Top Democratic leaders with oversight of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) are keeping quiet about the $350 million in secret payments to agency leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci and hundreds of its scientists.
The Epoch Times received no responses from multiple requests to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) for comment on a report by a non-profit government watchdog estimating that Fauci, former NIH director Francis Collins, and hundreds of NIH scientists got as much as $350 million in undisclosed royalty payments from pharmaceutical and other private firms between 2010 and 2020.
The revelations from Open the Books, which were first reported on May 9 by The Epoch Times, are based on thousands of pages of documents the group obtained from NIH in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in federal court. The suit was filed by Judicial Watch on behalf of Open the Books.
Open the Books is a Chicago-based nonprofit government watchdog that uses the federal and state freedom of information laws to obtain and then post on the internet trillions of dollars in spending at all levels of government.
Pallone is chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, while Murray is chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Their panels are the main congressional oversight tools for NIH.
A spokesman for NIH also did not respond to multiple requests from The Epoch Times for comment.
Because NIH hands out $32 billion in research grants to medical institutions and researchers annually the undisclosed royalty payments, which are usually for work on a new drug, may indicate the presence of massive and widespread conflicts of interest or the appearance of such conflicts, both of which violate federal ethics laws and regulations.
Collins resigned as NIH director in December 2021 after 12 years of leading the world’s largest public health agency.
Fauci is the longtime head of NIH’s National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as well as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden.
Lane is the deputy director of NIAID, under Fauci.
Fauci received 23 royalty payments during the period, while Collins was paid 14. Clifford Lane, Fauci’s deputy, got eight payments, according to Open the Books.
While Pallone and Murray were silent on the secret NIH payments, Republicans expressed outrage at what they see as serious conflicts of interest.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told The Epoch Times, “the NIH is a dark money pit. They covered up grants for gain of function research in Wuhan, so it is no surprise that they are now refusing to release critical data regarding allegations of millions in royalty fees paid to in-house scientists like Fauci.
“If the NIH wants to keep spending taxpayer dollars, they have a responsibility to provide transparency.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “This report is disturbing and if it is true that some of our country’s top scientists have conflict of interest problems, the American people deserve to have all the answers.”
Similarly, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) called for an investigation, noting that, “Of course it’s a direct conflict of interest for scientists like Anthony Fauci to rake in $350 million in royalties from third-parties who benefit from federal taxpayer-funded grants.
“Anthony Fauci is a millionaire that has gotten rich off taxpayer dollars. He is a prime example of the bloated federal bureaucracy. This royalty system should be examined to ensure it isn’t making matters worse.”
Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) said the latest revelations are further evidence that Fauci should be fired.
“Fauci and the NIH have repeatedly abused the trust of the American people.
“From lying about gain of function research to walking back claims about COVID-19, this latest allegation is just another nail in the coffin of the integrity of our public health system.
“Sad Little Man, Dr. Fauci should have been fired a long time ago, and that remains true today,” Carter told The Epoch Times.
Mike Howell, a veteran congressional counsel and investigator who is now senior adviser on government relations at the Heritage Foundation, told The Epoch Times he thinks NIH could be in for trouble on the Hill in 2023 if voters return Republicans to majority control of the Senate and House in November’s mid-term elections.
“This Congress has not only failed to perform any serious oversight of the Biden administration, but is in many cases complicit in covering for them.
“When new majorities take over next over year, they will have a mandate to get to the bottom of scandals like this.”
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