LITTLE SIS Shows How the Rich Influence Politicians

9 mins read

LITTLE SIS shows how the rich influence politicians

Follow the money to see how big donors influence politicians to get laws passed that make them even richer – and block bills like Build Back Better that help working Americans.

Little Sis is a grassroots nonprofit that tracks relationships between politicians, CEOs, hedge fund managers and lobbyists to reveal influential connections. It collects publicly available, but scattered information into one place and makes it easy to search in a free database to answer questions such as:

Who do the wealthiest Americans donate their money to?
Where did White House officials work before they were appointed?
Which lobbyists are married to politicians? Who do they lobby for?

We used Little Sis to research Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema.

Senator Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin connections and donors shown on Little Sis.

Follow the big money fighting Build Back Better

“The reconciliation bill, also known as the “Build Back Better” plan, has new policies:
– Paid family leave
– An expanded child tax credit
– Universal pre-K
– Free community college
– Expanding Medicare to cover vision and dental
– A serious effort to address climate change, including a Clean Energy Standard

Proposals to pay for these new policies:
Closing tax loopholes for private equity managers and wealthy heirs
Increasing the corporate tax rate from 21% to 26.5%
Raising the top individual tax rate from 37% to 39.6%
Imposing a 3% surtax on income over $5 million
Increasing tax enforcement to enable the IRS to collect more money that is already owed
Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, lowering costs”
– Judd Legum in Popular Information

Who would be hurt if the Bill Back Better were passed? Consider just three groups – coal industries, people profiting from high drug prices and billionaire hedge fund managers who would have to pay their fair share of taxes. How could they use their connections to prevent the Build Back Better bill? Which politicians do they donate to?

Follow the money to see how big donors influence politicians to get laws passed that make them even richer - and block bills like Build Back Better that help working Americans.
Frank Thorp @ Twitter

“Manchin earns hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through coal sales to power plants that supply Edison Electric Institute member companies. His family company, Enersystems… Manchin founded the coal brokerage Enersystems in 1988 and helped run the company, handing control to his son Joseph upon being elected West Virginia secretary of state in 2000 and reportedly moving his holdings into a blind trust between 2005 and 2010… His total income from the company since joining the Senate is more than $4.5 million.” – Read Sludge

“The Koch political network is mobilizing to sink Biden’s $3.5-trillion Build Back Better plan and deal a devastating blow to his presidency…Koch-aligned groups are together spending millions of dollars on advertising, targeting moderate Democratic lawmakers, and pushing their influence in the halls of Congress to whittle down or outright kill the sweeping policy package, which would represent the largest expansion of the social safety net in the past 50 years and the biggest step toward addressing climate change in U.S. history.” – RollingStone

The expensive Mylan Epipen

Ms Bresch and the Mylan Epipen. Follow the money to see how big donors influence politicians to get laws passed that make them even richer - and block bills like Build Back Better that help working Americans.

Fighting lower drug prices

Drug companies profit from higher prices. Little Sis shows how Heather Bresch (Daughter of Senator Joe Manchin) was the former CEO of Mylan, maker of the Epipen and John Paulson is on the board of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

“Millions of Americans use EpiPen to treat anaphylactic reactions. In 2009, the wholesale price (the price which pharmacies paid) was $103.50 for a two-pack of autoinjectors.  Over a seven year period, the price of EpiPen had risen about 500% to $608.61. The public outrage prompted debate over whether Mylan N.V, the owner of EpiPen, acted unethically.” – Seven Pillars Institute

“Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a multinational pharmaceutical company is under investigation for its pricing practices, which have allegedly resulted in extremely high prices on medicines in the U.S. market. Additionally, its inappropriate disclosure of inter-corporate relations alarmed investors, who are concerned about possible manipulation of the insurance system.” – Seven Pillars

Senator Kyrsten Sinema

KYRSTEN SINEMA USED THE WINERY WHERE SHE INTERNED TO FUNDRAISE WITH PRIVATE EQUITYThe Arizona senator, who is blocking tax increases on the rich, spent the summer courting donors who stand to lose under major tax reform.

Billionaires fighting tax fairness

“Kyrsten Sinema used the winery where she interned to fundraise with Private Equity. The Arizona senator, who is blocking tax increases on the rich, spent the summer courting donors who stand to lose under major tax reform.” – The Intercept

“Corporate lobbying groups hosted a fundraiser for Sinema in DC for a ticket price of $1,000 to $5,800…Several of the hosts ardently oppose the reconciliation bill. “Passing the largest tax increase in U.S. history on the backs of America’s job creators as they recover from a global pandemic is the last thing Washington should be doing,” the CEO of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors said. The reconciliation bill is not the largest tax increase in U.S. history.” – Popular Information

Little Sis reports hedge fund manager John Paulson is a major donor to Manchin. Koch-backed groups are also fighting efforts to have the rich pay their fair share of taxes”. The threat comes not only in the form of corporate tax increases — although the financial impact could be substantial, given that Trump-era tax cuts potentially saved the Koch brothers up to $1.4 billionaccording to estimates from the group Americans for Tax Fairness” – Rolling Stone

Little Sis

LittleSis is a project of Public Accountability Initiative, a 501(c)3 organization focused on corporate and government accountability. Learn more here.

Get Involved! Join Little Sis’ national network of researchers who believe in transparency and accountability in our society and economy. Volunteer researchers study, document, and expose the social networks that have our democracy in a stranglehold, so that grassroots efforts can more effectively challenge their claim to power. Sign up to become a LittleSis analyst and start adding information to the site. Donate to Little SIS

More resources to follow the money

Popular Information – Judd Legum
Read Sludge – David Moore
FAIR – Challenging media bias
Letters From An American – Heather Richardson
Seven Pillars Institute
The Intercept

TakeAway: Expose the money and connections that the rich use to deny working Americans affordable drugs and a clean environment. Volunteer and support Little Sis.


Image credit: StampStampede

Stamp Stampede is a non-profit working to get money out of politics by legally stamping US currency. “Our representatives have been bought and paid for by morally bankrupt billionaires and corporations. The Stampede is a non-profit org of over 100,000 Americans legally stamping dollars to protest big money in politics and roadblocks to voting for minorities, students, disabled, and low-income people.”
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Reposted from Democracy Labs with permission.

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