Will Jawando is running to be the Democratic nominee for the open Eighth Congressional District. Earlier in the campaign, he faced scrutiny for his acceptance of large donations from infamous Turing Pharamceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli. Jawando had promised to refund these donations or to give them to charity but the Center for Responsive Politics reports that Jawando still has half the money:
About 8 percent of [Jawando’s] money — $28,300 — was given by either Martin Shkreli or employees of his former company, Turing Pharmaceuticals. After Shkreli became the infamous “pharma bro” — a superlative he earned when Turing hiked the price of a lifesaving drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill last year — Jawando did not give all of Shkreli’s money to charity, as he said he would. Rather, he kept half of it, or $2,700 the campaign had earmarked for the general election.
Jawando’s campaign told OpenSecrets Blog in an email that it would donate the rest of the money after Jawando wins the primary.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Jawando misled the Washington Blade about having already donated the entire sum:
In an email to the Washington Blade in early January, the campaign said it had already donated the money. Federal Election Committee records tell a different story. The day after the Baltimore Sun article ran, on the day Shkreli resigned as Turing’s CEO, Jawando’s campaign donated half of what Shkreli had contributed.
“Our compliance attorneys told us that that other half is earmarked for the general election,” a representative of the campaign told OpenSecrets Blog; he said the rest of the money would be donated to the Boys and Girls Club if Jawando wins the primary. If he loses, the campaign will have to refund that money to Shkreli.
Moreover, Jawando has not returned donations from other employees of Turing Pharaceuticals:
But what about the $22,900 from six other Turing employees? The campaign is keeping that. “They didn’t do anything illegal,” said Aubrey Sylvester, Jawando’s campaign manager. “They weren’t indicted for anything.” Asked whether the fact that such a significant portion of the campaign’s total contributions has come from employees of a single company — one that’s currently being investigated for pharmaceutical price gouging — would affect Jawando’s policies, Sylvester said no.
Jawando is the only candidate that five of the six other Turing contributors have supported with contributions.
Has Jawando done anything illegal? Absolutely not. Indeed, I imagine he would say that it will all end up refunded or donated, so what’s the difference?
The problem is strictly political. Failure to get rid of the donations despite reports that this was planned and even occurred will not enhance views of Jawando among voters and keeps continued focus on a negative story. Instead, it would have been better to act decisively and return these problematic donations or just be up front and say he’s going to keep them but retains the same stands he’s always had on these issues.
Not a permanently disabling move by this promising young Democrat who performed very respectably in the 2014 Democratic primary for delegate even if he didn’t win a seat. But also not good news for his underdog congressional campaign.