Incumbent’s Opioid Industry Financial Connections Detailed

The Tampa Bay Times reported on how much campaign money the incumbent took from the opioid industry while he co-sponsored a law that made it easier for the opioid industry to push pills. The incumbent’s financial ties to the opioid industry include taking campaign money from opioid industry companies that Florida’s Attorney General is suing for pushing poison pills into our communities.

“In 2014 Bilirakis received a total of $9,500 from drug companies who would later be named in Bondi's lawsuit according to Federal Election Commission filings. It was more than double what he ever received in a single year from those companies since taking office in 2006.

Then Bilirakis became one of six co-sponsors of the House version of the bill in February 2015, taking $14,500 from Bondi's defendants that year. He received $7,000 in both 2016 and 2017, and $2,000 so far this year from those companies, according to the election commission.

Beyond companies specifically named in Bondi's lawsuit, Bilirakis received $80,850 overall from the pharmaceutical/health products industry in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/09/24/two-months-before-election-gus-bilirakis-tries-to-tweak-flawed-opioid-law-he-backed/

Tampa Bay Times Covers Debate Between Hunter and Bilirakis

The Tampa Bay Times reported on the first debate between Chris Hunter and incumbent Gus Bilirakis held at Pasco Hernando State College. 

“How about fundamental right and wrong?," Hunter said. "That's what's on the ballot in November.”

Hunter said Bilirakis must also be held accountable for co-sponsoring a 2016 bill that made it harder for the Drug Enforcement Administration to go after drug companies that distribute suspicious quantities of prescription pills to doctors and pharmacies. That year the Congressman received $79,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health products industry.

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/09/17/bilirakis-vs-hunter-debate-comes-down-to-one-word-trump/

Hunter Calls for New Leadership in Congress

The Tampa Bay Times covered area congressional candidates’ views on future leadership in the House of Representatives.  

“Both parties need to choose a new generation of leaders who will place the best interests of our country first and only. Following along the same old partisan path is a road to ruin,” Hunter told the Times.

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/09/06/tampa-bay-area-democrats-running-for-congress-decline-to-back-nancy-pelosi-for-speaker/

Online Donors Help Hunter

The Tampa Bay Times reported on the sources of financial support for Chris Hunter’s campaign and the incumbent’s campaign.  Hunter has not taken any special interest PAC money whereas 51% of the incumbent’s money comes from PACs.

“For a first-time candidate challenging a sitting, entrenched incumbent, the biggest hurdle is the ability to raise money,” Hunter said. “There’s a desire in our district, in our state and nationally to have service-minded leaders in Congress, especially in this cycle, that’s driving a lot of financial support to candidates like me all across the country.”

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/Bilirakis-Hunter-Where-s-the-money-coming-from-_171482225

Hunter’s Sweeping Primary Victory Covered in Tampa Bay Times

The Tampa Bay Times covered Chris Hunter’s sweeping victory in the primary election in which he won every precinct district-wide.

“Voters throughout my district are ready for honest leadership and a renewal of an American service ethic that really has the power to be transformative,” Hunter said of his victory. “That transformative power is something that can get us through a very difficult time. It has a power that has potential to be unifying.”

Read the full article here https://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/25/u-s-12th-district/

False Claims in “Push Poll” Containing Lies About Hunter’s Views Covered in Tampa Bay Times

Bilirakis Campaign Refused to Confirm or Deny Involvement

The Tampa Bay Times reported on a “push poll” conducted in the run-up to the primary election in which voters were told lies about Chris Hunter’s views. Incumbent Gus Bilirakis’ campaign refused to confirm or deny involvement.

Hunter said the telephone poll, conducted days before the primary, asked voters whether they would be more or less likely to vote for him if they knew he wanted to dismantle U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and open the borders, when in reality, he does not support either concept.
The poll also asked whether voters would be more or less likely to back Hunter if they knew he supported House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for House Speaker. Hunter said he would not support Pelosi, saying “we need to have a new generation of leaders in Congress.”
“The willingness to sow disinformation is such a dangerous precedent that has already been set, and now politicians like Gus Bilirakis are using that play from the dirty tricks playbook to, in this instance, hang on to the seat his father bequeathed him.” Hunter told the Tampa Bay Times Monday.

