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Investments in drug companies – how deep?

Yesterday (7 January) Bradlee Dean of the Sons of Liberty returned to a typical theme for him. He found a report in Business Insider that said that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has investments in three drug companies. All these companies (AstraZeneca PLC, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, Inc.) have COVID vaccines on the market. But a closer examination of Rep. Greene’s financial disclosure form raises a question, not for her, but for her detractors. Which is: just how heavily invested is she? The data indicate that she is far less heavily invested than a cursory mention would suggest.

Report of the drug company investments

To recap, Business Insider had this article:

In 2020, at least 13 senators and 35 US representatives held shares of Johnson & Johnson, the medical behemoth that produced the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that more than 15 million Americans have received.

At least 11 senators and 34 representatives also held shares in 2020 of another COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer…

Lawmakers held these investments in COVID-19-minded companies as Congress was at the center of pandemic relief efforts. In 2020 and 2021, members of Congress voted on six relief bills together worth nearly $6 trillion. Congress also authorized more than $10 billion to help drug companies develop and distribute vaccines and forced health insurers to cover the cost of getting the shot.

Policymakers especially viewed the coronavirus vaccines developed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna — which each spent substantial amounts of money lobbying the federal government in 2020 — as critical to helping countries around the planet overcome the grip of the pandemic…

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from Georgia who has decried “vaccine Nazis” and boasted about not getting vaccinated against COVID-19, reported owning stock in COVID-19 vaccine makers during 2020, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, according to a financial disclosure she submitted in August.

The devil lies in the details

Here is the financial disclosure form to which Business Insider refers.

The investments at issue are either in their children’s college fund or in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) belonging to Perry Greene, her husband.

With rare exception, the investments that form lists, yielded trifling income in the previous year – never more than $2500. Some of the investments yielded income of $200 or less. The income came mostly in the form of dividends.

And what are the exceptions? These are family businesses of the Taylor family (hers) or the Greene family (his). These are the ones yielding income in the six-figure range. Greene also lists a real-estate office rental company yielding income in that range.

To be specific, we see the following drug-company stakes to which Business Insider referred.

Name of stock issuerWhich account?Value range of assetType of incomeIncome range
AstraZeneca PLCChildren’s college$1001-$15,000Dividends$201-$1000
Johnson & JohnsonChildren’s college$15,001-$50,000Dividends$201-$1000
Pfizer, Inc.Children’s college$15,001-$50,000Dividends$201-$1000
Pfizer, Inc.Perry Greene IRA$1001-$15,000Dividends$1-$200

Compared to the major assets they own, these are trifles. Moreover we see three of more than a hundred different companies. After all, the financial disclosure statement runs to eleven pages.

What this means

Technically, Marjorie Taylor Greene and/or her husband do have investments in these drug companies. In fact they have many investments, typically small stakes like these, yielding less than a thousand dollars each in dividends. Nor do these companies amount to more than a tiny fraction of either the children’s college account or Perry Greene’s IRA.

Perhaps someone “ragging” on a company that seems to be profiteering from the government, ought to instruct her investment adviser to divest her of all such investments. CNAV wonders whether any Member of House or Senate is as careful as that. Or perhaps no legislator should hedge against inflation with anything but gold or silver.

But a news organ like Business Insider does a disservice to its readers and its credibility by saying a legislator is “invested” in a company or companies, without giving enough detail to show how deeply invested said legislator might be. In this case, Business Insider clearly suggested that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s investments create a conflict of interest. How so, if the stakes she holds never yield more than a thousand dollars each!? Or does Business Insider mean to pour contempt on all investments, and suggest that a public-spirited citizen never invests?

And all of us who seek to track down conflicts of interest, need to weigh such evidence as we receive, more carefully. When a company wants to influence someone, they bribe them – with far more than a mere thousand dollars a year!

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

bribery, investments, media, politicians


Terry A. Hurlbut

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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