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.