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Tobacco Money and Texas Politics HE FOLLOWING 1989 MEMO, reportedly from a lobbyist in Philip Morris’ Dallas-based Southwest office, will help explain how last session’s products liability bill came to include a provision that bars smokers from suing tobacco companies. The Governor who signed that bill, coincidentally, was the one Philip Morris discounted when she was a candidate in the 1990 Democratic primary. The memo discusses Philip Morris’ tactics for electing and then cultivating the support of legislators. It was an advocacy group of physicians thatworks under the assumption that tobacco smoke is a public health hazard. DOC obtained the memo after it was retrieved from the trash bin of a Dallas law firm. Philip Morris USA officials have said they cannot verify the authenticity of the documents: TEXAS: We should be much stronger in this area. We will work to correct it. I will be elected to the board of the Texas Research League in September, so that should help me. We work with the wholesalers, but we had a hard time when it came to witnesses against the smoking restriction bill in the Senate. No one would come to our aid except the Black Caucus members to speak out against the tax and even then we had to use personal favors for them to hold the press conference. We have really catered to the local chambers buying time for sampling ban legislation. Particularly in Houston and Dallas by sponsoring things like Dallas Black Dance and other pet projects. Benson and Hedges Blues helped us a lot in Dallas. TEXAS: Outreach Program for Legislators and Key executive/ Legislative Staff Executive Branch: Our best and, perhaps, only hope to combat a consumer excise tax increase in 1991 is to help elect a Republican Governor who is a “no new Taxes,” George Bush, jr./Bill Clements kind of a guy. We will not do anything until after the March primary, check out the survivors, and go with the Republican candidate. The Democratic candidates, including at least State Treasurer Ann Richards and Attorney General Jim Mattox, may not be electable in November, due to their extreme liberalism. Comptroller: The current Comptroller, Bob Bullock, is vehemently pro cigarette tax and has repeatedly beat us over the head in the media during this last [1989] ses sion. Bullock invented the myth that there is all this free federal money that somehow would be made available to provide medical services to the poor if TX came up with $160 m[illion] in new cigarette tax revenue to match it. PurSuant to the myth, the fund must be derived from cigarette taxes general revenue won’t do. Unfortunately, he is extremely likely to be our new Lt. Gov., which I will address later. Our new comptroller -the person to whom the Governor and Legislators look to for he state’s financial guidance – will be John Sharp. The plan is to give early and large campaign contributions to John Sharp, thereby jumping on the bandwagon early and of the very least buying Sharp’s silence when it comes to locating new revenues. Lt. Governor: Short of Chappaquidick [sic], there is nothing we can do to prevent Bullock from becoming Lt. Governor, nor can we temper his stand to tobacco tax increases. So we have to deal with the Senators instead. [Editor’s Note: Despite the pessimism about Bullock, DOC found that over the past two years representatives of Philip Morris had donated $15,000 to the Lieutenant Governor out of $80,650 in campaign contributions made between January 1, 1990, and June 30, 1992.] Senate: We have a plan to get the magic number of 12 Senators \(The TX Senate has 31 members, however, under the procedural rules of the upper chamber, a 2/3 vote is required to pass any measure. can block consideration of tax increases thetic to us and I will discuss it in Tulsa. House: We will always concentrate on the Senate, but there are things we can do in the House that will be of major benefit to us. We will continue to cater to the Speaker and his pet projects, as well as to the five or six committee chairs that have and will help us. We must keep in mind that one of these committee chairs will be the speaker in 1993. [Editor’s Note: Pete Laney, who was then chair of the State Affairs Committee; became House Speaker.] That covers leadership changes, now for specifics. POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS We will spend $16,000 in Sept. Dec. 1989 and will request another $15,000 for 1990. We will concentrate on the races for Governor, Comptroller, key Senators, and key House Committee chairs. Where profitable, we will also give to Republican House races because those types are more likely to be “no new taxes” candidates. Honoraria and NYO Visits: With less states, this will be easier to accomplish because to do these right, good planning is a must. After the special session on workers’ compensation in November, if the current media flap over the legislators’ trips dissolves, we are planning to taking four trips to NYO with honoraria involved. Two Senate trips and two House trips with three members and spouses on each trip. Events: In Texas, some events are worthwhile, but the benefits are so much greater with trips and campaign contributions. I give out tickets to PM events and they are much appreciated but don’t have much of an impact. However, we continue to try to develop inventive ways to ingratiate PM with legislators. As one example, immediately upon adjournment of the regular session we distributed to each of the 181 Senate and House members a copy of The Capitol Story, which is an attractive photographic history of the statehouse. This unusual gift was much appreciated by legislators and their families. I even got 4 or 5 phone calls to thank us. Fundraisers: This category goes hand in hand with political contributions. Organizations of Elected Officials: We always give to the various caucuses and this type of contribution does buy political clout. Editors’ Post Script: Doctors Ought to Care and Public Citizen found that in the two years since this memo was written the tobacco industry has donated more than $80,000 to Richards, Bullock and a number of legislators. Andy Welch, a spokesman for John Sharp, said that a representative from Doctors Ought to Care provided Sharp with a copy of the memo before it was released to the press. Welch added that Sharp’s staff considered it a “a crude document” and said that although figures could not be made available before the Observer went to press, he was not aware of exceptionally large contributions from the tobacco industry to Sharp. After Sharp took office, Welch said, the Comptroller persuaded the Legislature to discontinue a tax discount for cigarette wholesalers who paid their sales taxes promptly, an act that hardly could be considered favorable to the tobacco industry. 12 NOVEMBER 26, 1993