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Senate Candidates Rep. Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance

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Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) faced off against Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance during a live debate on Monday night as both candidates vie for the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). At one point in the debate, Ryan dragged Vance over his anti-drug nonprofit “Our Ohio Renewal,” which Ryan said took advantage of Ohioans struggling with drug addiction.

“You know what I haven’t done?” Ryan asked during the debate at WJW Fox 8’s headquarters in Cleveland. “I didn’t start a fake nonprofit pretending I was going to help people with addiction like JD Vance did — literally started a nonprofit and didn’t spend one nickel on anybody.”

“In fact, he brought in somebody from Perdue Pharma to be the spokesperson for the nonprofit,” Ryan continued. “The same drug company, Big Pharma, the big drug company, that had all the pill mills going, got everybody addicted. One million people died, JD. One million people died. And you started a nonprofit to try and take advantage of people in Ohio. And you know what? All you did with it was launch your political career.”

In August, the Associated Press reported that “the charity’s most notable accomplishment — sending an addiction specialist to Ohio’s Appalachian region for a yearlong residency — was tainted by ties among the doctor, the institute that employed her and Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin."

According to the AP, the nonprofit — which Vance founded the day after the 2016 presidential election and closed “shortly after clinching the state’s Republican nomination for U.S. Senate” — hired Dr. Sally Satel, whose writings “sometimes cited Purdue-funded studies and doctors” and “[questioned] the role of prescription painkillers in the national opioid crisis.”

The American Enterprise Institute, where Satel was a resident scholar, “received regular $50,000 donations and other financial support from Purdue totaling $800,000,” the AP reported.

You can watch a clip of the debate below or at this link.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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