The South Carolina Policy Council uncovered some interesting documents that raise questions about whether South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell may have used his influence to benefit in his own personal business venture. This is also of particular concern as South Carolina debates the Afordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”) and expanding Medicaid in South Carolina under that law since he profits from pharmaceutical sales.
According to The Nerve, an online publication of the South Carolina Policy Council, the documents raise several questions about Bobby Harrell’s “dealings with the state Board of Pharmacy on various matters involving his pharmaceutical business” that “had not been previously revealed publicly.” The South Carolina Policy Council says it is weighing whether to make a formal ethics complaint about this and other issues.
Rep. Harrell reportedly co-owns a pharmaceutical company that contracts with physicians directly to dispense medications. But there were some regulatory questions about whether the way it was structured was acceptable under South Carolina law. Of course, being the Speaker of the House has its advantages, and in one email, a state Board of Pharmacy official says Speaker Harrell was using his House office staff to push for licensing of his business operations:
“Rep. Harrell (particularlarly his S.C. State House assistant, Don Hoddle (spelling?) [Correct spelling: Hottel] are very upset and Mr. Hoddle has scheduled a phone conference with me and Lee Ann for this afternoon with Rep. Harrell (4:00 PM today, 5-23-06). In addition, because there is no RPh on staff (they only will have a RPh pharmacy consultant – a Navy RPh ‘moonlighting’ to perform this task is what I understand at this point). Because of this, I have shared with my pharmacy technicians and those inquiring of me about the letters they received, they will not be able to work as a ‘registered’ pharmacy technician under the S.C. Board of Pharmacy since there will not be an RPh present.”
In the documents, which are mostly a series of email exchanges between various officials with the state Board of Pharmacy and Bobby Harrell as well as others, the state officials also question Bobby Harrell’s demand to deal with them directly.
One official says in the email exchanges,
“by conversing with Bobby Harrell, we were already making this ‘different’ since he was so adamant in his conversation that he wanted this enterprise to be treated the same as any other operation and not any exceptions be made because of ‘who’ he was! The exception was already being made by his insistence on the phone ‘conference’ with you and I!”
In fact, at one point Bobby Harrell was submitting paperwork related to this personal business issue on letterhead from his House Speaker’s office with a handwritten note saying, “We would appreciate your urgent attention to this request.” (Read all the documents here.)