WOODBRIDGE, NJ – Middlesex County Democrats joined in attacks of the Republican U.S. Senate Candidate, Bob Hugin, citing his time as an executive for the pharmaceutical company, Celgene Corp. In a press release issued Thursday, Senator Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chairman of the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, questioned Mr. Hugin’s ethics. “Bob Hugin did not save people suffering from cancer – he exploited them. To see him now use the plight of cancer survivors to bankroll is campaign is offensive” said Mr. Vitale in the release.
The attacks come as the race for U.S. Senate between Mr. Hugin and incumbent Senator Robert Menendez tightens. Several recent polls show a close race. In a Quinnipiac University poll released last month, Mr. Menendez led Mr. Hugin, by just 6 points, 43 to 37 percent. Mr. Menendez previously held a 17-point lead, 49 to 32 percent, in a March survey conducted by Quinnipiac University.
The attacks against Mr. Hugin on the issue of the pricing of cancer drugs by Celgene has been a running theme for Democrats and their allies. In August, a Menendez ad titled “Greed” criticized Celgene for raising cancer-drug prices. The super PAC, Leadership Alliance New Jersey, with reported ties to strategist and consultant Julie Roginsky, has also ran TV ads attacking Mr. Hugin on the issue.
Mr. Vitale continued on this theme, stating “Bob Hugin now seeks to reinvent himself and use the millions he made from drastically increasing the price of cancer treatments in an attempt to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate. Hugin paid $280 million to avoid trial and make his problems go away, then had the record and his videotaped deposition sealed. It begs the question: What is he hiding? And while most rational people believe no one pays $280 million if he did nothing wrong, he should come clean, answer questions and be held accountable for what he did at Celgene.”
Mr. Hugin and his allies have in turn repeatedly questioned Mr. Menendez’s ethics. Mr. Menendez faced a federal corruption trial last year, which ended in a hung jury. But the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Mr. Menendez for his conduct, a point Mr. Hugin’s campaign has stressed. Ultimately, the U.S. Justice Department dropped the charges against Mr. Menendez and decided not to further pursue the case.
Mr. Hugin’s campaign has also raised the issue of Mr. Menendez’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry. In response to reports of an ad in support of Mr. Menendez by the Super PAC, Patients for Affordable Drugs Action, the Hugin campaign issued a statement that “Menendez took $1 million in campaign contributions from Big Pharma and then repeatedly voted to block less expensive generic and imported drugs in the Senate, while voting to force Medicare patients to pay more. He helped create the system we have today during his 25 failed years in Washington.”