August 27, 2018

Senators Hassan and Whitehouse Probe Federal Agencies for Information Regarding Rudy Giuliani’s Potential Conflicts of Interest in Representing Purdue Pharma

WASHINGTON – In case you missed it, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sent letters last week to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), requesting information about potential conflicts of interest caused by Rudy Giuliani’s simultaneous work on behalf of both the DOJ and DEA while he was also representing Purdue during a criminal investigation for the fraudulent marketing of OxyContin, a powerful prescription opioid.

The letters seek to determine whether Giuliani’s simultaneous work may have led to unduly lenient treatment for Purdue Pharma.  

See below for highlights of the coverage:

Mother Jones: Senators Are Demanding Information About Giuliani’s History With Opioid Maker Purdue Pharma

More than a decade ago, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma approached Rudy Giuliani, then fresh off a stint as the lauded mayor of New York City, asking for help: The little-known pharmaceutical company needed a trusted lawyer to help fight growing public relations and legal battles. It was 2002, and Purdue was facing its first lawsuits accusing the company of underplaying the addictive effects of its signature drug. By the time Purdue sought Giuliani’s guidance, he was reportedly helping raise money for a museum dedicated to the Drug Enforcement Administration and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, was consulting the Justice Department on reorganizing its major drug investigations.

… On Wednesday, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent letters to the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration requesting information on the respective agencies’ contact with Giuliani Partners. The letters, shared with Mother Jones, draw heavily on a recent New York Times investigation finding that federal prosecutors knew about OxyContin’s widespread abuse and originally recommended that Purdue executives be charged with felonies, including conspiracy to defraud the United States. But top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration pushed back—deciding instead to settle the case in 2007 rather than take it to trial. The letters also cite investigations suggesting that Giuliani used his political connections to influence the relatively lenient outcome of the federal suit, as well as the lax approach the Drug Enforcement Administration took in curbing misuse of the drug. 

In addition to asking for documentation of communications between the federal agencies and Giuliani Partners, the letters ask pointed questions about Giuliani himself, such as “What steps were taken to ensure that Giuliani’s other relationships with DOJ and its components did not improperly influence plea negotiations?”

In recent years, dozens of states and municipalities have filed lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors including Purdue, alleging that the overdose epidemic has caused a strain on public resources. Last week, Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring a separate, “major lawsuit” against opioid companies.

“Given that Mr. Giuliani has emerged as one of the President’s closest advisors, it’s important that we determine whether his past work on behalf of Purdue, a company that misled prescribers and patients alike about the addictive nature of its drug OxyContin, will influence this administration’s actions in terms of holding Purdue accountable for the devastating impact of its aggressive marketing of this drug,” wrote Ricki Eshman, Hassan’s press secretary.

HuffPost: Senators Question Rudy Giuliani’s Role In Purdue Pharma Opioid Plea Deal 

Two Democratic senators are calling for information into potential conflict of interest issues concerning Rudy Giuliani and a federal investigation of an opioid manufacturing pharmaceutical company Giuliani represented.’

Giuliani’s firm, Giuliani Partners, had a $1 million consultant contract with the Department of Justice for advice on reorganizing its drug investigations at the same time he was representing Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma against the DOJ, the New York Times has reported.

The unusual arrangement may have resulted in “unduly lenient treatment” of the company that makes the powerfully addictive opioid OxyContin, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in letters Wednesday to the heads of the DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

…“Facts suggest DOJ [and DEA] officials may have agreed to an inappropriately lenient treatment of Purdue Pharma simply because it was represented by Mr. Giuliani,” Hassan and Whitehouse wrote in their letters, which were first reported on by Mother Jones.

“The public health consequences of that decision may have been immense, and deserve greater scrutiny” by Congress, the DOJ and DEA, they added.

While Giuliani was negotiating on Purdue’s behalf in 2006, he was also helping to raise money for a DEA museum, according to the Times. He’s currently working as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

Hassan and Whitehouse asked for all documents related to Giuliani’s involvement in the DOJ negotiations. They also inquired about “what steps were taken” to ensure that Giuliani’s relationships with the DOJ “did not improperly influence plea negotiations” — and if anyone at the DOJ raised concerns about Giuliani Partners’ “simultaneous representation of Purdue Pharma and consulting work for the DOJ.”