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News Release

Feb. 3, 2020

Fine(d) Bedfellows: U.S. Rep. Ami Bera Hauled in $150,000 
From 69 Corporate Donors Fined More Than $99 Billion 

Demonstrates need for non-partisan Election Reform Constitutional Amendment.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — U.S. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) is a self-described pro-business, small-government Democrat who often tells his audiences that free markets work best when the federal government gets out of the way. But an analysis of Ami Bera’s 2019 campaign filings shows last year he accepted $150,000 in donations from 69 corporations that have paid a combined $99 billion in fines and penalties to state and federal governments since 2000. 

The analysis was conducted by Burdick for Congress, the campaign arm of Jeff Burdick, who is the first Democrat to ever primary Bera in California’s 7th Congressional District. Using Bera’s quarterly 2019 filings with the Federal Election Committee (FEC), the analysis also found 53% of Bera’s $982,516 raised last year came from corporations and political action committees (PACs), and more than 86% came from sources outside the 7th District.

“Bera has long used a big campaign war chest to scare off Democratic challengers. That is partly why I am the first Democrat to ever primary Bera,” said Burdick, a Progressive Democrat endorsed by both the JFK Democrats of Sacramento County and the Town & County Democrats. “But voters of all parties are tired of corporate-backed candidates and hungry for a principled alternative to politicians who happily get in bed with our worst corporate actors.”

According Bera’s FEC filings, Bera took donations in 2019 from such highly penalized financial organizations as Citigroup ($25 billion since 2000), UBS Americas ($16.8 billion), and Goldman Sachs ($13 billion). Another 16 Bera donors have been each fined more than $1 billion. This includes PG&E, whose negligence has led to hundreds of deaths the past few years; Boeing, which was allowed to hijack its own regulatory process to sell a flawed, deadly aircraft worldwide; and an EpiPen manufacturer Mylan, which bilked Medicare of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The $99 billion in fines and penalties came from violations of many different laws. These included environmental, wage, employment discrimination, privacy, accounting fraud, tax evasion, bribery, safety, fair contractor billing, kickback & bribery, and price-fixing laws. (See full list of Bera's fined donors below.)

These 69 corporations have also spent nearly a combined $7.5 billion on federal lobbying and political donations since 2000. 

“But nothing demonstrates Dr. Bera’s shameless fundraising standards more than his taking nearly $50,000 in career donations from the nation’s largest opioid makers and manufacturers. This included $6,000 last year,” Burdick said. “Plus, all of his opioid donors are currently being sued in federal district court by Sacramento County, which suffers an opioids death rate twice the state rate – and even higher among our veterans.”

For all these reasons, Burdick has long called on Bera by mail, phone, online and a print ad to donate this $50,000 to local addiction recovery programs, but Bera has never responded.


Burdick also notes that Bera was among members of Congress who unanimously passed by voice vote and no debate the 2016 bill that gutted key enforcement power by the Drug Enforcement Administration over the opioids industry. According to 60 Minutes and The Washington Post, most members of Congress interviewed claimed they never even read the legislation.

“Given how gridlocked Congress is, how does any bill pass so easily through both chambers of Congress? This demonstrates just how much power the Opioid Industry’s lobbying has over both parties in Congress,” he said. “This is what I am running against: against politicians like Dr. Bera who won’t fully protect our communities and our veterans from the ravages of the greed-induced Opioid Crisis.”


Burdick declared his candidacy for Congress in June 2019 by making fundraising reform one of his top issues. This included taking the most principled fundraising pledge in the nation. He is not only refusing all PAC and corporate donations, but he’s also accepting donations only from voters in his district.


This pledge is a key tenet of his proposed non-partisan Election Reform Constitutional Amendment. If passed by Congress and ratified by the states, this would limit all federal candidates to fundraising only from voters in their area of representation: their districts for U.S. House candidates and their states for Senate candidates. This would also take roughly 80% of the money out of politics. The amendment would also reverse the 2010 Citizens United ruling, end corporate personhood and end gerrymandering – all reforms favored by most Americans.

“What’s so egregious about Bera’s fundraising is how blatant it is. He doesn’t think anyone cares or will notice. Not any media outlets nor his own constituents,” Burdick added.

