End Citizens United should reconsider its ‘A’ rating for Rep. Anna Eshoo
NOTE: This is the letter we have sent out to End Citizens United and we eagerly await a response
- Rishi Kumar
President and Executive Director
End Citizens United
Delivered via E-mail
June 23, 2020
I write to respectfully request that End Citizens United review and reconsider its ‘A’ rating for Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18), awarded on January 15, 2020. It is my belief that her record is in stark contrast to the principles and values behind the End Citizens United movement, and pose a serious threat to American democracy.
In a January 2015 press release, Rep. Anna Eshoo wrote that the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC “cast a dark shadow over our democracy by bringing us dangerously closer to an electoral system where the voices of average Americans are easily drowned out by special interests, shadowy front groups, and a handful of billionaires.” Consequently, she co-sponsored legislation to overturn Citizens United, illustrating her understanding that democracy cannot survive when special interests and hefty donations reign.
Unfortunately, Rep. Eshoo cannot pass her own litmus test.
Out of all 435 members of the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Eshoo has received the most donations — a whopping $1.8 million — from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. In fact, she has received more money from the industry than nearly every public official in American history, behind only Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, and Orrin Hatch. Make no mistake: for the Chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee — a position that wields exceptional power in shaping healthcare legislation for millions of Americans across this country — I find this pattern of donations not just unconscionable, but in her own words, “dangerous” for our democracy.
Unsurprisingly, these donations have directly influenced Rep. Eshoo’s ability to legislate. In 2010, she worked with former Republican Rep. Joe Barton (TX-6) to introduce legislation that heavily regulated certain generic drugs from entering the market. As a result, Roll Call wrote in 2018 that these cheaper alternatives “are still not on sale… meaning drugs for numerous cancers and autoimmune diseases don’t have competition that can help bring prices down.” This is both heartbreaking and critically significant, as approximately 37 million American adults are unable to fill their prescriptions because of skyrocketing drug prices.
Of course, the legislation was pushed by lobbyists from some of the world’s most influential pharmaceutical companies like Genentech — who also happen to be one of Rep. Eshoo’s largest donors. Perhaps it was her former Chief of Staff at work, who now sits as Genentech’s Vice President of US Product Development Regulatory.As you know well, it is precisely this revolving door that invites corruption and undue influence in the halls of Congress.
And in 2019, Rep. Eshoo stated she was “not out to punish” the pharmaceutical industry — despite well-documented evidence that Big Pharma has been directly responsible for prioritizing profit over people for decades. Indeed, at a time in which millions of Americans are struggling to get access to the care and drugs they need, Rep. Eshoo’s has stood not with “we, the people”– but instead with Big Pharma, who has reaped billions in profits from unfair and inhumane pricing schemes.
Ultimately, the evidence is clear: despite her so-called “commitment” to overturn Citizens United — to protect the everyday Americans that power our democratic institutions from special interests — Rep. Eshoo continues to accept donation after donation from Big Pharma. Indeed, a quick glance at her record demonstrates that her behavior is antithetical to the values at the core of the End Citizens United movement — and pose a serious threat to the viability of American democracy.
As such, I ask that the End Citizens United committee review its ‘A’ rating for Rep. Eshoo. I understand she has supported critical pieces of legislation, like H.R. 1 and H.R. 2977. But to simply sign onto relevant legislation is no substitute for the values and principles that actually govern the way one campaigns and legislates. If Rep. Eshoo truly stood for all that End Citizens United believes, then she would have no reason to keep accepting thousands in donations from special interests.
I would be more than happy to continue this conversation over the phone or via Zoom. As a candidate who has consistently refused to accept any money from special interests or political action committees his entire career, I am, above all else, committed to ensuring our democracy remains accountable to “we, the people — not we, the wealthy.” I look forward to your response.
Candidate for Congress, CA-18
 “On Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United, Eshoo Co-Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Rid Politics of Dark Money.” Congresswoman Anna Eshoo Press Release, 22 January 2015. <https://eshoo.house.gov/media/press-releases/fifth-anniversary-citizens-united-eshoo-co-introduces-constitutional-amendment>
 OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. <https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=h04>
 OpenSecrets.org, Center for Responsive Politics. <https://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=H04&cycle=All&recipdetail=M&sortorder=U>
 Siddons, Andrew. “Drug Prices Could Become a Divisive Issue for Democrats.” CQ Roll Call, 3 October 2018. <https://www.rollcall.com/2018/10/03/drug-prices-could-become-a-divisive-issue-for-democrats/>
 “Health Insurance Coverage Eight Years After the ACA: Fewer Uninsured Americans and Shorter Coverage Gaps, But More Underinsured.” Commonwealth Fund, February 2019. <https://www.commonwealthfund.org/sites/default/files/2019-02/Collins_hlt_ins_coverage_8_years_after_ACA_2018_biennial_survey_sb.pdf>
 Pear, Robert. “In House, Many Spoke With One Voice: Lobbyists’.” The New York Times, 14 November 2009. <https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/us/politics/15health.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all>
 Shaw, Donald. “New Health Subcommittee Chair Has Taken More Pharmaceutical Money Than Any Other Rep.” Sludge, 25 January 2019. <https://readsludge.com/2019/01/25/new-health-subcommittee-chair-has-taken-more-pharmaceutical-money-than-any-other-rep/>
 Genentech: Who We Are. <https://www.gene.com/good/giving/genentech-foundation/who-we-are>
 Sullivan, Peter. “Key House Dem: I don’t want to ‘punish’ drug companies.” The Hill, 16 January 2019. <https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/425717-key-house-dem-i-dont-want-to-punish-drug-companies>