Former Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader Gets Job at Firm That Lobbies for Big Pharma

A Clackamas County veterinarian goes to K Street.

SON OF THE SOIL: Kurt Schrader on his farm. (Courtesy of the campaign)

Six-term U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) lost the Democratic primary in 2022 in part because his opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, painted him as a shill for the pharmaceutical industry.

She had a point. As a group, drug makers were Schrader’s biggest donors in the 2020 election, according to OpenSecrets, an organization that tracks campaign cash. And in 2021, Schrader voted in committee against part of a spending bill that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate drug prices, lowering costs to patients.

Last week, Schrader, 71, went to work for Williams & Jensen PLLC, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm that does work for Amgen, Eli Lilly, Merck, Novo Nordisk (maker of Ozempic) and Pfizer, OpenSecrets says. Schrader took money from all of those companies during the 2022 election cycle, Federal Election Commission records show.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join one of the most prominent and respected law and lobbying firms in D.C.,” Schrader said in a statement. “Williams & Jensen is known on the Hill for their strategic and policy acumen, and I look forward to working with them to bring thoughtful guidance to our clients.”

Williams & Jensen prides itself on its work for Big Pharma.

“Williams & Jensen has been involved in nearly every major Federal health care initiative in the last two and a half decades, and has extensive experience representing clients before most sources of Federal health care law and policy,” the firm says on its website.

Schrader’s 2021 committee vote helped deep-six President Joe Biden’s plan to lower prescription drug prices by allowing Medicare to negotiate. Biden had included the plank in his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, but lobbying by Big Pharma, and votes like Schrader’s, helped strip it from the final bill.

Drug companies have spent $1 billion on advertisements and lobbying during the past 20 years to stop government proposals that could hurt profits, according to filings compiled by OpenSecrets.

Williams & Jensen didn’t disclose what its paying Schrader, who started his career as a veterinarian in Clackamas County in 1978, but it is likely more than the $174,000 a year he made as a congressman.

McLeod-Skinner went on to lose the general election to a Republican, Lori Chavez-DeRemer.

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