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BUSTED: Cory Booker campaign gets caught breaking pledge on drug industry donations

Not a good look

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

After stating that his campaign didn't accept contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) has returned a campaign donation from a pharmaceutical company executive.

Booker returned a $2,800 contribution from Michael Cordera, Eagle Pharmaceuticals executive vice president, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer, ABC reported Tuesday, after uncovering the donation in a Federal Election Commission filing.

Eagle Pharmaceuticals manufactures Ryanodex, which is used to treat muscle spasms, as well as Bendeka and Bendamustine, which are chemotherapy drugs that can be used to treat leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

This comes after Booker renewed a pledge not to take pharma donations on national television last week.

At one point during the Democratic debates, Booker was asked about how to treat companies that create prescription opioid medications for their alleged roles in fomenting America's ongoing opioid crisis. Booker responded that those companies "should absolutely be held criminally liable because they are liable and responsible."

The candidate went on to add that "long before I was running for president I said I would not take contributions from pharma companies, not take contributions from corporate PACs or pharma executives, because they're part of this problem and this opioid addiction in our country."

The maximum allowed for individual donations to a candidate in a federal election is $2,800. The ABC report also stated that Booker has accepted "several" other maximum donations from pharmacists and pharmacy owners.

However, a Booker campaign spokesperson told ABC that the candidate would not return other donations because they did not view them as top executives or corporate leaders.

"Since 2017, Cory Booker has rejected campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies — not only their corporate and industry PACs, but also from their c-suite executives and board chairs," Booker's campaign said in a statement. "His presidential campaign rejects these contributions too, and we carefully review our FEC filings and do everything we can to ensure we're abiding by this pledge. Based on our review of our most recent campaign finance report, we were confident we lived up to the high standard we set."

Since launching his campaign, Booker has tried to distance himself from past criticisms that he has been too cozy with pharmaceutical companies throughout his political career, due in no small part to the high concentration of those companies in the state of New Jersey.

"I live in Newark, a low-income community where people work for pharmaceutical companies," Booker said earlier this year in a STAT story chronicling his pivot on drug companies. "They might be the lab assistant, they might be the secretary, and they value those jobs. And even they know that we can have fair pricing and still have thriving companies. This is not an either-or. And right now we have practices going on that are abusing this nation and constituents of mine."

One last thing…
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