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David Sirota

Rudy Giuliani & the Hostile Takeover of America’s Government

New York City is a lot of things: loud, exciting, exhausting, exhilarating. It has also been a backdrop for the most disgusting form of political corruption - which is why I am so excited to be joining the Drum Major Institute and the Progressive Legislative Action Network for a big event in New York City on May 10th to discuss corruption and its impact on the 2006 election.

As I write in my new book, Hostile Takeover, the most devastating forms of corruption are the ones that never gets talked about because they have become so mundane in our system of legalized bribery. This is a seemingly invisible corruption that fuels the hostile takeover of our government by Big Money interests. It works fairly simply: Politicians tell the public they are working for "the people" and then turn around and push public policies that crush those same people. Once out of office, the most corrupt head for the green pastures of corporate shilldom, selling off their government experience to the highest bidder.

No one epitomizes this more than New York's own Rudy Giuliani. As the revolving door between business and government now spins faster than a high-powered turbine, Giuliani has used the fame he derived from 9/11 to whore for various Big Money interests.

Most noticeable has been Giuliani's connections to the pharmaceutical industry and his relentless efforts to fear monger in an effort to prevent Americans from purchasing lower-priced, FDA-approved medicines. Here's what Newsday reported in 2004:

"Hired by a drug industry trade group, New York's former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is preparing a final report that underscores the group's argument that importing drugs from Canada poses safety risks...Early this year, Giuliani's security consulting firm, Giuliani Partners LLC, was hired by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the powerful drug industry trade group based in Washington, to investigate health risks of importing drugs from foreign countries. PhRMA will not say how much it paid Giuliani's firm."

Of course, Giuliani had no proof - the FDA and at least some honest politicians in Giuliani's own party admit there is positively no evidence that American consumers have been harmed by filling their prescriptions in Canada. Additionally, if Giuliani was so concerned about safety, why didn't he lobby for the government to spend the tiny, $54 million the FDA itself says would be necessary to set up a full-functioning inspection system? That is, after all, a fraction of the billions that consumers would be saved if American drug prices were the same as Canadian drug prices.

The answer, of course, is because Giuliani is living the high life off drug industry cash.

The former mayor of New York raked in almost $100,000 from drug industry executives in just the few months he considered running for Senate in 2000. And, he likely he made far more as the industry's paid shill after that.

Has Guiliani's corruption and dishonesty been a political liability? Not in today's political environment - the national media is fawning over him as he ponders a run for president. That's not a shocker - Corporate America is running more of its own executives and lobbyists for high office than ever. In the last few years, we've seen lobbyist John Thune elected to the U.S. Senate, lobbyist Haley Barbour elected governor of Mississippi and drug industry executive Mitch Daniels elected governor of Indiana.

So in many ways, we shouldn't be surprised that the concept of President Rudy Giuliani (R-PhRMA) is considered mundane. After all, the hostile takeover of our government is so deeply rooted, selling off the presidency to Big Money interests is the final step to fully disconnect America's government from its citizens. Giuliani, with his willingness to discard ethics, morals and a sense of right and wrong in favor of a fat corporate paycheck, is the perfect figure to lead Big Money's hostile takeover to completion.

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Posted at 3:49 PM, May 02, 2006 in
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