Corporate Lobbyists Declare War on Nina Turner

Corporate Democrats and lobbyists for Big Oil, Big Pharma, Fox News, and Wall Street are fundraising for Nina Turner’s primary opponent Shontel Brown in the Ohio congressional race.

Former Ohio state senator Nina Turner delivers remarks at Bernie Sanders's campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 20, 2020. (Kyle Mazza / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

As progressive icon Nina Turner racks up local endorsements and surges in the polls in a closely watched congressional race, Washington lobbyists and business-friendly Democrats are hosting a Beltway fundraiser to try to block her victory in the August 3 Democratic primary for Ohio’s 11th congressional district.

On June 16, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton endorsed Turner’s opponent, Shontel Brown, in what observers saw as a response to Turner’s association with Bernie Sanders. That same day, lobbyists and a corporate-aligned Democratic House coalition hosted a fundraiser to boost Brown, after a poll sponsored by Turner’s campaign found her with a commanding 50-15 lead in the race.

And this week, as Turner campaigns on Medicare for All, pharmaceutical industry allies like House majority whip James Clyburn (D-SC), are racing to boost Brown alongside Beltway lobbyists.

Punchbowl News recently posted an invitation for a fundraising reception on June 16 “honoring” Brown. Representative Pete Aguilar (D-CA), a caucus vice-chair of the corporate New Democrat Coalition in the House, was listed as a special guest at the event. The coalition’s PAC, NewDem Action Fund, was listed as a host.

The fundraising invitation says the “host committee in formation” for the event was Protecting Our Vote Federal PAC, a voter rights–oriented political action committee (PAC). The organization has an affiliated super PAC called Protecting Our Vote PAC that has made small independent expenditures supporting Brown.

According to its website, Protecting Our Vote is “building a state-of-the-art research, digital, and communications infrastructure” in order “to mobilize, persuade and turn out every African-American possible on the issues that impact their communities and affect their lives.”

The super PAC’s treasurer is Marcus Mason, a corporate lobbyist who is also listed as a host of the event. Mason’s clients include Fox News parent company Fox Corporation, private equity giant Carlyle Group, student loan servicer Navient, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, tech giant Google, and gig delivery company DoorDash.

Every other host named on the fundraising event appears to be a lobbyist, too. Virgil Miller lobbies for oil and gas giant ExxonMobil, telecom firms Comcast and AT&T, pharmacy chain CVS Health (which owns health insurer Aetna), and DoorDash. Nicole Venable lobbies for Apple, Bayer, McDonald’s, and Navient. She also represents the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group for corporate CEOs, and surveillance software company Palantir.

Jerome Murray lobbies for the American Investment Council, a trade group for the private equity industry. He also represents the powerful drug lobby Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), as well as drugmakers Pfizer, Amgen, and AbbVie individually. Brandon Garrett lobbies for Walmart, American Airlines, FedEx, Nike, and the Managed Funds Association, a trade group for hedge funds. Dontai Smalls is a lobbyist for UPS.

During a recent Daily Poster live chat, Turner explained her inspiration for running for office.

“What came after the Gilded Age? The progressive era,” she said. “We are doing that same dance in the twenty-first century. That just increases my resolve to do what I am doing right now, which is to fight this fight, both in a movement capacity and run for office yet again, to be able to use that platform to do a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people.”

You can subscribe to David Sirota’s investigative journalism project, the Daily Poster, here.

Share this article


Andrew Perez is a writer and researcher living in Maine.

Joel Warner is managing editor of the Daily Poster. He is a former staff writer for International Business Times and Westword.

Filed Under