Remember this is an election year.
I firmly believe that we should everything that is questionable on a daily basis, and even more so during an election. For this particular case study, let’s reference AmericaBlog (a Clinton Supporter and Bernie Basher) taking a situation out of context trying to make Bernie look bad.
Let’s start with a little history…
In September 2015 Bernie Sanders and Elijah Cummings introduced federal legislation to lower the price of pharmaceuticals, stating correctly:
Americans, who already pay the highest prices for prescription drugs in the world, saw prices jump more than 12 percent last year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That increase was more than double the rise in overall medical costs. Nearly one in five Americans did not fill a prescription last year because they could not afford it.
In October 2015 Martin Shkreli purchased the rights to the AIDS drug Daraprim and jacked up the price to $750 per pill. Bernie publicly denounced Shkreli and his actions and rejected a donation that Shkreli gave him, donating it to an HIV Clinic.
Fast forward to March 2016 and Hillary Clinton praises Nancy Reagan’s work for AIDS victims, and faces a huge backlash from AIDS activists, including Peter Staley. Staley has been a huge supporter of Clinton and she fell all over herself apologizing for her gaffe.
The group also invited Bernie Sanders to speak with them. Following the meeting on May 25, 2016 the Sanders campaign issued a press release about the meeting and California’s “Drug Price Relief Act.” In it the campaign states, in part:
The ballot proposition Sanders supports – the California Drug Price Relief Act – is supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and National Nurses United, both headquartered in Oakland, California. The measure would prohibit the state from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It would make sure that state taxpayers will no longer be ripped off by pharmaceutical companies that charge exorbitant prices for AIDS treatments and other prescription drugs. “We think it’s a great start and we applaud the people of California for standing up to the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders said afterward.
At the meeting, Sanders noted that he has introduced a plan to lower costs for HIV/AIDS drugs. His measure would establish a prize fund to provide incentives for drug makers to develop new treatments. Unlike the current system that lets drug makers charge the highest prices in the world for medicine sold in the United States, medical breakthroughs made under the prize fund system would make the new drugs available to the public at affordable prices.
The group, HousingWorks, issued a response to the Sanders campaign release stating, in part:
Your campaign’s release title and the bulk of its content mislead readers and the press to believe that our May 25 meeting was primarily focused on your endorsement of a California ballot initiative on HIV drug pricing. By extension, it also implies that our national HIV/AIDS coalition also fully endorses this initiative. Both these characterizations are inaccurate.
During the meeting, we raised the issue of the California ballot initiative with you toward the tail end of the discussion, not to support or endorse it, but to relay to you that a number of stakeholders in California have serious concerns about the initiative. There is no general consensus in the HIV/AIDS community in support of the California ballot initiative, which is why we requested that you meet with those stakeholders. Prior to our meeting, numerous California organizations have tried to reach your campaign with these concerns, without any success.
Peter Staley also posted May 26, 2016 on Facebook that he felt used and abused by the Sanders campaign because of that release, and that he didn’t feel that it accurately represented how he pictured the meeting.
Dan Savage (a Clinton supporter) called the above tweet an “attack” and “appalling.”
On May 29, 2016 Staley (a Clinton supporter) spoke glowingly of Sanders and described in an interview on MSNBC and said “frankly we’d love to get back to the fact that we had a fairly productive meeting with the candidate himself, and it went well and he said some great stuff. We want to continue that dialog and we want him to be a part of a very important progressive movement to keep HIV/AIDS in the foreground.”