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WASHINGTON — Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) moved today to require by law that federal employees report, and their agencies disclose, details of any royalty payments they may receive from the private sector.
The move comes following extensive investigation by OpenTheBooks.com into the hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties paid to NIH scientists by private companies like pharmaceuticals — all of which is obscured from public scrutiny. Those companies frequently have business before the relevant agencies, and taxpayers deserve the ability to assess whether there are any conflicts of interest at play.
Paul introduced the proposal as an amendment to the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Act (S. 2333), being marked up by the Senate HELP Committee today. HELP Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) scuttled an up-or-down vote, claiming it was out of the committee's jurisdiction and needed to be taken up by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
OpenTheBooks.com is urging lawmakers to adopt Sen. Paul's language to ensure taxpayers understand the financial stakes at play when public health or other government officials issue guidance.
OpenTheBooks.com Founder & CEO Adam Andrzejewski released this statement:
"This is a matter of basic transparency. Reviewing potential conflicts of interest should not be partisan in nature. We hope lawmakers of all stripes can agree that requiring more exhaustive financial disclosures can only further the goal of accountability for officials across government agencies.
"When a public official appears on television to issue guidance to Americans, they should be able to understand all of the stakes at play and whether there are financial interests at stake. Particularly when it comes to our health care decisions, a most personal piece of our lives, we deserve to make the best-informed choices we can.
"When we investigated royalty payments at the NIH, we found more than $325 million from the private sector was flowing into the agency coffers and the pockets of individual scientists. In most cases, companies were paying for medical research, advancements, therapies or devices funded by you and me -- the American taxpayer. But none of that money goes to the Treasury to pay down our debt or deficits, nor does it go back into American pocketbooks. It goes to scientists whose salaries we pay, and in some cases, even to leaders who make future spending decisions at their agencies. We still cannot see who paid the royalty, how much, or for what innovation; Senator Paul's language would close this enormous transparency gap."
OpenTheBooks.com launched a multi-year investigation into royalty payments at the NIH, eventually suing the agency for failing to respond to its FOIA requests. The agency then slow-walked document productions over many months, redacting the patent license number, the private company payor, and the medical innovation itself.
Senator Paul previously challenged Dr. Anthony Fauci over secret royalty payments, saying, "we've been asking you and you refuse to answer whether anybody on the vaccine committees gets royalties from the pharmaceuticaul companies...I tell you this, when we get in charge, we're going to change the rules and you will have to divulge where you get your royalties — from what companies — and if anybody on the cmte has a conflict of interest, we're going to learn about that. I promise you that." (VIDEO)
Within 36 hours of the OpenTheBooks.com investigation's release, Congressman John Moolenar (R-MI) in an appropriations committee hearing also questioned NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak on royalties. Tabak admitted that NIH royalty payments have the appearance of a conflict-of-interest. (VIDEO)
OpenTheBooks.com Substack: Fauci’s Royalties And The $350 Million Royalty Payment Stream HIDDEN By NIH
Full Measure w/ Sharyl Atkisson: Conflicts of Interest (VIDEO)
PODCAST: Full Measure w/ Sharyl Atkisson: Gov't Scientists Earning Private Royalties on the Taxpayer Dime
**Between October 2009 and September 2021, 54,151 royalty payments, totaling $325.8 million were paid by third-parties to the NIH and NIH scientists, who are credited as co-inventors on patent applications.