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    Rep. Sharon Cooper (HD 43): Can’t talk now about $812K from health-care lobby

     

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    Sharon Meyer Cooper (R-Marietta)

    District 43 (Cobb County)

    Sharon Cooper

    Sharon Cooper

    Sooner or later, just about every new health care policy in Georgia has to go through Sharon Cooper. That’s why, even though she often runs unopposed, health-care interests have showered Cooper with more than $812,000 in campaign donations over the years.

    The money flows from drug companies and pharmacies, doctors and dentists, hospitals and nursing homes, insurers and managed-care organizations. When the Legislature convenes every January, many of these donors will appear before Cooper’s committee trying to push a bill, kill one or tweak it to their advantage.

    Since 2005, when Cooper became chair of the House Health & Human Services Committee, health-care interests have given her campaign more than $725,000, according to an analysis by Atlanta Unfiltered. Lobbyists with health-care clients gave another $51,000-plus.

    Atlanta Unfiltered reached out to Cooper several times to ask whether the health-care donations that help keep her in office ever represent a conflict for her. This week, she indicated campaign demands would keep her tied up until after this year’s Republican primary.

    “I’ll talk to you after this is all over,” she said on her way to a meet-and-greet reception. “I’m BUSY.”

    Physicians comprise the largest block of Cooper’s campaign donors, giving her more than $349,000 since her first campaign in 1996, our analysis showed.

    Other top health-care sectors among her contributors include:

    • Pharmaceutical manufacturers ($115,850),
    • Insurance carriers & managed care organizations ($92,360),
    • Hospitals ($67,800),
    • Nursing homes ($47,750),
    • Dentists ($28,000), and
    • Pharmacies ($21,275).

    You can find a list of her top individual contributors below.

    Often, health-care interests come down on opposite sites of proposed legislation in Georgia: optometrists vs. ophthalmologists; dentists vs. dental hygienists; full-service hospitals vs. those offering select services. All are among Cooper’s donors.


    Cooper has ranked among the busiest legislators in either chamber in recent years. Three times since 2011, she’s ranked among the top five recipients of extra per-diem checks in the House.

    Legislative website

    Campaign website

    Voting record

    Born: 1942

    Political career

    • Elected in 1996, winning a Republican primary runoff with 58% of the vote.
    • Re-elected in 1998, 2006 and 2010 with 62% of the vote or more; in other years, she won with no opposition.
    • Served as chair of the House Republican Caucus, 2003-06.
    • Won his 2016 Republican primary, 76-24%.

    Committee assignments

    • Health & Human Services (chair, 2005 – present)
    • Judiciary Non-Civil (2005 – present)
    • Regulated Industries (2009 – present)
    • Rules (2005 – present)
    • Economic Development (2003)
    • Ethics (2003 – 2006)
    • Higher Education (1999 – 2008)
    • Industry (1999 – 2002)
    • Natural Resources (1999 – 2004)

    Employment

    • Administrator of the bariatric medical practice of her late husband, Dr. J.T. Cooper.

    Business ownership interests

    • Manager, 1234 Powers Ferry LLC (business property)
    • Manager, Casa del Arbol LLC (real estate management)

    Other fiduciary positions

    • Vice president, J.T. Cooper M.D. P.C.

    Real estate holdings

    • Personal residence in Marietta valued at $613,000.
    • Business property at 1234 Powers Ferry Commons, Marietta, valued at $862,000.
    • Condo in Marietta valued at $35,000.
    • Single-family home in Albany, Ga., valued at $121,000.
    • Single-family home in Lake Park, Ga., valued at $154,000.

    Other investments

    • None disclosed

    Payments from state agencies

    • None disclosed.

    Campaign contributions

    Cooper has raised more than $1.26 million in campaign donations since 1996. The breakdown by election cycle:

    • 1996: $35,283
    • 1998: $18,474
    • 1999-2000: $26,407
    • 2001-02: $10,194
    • 2003-04: $116,602
    • 2005-06: $196,458
    • 2007-08: $187,114
    • 2009-10: $182,755
    • 2011-12: $164,523
    • 2013-14: $128,762
    • 2015-16: $203,025
    • Reported cash on hand (Oct. 2016): $195,798

