Taking a hard look at the man trying to destroy Bob Hugin

By Matt Rooney
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David Mitchell

Bob Hugin is a self-made millionaire, Save Jerseyans, but this year’s U.S. Senate GOP nominee, a former marine, is taking heavy oncoming fire from a liberal billionaire in his quest to unseat Bob Menendez (D-Severely Admonished).

You can watch the ad here if you haven’t already seen it on network television.

On Wednesday afternoon, Philly.com identified controversial Texas hedge fund moneyman John Arnold of Enron infamy as the financial force behind the super pac ad TV buy; the ad itself ghoulishly accuses Hugin, the former CEO of Celgene, of making a “killing” off of cancer patients.

It’s a predictable play out of an old playbook. But the source of the money for this big-time smear campaign is only part of the story.

Meet David Mitchell.

A communications pro who survived cancer, he’s appeared in print and even before Congress in recent years as head of a self-styled “bipartisan super PAC” called ‘Patients for Affordable Drugs Action’ which purportedly agitates for more affordable drug prices for all Americans. They ran the aforementioned anti-Hugin ad.

It’s a good story; I wish it was all that simple.

But this is politics, so it’s obviously not. Not even close.

Mitchell is also a long-time Democrat operative who has made big money off of the… drum roll, please… pharmaceutical industry. Given the importance of this year’s potentially close U.S. Senate contest, I figured it’s worthwhile to take a quick but hard look at the man who’s serving as the tip of the spear for an increasingly desperate Bob Menendez’s independent expenditure vanguard:

(1) Independent? And Bipartisan? Not quite.

Mitchell isn’t an Average Joe citizen who, faced with a personal challenge, entered the public arena without any alliance or allegiances impacting his impartiality. 

He used to be a partner at GMMB, an advertising and communications consulting firm which is well-known for espousing far-left views and producing ads for Democrat campaigns and causes. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Mitchell and his wife have given in excess of $40,000 to federal Democratic candidates  (ranging from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to down-ballot types like California’s Barbara Boxer and Massachusetts’s Martha Coakley) and party committees. I didn’t see any donations to Republicans.

‘Patients for Affordable Drugs Action’ reflects Mitchell’s leftward lean. A search reveals only $3,056 to a single Republican candidate in a deep red West Virginian house seat. Meanwhile, in July 2018 alone, the organization appears to be spending around $1.5 million against just Bob Hugin.

The organization’s management team is full of dedicated liberals, too. For example, the organization’s director, Charles Hurley, was an Obama nominee for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There’s nothing independent or bipartisan about any of this. This is a Democrat group by any other name.

(2) Patients for Affordable apparently “isn’t in good standing” in Maryland.

Bob Hugin (left)

You may’ve heard by now: Bob Menendez is in ethical hot water for improperly accepting $1 million in gifts.

Mitchell’s organization may be no more interested in following the rules than the Democrat incumbent whom they’re endeavoring to rescue by pounding his GOP opponent with misleading negative ads.

According to the State of Maryland, Patients for Affordable Drugs — a 501(c)(3) based in Maryland — is not in “good standing.” What does that mean? A linked description embedded on the official state portal page explains that “’Not in Good Standing’​ means the business entity is not in compliance with one or more Maryland laws that apply to businesses and their responsibilities in this State. Only business entities that are active can have a good standing status, so a business that has been voluntarily terminated will also show ‘not in good standing’ because it is no longer active.'”

The stated reason here is “Personal Property returns” for 2017 and 2018 are due.

(3) Mitchell made a lot of coin off of pharmaceuticals.

Last but definitely not least, how sincere are Mitchell and his friends about taking on Big Pharma?

Follow the money. GMMB (the firm Mitchell helped found and worked at as a partner until 2016) landed a $12 million contract with “Healthy Economy Now” in 2009; Healthy Economy Now was reportedly largely funded by the pharmaceutical lobby. They were big in the Obamacare promotion business. 

So he hated Big Pharma AFTER he retired and the checks were cashed? I guess?