Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is the choice of opioid executives and that’s why they are sending his campaign their cash. These are the very same opioid executives who are behind the public health crisis that has caused thousands of prescription opioid-related deaths and is impacting too many Rhode Island families every day. Rhode Island needs leaders who we can count on to be the voice of the victims, not the people who both caused and profited off the opioid crisis.
Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee and OxyContin Billionaire Jonathan Sackler.
Dan McKee took campaign contributions from the family and employees of Jonathan Sackler, a member of the family that has made billions off Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of OxyContin. Despite knowing how the Sacklers made their money, McKee neither refused nor returned the money. When confronted about about his controversial acceptance of opioid cash, McKee pledged to donate these ill-gotten gains to reputable charities that work on the crisis. To date, there is no evidence in his legally required campaign finance disclosures that he ever donated that money.
On June 25, 2018, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharmaceuticals. According to the lawsuit, “Purdue misrepresented the risk of addiction for pain patients as modest, manageable, and outweighed by the benefits of opioid use.” The Attorney General also noted that Purdue heavily marketed OxyContin to Rhode Island doctors.
According to the Rhode Island Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, 2,067 Rhode Islanders died from opioid overdoses between 2009 and 2017. Prescription opiates like OxyContin were involved in the majority (1,093) of these overdose deaths, and were solely responsible for more than one-quarter of all Rhode Island overdose deaths during that period. Rhode Island’s opioid death rate in 2015 was the fifth highest in the nation.
According to the lawsuit, the State of Rhode Island’s opioid prescription rate reached an astonishing 83.2 prescriptions per 100 residents.
Sackler and Independent Expenditure Campaigns that Support McKee
Sackler also donated heavily to independent expenditure committees that backed McKee in 2014 and is again dropping serious money into the race to re-elect McKee. In 2018, the 50CAN Action Fund, an anti-public education effort seeking to drain money from the public schools for charters and private profit, is a top donor of the McKee re-election bid. Jonathan Sackler is a major backer of 50CAN, donating more than $1 million to the organization through his family foundation.
Opioid executives want Dan McKee. Rhode Island voters should not.