Defendant Philip Morris Caught Red-Handed in Inappropriate Scheme to Get Congress to Block Department of Justice Lawsuit

Jun. 13 2000

Washington, DC — Philip Morris, one of the defendants in the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against the tobacco companies, is actively lobbying Congress to cut off funding for the lawsuit, according to documents obtained by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS.

The documents, faxed by Philip Morris to members of Congress, remove any pretense that the congressional effort to block the lawsuit is motivated by anything other than protecting the tobacco companies and show that Philip Morris is inappropriately trying to have the lawsuit decided by Congress rather than the courts.

"Philip Morris' lobbying shows contempt for both the legislative and judicial process," said William Corr, Executive Vice President for the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. "It is highly inappropriate that a defendant in a federal lawsuit would ask Congress to interfere politically and block the lawsuit rather than allow it to be decided on its merits in court. And it is even more inappropriate that any member of Congress would do that defendant's bidding. Congress should reject any special protection for Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies and allow the Justice Department to continue its lawsuit on behalf of the American people."

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit last year to recover the billions of dollars federal health programs spend each year on smoking-related health care costs. According to the Office of Management and Budget, these costs total more than $29 billion each year, including $20.8 billion under Medicare, $4 billion under veterans health care, and $1.6 billion under military health care.

The lawsuit charges that Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies have conspired since the 1950s to deceive the American people about the negative health effects of smoking, the addictiveness of nicotine, and their efforts to market to children.

Congressional opponents of the lawsuit are seeking to block it by attaching provisions to several appropriations bills that cut off funding for the lawsuit. A floor vote on the issue is expected as soon as this Thursday when the House considers the VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill.

Philip Morris has made more than $1 million in federal campaign contributions so far this election cycle, most of it to the Republican Party, and co-chaired a $21 million Republican fundraiser on April 26.

A copy of the lobbying materials being distributed by Philip Morris can be obtained by calling Vince Willmore at 202-296-5469.

 

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