Pfizer boosts WV Republicans with campaign contributions

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

In the 2022 election cycle as the Covid pandemic wound down, drug maker Pfizer spent big on Republicans in West Virginia political races. In total, Pfizer’s Political Action Committee (PAC) gave $27,500 to some federal but mostly state candidates. 

Nationally, Pfizer’s lobbying arm made 52% of their contributions to Republicans and 48% to Democrats. But in West Virginia, all but one donation went to Republicans. A full list of those receiving campaign contributions from the maker of the most widely-available Covid vaccine is below.

Pfizer PAC campaign contributions to WV officials

US Senator Shelley Moore Capito, $2,500

US Senator Joe Manchin, $5,000

Congresswoman Carol Miller, $3,000

Senator Jason Barrett, $1,000

Senator Craig Blair, $1,000

Senator Laura Chapman, $1,000

Senator Vince Deeds, $1,000

Senator Mike Oliverio, $1,000

Senator Ben Queen, $500

Senator Mike Stuart, $1,000

Senator Tom Takubo, $2,000

Senator Eric Tarr, $1,500

Senator Charles Trump, $1,000

Delegate Moore Capito, $1,000

Delegate Vernon Criss, $1,500

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, $1,000

Delegate Eric Householder, $1,500

Delegate Matt Rohrhbach, $1,000

*Delegate Jeff Pack is also listed as receiving $1,000, but Pack resigned as a delegate in 2021 in order to take a job with the former Department of Health and Human Services. A request for information on the donation was made to Kevin Orr, Pfizer’s lobbyist in West Virginia, but has yet to be returned.

Why & how is Pfizer becoming more politically active?

Image by Pfizer.

How did Pfizer decide to whom they would make campaign contributions? In their annual report disclosing donations, co-chairs of the Pfizer PAC Susan Susman and Randy Johnson say, “We can tell you unequivocally that our decision to contribute to any candidate or elected official is made based on that individual’s voting record on policies that support and further innovation incentives, manufacturing, a secure supply chain, patient affordability, and IP rights.”

In 2022, Pfizer’s revenue ballooned to $100 billion overall, nearly three times as large as their revenues were in 2020. The main factors in their revenue growth were their Covid vaccine and their Covid antiviral pill Paxlovid. 

According to KFF Health News, Pfizer holds 70% of the worldwide market on the Covid vaccine and Paxlovid is the most widely-used antiviral drug as well. All this after Pfizer left the vaccine market in the 1960s, only to return in 2009 and then develop the profitable and successful Covid vaccine. 

As reported by The Intercept, Pfizer has increased their national lobbying and political activities since 2021 in response to calls for generic vaccines and treatments. Pfizer and other related pharmaceutical companies have hired more than 100 lobbyists in an effort to maintain intellectual property rights for the vaccines they developed. 

A looming battle over state vaccination laws?

On the state level, West Virginia requires all children in public school to be vaccinated unless they receive a medical waiver. A growing number of lawmakers and citizen groups such as West Virginians for Health Freedom oppose the school vaccination law. Several attempts to weaken the law in the last few years have failed but are expected to be revived this legislative session. Ultimately, Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw and Senate President Craig Blair, who both received contributions from Pfizer, will decide if those bills are voted upon by their members.

On January 30, West Virginians for Health Freedom is hosting a lobbying day at the West Virginia Capitol. 

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