Hannah-Beth Jackson,  Republican Party of Ventura County,  Tony Strickland,  Ventura County Star

Receiving Campaign Contributions from Tobacco Companies a Campaign Issue? Part 3


Political cartoon by Steve Greenberg, Ventura County Star

There has been a continuing FLAP regarding tobacco industry/company contributions to the Republican Party of Ventura County and the California State Senate campaign of Republican nominee Tony Strickland.

Today, political activists who support the candidacy of Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson will be protesting these tobacco contributions outside of the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel in Westlake Village, California prior to a Strickland fundraising event featuring former Massachusetts Governor and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Flap understands that the GOP will have counter protesters.

But, what are the facts about the tobacco industry and the political contributions they make?

And, has Hannah-Beth Jackson received campaign contributions indirectly from politicians who have accepted money from the tobacco industry?

The answer to the question is yes.

Are Hannah-Beth Democrat Party supporters then hypocritical in protesting Tony Strickland’s acceptance of tobacco campaign cash when both their candidate and party have accepted like contributions?

The answer is yes.

Ok, back to the facts. This first graphic illustrates the influence of the tobacco products industry on state of California politics.


Graphic courtesy of Followthemoney.org

The above graphic represents donations to state legislative campaigns, state constitutional officers (e.g. Governor, Secretary of State, etc) and election measures. The California GOP has received more campaign money than the Democrats but in this election cycle by only 8 plus per cent.

Now, let’s look at the federal national contributions:

Again the GOP over the past decade or more have been the recipient of the majority of the federal candidate contributions. This includes members and candidates of/for the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, national political parties and President. Note that the GOP controlled the Congress for the majority of the last decade.

Here is a graphic from this year’s federal election cycle of tobacco industry money given to Congress:


Graphic courtesy of Open Secrets.org

There has been alot of tobacco money running through political campaigns, no?


Would heavy regulation and taxation have something to do with it?

You bet.

The industry is buying access to the legislative and executive leaders who regulate them – just like any other industry that deals with government.

What makes it EVEN MORE difficult to track the contributions is the propensity of California legislative campaigns to raise money in one district and then transfer it to another. Same goes with the political parties both Democrat and Republican.

After reviewing the campaign records of Hannah-Beth Jackson and Tony Strickland, it can be said that for now Strickland has accepted the most DIRECTLY reported contributions from the tobacco industry. A summary of Strickland’s receipts for his California State Senate run this year are here.

However, Hannah-Beth Jackson has also received two money transfers from a fellow California State Senator, Gloria Negrete McLeod, CA SD-32, who HAS received money from Altria Corporation, a tobacco products company. Hanna-Beth Jackson’s contribution receipts are here.

Of course, these records ONLY reflect what has taken place up to May 22, 2008. Tony Strickland has already issues a press release that he has raised over $1 million for his campaign. Undoubtedly, there will be more campaign transfers into Jackson’s account from the Democrat Party legislative leadership and other politicians.

So, where is the FLAP?

Both candidates and both political parties have received contributions from the tobacco industry. The GOP has received more than the Democrats but both have been the recipients of millions of dollars according to contribution limits and state and federal law.

Smoking and chewing tobacco may be unhealthful habits but the use of the products is NOT illegal.

Unless the protesters today can PROVE that these tobacco contributions have illegally influenced the campaigns of either candidate then Flap REALLY doesn’t see the point.

If Ventura County voters do not wish to vote for someone who has accepted campaign contributions from an American business interest selling a legal product that is heavily regulated and taxed, then so be it.

There has been full disclosure.