Big Tobacco Buys a Bill… **OR** Washington at its Ugliest.

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:

2012

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

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4 thoughts on “Big Tobacco Buys a Bill… **OR** Washington at its Ugliest.

  1. As a manager of a retail location whose primary source of sales comes from people who roll their own, and an American smoker who rolls her own, I say THANK YOU!!! If these bills pass, not only will it result in the loss of many American jobs (including my own), it will send the message (once again) that “whoever has the most money wins” and that our government (as is typical, unfortunately) doesn’t care about the little guys, or their rights as Americans.

    • taxtracker says:

      Hey Monica, THANK YOU for commenting! We’re remounting our steeds to fight the good fight against the greedy jokers backing higher taxes/regulations. I’ll need your help. Please stay tuned and stay active!

  2. Laura Moore says:

    This is unbelieveable!!! And Rep. Black is pushing a bill for big tobacco!!! She’s in my district and you can bet everyone is going to know!!!!!! Talk about buying votes. I guess it proves Congress is for sale!!

    • taxtracker says:

      It really is astonishing this kind of thing still happens in Congress, right?! I encourage you to politely post on her Facebook, Tweet to your friends about it, and let everyone know what’s happening. Everyone in Washington talks about growing jobs and the economy, and then they SLAM us with this!

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