Republicans Criticize Big Pharma -- for Its Obama Ties

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod's public relations and ad industry ties -- which received some scrutiny during the presidential campaign -- are again being questioned. Opponents of health care reform (mostly Republicans) are criticizing the "huge ad buys" that pro-reform groups are making through Axelrod's old firm. "Two separate $12 million ad campaigns advocating Obama's health care plan ... were produced and placed partly by AKP&D Message & Media, a firm founded by Axelrod that employs his son and still owes Axelrod $2 million," reports Another firm working on the ad campaigns, GMMB, "did millions of dollars of work on Obama's presidential campaign." Both GMMB and AKPD "tout their connections to [Obama's] campaign and still maintain close ties to his inner circle." The ad buys were placed by Americans for Stable Quality Care and its predecessor, Healthy Economy Now, coalitions including the labor union SEIU and the drug industry group PhRMA. A Republican memo, referring to a PhRMA-Senate deal to limit reform costs to the drug industry to $80 billion over ten years, asked whether Axelrod "recused himself from the PhRMA 'deal,' or will he work to defend an agreement with an industry that is directly funding his son's work, and indirectly funding his own $2 million severance package?" The coalitions said they chose AKPD for its respected track record, not its Obama ties. The White House says Axelrod is in full compliance with its ethics rules.