Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) was hammering formula manufacturers to help ease a national shortage through August. It happens to be when the chief lobbyist for the industry trade group nearly maxed out donations for her campaign.
Murray, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), in May urged the Infant Nutrition Council of America to “take immediate action” to end the “unacceptable burden.” that the crisis imposed on American families. Three months later, Murray’s campaign accepted $2,750 from the trade group lobbyist. Lobbyists representing Abbott Laboratories, the largest member of the trade group, also contributed to Murray’s campaign. Lori Denham, partner of Kountoupes, Denham, Carr and Reid in June, donated $1,000 to the campaign. Lisa Kountoupes, another firm partner, this year donated $1,500 to the senator. Jessica Schulken, director of the Russell Group, paid Murray $1,500 in July.
The veteran Democratic senator has since remained silent on the matter. According Call.
Murray’s apparent capitulation to the infant formula lobby could hurt her in a close re-election race against Tiffany Smiley. The Republican candidate has frequently slammed her opponent as a Washington, DC insider, saying Murray is “not the mom in tennis shoes” she once portrayed herself to be. Murray served 30 years in the upper house.
Smiley’s campaign spokeswoman Elisa Carlson said Murray’s actions were not surprising.
“It’s a classic Washington, D.C. move: complain about a problem, line your pockets with the source of the problem, and then do nothing,” Carlson told the Free tag. “After 30 years in the Senate, Patty Murray has become Washington, DC”
Murray’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Abbott, the largest US infant formula maker, closed one of its Michigan factories in February after its products killed two infants. The shutdown has compounded existing infant formula shortages caused by pandemic disruptions to supply chains. Stores are still struggling to keep formula in stock, and the Biden administration blames supply chain disruptions and manufacturers for delays, Politics reported Wednesday.
The Infant Nutrition Council of America stepped up its lobbying efforts during formula shortages this year, hiring Blanche Lincoln, a former Democratic senator, as its top lobbyist. The business group retained Lincoln’s firm for $50,000 in the second quarter and $90,000 in the third quarter. Lincoln served as a senator from Arkansas from 1999 to 2011.
Line items in the reauthorization bill proposed by Sen. Richard Burr (R., NC) would have required infant formula makers to report to the agency within the first week of supply disruptions. Murray promised in June that she “would absolutely continue to push to hold the FDA and industry accountable so we can get answers on the formula crisis and make sure it never happens again.” Bloomberg reported.