Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bearden's ties to health care industry extend to campaign contributions

House Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden, R-St. Charles, was attacked by Missouri Democrats today for pushing legislation favorable to nursing homes while pulling down a paycheck from the industry's chief lobbying group, the Missouri Health Care Association.
In their news release, Democrats provided a link to Bearden's disclosure form filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission, which indicates he is not only on the payroll of MHCA, but also works for Associated Industries of Missouri, the same firm that employs Rep. Steve Hunter, R-Joplin, as a membership recruiter, and for the lobbying firm DK Governmental Solutions, whose client list includes numerous St. Charles area interests.

Why is this important? According to the Democrats' press release:

During the 2007 legislative session, Bearden aided the nursing home lobby in getting a nine percent increase in their daily Medicaid provider rate, which will cost taxpayers roughly $30 million next fiscal year. Nine percent was more than twice what most other health care providers received in the state budget passed earlier this month.

But there is more to Carl Bearden's relationship with the Missouri Health Care Association than is mentioned in the Democratic Party's news release.

An examination of campaign finance documents filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission indicates Bearden receives his pay from Missouri Health Care Association in more than one way.
In the first quarter disclosure form filed in April, Bearden received $100 from lobbyist Harvey Tettlebaum, whose clients include MHCA.

A total of $1,750 in contributions came from clients of powerhouse lobbyist William Gamble, who added Missouri Health Care Association to his client list in October 2006. Bearden's disclosure form shows $500 from the Emergency Medicine PAC, $750 from the Missouri Pharmacy PAC, and $500 from the Missouri Physician Assistant Committee, all Gamble clients.

Missouri Health Care Association's disclosure form, filed with the Ethics Commission, shows it contributed $650 to the Bearden campaign on March 1. No such contribution is shown on Bearden's campaign documents.

Another example of the organization's generosity to Bearden can be seen in the 30 days after the primary election report, filed Sept. 5, 2006. Bearden's contribution list included then-maximum $325 contributions from MHCA District 1, MHCA District 2, MHCA lobbyist Scott Swain, and MHCA Executive Director Jon Dolan.

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