Wednesday, December 18, 2002



Back in November, the Senate and House passed a Homeland Security Bill replete with goodies for special interests, but none so troubling as that mysterious rider which appeared out of nowhere, seemingly in the middle of the night, just prior to the vote. The rider created a wall of protection around the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, a large Republican campaign contributor. For a company facing expensive lawsuits stemming from an association between the vaccines it produced, and the high rise in autism among American children who were administered that vaccine, this rider - having nothing to do with Homeland Security - may well have saved Eli Lilly's future in corporate America. Sadly, passage of Homeland Security put an end to those lawsuits, filed by parents who want to know the truth. Families must now file their claims through a special "vaccine court" where their cases will be heard. The quest for truth has been crushed.

Who was the person who slipped this rider into the bill at the last minute? Who out there is protecting the corporate backside of Eli Lilly? Politicians on the left and on the right claim they knew nothing about the addition. Many voted for the bill not realizing the rider had been included. Now, you and I both know that Washington DC is not exactly a haven for the modest. To the contrary, it's home to politicians and pundits whose every breath is cause for a two-column write-up, so when nobody stepped up to the plate and took credit for this mysterious corporate litigation condom, families of autism and people of good will began to ask, "whodunit?" We just might get an answer to that question. has issued a $10,000 reward leading to the identification of that individual responsible for this clandestine piece of lawmaking. From their site:

In November, as Congress finalized the legislation authorizing a new Department of Homeland Security, two paragraphs suddenly appeared in the bill giving drug maker Eli Lilly & Company something it desired: a shield from lawsuits by parents who claim the company's vaccines caused their children's autism.

The provision diverts those suits from state courts to a federal 'vaccine court' where damages are capped at $250,000 - small compensation for a child's lifetime of medical care. And because any damages awarded by the vaccine court are paid by U.S. taxpayers, manufacturers are relieved of liability.

It's a sweet deal for Eli Lilly, a very special interest that, like most mega-donors, gets what it wants in Washington. Since 2000, the company has given $1.6 million to national parties and federal campaigns, 79 percent of it to Republicans.

Who inserted the provision? Reporters tried and failed to find out. Lilly's lobbyists (laughably) claim ignorance. No one on Capitol Hill is proud enough of his handiwork to claim it.

Democracy requires accountability, so is offering a $10,000 reward to the first person who proves the identity of the Eli Lilly Bandit - the member of Congress responsible for inserting the company's special provision. Mail submissions to PO Box 53303, Washington, D.C. 20009. The complete terms and conditions of this offer are posted at

Public officials who work secret deals like this are cowards. They subvert and dishonor a fundamental American principle - open government accountable to the people.

Help us finger the Eli Lilly Bandit.

Go get 'em TomPaine!

Note to my colleagues in the blogging community: How's about about spreading this one around, getting folks focused this issue and on TomPaine's reward?

crossposted at RuminateThis

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