Megan Perez is leaving McMorris Rodgers’ staff, according to her LinkedIn page, Most of you have probably never heard of Ms. Perez, but I find her story most interesting. Ms. Perez has served McMorris Rodgers as her “Legislative Director” for a year and eight months and as “Policy Advisor” for the ten months prior. As Legislative Director Ms. Perez annualized salary was $94,000 (see page 1370). Her LinkedIn page is worth visiting. Ms. Perez lays claim to a pivotal roll in legislation with which we are familiar, for example, the ABLE Act and the Steve Gleason Act, as well as work to “analyze and provide guidance on legislative policy on healthcare.” It is probably fair to assume Ms. Perez contributed to the last minute insertion into the Omnibus Appropriations (Spending) Bill a nice perk for the Omeros Corporation. I wonder if she is also responsible for McMorris Rodgers, framing the Omeros perk as ensuring access to “safe, innovative, and life-changing drug[s]?” The sole purpose at least of the Omeros drug in question, Omidria, is to dilate the pupil in cataract surgery, (For more detail check out my post from March 27, 2018.)
Ms. Perez is leaving McMorris Rodgers to join the Petrizzo Group. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but through the wonders of the internet you can visit its public face with just a click. I encourage you to visit and read what they offer…and to whom they offer it. The website mentions no partisan lean, only that they “…excel at complicated, high-stakes endeavors that blend skilled thinking, sophisticated strategy and precise execution.” Among the notable accomplishments they cite is “engaging influential policymakers on national healthcare issues.” They appear to me as the perfect example of a firm that makes its money by lobbying. Photos of the U.S. Capitol and Lincoln’s statue in the Lincoln Memorial are featured on the website. (Is Lincoln’s image borrowed as code for a Party whose major fundraising event is a “Lincoln Day” dinner?)
I pursued Ms. Perez’ imminent migration to the Patrizzo Group from McMorris Rodgers’ office while wondering if Ms. Perez were leaving what she may perceive as McMorris Rodgers’ sinking ship. Was she bailing out to the safety of a lobbyist position, part of the infamous D.C. “revolving door” between lawmaker’s offices and the lobbyists who are paid to influence them? While visiting the Petrizzo Group website, I clicked “Our Clients.” There I found eleven corporate insignia from the familiar (Starbucks), to the obscure (BSquare). But right there in the middle was Omeros, one of the companies for which McMorris Rodgers inserted a nice little perk paying out a total $26 million dollars over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Even better, some investors must have gotten advance word, since the stock price of Omeros jumped 45% over the Wednesday night before the Omnibus Spending Bill finally passed on Friday.
On Good Friday at Centerplace in Spokane Valley McMorris Rodgers was specifically asked about the newspaper reports on the Omeros perk. For an instant she appeared flustered…and immediately reverted to message, defending her insertion to the bill as necessary “to provide patients across the country access to safe, innovative, life-changing drugs.” Omidria, a $400 per dose drug for dilating the pupil, fits none of those adjectives. Either McMorris Rodgers did not do her homework to understand the drugs for which she was putting forward this exception to Medicare rules or she did understand them and assumed the voters would be mollified by her messaging. In either case she failed us and she seems unwilling to live up to that failure. Even if we believed health care in this country were really a free market (it isn’t), how can she justify legislating a specific exception to Medicare rules for the benefit of a select few drug companies?
There is a pattern here. McMorris Rodgers and her Republican colleagues want to rein in the costs of “entitlement” programs, i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. She votes for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. It is just too expensive, too much of a strain on the federal budget to continue, she says…and then she legislates special expenditures out of those same tax coffers for a handful of drug companies.
She is either appeasing a Republican donor or she is in over her head. Either way, she is not representing my best interests or the interests of eastern Washington.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. The Petrizzo Group is not on K Street, the infamous location of so many lobbying firms. If proximity is any measure of wealth and influence take note: the Petrizzo Group is located at an easy ten minute walk from the U.S. Capitol. K Street is twice as far away.
P.P.S. Ms. Perez LinkedIn resume shows she has worked for U.S. Representatives since she graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Political Science in 2011. While still in college she served as an intern with Rep. Bill Young of south Florida, at time the longest-serving Republican member of Congress. It is probably fair to guess Ms. Perez will be amply rewarded in her new position with the Petrizzo Group. Not bad for someone apparently in her late twenties with an undergraduate degree in Political Science.