The Healthcare Lobby Is Buying Congress – Nancy Pelosi Latest Sellout on Public Option

Steve Elmendorf - Major Buyer of US Congress
Steve Elmendorf - Major Buyer of US Congress

Hours After Pelosi Backs off on Public Option, Health Lobbyist Announces Fundraiser in Her Honor

By David Sirota, Open Left
Posted on September 11, 2009, Printed on September 12, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance – whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats.” When “asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand – as her previous statements had indicated  Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions,” according to CNN.

This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth’s lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source – check out this OpenLeft exclusive:


From: Steve Elmendorf []
Sent: Friday, September 11, 2009 8:31 AM
Subject: event with Speaker Pelosi at my homeYou are cordially invited to a reception with

Speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi

Thursday, September 24, 2009
6:30pm ~ 8:00pm

At the home of
Steve Elmendorf
2301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Apt. 7B
Washington, D.C.

$5,000 PAC
$2,400 Individual

To RSVP or for additional information please contact
Carmela Clendening at (202) 485-3508 or

Steve Elmendorf            
900 7th Street NW Suite 750  Washington DC 20001
(202) 737-1655

Again, Elmendorf is a registered lobbyist for UnitedHealth, and his firm’s website brags about its work for UnitedHealth on its website (Elmendorf was also a chief of staff for Democratic Minority Leader Dick Gephardt).

The sequencing here is important: Pelosi makes her announcement and then just hours later, the fundraising invitation goes out. Coincidental? I’m guessing no – these things rarely ever are.

I wrote a book a few years ago called Hostile Takeover whose premise was that corruption and legalized bribery has become so widespread that nobody in Washington even tries to hide it. This is about as good an example of that truism as I’ve ever seen.


David Sirota was the top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee. He is currently writing a book on the middle class economic squeeze for Crown Publishers. You can contact him at

One thought on “The Healthcare Lobby Is Buying Congress – Nancy Pelosi Latest Sellout on Public Option”

  1. When members of Congress are challenged for taking industry money their response is often, “I have to get my campaign money from somewhere, don’t I?”. And it is true; if they don’t take industry money, their future opponents will.
    The Fair Elections Now Act provides an alternative source of campaign money – public money available to match small donations from citizens in the candidate’s home state.
    We need to say to Pelosi, (and Altmire and Casey, too), “You are not yet a co-sponsor of the Fair Elections Now Act, WHY NOT?”
    As long as industry is picking up the bill, Congress will be choosing from industry’s menu of options.
    Join the “Donor Strike” against members who will not co-sponsor the Fair Elections Now Act at Links to more info at

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