Sen. Susan Collins is untouchable no longer. For years she’s rested on her reputation for being a reasonable, moderate Republican, one civil and women’s rights groups, health advocacy groups, and gun control groups could hold their nose and support so they could beef up their own bipartisan credibility. No more. With her vote for a raft of Trump judges, including two for the Supreme Court, and her vote for the GOP tax scam, she’s being looked at by the press in her home state a lot more objectively these days. And they’re uncovering some unsavory stuff, like the Maine Beacon’s discovery of the campaign support she’s been getting “from companies and individuals that have profited from the manufacture and distribution of prescription opioids.”
For more than a decade, Collins has been benefitting from the opioid pushers. All the way back in 2007, she got $2,300 from Jonathan Sackler, former vice president and son of the former head of Purdue Pharmaceuticals. That was so long ago, you might say, but that donation came “just two months before Purdue agreed to pay $600 million in fines for misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the addictive nature of OxyContin, its version of oxycodone.” I’m sure Collins was extremely disappointed to hear about that.
She’s still getting the money (as is her Maine counterpart, Angus King). Data recently disclosed from a lawsuit against the country’s biggest opioid manufacturers and distributors show that six corporations are responsible for 75% of the opioid pills distributed from 2006-12. Those corporations are McKesson Corp., Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and retail giants Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS. “Five of those six top opioid distributors donated to Collins through their corporate political action committees, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.”
Collins has received “$5,000 ($2,500 to her campaign, $2,500 to her political action committee, Dirigo PAC) from McKesson, $2,500 from Cardinal Health, $2,500 from AmerisourceBergen, $3,000 from Walmart and $3,000 from CVS since 2016.” Walgreens is the only major corporation involved that hasn’t given her money.
This is, of course, despite her public statements. “This addiction epidemic is sweeping through communities here in Maine and throughout the country,” she said last year after voting for an $8.5-billion bill intended to fight the opioid crisis. “We must continue our work to stop its spread and push back against this destructive tide with the combination of education, treatment, and law enforcement.” As long as that work doesn’t touch the opioid manufacturers and distributors, as this bill did not.
Collins says she wants a “multipronged approach” of “prevention, treatment, and recovery.” But that approach, the Beacon points out “has not included making sure private drugmakers help shoulder the public costs of the opioid epidemic, which are being borne by federal and local governments.”