WASHINGTON--Did some US senators pay the piper by helping defeat the
McCain comprehensive tobacco control bill? Thats clearly the
thesis of an analysis released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
It found that senators who consistently voted against provisions to
strengthen the bill, and ultimately to kill it, received far more in
campaign contributions from the tobacco industry than those who
strongly supported the bill.
They analyzed the records of all 100 senate members on eight votes
relating to the tobacco bill and, based on these votes, assigned each
senator a "Pro-Kid" score, ranging from zero to 100%. The
report gave 50 senators scores of 67% or better and 43 senators
scores of 33% or below. Nineteen senators scored 100%.
The 43 senators with the lowest scores received four times more in
tobacco contributions on average ($34,083) than the 50
"Pro-Kid" senators ($8,108) from January 1, 1987, through
the first quarter of 1998. During their most recent Senate election
bid, senators with the lowest scores received tobacco money averaging
$17,509 each vs $3,960 for those with higher ratings.
Of the 50 "Pro-Kid" senators, 27 received no tobacco money
in their last run for the senate; 11 got no tobacco contributions in
the last 11 years. Of the 43 senators with Pro-Kid scores of 33% or
lower, four got no tobacco contributions in their last senate race,
and two received no tobacco money during the time analyzed. Senate
majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss), the lone senator to earn a zero
rating, received $50,250 in total tobacco contributions and $24,250
for his last election effort.
"Many of these senators with poor Pro-Kid scores are so clearly
indebted to the tobacco industry for its political contributions that
they did everything in their power to defeat tobacco control
legislation," said Matthew L. Myers, executive vice president of
the Kids Campaign. "Not one of them introduced an amendment to
improve the bill."
The study failed to note, however, that many of the senators who
opposed the McCain bill represent tobacco-growing states where grave
concerns exist about the effects of tobacco legislation on the
economy. Also, some conservatives--who saw the measure as imposing a
huge tax hike and expanding the power of the federal
government--opposed the legislation on principal.