By the time Will Guzzardi, a state legislator in Illinois, called a vote on his controversial drug pricing reform bill, the crowd in the Springfield hearing room had suspiciously thinned. Three committee Democrats were suddenly missing, and, as a result, his bill failed by three votes.

In Guzzardi’s view, it wasn’t a coincidence that the three no-shows accepted more campaign contributions from the drug industry than most other state lawmakers nationwide: Between $6,000 and $15,000 dollars each, a pittance when it comes to campaign contributions at the federal level, but enough to have a significant impact on a smaller, cheaper, and less scrutinized state election.

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