WASHINGTON, DC — A new report from government watchdog Accountable.US revealed today that Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA)—which represents the largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States and spent millions to combat the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare drug negotiation provisions—gave $530,000 in donations to right-wing fringe groups intimately involved with the Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project, Project 2025, according to the group’s most recent IRS 990 filing.
Among the Accountable.US report details first reported by Rolling Stone, Project 2025 advisory board members—including FreedomWorks, American Commitment, ALEC and others—have fought against expanded voter access, while often parroting the Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
The most powerful and prominent organization for drug manufacturers is propping up extreme right-wing groups that promote insurrection and voter suppression, which should give pause to any policymaker who deals with them or any company that supports them."
Accountable.US’ Liz Zelnick.
“Drug industry CEOs and lobbyists are desperate to take away Medicare’s new negotiation power and stop the Biden administration from lowering costs for seniors – going so far as to fund far-right groups who openly threaten our democracy to do their dirty work. PhRMA will stop at nothing to restore their price-gouging scheme against struggling seniors choosing between food and medicine, even if it means trading off a healthy democracy,” added Zelnick.
KEY FINDINGS: Accountable.US found that Project 2025 groups Advisory Board members that received money from PhRMA in 2022 include:
- The Heritage Foundation, which received $125,000 from PhRMA and is the architect of Project 2025. The Heritage Foundation maintains a so-called Election Fraud Database based on unfounded claims that voter fraud is widespread, with a Brookings Institution analysis of the data finding Texas voter fraud was a mere 0.000096%, as Heritage personnel push allegations of third parties “harvesting” mail-in ballots to influence election results.
- American Commitment, a conservative nonprofit dedicated to “free markets, economic growth, constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom,” received $75,000 from PhRMA. In January 2019, American Commitment joined conservative groups in attacking H.R. 1, the For the People Act—which had been described as the “most significant voting rights and democracy reform in more than half a century”—as “fundamentally undermin[ing] the American electoral system.”
- The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization of conservative state legislators dedicated to “the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism,” received $110,000 from PhRMA. PhRMA also donated $75,000 to committees tied to Florida House Rep. Daniel Perez, an insurance attorney who served as the 2023 ALEC National Chair and is the current Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. In early 2020, ALEC CEO Lisa Nelson was involved in discussions on how conservative state legislators and attorneys could “‘question the validity of an election,’” including drafting letters for legislators to send to secretaries of state.
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative think tank, received $25,000 from PhRMA. CEI President and CEO Kent Lassman coauthored a chapter of the Mandate for Leadership related to trade while seven other CEI employees were cited as contributors. In November 2021, CEI Senior Fellow Mario Loyola, who also contributed to the Mandate for Leadership, parroted bogus claims that January 6 should not have been labeled an insurrection given it “had no chance” with progressives’ control of all institutions, likening progressive protesters in Wisconsin and Texas to insurrectionists and claiming the media would have called the election stolen if “Trump loyalists” had won.
- FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group, received $70,000 from PhRMA. Stephen Moore, FreedomWorks’ Senior Economist, coauthored a chapter of Project 2025’s Mandate for Leadership discussing policy recommendations within the U.S. Treasury Department while two other FreedomWorks employees were listed as contributors to the report. Following the 2020 presidential election, FreedomWorks amplified baseless voter fraud claims and later selected conservative election lawyer Cleta Mitchell to lead its “National Election Protection Initiative” seeking to restrict state voter access while also rallying opposition to federal legislation expanding voter access. Cleta Mitchell closely advised Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and has since continued to advocate for restricting voter access, including an April 2023 discussion with conservative donors where she pressed the need to “limit voting on college campuses, same-day voter registration and automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters” as reforms were needed “‘for any candidate other than a leftist to have a chance to WIN in 2024.’”
- The Pacific Research Institute (PRI), a conservative think tank dedicated to “advancing free-market policy solutions,” received $125,000 from PhRMA. In a June 2020 op-ed, Pacific Research Institute fellow Kerry Jackson spouted right-wing claims that mail-in ballots would lead to “worse results” and “ballot harvesting” to influence election results, claiming the U.S. government shouldn’t make it “too easy” for voters to cast ballots.