Connect with us
Chris Hunter

Tampa Bay

New Chris Hunter ad says Gus Bilirakis ‘Sold Out’ to drug companies

The Chris Hunter for Congress campaign released a new ad Thursday entitled “Sold Out” attacking incumbent Gus Bilirakis for supporting dangerous pharmaceutical industry legislation.

“Gus Bilirakis inherited his seat in Congress, took more drug money than any current Florida Congressman, then sponsored the law that let drug companies push more opioid pills,” the ad begins.

Bilirakis was one of six co-sponsors of the 2016 “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act” that scaled back the Drug Enforcement Agency’s ability to halt shipments of drugs that posed a danger to the public.

The ad is running on television in Congressional District 12 in north Pinellas County, all of Pasco County and parts of Hillsborough County.

A 2017 Washington Post and 60 Minutes investigation found the pharmaceutical industry began lobbying Congress for the law in 2014 during which time Bilirakis accepted $40,000 in contributions from Big Pharma.

The ad cites an October 13, 2017 report on CBS that said, “the drug industry, with the help of Congress, turned an epidemic into a full-blown crisis” and another from Fox News that same month calling the act “a gift to drug distributors.”

“As a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor, Chris Hunter put crooked drug company executives behind bars,” the ad went on to say.

The “Sold Out” ad paid for by Hunter’s campaign indicated Bilirakis accepted $80,850 from drug companies. Those figures are from Bilirakis’ Congressional campaign during the 2016 election cycle, according to Open Secrets. During the 2017/2018 cycle, Bilirakis accepted about $69,000 in contributions from the Pharmaceutical industry in both his campaign committee and Leadership PAC.

Bilirakis has come under fire recently for his relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and false claims his campaign made in statements and in political ads.

A Bilirakis ad this month called a law signed by President Trump responding to the opioid epidemic the “Bilirakis Interdict Act.” That law provides funding and equipment to detect fentanyl at the border.

Bilirakis was not one of the 18-sponsors of that bill nor did he vote in committee on it, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Hunter’s ad also calls out Bilirakis as a career politician. He’s held elected office for two decades and served in Congress for the last 12 years. Bilirakis succeeded his father in office. Between the two, the father and son have held the seat for 36 years.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

Florida League of Cities to Ron DeSantis: Veto cancer benefits for firefighters


Florida could be first state to limit THC in smokable medical marijuana


Winners and losers emerging from the 2019 Legislative Session


Group of Jewish Floridians hammer anti-Semitism bill, call for veto


Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.