American Oversight Files FOIAs with DOJ, DEA, and FDA for Giuliani, Purdue Communications
American Oversight today demanded the release of records to uncover the role that Rudy Giuliani may have played in quashing federal investigations into Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin. In the early 2000s, Purdue worked with Giuliani’s consulting firm while Giuliani served as a consultant to the Justice Department (DOJ) on opioid issues and fundraised for a museum honoring the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
“Rudy Giuliani’s work for Purdue at the same time that he was a paid consultant to the Justice Department and a fundraiser for the DEA museum raises serious red flags for potential ethical or legal violations,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. “We know Giuliani is more than happy to break the rules to defend President Trump, but the public has a right to know if one of the president’s closest legal advisors crossed the line to protect opioid manufacturers from facing consequences.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Sheldon Whitehouse sent a letter to DOJ and DEA requesting records of Giuliani’s work on behalf of Purdue. As part of American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative, which aims to amplify Congressional oversight efforts, the watchdog group sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the same agencies, in addition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), seeking many of the same records.
Purdue Pharma’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin is seen as a contributor to today’s opioid crisis that has left millions struggling with addiction and thousands dead. News reports indicate that Purdue, despite its claims to the contrary, knew soon after OxyContin’s introduction in 1996 that the drug presented serious potential for addiction and abuse.
According to a 2007 New York Times report, Purdue Pharma hired Giuliani and his consulting firm, Giuliani Partners, to handle growing public scrutiny of OxyContin and defend the company during multiple federal investigations. Giuliani played a key role in securing favorable settlements for the company. In 2004, Purdue paid a $2 million fine to settle charges of record-keeping problems at its plants without admitting wrongdoing. Prior to Giuliani’s involvement, DEA officials recommended Purdue pay as much as $20 million. In 2006, federal prosecutors in Virginia recommended indicting three Purdue executives on felony charges. After meeting with Giuliani, top DOJ officials blocked the indictments, and Purdue went on to settle the case with the government.
The 2007 report also stated that at the same time Giuliani negotiated settlements on behalf of Purdue Pharma, his firm won a $1 million contract with DOJ to consult for a drug task force responsible for investigating OxyContin and other opioid abuse. Giuliani was also concurrently fundraising thousands of dollars to support the opening of a new DEA museum.
American Oversight’s FOIA requests seek communications from 2002 to 2008 between DOJ, DEA, and FDA officials and Giuliani, representatives of Giuliani’s firm, representatives of Purdue Pharma, and the company’s top executives. The FOIA requests also seek communications including the words “opioid,” “Purdue,” or “OxyContin” between political appointees at DOJ, DEA, and FDA and representatives of several prominent law firms.
American Oversight’s Parallel Investigations Initiative has sent more than 20 FOIAs mirroring information requests made by members of Congress. See more of American Oversight’s parallel FOIA requests here.
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