Monday, October 20, 2014

Big tobacco seen behind dark money push for Leslie Rutledge

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Southern Progress, the Democratic advocacy group, delves more deeply into the subject of the Center for Individual Freedom, the secretive 501c4 group that is pumping $1.8 million into a sleazy dark money campaign against Nate Steel in the race for attorney general.

I mentioned before that tobacco money has been tied to this group, along with big Republican donors and about its efforts to prevent laws requiring financial disclosure for such groups. Southern Progress delves further. It says:

T
he Virginia-based Center for Individual Freedom is a tobacco industry front group founded by a major tobacco industry lobbyist with funds from all of the big tobacco companies. In fact, the group is born directly from the ashes of the National Smokers Alliance whose mission was “dedicated to fighting discrimination against smokers and to supporting business owners” that sold tobacco products. Thomas Humber, founder of the Center for Individual Freedom was also president of the National Smokers Alliance (NSA).

..What does CFIF do? Just like their predecessor the NSA, the Center for Individual Freedom has lobbied to kill common sense smoking restrictions and any tobacco tax no matter what. In recent years, they’ve gotten even more slick trying to do away with state laws that require donors to groups be disclosed. How convenient — now they can spend money to do away with tobacco taxes and smoking restrictions without having to disclose their donors!

Equipped with all this revealing information, we now want to know what exactly Leslie Rutledge has promised Big Tobacco? What do they expect from her? Why is CFIF so concerned with the Arkansas Attorney General race?
Consider this:

The Arkansas Attorney General oversees the administration of the tobacco master settlement agreement of 1998, which means $7 billion per year to the states – and $60 million a year to Arkansas. The tobacco companies hate the regulatory compliance for the tobacco settlement. They hate when AGs band together to stop the glamorization of smoking on movie screens that sets a bad example for children, and Big Tobacco doesn’t like it when there is pushback on child-friendly advertising images like Joe Camel and candy-flavored tobacco that entices young people to smoke. And they don’t like the push by state AGs to include the new vapor cigarettes and all their fun and youth-enticing flavors to be included in the overall tobacco settlement.

The Center for Individual Freedom clearly has 1.8 million reasons to believe Leslie Rutledge will be a friend to Big Tobacco.

So when this group cherry picks some votes to misrepresent Nate Steel's stance on protecting children, think about all the good the tobacco lobby does for children.

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