Tobacco Industry Finds New Ways to Buy Influence
Companies give millions to hard-to-track groups, step up state lobbying
Posted by: Editor | Jun 9, 2011
OpenSecrets Blog gives us an updated look at tobacco industry efforts to influence federal lawmakers and regulators, as well as their counterparts in the states.
The industry's goal remains the same as always: Protect its profits by defeating proven measures to reduce tobacco use and save lives.
Though the industry's direct contributions to federal lawmakers and expenditures for federal lobbying are down, tobacco companies now contribute millions to leadership PACs, 527 organizations and other streams of political money that are harder to document, according to OpenSecrets, which is published by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Meanwhile, the Citizens United case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court opened a way for corporations to make unlimited independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates, is a likely boon to an industry with deep pockets, an unpopular public image — and a deadly product. The industry has also stepped up lobbying in state capitals where lawmakers are considering measures such as higher cigarette taxes and smoke-free laws.
In the latest example of how the industry seeks to wield influence, Lorillard — the third largest U.S. cigarette maker — just announced the hiring of a former Food and Drug Administration official as its chief compliance officer. The hiring comes as Lorillard has spent more than $900,000 in the first quarter of 2011 to fight possible FDA regulation of menthol cigarettes, which would affect sales of its best-selling Newport brand.
Visit our just-updated report, Tobacco Industry Contributions to Federal Campaigns, to learn how much the industry has contributed to each member of Congress.