“What Bera never counted on was being primaried by a fellow Democrat who was completely free of any campaign-finance blemishes and would dare run on a principled platform to reform our political system the right way,” he said.

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Ami Bera’s Most Fined Corporate Donors – 2019

Fine/Penalty amounts researched through
2019 donations from

             Corporation                 Fines/Penalties            2019

          Controlling PAC                 Since 2000           Donations

                Citigroup                  $24,980,998,562         $2,000

            UBS Americas               $16,756,803,331         $1,000

           Goldman Sachs              $13,139,380,987         $2,500

                   Pfizer                      $4,707,962,947          $2,000

          GlaxoSmithKline              $4,422,266,058          $1,000

             Merck & Co.                  $3,303,980,728          $1,000

                  Verizon                     $2,444,455,728          $1,000

           General Electric               $1,909,646,729          $1,000

                  Abbvie                      $1,881,735,219          $2,500

      Eli Lilly and Company           $1,641,180,176          $2,000

   Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.        $1,524,891,420          $2,000

                   AT&T                       $1,382,141,444          $3,000

Toyota Motor North America     $1,378,517,790          $3,500

       Novartis Corporation           $1,345,146,943          $2,000

                  Zeneca                      $1,147,578,284          $1,000

                   Mylan                       $1,099,772,700          $1,000

              CVS Health                   $1,096,687,823          $3,500

                   PG&E                       $1,033,111,712          $1,000

                  Boeing                      $1,026,016,744          $1,000

                  Amgen                        $912,599,069            $1,000

         Google (Alphabet)               $863,335,907            $2,000

             EMD Serono                    $770,379,407            $2,500

        Abbott Laboratories             $725,642,952            $5,000

        Northrop Grumman              $712,377,075            $1,000

Samsung Electronics America      $708,712,182            $2,000

           Federal Express                 $652,919,024            $1,000

          Sprint (SoftBank)                $644,099,189            $1,000

                Walgreen                      $638,774,851            $2,500

        Sanofi US Services               $629,823,454            $1,000

           KPMG Partners                  $555,227,986           $10,000

Science Applications Internat’l     $522,593,256            $1,000

      Wellcare Health Plans             $436,205,950            $2,500

         Cigna Corporation               $422,098,548            $1,000

T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom)       $391,882,918            $1,000

                  Anthem                       $370,890,252            $2,500

       United Parcel Service            $361,624,607            $5,000

            Ernst & Young                  $320,176,157            $2,000

                Microsoft                      $319,239,800            $1,000

         Southern Company              $232,299,902            $1,000

          Lockheed Martin                $227,383,711            $5,000

               Honeywell                     $221,750,404            $2,500

                Medtronic                     $221,542,025            $1,000

            Sempra Energy                 $181,829,697            $1,000

                  Cargill                        $174,974,718            $1,000

           Hewlett-Packard                $128,831,555            $1,500

           NOVO Nordisk                  $103,450,956            $2,693

    PricewaterhouseCoopers           $98,910,717             $6,000

          The Home Depot                 $90,676,978             $7,500

             Union Pacific                    $80,000,488             $2,500

      Philips North America             $69,500,119             $1,000

        Jacobs Engineering               $68,932,102             $1,000

         International Paper               $47,899,418             $5,000

               Caterpillar                      $46,070,933             $2,500

                   RELX                          $45,131,799             $1,000

New York Life Insurance Co.         $44,195,602             $2,500

             Unum Group                    $43,870,470             $2,500

              Trans Union                     $30,291,667             $1,500

                 Amazon                        $24,736,657             $1,000

                 Best Buy                       $22,939,624             $1,000

                 Humana                        $18,672,529             $5,000

Michigan Sugar Co. Growers         $13,627,745             $1,500

           Cox Enterprises                   $6,847,347              $1,000

                    GAP                            $5,878,000              $2,000

American Crystal Sugar Co.            $594,541               $5,000

         Texas Instruments                  $423,483               $1,000

                    Aflac                            $384,900               $2,000

           Gilead Sciences                    $255,700               $1,000

       Edwards Lifesciences                 $18,774                $1,000

         Harris Corporation                    $13,880                $1,000 

                                                   Total     $99.4 Billion          $150,193      


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