So far the group has given $56,473 to Sen. Lindsey Graham, $51,100 to Rep. Joe WIlson, and $31,250 to Rep. Tim Scott. BCBS is Rep. Trey Gowdy’s all-time largest supporter with $19,394 in donations, and Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s second-largest with $19,500. Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Jeff Duncan seem to have missed out on all that BCBS campaign cash, but have nothing to worry about as their campaigns are largely bankrolled by the ultra-conservative Club For Growth.
BCBS spending on South Carolina politicians is even more widespread in the State House, according to State Ethics Commission records. The group gave $7,000 to Gov. Nikki Haley’s 2010 campaign, and hands out $1,000 contributions among the General Assembly like Santa on Christmas.
Of course, BCBS doesn’t give exclusively to Republicans — like any big company, they hedge their bets in order to maintain their influence no matter who’s in power. But a quick glance at the Ethics Commission’s donations database shows that the GOP is by far the bigger beneficiary, and for good reason.
With all that sweet campaign cash coming in, it’s easy to see why BCBS-influenced politicians take stances that benefit the insurance giant. With the brewing scandal over the state’s health care exchange, one could easily suspect Gov. Haley’s opposition to the competition-increasing exchanges might be motivated by financial interests as well as ideology. After all, it’s not the first time BCBS has lobbied against measures that would hurt their monopolistic control over the state’s health care.
If South Carolina ever does set up its own health care exchange, count on Blue Cross/Blue Shield to lobby for as much control — and as little government oversight — as possible. And if the company’s influence on Palmetto State politics is any indication, count on lawmakers to give it to them.