GOP House Leaders Cash in on Big Tobacco Dollars While

Aug. 10, 1998

GOP House Leaders Cash in on Big Tobacco Dollars While
Snuffing Out Legislation to Protect Children from Smoking

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the House Republican leadership, who have reneged on a promise to consider anti-smoking legislation this summer, continue to lead the way in accepting huge campaign contributions from tobacco companies, a new Public Citizen report shows.

The GOP?s four highest-ranking members in the House were among the top 20 House recipients of cash from Big Tobacco?s political action committees, according to the latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX) led the way with $15,000 in tobacco PAC contributions so far in the 1997-98 election cycle. Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) received $13,000, while Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) took $12,000, and House Republican Conference Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) took $10,800.

Meanwhile, despite promises that Republicans would introduce tobacco legislation in the House before the August recess, which begins today, the leadership has chosen to do nothing to cut teen smoking rates and save the lives of millions of future smokers.

“It is clear that Big Tobacco rewards those who do the industry?s bidding on Capitol Hill,” said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizen?s Congress Watch. In 1997, Clemente noted, the House members who voted most often with the tobacco industry got contributions that were more than nine times as much as those who consistently voted against Big Tobacco.

Altogether, House incumbents have received more than $1 million from Big Tobacco?s PACs during the current election cycle. GOP members received $676,455, or 66 percent of the total, compared to $349,871, or 34 percent for the Democrats.

The tobacco PACs also have contributed $3.76 million in unregulated “soft money” to the two national political parties during this cycle. More than $3.13 million, 83 percent of that total went to Republicans, while the Democrats received $622,000, or 17 percent.