Friday, May 26, 2006

Fighting cancer by electing Dems

Peg Lautenschlager's office agreed to a settlement of Wisconsin's claim in a class action suit pending in Boston. The lawsuit alleged illegal marketing practices on the part of a manufacture of a cancer drug. The settlement was for $ 798000 and was to be disbursed to "organizations engaged in the care and treatment of cancer or promotion of improved health care for Wisconsin citizens." And most of it was, except for $50000 to Wisconsin Citizen Action which, anyway you slice it, is a liberal advocacy group actively engaged in the political process. When you go to the page where CA defines itself, it calls itself a grassroots organization focused on "key issues and elections" in Wisconsin. It describes its mission as to "win improvements that matter in our daily lives, give people a sense of their own power to shape the future and alter the relations of power to favor people over wealthy special interests." Its affiliates include "AARP-Wisconsin, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Education Association Council, Clean Wisconsin, Coalition of WI Aging Groups, Planned Parenthood, Lutheran Office of Public Policy in Wisconsin, NAACP, Voces de la Frontera, Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Potawatomi and Menominee Indian Tribes of WI."

Although it claims to have 34% GOP membership, I distrust that number. It's causes and proposed solutions are almost exclusively Democrat causes and solutions. Among the recent efforts that it claims pride in is "targeting" Mark Green's position on social security in the year before the gubernatorial election.

That's all fine, but what is Lautenschlager doing handing money that's supposed to go to treating cancer and promoting health care to a political organization. JB Van Hollen wonders too and put out a press release.

Cory Liebman thinks he has thoroughly fisked Van Hollen by pointing out that, while CA may not actually provide medical care or even health education, some of the liberal policies that it pursues have to do with health care. Liebman thinks those policies are good so advocating for them or trying to elect people who support them is "promoting health care." I suppose that he thinks it would also be OK for the money to be given to a group that supports Medical Savings Accounts or deregulation of the health care industry or to a group that seeks to promote conservative health care policies and to elect the politicians who support them.

Liebman says that, well CA was an "organizational plaintiff." It is not unusual for a settlement to reimburse named plaintiffs in class actions, but, whether or not they were actually a party in the case in which the settlement was reached, that's not what this settlement did. It did not award money to named plaintiffs, it awarded money to be used for specified purposes and turning any of it over to a political advocacy group is a very strained reading of those purposes.

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