, since being sworn in last year, fought against the med-tech tax provision contained in President Barrack Obama’s health care overhaul.
"Sen. Brown believes we need to repeal this tax immediately," campaign spokesman Colin Reed told MassDevice in an email. "He has offered multiple pieces of legislation to accomplish this, and will continue fighting this job-killing tax as long as he is in the United States Senate."
Brown has penned and co-sponsored bills that would repeal the tax and has criticized the FDA as unpredictable and opaque in its device review processes, endearing himself to the industry – at least as evidenced by the additions to his campaign coffers during the last year.
PACs with med-tech ties have put $25,000 toward Brown’s campaign so far this year, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Brown represents a state with a hefty med-tech presence, including industry titans such as Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE:BSX), Covidien plc (NYSE:COV) and Abiomed Inc. (NSDQ:ABMD). The device industry is a high roller on Capitol Hill, with nearly $32 million spent on lobbying just during the 3rd quarter.
“With more than 260 medical device firms that employ nearly 24,000 workers and contribute more than $4 billion to our state’s economy, the Commonwealth simply cannot afford to have the medical device industry targeted with a tax,” Brown wrote in an editorial for MassDevice in October. “As such, the repeal of the medical device tax was one of the first pieces of legislation I co-sponsored as a U.S. senator.”
The device industry seems to have taken notice. Boston Scientific’s PAC donated $2,000 to Brown’s campaign in June and another $1,000 in October. Covidien’s PAC gave $1,000 in May; Abiomed’s contributed $5,000 in June.
Brown has become an industry favorite thanks to his harsh criticisms of the FDA and persistent push to repeal policies viewed as unfavorable to med-tech. He accepted the award for “Legislator of the Year” at the 2010 MassMEDIC conference of med-tech investors, where he vowed to keep fighting the medical device tax, a 2.3 percent excise levy contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The tax will take effect in 2013 and is expected to generate $20 billion in federal revenue over 10 years. In February the then-CEO of Boston Scientific, Ray Elliott, issued a statement praising Brown for his efforts toward repealing the measure.
"Sen. Brown recognizes that this jewel of the American economy should be bolstered during this time of economic rebound, and this bill is an important step in doing so," Elliott said. "Scott Brown has been a strong leader in the U.S. Senate for protecting jobs."
The Bay State’s junior Senator collected a total of $25,500 from dedicated medical device PACs in 2011, including $4,500 from Illinois-based Abbott’s (NYSE:ABT) PAC and $3,000 from the New England Medical Equipment Dealer’s Assn. PAC. But those organizations are not the only ones backing the incumbent candidate. Self-identified medical device executives, board members and employees have added another $16,975 to Brown’s campaign fund so far this year, according to FEC records.
Covidien employees outdid PAC contributions, with a total of $2,750, including $500 from former CFO William Shanley, $1,000 from replacement CFO Charles Dockendorff and $500 from chief accounting officer Richard Brown. Abbott workers also beat their company PAC, ponying up $6,000 in donations, including $2,500 from CEO Miles White and $1,000 from VP of government affairs Elaine Leavenworth. Brown’s campaign also received individual contributions from employees of GE Healthcare (NYSE: GE), St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ) and Siemens (NYSE:SI), among others.
The donations to Brown’s re-election effort have dwindled since last year, when med-tech PAC and individual donations amounted to nearly $50,000.
During the same period in the 2009 campaign cycle, Brown collected $39,000 from med-tech PACS, nearly $14,000 more than he received during the latest cycle. Individual donations from medical device brass amounted to $15,150 for 2010, about $1,825 less than in 2011.
Although the total numbers are down, Brown’s relationship with med-tech companies really blossomed in 2011. Brown went from being the 13th-highest among Senators receiving med-tech donations in 2010 to 2nd in 2011, trailing only fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), another active supporter of the industry.
The industry as a whole has doled out more than $2.5 million in contributions to candidates, parties and outside groups in the latest election cycle, with the majority, $1.6 million, coming from individual contributions.
Brown’s med-tech donations come in 5th overall among political figures. President Barack Obama is in the top spot, with $74,387 in donations. Hatch is 2nd, with $49,499; White House hopeful and former Mass. governor Mitt Romney (R) is 3rd with $41,450 and Minnesota House member Erik Paulsen (R) is 4th, with $35,350.