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Strong Link Shown Between House Vote to Cut Off Funding for Tobacco Lawsuit and Tobacco Political Contributions

House Members Protecting Big Tobacco Took Over $2 Million in Tobacco PAC Contributions in Last Two Election Cycles
June 20, 2000

Washington, DC — The 207 Members of the House of Representatives who voted Monday to cut off funding for the Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco companies have taken, on average, more than five times the amount of tobacco campaign contributions over the last two election cycles as have the 197 Members who supported funding for the lawsuit, according to an analysis by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS.

Those voting to protect the industry have taken a total of $2,010,462, or an average of $9,712, in tobacco PAC money during this time period, compared to $344,732, or an average of $1,750, for those who voted to fund the lawsuit.

More than three-fourths (76 percent) of those who voted to cut off the lawsuit funding have taken tobacco PAC contributions since January of 1997, compared to one-third (33 percent) of those who voted in support of the lawsuit.

In addition to PAC contributions, the tobacco companies have contributed soft money totaling $2,308,049 to the Republican Party and $187,500 to the Democratic Party so far this election cycle. Thirty-four Republicans voted to fund the Justice Department lawsuit, while 173 Republicans voted not to do so. Among Democrats, 162 members voted to fund the lawsuit, while 33 members voted not to do so.

'It is a sad commentary on the influence of well-funded special interests that the House on Monday voted to protect Big Tobacco at the expense of America's families and taxpayers,' said William Corr, Executive Vice President of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS. 'Fortunately, it is not too late for supporters of Big Tobacco to reverse course and vote to hold the industry accountable for its long history of deception and wrongdoing.'

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in 1999 to recover the billions of dollars federal health programs spend each year treating tobacco-caused diseases, including $20.8 billion under Medicare, $4 billion under veterans' health care, and $1.6 billion under military health care.

The Justice Department is paying for the lawsuit with assistance from other affected agencies, including the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Defense. Congressional opponents of the lawsuit are seeking to kill it by attaching anti-lawsuit provisions to appropriations bills funding these agencies. On Monday, the House voted 207 to 197 to defeat an amendment (offered by Rep. Henry Waxman) to delete the anti-lawsuit provision in the VA-HUD Appropriations Bill. Additional votes are expected on the issue.

Please call Joel Spivak or Vince Willmore at 202-296-5469 for information on tobacco campaign contributions to specific members of Congress.

Vote on Waxman Amendment
Pro-Tobacco Pro-Justice
Total Tobacco PAC Dollars $2,010,462 $344,732
Avg. Tobacco PAC Dollars $9,712 $11750
(N) 207 197
Vote on Waxman Amendment
Pro-Tobacco Pro-Justice
Took Tobacco PAC Money 158
Did Not Take Tobacco PAC Dollars 49
(N) 207