Adam Schleifer: Response to Journal News Column

On June 4th, my opponents in this congressional race attacked us with a broadside against the “pharmaceutical” industry and demanded that our campaign immediately sign onto a pledge they drafted. The record of communications made clear they had collectively spent days concocting this coordinated attack and then asked us to sign onto a pledge with exactly one hour to respond. Before we could even examine the contents of their “pledge,” the Journal News published a story that we “won’t sign” a pledge while giving none of that background.

My father, Dr. Len Schleifer, co-founded Regeneron, a Westchester-based biotechnology company whose brilliant and hardworking scientists struggled for twenty-five years to develop treatments and life-saving cures to disease, before it ever saw any success as a company. After developing a cure for a form of blindness in 2012, they have become one of Westchester’s greatest success stories, turning basic science into lifesaving therapeutics and creating thousands of high-tech jobs for residents of Westchester and Rockland Counties. And while I am not a scientist nor an employee of Regeneron, I sure am proud of all the lives the amazing people at Regeneron have saved and the great work they have done. For those who do not know, they have already developed cures and treatments for Ebola, heart disease, cancer, asthma, and blindness, among other diseases. And right now, their great work and employees are working day in and out to find a vaccine and treatment to fight COVID-19. Indeed, the company is a leading candidate in the race for a cure for our current pandemic, and I hope even my opponents in this campaign are rooting for their success in that endeavor. I know millions of Americans are.

My opponents’ “pledge” was offered not on the merits of ensuring that any industry doesn’t have undue influence over a member of Congress, but as a cynical political ploy to attack our campaign as it gains momentum. If my opponents approached the question of how to ensure industry does not have influence over policymaking from a place of integrity, they would have announced their own divestment for financial interests they have in companies that build weapons of war and profit off of bombs; they would have sworn off the thousands of dollars they receive from corporate PACs and from family members representing coal and fracking companies and, ironically, “big pharma”; and they would have sworn off funding received from predatory payday lenders. None of this have they done.

As I have said multiple times at forums throughout this race, including the Westchester Young Democrats, if elected to Congress, I would put in place whatever measures necessary and appropriate, including a blind trust for holdings, to further demonstrate the fierce independence I have brought to every job I have ever had.

While my opponents play politics and talk the typical talk, I want to remind them that I am the only one in this race who’s actually walked the walk. As a former federal prosecutor and consumer protection regulator, I am the only person in this race to have protected our healthcare system by taking on abuse in the medical-malpractice insurance industry and by prosecuting Medicare fraud. And I am deeply committed to protecting Americans from price-gouging and other healthcare abuses. That is why I’ve pushed so vocally from the beginning for policies that protect and expand Obamacare to ensure that Americans who have insurance they like can keep it, and those who don’t have insurance have access to a public option; that out-of-pocket expenditures for prescription drugs are capped; that insurance companies are required to cover preventative care, fertility services, and other important treatments; and, that drug prices are controlled and realigned with preventative outcomes.

Let’s stop the games and focus on what the scientists and all the other hardworking folks in this district know really counts: getting real things done for real people.

Adam P. Schleifer is a former New York State banking, insurance, and consumer protection regulator and federal prosecutor; he is a candidate for Congress in New York’s 17th Congressional District.