Sat, May

Kyrsten Sinema: Don't Touch Me (Unless You're Holding Lotsa Pharma Campaign Cash)


POLITICS WATCH - Hey, here's another day of Arizona's "Democratic" Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, aka "A Pharma favorite" in Congress and Corporations' "Million Dollar Woman,"

stonily, haughtily, bitchily rebuffing a passing constituent who dared to stop to ask about the way she's doing her job, maybe because Sinema hasn't held a town hall in three years, won't answer her email, has a phone line that disconnects without answering, stolidly refuses to tell constituents her stands on most issues, rudely ignores any who ask about them, and has reportedly taken about a million dollars from Pharma and other corporate lobbyists who don't really want to Build Back Better or have affordable drugs or stop climate change, thanks, because, hey, sordid bottom line and all.

A former progressive who took an ugly cynical turn to the right, today's Sinema hopefully represents what The Intercept calls "the dying scream of the corporate Democratic Party"; she's joined in that ignoble venture by Joe Manchin, New Jersey's Bob Menendez, and a few others. But her turn-to-the-dark-side political transformation is startling: A former social worker who started as an Independent affiliated with the Greens and during the Iraq War organized rallies against Bush and "his fascist, imperialist war," she joined the Dems in 2004 as an Arizona state senator and quickly earned the moniker of "local lefty icon" with her progressive stands, especially on immigration rights.

In D.C., she sniffed the political winds of the time and veered sharply right. She joined the corporate-friendly Blue Dog Coalition, voted with Trump's GOP about half the time - including to support ICE - and infamously voted against Biden's pandemic relief and minimum wage increase with some cheap theater. She has said she's against eliminating the filibuster or even discussing it, she's now stonewalling a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and vital $3.5 trillion spending bill, and in a shiny new role as Pharma shill she just said she opposes the bill's overdue drug price reform, which would allow the feds to negotiate on now obscenely high prices set by greedy Pharma thugs. It's a head-swivelling twist for someone who long touted the need to lower drug prices: in her Senate race - "We need to make health care more affordable, fix what's broken in the system" - in op-eds, in hearings: “The issue I hear about most back home is the cost of health care... There’s a gentleman in Mesa who has seen the price of his medication increase nearly five times...." etc. While her turn to the dark side has bewildered some - "I don't know what she believes anymore," says a former immigration rights colleague - astute observers have seen dollar-sign-shaped red flags for a while now. In "How Big Pharma Flipped Kyrsten Sinema," Jacobin describes the drug lobby's longtime strategy in Congress: "They pick the 1 or 2 people they need to block things"; by last March, they were "bragging they may have found them." Says one advocate, "Super-rich corporations have given (her) nearly a million reasons" to vote with them.

The non-profit Accountable.US reports “at least $923,065" in donations to Sinema from Pharma, the Chamber of Commerce and other groups who oppose Biden's bill. Also handing Sinema money is Pharma front group Center Forward, which says it wants to "end the culture of gridlock" in D.C. but in fact wants to blockan agenda "that might take a bite out (of) egregious corporate profiteering," especially by drug companies. The group just bought $600,000 in ads for Sinema; a few days later, she told Biden she opposed the drug reform plan. Given the brazenness of her own profiteering - Arizona media has urged her to "Go cold turkey on her campaign cash addiction" - it's little wonder she doesn't want to answer questions from pesky constituents who somehow think she's working for them and not the fat-cats bankrolling her joy ride. Thus did the sleazeball whose Senate website chirps "Our office is here to serve you" fiercely rebuff a Tucson constituent - not, as some put it, "an activist" or a "self-described constituent." Jesus - who approached Sinema walking in the airport with Tim Scott (R-SC), with whom she was evidently having a Very Important conversation which must be why, as the woman began to speak, Sinema actually snarled at her, "Please don't touch me." Politely, the woman said she didn't, adding, "You're meeting with dozens of lobbyists (about) the package. How many times will you meet with constituents?" With Sinema pointedly ignoring her - she even friggin' apologized to Scott for the tiresome peasant - she continued, "Why won’t you meet with my family and your constituents? I can have them meet you next week...People are suffering. Your constituents are suffering." Sinema fled up the escalator. More scum: We hope the little people come for her soon.



(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues.) 



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