Big money influence

Tim Roemer
  • Tim Roemer

Yet another former congressman is plying his trade for a San Diego biomedical outfit. The latest big name politico is Tim Roemer, a Democrat from Indiana who graduated from UCSD back in 1979. “During his years of distinguished public service as a Member of Congress and as United States Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer worked tirelessly to improve the lives of people around the world. His success aligns perfectly with our mission at Pathway Genomics,” says a news release from the firm announcing Roemer’s appointment to its “strategic advisory board.”

Not mentioned by the company is the fact that Roemer’s resignation from his ambassadorship in April 2011 happened after just two years on job, after the Indian government decided, to the chagrin of the Obama administration, against buying fighter jets from two U.S. companies, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin in favor of European hardware. Other observers speculated that Roemer, who said he left for family considerations, felt sidelined and wanted to get back into the thick of domestic politics. In its quest to sell its personal DNA screening tests, Pathway has worked both sides of the political divide. In September 2011, company founder Jim Plante was invited by GOP House Speaker John Boehner to sit in his box to honor “jobs creators” during a presidential speech. Since 2011, federal campaign finance records show he has personally contributed $70,150 to various campaigns, with recipients including Boehner and Barack Obama, as well as GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, Republican House member Darrell Issa, and Democratic congressmen Scott Peters and Juan Vargas.

Regulatory resistance to do-it-yourself DNA kits hindered Pathway’s early forays in the field. “Despite being in compliance with all available FDA regulations, the FDA attacked Pathway in the media following the announcement of the partnership,” said a Boehner news release. “Pathway was unable to create those 100 new high-paying jobs.” Of late Plante has been touting a new Pathway mobile phone app. “It will provide genomic information. It will pull in the patients health records, connect to activity monitors like the Fitbit,” he told Wired last month…

Vice President Joe Biden spent some quality time with campaign donors during his quick October 31 trip to San Diego to endorse the re-election bid of Democrat Peters. According to Biden’s official schedule, the closed-to-the-press event was held at 6:30 pm at a “private residence.”

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