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/27/eleventh-hour-push-poll-spreads-false-claims-about-bilirakis-challenger-chris-hunter/

New York Times Quotes Hunter On Concerns About Public Trust Following Trump’s Assault on the Law

The New York Times cited Chris Hunter in its analysis of the impact of Trump’s assault on the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the law more broadly following Trump’s escalated attacks on the heels of the guilty plea of Michael Cohen. Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, pleaded guilty to federal crimes that implicate Trump, prompting Trump to attack the use of cooperating witnesses even though it is lawful.

Former prosecutors and defense lawyers said the president’s embrace of that notion — spread broadly by his bully pulpit and given a measure of validity by the office he holds — is likely to undermine trust in the justice system and weaken the government’s ability to win in court.
“How long will it take before a federal criminal defendant claims in court in front of a jury that the president of the United States rejects the legitimacy of cooperating witnesses and so too should jurors?” said Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent and prosecutor. “If only one juror agrees, a dangerous criminal could walk free.”…
“No matter when this all ends, Trump will have caused long-lasting damage to the ability of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. to execute on its mission,” Mr. Hunter said. “He is sacrificing our public safety and national security on the altar of his own ego.”

Read the full article here https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/25/us/politics/trump-justice-legal-system.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Tampa Bay Times Reports on Hunter’s Referral of Corruption Allegations To the VA OIG and Bilirakis’ Silence

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Chris Hunter referred allegations of corruption at the VA by “Mar-a-Lago Millionaires” to the VA Office of Inspector General while Congressman Gus Bilirakis, who is Vice Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs which has responsibility for VA oversight, failed even to inquire about the allegations with the VA Secretary despite evidence in the public record.  As the Tampa Bay Times reported,

“Mar-a-Lago millionaires playing politics with the VA not only presents risk of corruption, it presents risk of program failure and harm to the veterans and families the VA is duty-bound to serve,” Hunter wrote to Inspector General Michael J. Missal.
Hunter, a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent, quit his job with the Department of Justice in Tampa in December to run for Congress. While with the DOJ, Hunter worked on a task force that investigated fraud in the Tricare health care program for military families.
“Complicity is when a member whose job it is to oversee the VA looks the other way when allegations of corruption are presented that implicate the president's Mar-a-Lago millionaire buddies,” Hunter told the Tampa Bay Times.

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/08/23/gus-bilirakis-and-chris-hunter-diverge-on-mar-a-lago-influence-on-va/

Tampa Bay Times Recommends Chris Hunter

Editorial Board calls hunter "an ideal candidate for democrats"

The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board announced its recommendation of Chris Hunter for the Democratic nomination for Congress.  In selecting Hunter, the Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board wrote this about Hunter: 

Chris Hunter is an ideal candidate for Democrats in conservative U.S. House District 12.
The Pasco County resident talks about shared American values, service to community and how voters from both political parties seek honest elected officials who are problem solvers. Hunter supports the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, banning military-style assault weapons and normalizing relations with Cuba. He opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he would seek to improve; the Trump administration’s tariffs; and any expansion of offshore drilling. He agrees with Republicans that efforts should be increased to fight the opioid crisis.
Hunter is the best-financed and best-positioned to provide the toughest challenge for the Republican incumbent. In the Democratic primary for U.S. House District 12, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Chris Hunter.

Read the full recommendation here http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/Times-recommends-For-U-S-House_170382950

FL-12 Placed On “Majority Makers” List

Bilirakis’ Record and Chris Hunter’s Candidacy Puts District In Play

The Tampa Bay Times reported on the decision of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to target the 12th Congressional District as a winnable district. The District is in play because of the incumbent’s record on health care and taxes and the legitimacy of Democratic challenger Chris Hunter.  As the Tampa Bay Times reported,

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added District 12 to its Majority Makers list, a collection of 56 Republican seats across the nation identified with the potential to flip blue.
 DCCC spokeswoman Amanda Sherman said Bilirakis' 2017 votes to repeal and replace major parts of the Affordable Care Act and to pass Trump's controversial tax bill make District 12 a likely target. Sherman said the district also is in play because of the legitimacy of Democratic challenger Chris Hunter.
 "There is a path for a Democrat there, and we think Chris Hunter can build on that with his profile," Sherman said of the district, which covers all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Read the full article here:  http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/07/18/national-democratic-committee-targets-republican-gus-bilirakis-seat-as-winnable/

