Did Two June Parties Yield $44,700 From Health PACs For Sen. Grassley?


Yesterday, I posted about the mountain of health and insurance PAC money pouring into the 2010 reelection coffers of Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the ever-important Senate Finance Committee. That money came into his account like a flooding river, but the real torrent of funds comes in the waning days of June. Could this be because of these two fundraisers held for Sen. Grassley on June 22 and June 24?

From June 22 to the end of the month Sen. Grassley raised a total of $44,700. During this time he was the beneficiary of two fundraisers, one held by the lobbyist for an alternative health organization that has lampooned reform efforts, whose invites can be found at Sunlight’s Party Time web site. Back in June, Nancy Watzman, at the helm of the Party Time blog, wrote about the June 24 event hosted by Sam Brunelli, lobbyist for the Whitaker Health Freedom Foundation:

Sam Brunelli, who works for the Whitaker Health Freedom Foundation, the political arm of the Freedom of Health Foundation, and his wife, Robin Read, are feting Grassley at a breakfast on June 24 at the Capitol Hill Club. The Foundation, headed by Dr. Julian Whitaker of dietary supplement fame, states it opposes the government and the pharmaceutical industry whenever they “suppress the truth about alternative medical therapies and/or nutritional supplementation.” Read is president and CEO of the Foundation for Women Legislators, which includes Dr. Whitaker on its board. The Freedom of Health Foundation did not return a call inquiring about the event.

Brunelli is introduced as a lobbyist on the organization’s Web site, here; however there are no official records of his work at least as a federal lobbyist here, according to lobbyist disclosure reports. The most recent available tax forms filed by the Whitaker Health Freedom Foundation, the political arm, claim a budget of just $34,000 and make no mention of payments to staff. (See the organization’s 1998 990 form here.)

Brunelli formerly served as executive director of the conservative group the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which works to advance conservative state legislators. He left the group in 1995 over charges of mismanagement and personal enrichment, according to a 1995 National Journal report.

The majority of the contributions coming in during this high water mark for Sen. Grassley’s PAC fundraising came from health professional organizations, all of whom paid equal to or above the amount required for PACs to gain entrance to the fundraising parties on June 22 and June 24.

The amount raised over the final eight days in June accounts for over one-quarter of the health and insurance PAC money raised by Sen. Grassley in the second quarter. The other three quarters came over the course of 83 days. Knowing this, it appears that the two fundraisers had the desired effect.