MiMedx CEO Allegedly Demanded Employees Donate Cash to Support GOP Candidates Like Tom Price

MiMedx CEO Allegedly Demanded Employees Donate Cash to Support GOP Candidates Like Tom Price January 17, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

MARIETTA, Ga. – Parker H. “Pete” Petit, chairman and chief executive officer of Georgia-based MiMedx secured large amounts of financial backing for Republican-supporting political action committee he runs by demanding his employees make financial contributions, according to a report by Kaiser Health News.

According to reports, Petit sent managers in the company an email demanding they make donations to the company PAC “IMMEDIATELY,” according to the report. Federal law prohibits businesses from demanding employees make contributions to PACs or political campaigns.

“I’m going to ask one more time for our field management to send something to our PAC. And, IMMEDIATELY,” said the 2015 email sent under Petit’s name, according to the report from KHN. “We have PAC business to transact, and we need at least 50 donors to do so.”

Not only did Petit make demands of his managers, but Kaiser Health News said the managers in turn sent text messages “singling out certain employees who were expected to give.”

MiMedx officials did not respond to the report. Kaiser Health News did not report whether or not there were any complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission about the email Petit sent.

The PAC contributed more than $40,000 to Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick to helm the Department of Health and Human Services. MiMedx is in Price’s district. The PAC operated by MiMedx was Price’s top contributor for 2015-2016, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, KHN said. The PAC also made large contributions to support the campaign of President-elect Trump.

Company officials said Price helped the company without giving it special treatment, although they did not elaborate on what Price did. Around the time the email was sent to employees demanding contributions to the PAC, Petit and MiMedx were lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reconsider draft guidelines regarding the use of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products. MiMedx manufactures products for wound and surgical care made from discarded placentas. The company turns the birth byproduct into skin grafts and other products used to help wound and burn-care patients. The company has been scrutinized by the FDA since 2012, when the agency began to question if products made from liquefied human tissue should be regulated more stringently. In 2013, KHN reported the FDA sent a letter questioning MiMedx’s products, which led to a decline in stock price.

As of this past fall the company was still fighting against the FDA’s draft guidance.

KHN reported that the FDA would not discuss whether or not Price, an orthopedic surgeon by trade, had intervened on behalf of MiMedx.

Price has not appeared before the Senate to be confirmed. Last week, Price issued a letter stating he would divest his portfolio of stock in 43 different healthcare companies in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. Brett Kappel, a Washington, D.C. campaign finance lawyer, told Kaiser Health News that the Senate could examine how donations from companies such as MiMedx could play a role in the way he runs HHS.

“Aside from the fact that he received campaign contributions from the same company, as the head of HHS he’s going to have oversight over the FDA and he should have a view on what are inappropriate interactions between regulated companies and the agency,” Kappel told Kaiser Health News.

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