Most rich people hoping to influence federal policy are content to write checks to fund political campaigns or shuffle cash to advocacy groups that lobby for their causes. But not Raymond Ruddy.
The Center for Public Integrity
Ruddy, a 66-year-old retired businessman who runs a pro-life charity in suburban Natick, Massachusetts, is the premier benefactor of the abstinence-only sexual education movement. During the first two quarters of this year’s health care reform debate, Ruddy spent $130,000 of his own money on the influential Washington lobby firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, now known as BGR Group, to push federal abstinence-only sex education funding, according to Senate public records. Since 2002 the conservative Catholic multimillionaire has spent more than $1.5 million on lobby fees, records show. Most of the money went to BGR, which bills itself as a bipartisan firm that “has the skills to achieve results under the most difficult circumstances.” Haley Barbour, the former head of the Republican National Committee and current governor of Mississippi, was among the firm’s founders.
Ruddy, who worked nearly 17 years for Maximus, a government contractor specializing in health and human services programs, is the rare individual who has dedicated his private wealth to the kind of health lobbying usually done by hired guns representing industry and advocacy groups. A search of Senate lobby disclosure forms reveals lots of organizations with names like Autism Speaks, the National Psoriasis Foundation, and the National Funeral Directors Association, but Ruddy appears to be the only individual who has hired lobby firms during the debate over how to reform health care.