Industry-funded front group praises Guinta and Bass

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that Congressmen Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass have been honored by an organization with close ties to the GOP and the pharmaceutical industry — but you might not be expecting the group to be masquerading as a nonpartisan, grassroots organization.

Guinta and Bass recently received “Standing Up for Seniors” awards from RetireSafe for their efforts “to protect the health benefits and security of New Hampshire seniors.” RetireSafe claims to be a non-partisan organization lobbying for America’s seniors, but last year Roll Call unmasked the organization as a partisan, industry-funded front group.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, (PhRMA) contributed $88,000 to RetireSafe during the past three years, reported Roll Call’s Janie Lorber. ”While that is small change from PhRMA’s standpoint, it is a sizable contribution compared with RetireSafe’s more modest budget,” she wrote.

The group’s partisan ties are well documented. For example, Board member Jim Marquez was general counsel for the Transportation Department under Ronald Reagan, board member Charles Partridge advised George W. Bush’s transition team, and vice president of public affairs Al Cors, Jr. previously worked for the National Taxpayers Union and the National Rifle Aassociation.

In 2003, RetireSafe participated in Grover Norquist’s National Taxpayer Rally along with a right-wing who’s who including the National Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the American Conservative Union, the industry-funded Citizens Against Government Waste and pharmaceutical front group 60 Plus Association.

Talking Points Memo quotes former DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell on RetireSafe’s impact. “Right-wing front groups like RetireSafe can spend little money, but still impact races,” he explains, “by just having Orwellian-sounding names and slick mailers that try to dupe seniors into supporting positions that run counter to their best interests.”

“The awards,” Lorber wrote, “provide these Members with valuable political cover for supporting controversial bills and can then be used as a credential on the campaign trail.” Right on cue, Guinta accepted the award saying, “Granite State seniors can always count on me to be in their corner.”