One of the two officials responsible for Senator Ricardo Lara's transition as California's newly elected insurance commissioner last month served as a lobbyist in Sacramento on behalf of a major drug manufacturer. from an insurance department survey that Lara will lead soon.
State Senator Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, at the Senate Session in Sacramento, California on May 28, 2015. (AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli) Photo AP / Rich Pedroncelli
Lara, of D-Bell Gardens, will be sworn in as Insurance Commissioner on Monday, succeeding Dave Jones, who was named.
In December, Lara issued a press release announcing that Michael Martinez would help him lead his transition to the 1,300-employee department. According to this publication, Martinez, former head of the Insurance Department and a contributor to Governor Jerry Brown, "was currently working in California's life sciences sector."
The publication failed to explain the work done by Martinez in the life sciences sector and did not identify his employer.
In a separate public document filed with the state secretary, Martinez revealed that, until December, he had been a lobbyist for the drug company Gilead Sciences, based in Foster City.
In turn, Gilead disclosed in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on November 6 – election day – that the California Department of Insurance and the Alameda District Attorney issued subpoenas in October 2017 requesting documents relating to its commercialization, and interactions with specialized pharmacies.
Gilead also revealed that he has received similar subpoenas from US Attorney's Offices in Massachusetts and the Southern District of New York, as well as from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The company said it was cooperating with the investigations. He did not respond to requests for comments from CALmatters. The Insurance Department also did not comment on the investigation, and the outgoing Insurance Commissioner, Mr. Jones, could not be reached.
Gilead's medications include Truvada, also known as PreP, shortened for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Truvada protects users against HIV, the virus responsible for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. As part of its marketing, Gilead reimburses consumers their share, regardless of their level of income.
In a statement to CALmatters, Lara's office said: "The elected commissioner, Lara, looks forward to Martinez joining the Insurance Department, where he served under Commissioner Jones with great integrity before to sit in Governor Brown's government. His new role will be announced in the coming days. "
The statement does not say whether Martinez would be excluded from any Gilead investigation.
Martinez worked for almost 10 years as a lobbyist for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Sacramento, before working for the Insurance Department following the election of Mr. Jones in 2010, and then for Mr. Brown. He joined Gilead at the end of 2017 and worked as a lobbyist in Sacramento for a year.
In Sacramento, Gilead regularly lobbies for drug pricing legislation, including the flagship legislation of 2017 that requires drug companies to disclose whether they are raising the prices of their products.
Gilead is also a regular donor to the campaign, joining other pharmaceutical companies in spending $ 4 million to oppose a 2016 initiative to reduce the price of prescription drugs, and spending an additional $ 670,000 since 2013 for various candidates and campaigns. Lara received $ 4,000 from Gilead for her insurance commissioner campaign.
In the Democratic wave that swept over California, Lara defeated former insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, a former Republican candidate turned candidate without a political party, by a margin of 52.9% to 47.1%.
As Insurance Commissioner, Lara will oversee a department of 1,325 employees, with a budget of $ 287 million and a major law enforcement operation. The department shares authority over some aspects of health insurance – and therefore prescription drugs – with the managed health care department.
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