    Top donors

    • $34,451 House Speaker David Ralston & other Republican lawmakers
    • $30,350 Medical Association of Georgia
    • $28,750 Resurgens P.C., orthopedics
    • $25,200 Georgia Health Care Association, nursing homes
    • $24,150 Georgia Hospital Association
    • $23,100 Georgia Dental Association & ex-president John Freihaut
    • $21,700 MAG Mutual Insurance Co.
    • $21,650 United Health Services of Georgia / Pruitt Corp., Toccoa, Ga., nursing homes
    • $18,850 Georgia Society of Ambulatory Surgical Centers
    • $18,800 BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia / Amerigroup
    • $16,200 WellCare / Comprehensive Health Management Inc., managed care organizations
    • $13,850 Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists
    • $13,350 Georgia Chiropractic Association
    • $13,000 Georgia Orthopaedic Society
    • $13,000 Pfizer / Wyeth
    • $12,550 Abbott Laboratories / Solvay Pharmaceuticals
    • $11,850 Georgia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians & its board members
    • $11,800 Merck/Schering-Plough
    • $11,500 Genentech/Roche
    • $11,000 AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals / MedImmune
    • $10,800 Georgia Society of Ophthalmology
    • $10,750 Georgia Emergency Medicine PAC
    • $10,400 Eli Lilly & Co.
    • $10,350 Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society
    • $10,200 Hospital Corporation of America
    • $10,000 Independent Doctors of Georgia
    • $9,800 Marietta Eye Clinic
    • $9,800 Troutman Sanders LLP
    • $9,250 Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic
    • $9,225 Georgia Pharmacy Association
    • $9,200 Georgia Association of Realtors
    • $8,800 Harbin Clinic, Rome, Ga.
    • $8,500 Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals
    • $8,500 Gerald Bortolazzo, physician Apollo MD
    • $8,250 Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, lobbying firm
    • $7,750 Georgia Apartment Association
    • $7,500 Georgia Radiological Society
    • $7,300 Coca-Cola & the Georgia Beverage Association
    • $7,250 Johnson & Johnson Inc.
    • $7,000 LogistiCare Solutions LLC
    • $6,950 Waste Management
    • $6,700 WellStar Health Systems execs & physicians
    • $6,500 Holland & Knight, law/lobbying firm
    • $6,500 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
    • $6,400 Express Scripts / Medco Health Solutions
    • $6,250 Novartis Pharmaceuticals
    • $6,000 Centene Management Co.
    • $6,000 Community Health Systems & executives
    • $6,000 Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia
    • $5,950 Georgia Academy of Family Physicians
    • $5,851 Georgia Automobile Dealers Association
    • $5,750 Georgia Trial Lawyers Association
    • $5,750 Pinnacle Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine Specialists LLC
    • $5,500 Cancer Treatment Centers of America
    • $5,500 GlaxoSmithKline
    • $5,500 Associated General Contractors of Georgia
    • $5,500 Georgia Veterinary Medical Association
    • $5,250 Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
    • $5,200 Georgia Psychiatry PAC
    • $5,100 Georgia Association of Community Care Providers
    • $5,000 Caremark RX Inc. / CVS
    • $5,000 Georgia Optometric Association

    Campaign Selfies

    • Cooper hasn’t always identified the end recipient of reimbursements she’s received from the campaign. She’s collected $9,749 in reimbursements since 2010 but did not name the end recipient of $5,518 of those expenses.
    • Cooper’s campaign has paid $7,600 to 1234 Powers Ferry LLC for rent, parking and utilities since September 2014.

    Campaign-to-Campaign Donations

    Candidates may make political donations with campaign funds, allowing prolific fund-raisers to share their contributions with other legislators or candidates. Some advocacy groups believe such transfers should be limited to an aggregate of $10,000 per election cycle. Cooper’s committee made these political donations, totaling more than $150,000:

    • 1998: $2,000
    • 1999-2000: $2,750
    • 2001-02: $0
    • 2003-04: $0
    • 2005-06: $22,950
    • 2007-08: $46,505
    • 2009-10: $24,500
    • 2011-12: $14,050
    • 2013-14: $34,500
    • 2015-16: $3,600

    Lobbyist freebies

    Lobbyists have reported paying for meals and other gifts for Cooper valued at more than $12,000 since 2006. The big spenders: Medical Association of Georgia ($1,272), Cancer Treatment Centers of America ($889), Georgia Hospital Association ($583).

    • 2006: $1,054
    • 2007: $3,299
    • 2008: $945
    • 2009: $312
    • 2010: $522
    • 2011: $1,608
    • 2012: $1,040
    • 2013: $754
    • 2014: $700
    • 2015: $1,529
    • 2016: $427 through April 30

    Committee days & travel expenses

    When out of session, legislators may collect $173 per day plus mileage for committee meetings or other official business. (Per diem was $127 until 2007.) Those living within 50 miles of the Capitol are taxed on these payments, originally intended to cover out-of-town members’ food and lodging. Cooper has collected more than $90,340 in per diem and travel expenses since Republicans took control of the House in 2005, or about $8,200 a year.

    • 2001: $1,242 (8 days)
    • 2002: $138 (1 day)
    • 2003: $277 (2 days)
    • 2004: $650 (5 days)
    • 2005: $4,491 (29 days)
    • 2006: $1,891 (13 days)
    • 2007: $7,209 (35 days)
    • 2008: $10,656 (55 days) # 15 in House
    • 2009: $6,546 (34 days)
    • 2010 $2,313 (12 days)
    • 2011: $15,620 (82 days) #3 in House
    • 2012: $6,239 (34 days)
    • 2013: $7,560 (39 days) #19 in House
    • 2014: $14,133 (71 days) #1 in House
    • 2015: $13,682 (70 days) #4 in House

    Posted May 17, 2016

     

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