Don Nickles

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Don Nickles is the founder, CEO and chair of the lobbying firm the Nickles Group. According to the firm's website, Nickles "supervises the firm's government relations and consulting practices, and oversees the management of business development and client issues." [1]

Nickles served as a Republican member of the U.S. Senate for 24 years, including a stint as Assistant Minority Leader. He's also a co-founder and member of the Oklahoma Coalition for Peace through Strength.[2]

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Nickles is an alumnus of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). During the time that he was Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, ALEC began a new alumni forum for former members who serve in public office, called the "ALEC Alumni Forum." It was launched in 2001 and is "charged with developing a national forum to encourage improved communications among current and former ALEC members. Alumni Forum activities will include special investigations and speaking engagements at major ALEC events, and joint policy members with state and national leaders. . . . Through the Alumni Forum program, ALEC will seek the support of its former members in the development of reforms that reflect the principles of the organization at all levels of government."[1]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Lobbying in health reform debate

As a former Senator, Nickles, a Republican from Oklahoma, helped negotiate the final version of Medicare Part D (which covers payment of prescription drugs), then left to form his own lobbying firm. Bristol-Myers Squibb paid Nickels' lobbying firm $120,000 by October, 2009 to lobby for, among other things, “health care reform issues related to Medicaid and Medicare.”[2]


Records and Controversies

Iraq War

Nickles voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Health Care Reform, 1990-2000

Sens. Don Nickles and Trent Lott (R-Miss) were effective in defeating or watering down numerous health care initiatives in the 1990's; in particular, they were able to prevent the Senate from considering a Patient Bill of Rights in 1998.[5]

"The Family"

Sen. Nickles was a member of a group of evangelical christian lawmakers who made headlines with their house on C-Street in Washington, D.C.[6]

The Defense of Marriage Act

Sen. Nickles was responsible for introducing DOMA into the Senate in 1996.[7]

Opposition to Organized Labor

In addition to his support for ALEC, Nickles fought to pass Right to Work legislation in Oklahoma in 2001.[8] Nickles received a 4% lifetime rating on labor issues from the AFL-CIO in 2004, his last year in the Senate; 5th worst of all serving senators that year. [9]

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2001 Annual Report, organizational report, 2002
  2. Olga Pierce Medicare Drug Planners Now Lobbyists, with Billions at Stake ProPublica, October 20, 2009
  3. Directors, Christian Freedom International, accessed August 10, 2008.
  4. Directors, American Council for Capital Formation, accessed May 9, 2010.
  5. "Holding Patients Hostage: the Unhealthy Alliance Between HMOs & Senate Leaders.(PDF)" Public Citizen, April 05, 2000. web, accessed March 25, 2013.
  6. Jeff Sharlet, “Sex and Power inside The C Street House.” Salon Media Group, Inc. July 21, 2009. Web, accessed March 14, 2013
  7. Senate of the United States. “Defense of Marriage Act. S.1999. 104th Congress, July 29, 1996. (PDF)" Library of Congress Web, accessed March 25, 2013
  8. John Nichols, "Dust-up in the Dustbowl." The Nation, September 20, 2001. web, accessed March 25, 2013.
  9. "AFL-CIO / Legislative Voting Records," AFL-CIO, web, accessed March 14, 2013