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06-12-09, 08:31 PM #1
Chris Dodd pushes health-care bill beneficial to four health-care companies whose boards coincidentally have his wife as a member
WASHINGTON (AP) — The wife of a senator playing a lead role on a national health care overhaul sits on the boards of four health care companies, one of several examples of lawmakers with ties to the medical industry. Jackie Clegg Dodd, wife of Sen. Chris Dodd, serves on the boards of Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc., Cardiome Pharma Corp., Brookdale Senior Living, and Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals, a financial disclosure report the senator released Friday shows.
Sen. Dodd, D-Conn., is filling in for ailing Sen. Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which will soon start work on a health care bill. Dodd will shepherd the legislation through the Senate.
Dodd, who as Senate Banking Committee chairman also has been an architect of the nation's financial industry and housing rescue plans, did not file a new disclosure report outlining his personal finances as most other senators did in May. The Senate was releasing those reports Friday.
Dodd sought a 90-day extension to file his report covering last year, giving him until mid-August to submit his report, but released his report Friday to The Associated Press.
Other publicly available documents show Mrs. Dodd last year was one of the most highly compensated non-employee members of the Javelin Pharmaceuticals Inc. board, on which she has served since 2004. She earned $32,000 in fees and $109,587 in stock option awards last year, according to the company's SEC filings.
Mrs. Dodd earned $79,063 in fees from Cardiome in its last fiscal year, while Brookdale Senior Living gave her $122,231 in stock awards in 2008, their SEC filings show. She earned no income from her post as a director for Pear Tree Pharmaceuticals but holds up to $15,000 in stock in Pear Tree, which describes itself as a development-stage pharmaceutical company focused on the needs of aging women.
Bryan DeAngelis, Dodd's spokesman, said, "Jackie Clegg Dodd's career is her own; absolutely independent of Senator Dodd, as it was when they married 10 years ago. The Senator has worked to reform our health care system for decades, and nothing about his wife's career is relevant at all to his leadership of that effort."
A complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, led the Senate Ethics Committee to begin looking at mortgages that Sens. Dodd and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., received from Countrywide Financial Corp.
The controversy involved a Countrywide "VIP" program for "friends of Angelo," Countrywide's then-chief executive Angelo Mozilo. The SEC filed a lawsuit this month accusing Mozilo of civil fraud and illegal insider trading.
Both senators have denied any wrongdoing. Dodd's mortgages haven't appeared in his public financial disclosure reports and didn't have to because they were for non-rental homes; Conrad disclosed a Countrywide mortgage on a rental property but not one for a vacation home.
Dodd is not the only member of the Senate health committee with ties to health care interests:
_ Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., reported $15,001 to $50,000 in capital gains for his wife from the sale of a stake in Athenahealth Inc., a business services company that helps medical providers with billing and clinical operations.
Rockefeller is honorary chairman of the Alliance for Health Reform, a Washington nonprofit whose board includes representatives from the UnitedHealth Group health insurance company; AFL-CIO labor union; the AARP, which sells health insurance; St. John Health, a nonprofit health system that includes seven hospitals and 125 medical facilities in southeast Michigan; CIGNA Corp., an employer-sponsored benefits company; and the United Hospital Fund of New York.
Rockefeller also serves on the advisory board of the Children's Health Fund, a New York nonprofit focused on pediatric health care, and is an honorary board member of Beckley Health Right Inc., a nonprofit community medical clinic.
_ Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is a practicing physician. He reported slight business income, $268, from the Muskogee Allergy Clinic last year; $3,000 to $45,000 in stock in Affymetrix Inc., a biotechnology company and pioneer in genetic analysis; $1,000 to $15,000 in stock in Pfizer Inc., a pharmaceutical company; and a $1,000 to $15,000 interest in Thomas A. Coburn, Md., Inc.
Under Senate ethics rules, Coburn can't accept money from his patients.
_ Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., disclosed $1,000 to $15,000 each in stock in pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co., and Pfizer, the Johnson & Johnson health care products company and Agilent Technologies, which is involved in the biomedical industry.
Some members of the Senate leadership also have financial ties to the health industry.
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., reported $15,001 to $50,000 in stock in Amgen Inc., which develops medical therapeutics. Kyl's retirement account held stakes in several health care businesses, including the Wyeth, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and AstraZeneca pharmaceutical companies; medical provider Tenet Healthcare Corp.; CVS Caremark prescription and health services company; Genentech, a biotherapeutics manufacturer; and insurer MetLife Inc.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has a joint ownership stake in health-related stocks. Harkin and his wife, Ruth Raduenz, own shares of drug makers Amgen and Genentech, Inc., each stake valued at $1,001 to $15,000; Their largest health care holding, Johnson & Johnson, was valued at $50,001 to $100,000.
Harkin oversees the aspects of health reform effort that are designed to enhance the prevention of illness.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a member of the Finance and Health committees, reported owning between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of stock in drug maker Pfizer Inc. He spoke to two pharmaceutical industry conferences last year. Sponsors of the conferences donated $3,500 to charities instead of speaking fees, as required by Senate rules.
Like millions of Americans, several senators took a financial hit in 2008. A sampling:
_Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., lost some $100,000 in equity in his home in Springfield and $35,000 in his Chicago condominium. Durbin, who released his tax returns, reported losing $32,259 in various investments last year, including more than $10,400 in Berkshire Hathaway and $5,535 in Fidelity stock.
_Kennedy in 2007 had four trusts each valued between $5,000,001-$25 million. In 2008, only one trust was still in that category while the rest had slipped in value to $1,000,001-$5 million.
_Hatch's investments suffered from the banking crisis. In 2007, he reported assets of between $2,002 and $30,000 in Countrywide Credit Industries Inc. stock. His 2008 financial disclosure lists the value at less than $1,000.
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