tobacco and political money

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Wed Dec 23 11:59:32 PST 1998

I refer readers to the article on Rep. Burton at . The esteemed Congressman keeps detailed accounts not just of who contributes who much, but how they split their contributions between the parties. This is backed up by newspapers reports of Senators who want $10k to ahve breakfast with them and old but highly relevant studies such as Jack Anderson's Case Against Congress which details a great number of venalities.

Against this backdrop, we would have to say, that the money pouring into Congress from Tobacco is indeed significant. Moreover, I still find it remarkable that my observation that tobacco is 3% of the total is huge carries no weight with some. Indeed, consider that RJR Nabisco can also contribute as an industrial or cereal interest or whatever. I merely observe, that when my union brings in a 3% cost of livng raise, it is a cause for celebration; and when Cuomo docked state workers 10% for 10 weeks, he lost the next election (there were considerable defections among state workers).

I do think that in the context of hundreds of millions 3% is a big deal. I recently contributed to the local public radio station $150 instead of my usual $50, and it was amazing how solicitous they were in comparison to the smaller donation. And that was a mere one-tenth of one-percent of their fund drive goal. Fund raising is fund raising. Elected representatives are in a situation similar to that of a fund-raising charity.

I also think the official contribution numbers are probably the tip of the iceberg.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

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