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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
Tobacco firms give big to GOP leaders

By Associated Press, 04/18/98

ASHINGTON - On the same day tobacco executives were called to Congress to discuss the nationwide antismoking proposal, Philip Morris Cos. poured $100,000 into the coffers of Republicans who control the House.

Philip Morris's Feb. 24 donation was the largest the National Republican Congressional Committee took in during the first three months of 1998, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

''They have been supporters of ours for many, many, many years,'' committee spokeswoman Mary Crawford said.

The committee, which helps elect House Republicans, wound up raising $227,750 in ''soft money'' from the tobacco industry during the first three months of 1998, as legislation embodying the proposed settlement began moving through the Congress.

''Huge contributions from tobacco companies at the same time Congress is considering tobacco regulation show quite clearly what the tobacco industry is trying to do: Use money to protect their special interests,'' said Ann McBride, president of Common Cause, a group advocating campaign finance reform.

Overall, the committee raised $8.7 million in regular contributions between Jan. 1 and March 31, plus another $4 million in soft money, which is not subject to federal contribution limits. Senate Republicans and House and Senate Democrats are to report their latest contributions next week.

Soft money is used for party-building activities such as get-out-the-vote drives, and increasingly for issue-oriented advertisements that do not urge a vote for or against a particular candidate. Direct contributions to candidates are subject to federal contribution limits.

The Republican committee also received $86,750 from the liquor industry during the first three months of 1998, led by $50,250 in soft money from the Distilled Spirits Council and $15,000 from the National Beer Wholesalers' political action committee. On March 31, the House GOP leadership prevented an attempt to amend a $217 billion transportation spending bill to establish a .08 percent blood alcohol content as the nationwide standard for drunken driving.

Common Cause reported yesterday that the alcohol and restaurant interests contributed more than $26 million to the Democratic and Republican parties from 1987 to 1997.

This story ran on page A03 of the Boston Globe on 04/18/98.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.

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