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For Information Leading To The Identification Of The Eli Lilly Bandit

In November [2002], as Congress finalized the legislation authorizing a new Department of Homeland Security, two paragraphs suddenly appeared in the bill giving drug maker Eli Lilly & Company something it desired: a shield from lawsuits by parents who claim the company's vaccines caused their children's autism.

The provision diverts those suits from state courts to a federal 'vaccine court' where damages are capped at $250,000 -- small compensation for a child's lifetime of medical care. And because any damages awarded by the vaccine court are paid by U.S. taxpayers, manufacturers are relieved of liability.

It's a sweet deal for Eli Lilly, a very special interest that, like most mega-donors, gets what it wants in Washington. Since 2000, the company has given $1.6 million to national parties and federal campaigns, 79 percent of it to Republicans.

Who inserted the provision? Reporters tried and failed to find out. Lilly's lobbyists (laughably) claim ignorance. No one on Capitol Hill is proud enough of his handiwork to claim it.

Democracy requires accountability, so is offering a $10,000 reward to the first person who proves the identity of the Eli Lilly Bandit -- the member of Congress responsible for inserting the company's special provision. Mail submissions to PO Box 53303, Washington, D.C. 20009. The complete terms and conditions of this offer are posted at

Public officials who work secret deals like this are cowards. They subvert and dishonor a fundamental American principle -- open government accountable to the people.

Help us finger the Eli Lilly Bandit.

A CLARIFICATION: Lots of readers have contacted us to say, "Rep. Dick Armey admitted doing it!" We know that. It's easy for Dick Armey to say he did it -- he's a lame duck with no accountability. And indeed, Armey, as House Majority Leader, did ALLOW it to happen. But what is looking for is THE PERSON WHO *ASKED* ARMEY to ALLOW it to happen. THAT is the person we want to finger.

Published: Dec 18 2002

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