Pharma Company Donations to Hatch Charity Accidentally Released

Wed, 03/04/2009 - 4:01am
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Tax forms that were apparently released by accident show pharmaceutical companies donated more than $170,000 to a Utah charity founded by Sen. Orrin Hatch as he worked on issues affecting the industry. The Salt Lake Tribune reported from Washington, D.C., that in 2007 pharmaceutical groups were lobbying for legislation such as measures that would "preserve crucial incentives" to research and create drugs. The same year five medical and drug companies and the trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America gave $172,500 to Hatch's charity, the Utah Families Foundation. Hatch formed the foundation in 1990. The form showing the donations was apparently inadvertently released by the Internal Revenue Service. Hatch, a Republican, said he doesn't see a problem with the donations to the charity group, saying giving to worthwhile causes is something to be celebrated. "Everyone who knows me can attest that I simply do what I believe is right for our state and nation, regardless of who supports me," Hatch said in a statement. "If a company or organization decides to support the Utah Families Foundation and its wonderful mission of helping so many in need, that's great. The only benefit I receive is the knowledge that even more people will be helped." But Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said after companies or people max out on contributions to members of Congress, they can donate to their charities to develop a stronger relationship. "This isn't public, there's no disclosure. It's just an accident that we know the drug companies were giving to the Hatch foundation," she said. "It's clear the companies are doing it because of the congressional relationship." Sloan's group first discovered that the IRS had released the form showing the donations.

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