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