The age-old adage in Washington, DC is if you really want to know why something is happening, “follow the money.” When Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) slipped a last minute provision into a highway bill providing a direct benefit to Big Tobacco, we put our thinking caps on and pondered, WHY? Then, when a self-proclaimed conservative Republican House member from Tennessee introduced a similar bill (H.R. 4134), we wondered WHY again! Well, if we follow the money, interesting perspectives appear.
Tennessee Republican U.S. House Rep. Diane Black for instance, received some significant tobacco money over the last couple election cycles. With 2012 and 2010 combined, Big Tobacco interests directly contributed at least $12,500 to Rep. Black. There are probably other individual contributions from folks also employed by Big Tobacco, but we can’t be certain because DOZENS of pages of Federal Elections Commissions (FEC) filings for Ms. Black contain “information requested” instead of actual employers. Hello FEC, are you listening?? Hello, FEC? Are you there…???
We DO know, however, the CHAIRMAN and CEO of PHILLIP MORRIS, Mr. Louis Camilleri, personally gave Ms. Black $1,000 on April 28, 2011. That’s a pretty tight bond for the Chairman and CEO of PHILLIP MORRIS to personally cut a check to a candidate. We wondered what issue he was interested in talking about with Ms. Black?
Rep. Black is a member of the prestigious House Ways and Means Committee. She has introduced H.R. 4134, a bill to RAISE TAXES on head shops (slang for tobacco shops) if they let people “roll their own” cigarettes in their shop. The roll-your-own fad is apparently cutting into the profits of Big Tobacco, because some people LIKE TO TAILOR THEIR SMOKES TO THEIR OWN TASTE. Imagine that. You don’t like Marlboro, Salem, or Camel and you want to make your own blend… BUT Big Tobacco says, “fuggeddaboutit.”
So, Rep. Black introduces a bill to reclassify small smoke shops with roll-your-own machines as “manufacturing facilities.” If this happens, the small shops will be forced to pay new taxes, suffer stiff new regulations, and PAY TO PLAY in the same arena as the multi-billion dollar big tobacco companies. That seems fair, right? Have you BEEN in a smoke shop? These are strip mall storefronts with little more than thin sheetrock, fancy wood, and 1200 feet of floor space of jars for you to choose your own smoke blend. Apparently, the Marlboro Man is threatened by this and wants to shut it down. Thank you, Rep. Black for doing the bidding of Big Tobacco!!
Check out her website. Rep. Black says head shops are endangering children and hamsters by flouting state and local fire regulations. Ummm, WHEN was it the responsibility of FEDERAL lawmakers to worry about STATE law or regulation? She’s also concerned small business owners aren’t paying the same tax rate as international, multi-billion dollar companies. We feel your pain, Ms. Black… especially in the current economy. Thanks for your support, thanks for fighting for individuals, and thanks for being a FAKE conservative.
Here’s some more campaign contribution information. This is just Altria (Phillip Morris) giving to members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the 2012 election cycle, and NOT representative of ALL the tobacco money they’ve received:
Jim Gerlach (R-PA) – $5,000
Sam Johnson (R-TX) – $2,000
Kevin Brady (R-TX) – $1,000
Devin Nunes (R-CA) – $5,000
Pat Tiberi (R-OH) – $3,000
Geoff Davis (R-KY) – $1,000
Charles Boustany (R-LA) – $4,000
Peter Roskam (R-IL) – $2,500
Tom Price (R-GA) – $2,000
Vern Buchanan (R-FL) – $2,000
Adrian Smith (R-NE) – $2,000
Aaron Schock (R-IL) – $5,000
Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) – $2,000
Rick Berg (R-ND) – $3,500
Diane Black (R-TN) – $2,500
Tom Reed (R-NY) – $2,000
Charlie Rangel (D-NY) – $2,000
Richard Neal (D-MA) – $2,500
Joseph Crowley (D-NY) – $5,000
Please leave your thoughts and comments. Oh, and smoke ’em if you got ’em… but only if they’re rolled for you by nameless, faceless, multi-billion international companies uninterested in your taste or style. – GR