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Anti-Smoking Senators Invest in Tobacco Cessation Drug Manufacturers

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by bobmarley, May 28, 2013.

  1. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    [​IMG]

    At least a handful of powerful U.S. senators have taken a hard line on anti-tobacco policies while investing in companies that manufacture products designed to help people quit smoking, raising potential conflict of interest questions.

    According to a joint investigation by Scribe and the Washington Guardian, published Monday in the Washington Times, top Senate Democrats who have pushed policies that fund anti-tobacco measures have money invested in pharmaceutical companies that manufacture tobacco cessation products such as Nicorette.

    The conflicts, spelled out in more detail in the Times, underscore the need for measures to combat the use of public office for personal financial gain.

    Despite the presence of such conflicts in both houses of Congress, some congressional leaders have been reluctant to maintain substantial scrutiny on their colleagues’ conduct.

    As Scribe reported last week, the Office of Congressional Ethics, which serves as a watchdog in the House of Representatives, will be denied a quorum at the end of the year, effectively preventing it from functioning. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have not been proactive in ensuring its continued operation.

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    This is something I can't stand from both Repugs and Demos.
     
  2. Nook

    Nook Member

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    Johnson & Johnson make many, many, many products other than tobacco cessation drugs. The problem is that there will almost ALWAYS be conflicts because you are dealing with wealthy individuals that invest money in many different industries and markets.

    Look at both Obama and Romney. Both had investments in negatively viewed markets/products. I believe that both were not even aware of their investments or they certainly would have cleaned them up prior to running for office. The same thing happened to Al Gore and GW Bush.

    I personally have an issue with unlimited lobbying and the current structure of future "benefits".
     
  3. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    there are relatively easy fixes to all this type of stuff, but since its america, we'll make it super complicated and highly politician and corporation friendly, so that'll be that.
     
  4. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    I would like to know how you would fix it.
     
  5. Johndoe804

    Johndoe804 Member

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    Is anybody really surprised by this? Their vice seems to be greed. I think cigarettes are a lot less dangerous than their vice.
     
  6. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    There are plenty of industries and situations where there are conflicts of interest and laws or policies in place to monitor them.

    Make their investment decisions non-discretionary, so they have no control over them. If that's not far enough for you make them go all cash or only ETFs. If that is too draconian for them, they don't have to serve. Add absolute $ amount or % qualifiers if necessary. Eliminate corporate lobbying.

    I'm not saying easy as in woila, done. I'm saying "relatively" easy, as in obvious solutions to try or paths to take that should meaningfully reduce these conflicts and/or weed out those politicians who are in in more for the money then otherwise.
     
  7. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    This is something I can support. I don't think repug or demo lawmakers should be able to take advantage of their place of power like this.

    What current consequences are there for lawmakers who abuse this power?
     
  8. Major

    Major Member

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    The concept the OP is talking about is important, but this is a terrible example for this reason. J&J makes a whole slew of products, including many things that Reid and Harkin have negative relationships with (medical device tax, for example). And the full article that the OP didn't bother to post even indicates that Reid's investment is simply part of a mutual fund. For all we know, Reid simply owns an S&P 500 fund:


    But according to Senate financial-disclosure records, Mr. Reid has invested between $50,001 to $100,000 in mutual funds whose portfolios include Johnson & Johnson and the drugmaker Pfizer, which also produces smoking-cessation products.
     
  9. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    So how do you keep them from benefiting from their lawmaking, if they can just excuse it by saying we don't invest in them because of smoking-cessation products?
     
  10. Major

    Major Member

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    Simplest solution would be as someone suggested earlier: make them invest in market ETFs, so they benefit from when the economy as a whole benefits. The point is that this may actually already be the case here. If he has $50,001 invested in an S&P 500 fund, he might have approximately $0.01 invested related to smoking cessation for all we know. Smoking cessation would be a tiny portion of 1 of 500 companies in his portfolio.

    Besides which, iIf he has a money in an S&P 500 fund, then he has investments both in smoking-cessation products and smoking products.
     
  11. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    I don't see the conflict of interest.
     
  12. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    I never believe in political corruption before, but now that I know Harry Reid has a mutual fund with Johnson&Johnson included in the lineup, I'm sold.
     
  13. Johndoe804

    Johndoe804 Member

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    You don't see the conflict of interest between legislators pushing for increased funding to stop smoking and the same legislators investing in products that are intended to get people to quit?

    This would be like missing the conflict of interest between Dick Cheney and Halliburton back in 2001 through 2003.
     
  14. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    I agree with this. I didn't like that.
     
  15. Northside Storm

    Northside Storm Contributing Member

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    it's a mutual fund :confused::confused::confused:

    J&J is the definition of a conglomerate model, and as others have pointed out, they have a LARGE medical devices department that would be harmed by the medical devices tax---among other things. hell, they manufacture basically everything under the sun in terms of medical applications.
     
  16. Major

    Major Member

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    I didn't realize investing in a mutual fund gave people the same connection as as being former CEO of a company.
     
  17. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

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    So like when the Secretry of Defense becomes CEO of a company like Halliburton and then becomes Vice President while launching wars that benefit Halliburton? Probably a bigger deal than a $100,000 mutual fund investment.

    That said, this a drop in the bucket of what goes on in Congress. 60 Minutes did a great piece on this a while back. Congressmen are constantly using confidential knowledge gained in hearings to make investments.
     
  18. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    That isn't what occurred. P&G is one of the largest companies in the world with an extremely diverse product line and is a common staple in a diversified portfolio.

    If Nicorette was its own company, and they had substantial investments in it, there would be a conflict of interest. Instead one invests in a company where the product accounts for about 0.2% of the company's sales, and the other invests in a mutual fund that contains that company and thus represents even less.

    Combined, they have an indirect investment of Nicorette that amounts to maybe a $100 investment.
     
  19. bobmarley

    bobmarley Contributing Member

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    So it seems to the savvy politician there will always be a loophole to take advantage of inside information.
     
  20. juicystream

    juicystream Contributing Member

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    To be honest, there always will be. Most of these guys are wealthy, well connected, and dependent on corporations.

    This instance, however is not concerning.
     

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