Daily Archives: Dec. 4, 2009

Supporters of national health care taking to the streets to fight proposed amendment

Garcia

Garcia

Landwehr

Landwehr

Tired of tea parties and looking to get their message heard, supporters of national health-care reform are planning to rally in north Wichita Saturday.

Three Democratic state representatives from Wichita — Geraldine Flaharty, Nile Dillmore and Delia Garcia — are scheduled to speak. Flaharty is the ranking Democrat on the House Health and Human Services Committee; Dillmore is ranking Democrat on the Insurance Committee and Garcia is ranking Democrat on the Local Government Committee.

In addition to the legislators, the speaking lineup includes Tom Kluzak, a doctor representing Physicians for a National Health Program, and Leslie Page, an obstetrician/gynecologist.

The rally, being organized by the group Forward Kansas, will begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of 21st and Amidon, in the legislative district of state Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services committee.

Landwehr, Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia and Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee, are leading an effort by conservatives to amend the Kansas Constitution to assert state sovereignty over health care and exempt Kansas from laws that mandate universal coverage, a keystone of the health plans pending in Congress.

Bad idea, said Garcia.

“I’m disappointed she (Landwehr) wants to do that,” Garcia said. “After all, we’re working for Kansans, not insurance companies in Kansas.”

She said the bills under consideration in Washington would reduce the ranks of the uninsured, make health insurance more affordable for individuals and small businesses, and put an end to discrimination in the health system against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

“I want to protect the 335,000 Kansans — and especially the 58,000 children — who are uninsured,” Garcia said.

Landwehr said she’s not trying to deny Kansans anything, but wants to protect the choices they have now.

“I don’t believe they (the opponents) have read the amendment, I don’t think they understand the amendment,” Landwehr said. “It says the people of Kansas cannot be mandated into any health system. “You can look at it as a stay-out-of-jail card. The federal government wants to put you in jail for not buying a health-care policy.”

Landwehr said the rally is more about Democrats targeting her politically than health care and that she’d welcome calls from constituents to hear her side of the issue.

“I figure if they’re giving me that much attention, I must be doing something right,” she said.

A similar rally earlier this month in Shawnee — Pilcher Cook’s area of interest — was met with a quickly organized counter-demonstration by supporters of the conservative “tea party” movement who oppose national health care.

“We had a bunch of (tea party supporters) come out and get pretty much in everybody’s faces,” said Sarah Burris, a spokeswoman for Forward Kansas. “They just want to raise a ruckus.”

Brownback campaign calls Wiggans a ‘fraud’

Sam Brownback’s gubernatorial campaign wasted no time in pouncing on the news that Democratic candidate Tom Wiggans’ former pharmaceutical company misled investors.

“Tom Wiggans is a fraud,” said Brownback campaign manager David Kensinger. “His candidacy is a fraud. The Democratic Party is attempting to perpetrate a fraud on the people of Kansas.”

So far leading Democrats are staying behind Wiggans. He faces Herbert West in the Democratic Primary; the winner faces Brownback, the Republican U.S. Senator, in the Nov. 2010 election.

Wiggans was CEO at Connectics Corp. when the California pharmaceutical company hid from investors the results of lab tests showing its latest acne treatment caused cancer in mice. A group of investors – led by the Oklahoma teacher’s pension fund – filed a class action suit which Connectics later settled for $12.75 million.

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Kansas governor candidate’s company was investigated by SEC, part of $12 million settlement

The pharmaceutical company led by Democrat Tom Wiggans was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and was recently the subject of a $12.75 million securities fraud settlement in California.

Wiggans recently moved back to Kansas, his native state, and last month announced his campaign for governor. Previously he was a pharmaceutical executive and led several drug research companies.

One of them, Connetics Corp., developed an acne cream. According to a lawsuit filed by investors, Connetics executives hid the results of tests that showed the treatment caused skin cancer in about half of the lab mice exposed to it. Wiggans was CEO at the company at the time.

Executives sold their own stock in the company before the results of the tests were released. That attracted the interest of the SEC, which investigated the executives for insider trading. Two executives at Connetics – though not Wiggans – later settled with the agency.

The treatment was never approved for human use.

Wiggans has denied doing anything improper through a spokeswoman.

Wiggans has said if elected he’ll bring his experience as a successful businessman to the Statehouse. He faces Democrat Herbert West in the primary. The winner will face U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican, who is leaving the Senate after the current term.