Bernie Sanders Redirects Campaign Donation From Martin Shkreli To AIDS Clinic

Selina Leavitt - Author

Oct. 15 2015, Updated 9:36 p.m. ET

Bernie Sanders is the democratic presidential hopeful most known for being a socialist and his arguments against big pharma. Without dealing with a Super PAC, he’s been able to raise a great deal of money from individuals looking to support his rise to the presidency.

Each contributor to the Bernie Sanders campaign can look forward to a form letter response.

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“Our political system is corrupt. Big Money controls much of what happens. Together, you and I are changing that. Thank you again for your support. Best, Bernie.”

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One of the people to receive that letter was Martin Shkreli.

Readers might remember Martin Shkreli as the guy who inflated the price of Daraprim, a drug that treats toxoplasmosis and helps prevent malaria, by 4,000 percent. He’s known most often on social media as “screw that guy.”

Big pharma super-villain and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli, tweeted during the democratic debate that he was responsible for a donation made to Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

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In an interview produced by Stat, Shkreli admitted to donating $2,700 to Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

At first, Sanders’ campaign team accepted the money on his behalf, readying to use it as needed. However, when Senator Bernie found out who the money was from, he refused to use it.

According to what Bernie Sanders has been saying all throughout his campaign, Martin Shkreli is all the things he hates about pharmaceutical companies.

“We are not keeping the money from this poster boy for drug company greed,” Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Bernie Sanders, said.

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Instead of taking Shkreli’s money, Sanders’ team will be donating the whole amount to the Whitman-Walker health clinic located in Washington, D.C. The community health center specializes in HIV/AIDS care and offers safe and understanding treatment for the LGBT community.

Martin Shkreli’s initial reaction was anger. He said in his Stat interview that he’d given the donation expecting Bernie Sanders to see it as a request for a one-on-one discussion about medicine and why Shkreli believes nothing needs to change.

“I think it’s cheap to use one person’s action as a platform without kind of talking to that person,” Shkreli said. “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.”

Shkreli went on to explain what he would like to ask Bernie Sanders.

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“I’d ask him, what role does innovation play in health care? Is he willing to sort of accept that there is a tradeoff, that to take risks for innovation, companies have to invest lots of money and they need some kind of return for that, and what does he think that should look like?

“And quite frankly, what I’m worried [about] is that he doesn’t have an answer for that, that he’s appealing to the masses, that he’s just kind of talking out of his rear end so that he gets some votes.”

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After the media began reporting on his interview, Shkreli responded to the publicity by tweeting two varying messages. One insisting that he was happy Sanders was using his donation to continue his acts of philanthropy, the other insisting that Bernie Sanders was doing it to avoid debating the situation with him.

He even went so far as to accuse Bernie Sanders, self-proclaimed socialist, of appealing to popular desires instead of engaging in rational discussion and decision making.

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One could argue that despite the way Shkreli views being snubbed by the presidential hopeful, it was something he should have expected. Bernie Sanders has remained steadfast in his opposition to the way the pharmaceutical industry is run.

During the democratic debate, Bernie Sanders was quoted as saying, “I would lump Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry at the top of my list of people who do not like me.”

[ Images courtesy of Salon, Joe Raedle/Getty Images, and Win McNamee/Getty Images ]


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