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Sen. Heller caves to donor pressure on healthcare

July 25, 2017 | Adam Smith

Washington, D.C. — Sen. Dean Heller’s backtrack on the Senate healthcare bill after receiving pressure from Republicans and his major donors is an example of a broken campaign finance system that puts the wants of wealthy donors ahead of the needs of ordinary Americans, said money-in-politics watchdog Every Voice in a statement today.

“Sen Dean Heller made a strong, eloquent case for protecting Nevadans from this mean-spirited healthcare bill, but threw all that to the side after facing pressure from his billionaire donors,” said David Donnelly, president and CEO of Every Voice. “Heller was elected to represent all Nevadans but has decided the rich men funding his campaign call the shots.”

At the beginning of the month, the New York Times reported that the White House dispatched billionaire Republican donors Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson to call Heller to pressure him to vote in favor of Obamacare repeal legislation. “One ally of Mr. Heller’s acknowledged that Mr. Adelson and Mr. Wynn were unhappy with the senator at the moment and that their relationship needed some repair work,” the Times reported. Wynn and Adelson have given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions directly to Wynn over the years and millions to outside groups that have supported him. Last month, Wynn and Heller attended the same $10 million Trump re-election fundraiser at the Trump Hotel in DC. 

“Let’s be clear: By voting for the motion proceed, Sen. Dean Heller is voting to take healthcare away from tens of thousands of Nevadans to please a couple of billionaire donors,” said Donnelly. “This bill is what happens when we have an out-of-balance democracy that favors the interests of donors over everyone else.”

An analysis of the House healthcare bill by the Center for American Progress found that Adelson would receive a $48 million annual tax cut if it is passed. Proposed versions of the Senate healthcare bill would also give huge tax cuts to big donors

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Every Voice is a national organization fighting for a democracy that works for everyone. Learn more at everyvoice.org.