“Anonymous ‘ghost ship’ is among groups flooding drug pricing debate”


The political war over prescription drug practices is spawning a frenzy of activity by outside lobbying groups, some with names that mask their ties to industry and one that has gone to great lengths to disguise its origins.

The increase in advertising, advocacy and pressure tactics is aimed at thwarting some efforts to control drug costs proposed in the Democratic-controlled House, such as allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, as well as ideas pursued by the Trump administration to curb prices.

The operations of these groups often dovetail with work by corporate lobbying shops. Most, but not all, disclose industry funding sources on their websites….

But the group has murky origins. It has taken steps to remain anonymous, even as it publicly rails against efforts in Congress to lower drug prices and urges voters to directly contact lawmakers. Its website was formed using an Internet service that conceals the actual owner.

The physical address for the group leads to another dead end: It’s a UPS retail store in Washington with post-office boxes just a few steps from K Street NW. The organization does not show up in a search of the Internal Revenue Service’s online database of tax-exempt organizations.

Lobbyists and lawmakers who have reviewed the group’s activities say Citizens for American Ideas is the latest example of a corporate lobbying “ghost ship,’’ a term of art for a corporate advocacy operation that is meant to remain anonymous. It could have been launched by any one of the hundreds of lobbying shops in downtown Washington, lawmakers say.

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