Tampa Bay Times Covers Bilirakis’ False Fundraising Press Release and Quotes Leading Democrat and Former Federal Prosecutor Chris Hunter

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis issued a false fundraising press release. Bilirakis falsely claimed to have a level of local support from individuals that is belied by the facts.  In reality, Bilirakis has taken massive sums of money from out-of-state special interest PACs.  Among the special interest PACs Bilirakis took money from are those associated with the pharmaceutical industry that contributed to the opioid public health crisis. As the Tampa Bay Times reported,

The leading Democrat challenging Bilirakis, former federal prosecutor and FBI agent Chris Hunter, said Bilirakis doing "the bidding of the opioid industry lobbyists who give him campaign money," is one issue that pushed him to quit his job as a prosecutor with the fraud section of the Department of Justice in Tampa to run for office.
While with the DOJ, Hunter led the investigation and prosecution last year of the owner and associates of A to Z Pharmacy of New Port Richey, which generated more than $100 million from a compounding pharmacy fraud scheme.

Read the full article here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/07/16/rep-gus-bilirakis-sends-out-false-press-release-inflating-amount-of-local-fundraising-support/

New York Times Quotes Hunter In Coverage of DOJ’s Role In Supreme Court Vetting

The New York Times covered the Trump administration’s effort to have federal prosecutors in the field participate in document review and vetting of Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court. Chris Hunter, who served as a federal prosecutor and FBI agent, was quoted in the Times story:

“It’s flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,” said Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor who is running for Congress. “It takes them away from the mission they’re supposed to be fulfilling, which is effective criminal justice enforcement.”

Read the full article here https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/11/us/politics/rosenstein-kavanaugh-document-review-prosecutors.html

Tampa Bay Times Covers Hunter’s Response To Trump Administration’s Separation Policy

The Tampa Bay Times covered Chris Hunter’s response to the Trump Administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their families at the border.  Hunter sharply criticized the Trump Administration for its conduct, called for an immediate end to its separation policy, and urged Congress to convene a bipartisan oversight committee of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees to investigate possible civil rights violations. As the Tampa Bay Times reported,

The leading Democrat running to unseat Republican congressman Gus Bilirakis in District 12 called on Congress Tuesday to form a joint oversight committee to investigate potential civil [rights] violations within the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy that separates migrant children from parents who enter the U.S. illegally.
Chris Hunter, a former Department of Justice prosecutor and FBI agent who served under Democratic and Republican administrations, called the actions of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions “morally reprehensible” and unconscionable.

Read the full coverage here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/06/19/leading-democrat-challenging-bilirakis-in-congress-calls-for-investigation-into-trumps-policy-separating-migrant-children/

New Democrat Coalition Selects Chris Hunter For Watch List

The New Democrat Coalition, a group of 68 members of Congress from Florida and across the United States, announced today it has selected Chris Hunter who is running for Congress in Florida’s 12th district for inclusion on its Watch List.

Hunter is a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent.  He most recently served as a senior federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice on our nation’s health care fraud strike force.  He resigned from the Justice Department to run for Congress.

The New Democrat Coalition is one of the larger coalitions of Democratic Members in Congress, comprised of roughly one-third of all House Democrats. The NewDems focus on economic growth and fiscal responsibility and prioritize finding pragmatic solutions to policy challenges.  NewDem members are forward-thinking leaders committed to expanding access to quality health care at affordable prices, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, and delivering policy solutions to promote prosperity and security.

“Chris Hunter is focused on moving the country forward and building consensus to help break the gridlock in Washington,” said Jon Boughtin, Political Director for the NewDem Political Action Committee.  “He is winning support in Florida’s 12th district with a message that puts progress over politics.  Chris Hunter is a strong addition to the NewDem ‘Candidate Watch List’ that we’re pleased to announce.”

