The wife of former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) is under pressure to resign from the board of insurance giant WellPoint after the insurance lobby America's Health Insurance Plans transferred $86 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce while the chamber was actively opposing President Obama's healthcare reform law in 2010.
A coalition of activist investor groups is launching a campaign calling for the heads of Susan Bayh and another WellPoint board member, The Washington Post reports. The groups allege that the board failed to oversee "high risk political spending" in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections that saw Democrats lose 66 seats in the House and another six in the Senate.
The campaign reveals a "new militancy" in the fight to require companies to disclose their political donations ahead of the 2012 elections, the Post reports. A spokesman for the Chamber told the paper it was "part of a coordinated effort by the left to silence the business community and create one-sided debates, the only ones they can win."
"Our shareholders voiced their opinion on the issue of political disclosure just two years ago," WellPoint said in a statement. "A proposal that would have required additional reporting was voted down by WellPoint shareholders by a wide margin (by 82% of shareholders). Shareholders will have another opportunity to voice their views on this subject at next month's annual meeting."
Bayh, who voted for the healthcare reform law, resigned in 2010 after just two terms in the Senate, saying the body had grown too dysfunctional to get anything done. He then went on to work at a lobbying firm and as a contributor for Fox News.
Update: This post was updated at 12 p.m. to reflect that the Chamber of Commerce received $86 million from AHIP, not its member company WellPoint.