Rep. Bill Thomas, BIO's "Legislator of the Year", may have embarrassed the trade organization last week by proclaiming that the biotechnology industry has little influence on Capitol Hill. But the biotech CEOs in his audience may have taken the California Republican with a grain of salt, as the veteran lawmaker's advice may have been seasoned with more than a little self-interest.

In a city where "influence" is brazenly calibrated in financial terms, they suggested that the recipient of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's "Legislator of the Year" award was making a not-too-subtle request for campaign contributions.