“The New Democrat Coalition members focus on achieving results for all Americans so that we have a strong economy and a secure country,” Hunter said.  “I am looking forward to working tirelessly in Congress to advance economic opportunity and educational excellence and restore American global leadership and honest service.”

Hunter, a Democrat, announced his candidacy January 2, 2018 for the seat currently held by Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis.  

Blue Dog Coalition Endorses Chris Hunter

The Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 18 members of Congress from Florida and across the United States, announced its endorsement today of Chris Hunter who is running for Congress in Florida’s 12th district.

Hunter is a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent.  He most recently served as a senior federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice on our nation’s health care fraud strike force.  He resigned from the Justice Department to run for Congress.

The Blue Dog Coalition is comprised of fiscally-responsible members of Congress who are leading the way to find commonsense solutions for the American people.  Blue Dog members are committed to financial stability and economic opportunity, ensuring a strong national defense, and transcending party lines to do what’s best for the America people.

Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-5), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition from Oregon and Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Political Action Committee, praised Hunter’s service.  “Chris Hunter served with distinction in the Justice Department, and he will be a strong advocate in Congress for fiscal responsibility, national security, and commonsense solutions to policy challenges of all shapes and sizes.  Chris has the right approach for his community and our country, and we look forward to him joining our ranks as we continue to be the leading group in Congress that regularly works to bring together members of both parties to get things done for the American people.”

“The members of the Blue Dog Coalition are thoughtful leaders committed to doing what’s right for our country, and I am honored to have their endorsement,” Hunter said.  “As I talk with people throughout my district, one thing is clear: everyone is ready for honest leadership and a brighter future. I am looking forward to renewing the American promise of honest service, first-class education, and economic opportunity for everyone centered on our shared American values.”

Hunter, a Democrat, announced his candidacy January 2, 2018 for the seat currently held by Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis.  

Hunter Calls Out Bilirakis in Tampa Bay Times Coverage of Bilirakis’ Patronizing “Summit”

The Tampa Bay Times reported on Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ patronizing plan to have his first-ever “women’s summit.”  Bilirakis, a career politician who has been in office for two decades, said his “summit” is “for women to learn about relevant topics that have a direct impact on their lives.” Featured topics include “losing weight” and “a woman’s guide to financial planning.”  Bilirakis has consistently voted against women for years, including voting against domestic violence victims’ programs and against fair pay practices for women. As the Tampa Bay Times reported,

Chris Hunter, the leading Democrat who quit his job as a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa to run, called the summit "a shameless election year stunt" given Bilirakis' record on women's issues.
In 2013, Bilirakis voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which funds programs for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. In 2009, he voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows more time for women to file pay discrimination lawsuits.
"He uses his Congressional power to vote against women and then hosts a summit that patronizes women," Hunter wrote on Twitter.

Read the full story here http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/06/01/bilirakis-to-host-his-first-ever-womens-summit-topics-like-gardening-and-weight-loss-are-on-the-agenda/

Hunter Quoted in Washington Post Story Exposing Bilirakis’ Conflicts of Interest Involving Drug Industry Money

The Washington Post exposed conflicts of interest among incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Gus Bilirakis, involving the drug industry.  Bilirakis and a small group of other incumbents sponsored legislation that benefited the opioid industry, making it easier and more lucrative to sell prescription opioids.  In a story published May 13, reporters detailed the amount of campaign money Bilirakis and others received from the drug industry.  Reporters also documented the personal financial holdings Bilirakis and others have in drug companies.  As the Washington Post reported,  

Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.) is another co-sponsor. He held between $4,000 and $60,000 in Rite Aid stock, financial disclosures show, and accepted $77,500 from drug distribution and pharmacy companies.
Chris Hunter is a first-time candidate vying for the Democratic nomination to face Bilirakis in the fall. He is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor who is hitting hard at Bilirakis’s support of the legislation.
“He sold out his constituents in exchange for campaign money from the prescription opioid industry that literally made it easier for them to push their pills on the street,” Hunter said.
Bilirakis declined an interview request.

Read the full story here https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/why-i-chose-to-run-congressional-challengers-use-bill-backed-by-drug-companies-against-incumbents/2018/05/13/b171594e-4d8f-11e8-84a0-458a1aa9ac0a_story.html?utm_term=.4336db3172d1