Update as of August 6, 2000:
Bush administration would not continue the Justice Department’s suit against the tobacco industry
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September 20, 1999
TO: Editorial / Features Editor
Contact: Patrick Reynolds, President, tobaccofree.org Tel: (310) 577-9828 office (310) 880-1111 cellular
Contact: Pooya Fazeli, Editor, The Stanford Medical Review, Tel: (650) 796-0826
REPUBLICAN FAVORS FOR BIG TOBACCO TIED TO CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS?
An editorial published today in the Stanford Medical Review suggests favors done by Congressional conservatives for the tobacco industry are linked to Big Tobacco’s campaign donations to Republicans. The author, Patrick Reynolds, a grandson of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds, became a tobacco-free advocate in 1986, after his father, RJ Reynolds, Jr., died from smoking.
“Today, around 80% of Big Tobacco’s largesse goes to Republicans,” writes Reynolds. “Five of the top ten donors to the GOP in the ’96 election were tobacco companies…Since the tobacco industry began tilting its dollars toward Republicans, examples of Republican ‘favors’ abound.” The editorial goes on to list eight examples. Reynolds believes that the best solution is strong campaign finance reform.
He concludes his editorial by noting, “In recent years, Republicans have raised twice as much from the special interests as the Democrats. This gives Democrats incentive to pass campaign finance reform, and gives Republicans motivation to filibuster against it. In this advocate’s view, as long as Republicans remain in the majority, business will continue as usual.”
About his editorial, Reynolds comments, “We are often told that we don’t need Big Government in our lives. But what about Big Business in our lives, and the awesome power the large corporations have acquired over our government? Uncle Sam, while far from perfect, is still our best hope for bringing the excessive political influence of Big Business into check.
“In the recent tobacco settlement, it wasn’t Congress who finally brought Big Tobacco to heel. It was the judicial branch — our courts — because many Republicans in Congress have been demonstrably bought off by Big Tobacco’s donations. In his brilliant and lucid new book, The Post Corporate World, author David C. Korten points out that the biggest mistake our government has made was allowing the large corporations to become too powerful, mostly at the expense of small business owners, who are now being deprived of their share of the American Dream. Korten writes that it’s time for us to stop listening to the song of money and profit — and start listening to the song of community and life.”
Reynolds is a frequent speaker before middle and high schools, Universities and health conferences, and is President of tobaccofree.org. Mr. Reynolds’ Stanford Review editorial may be reprinted.
Additional press materials are at tobaccofree.org/photos.