Massachusetts Congressman Still Taking Money From Big Tobacco

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Do politicians still take money from Big Tobacco in 2021?

Yes, and that includes one politician from Massachusetts.

U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D-Springfield) has taken the tobacco industry’s money for years — and continues to do so. Neal is the chairman of the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee. It “has jurisdiction over all taxation, tariffs, and other revenue-raising measures,” according to the Ways and Means Committee’s web site. As a result, Neal is one of the top corporate political action committee money recipients in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Altria Group Political Action Committee gave Neal a $1,500 campaign donation on June 20 this year, campaign finance records from the Federal Elections Commission show.

Altria Group is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, a company best-known for producing Marlboro Cigarettes. It also includes the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company which produces both Copenhagen and Skoal dip. 

Tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans per year, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration. It also causes one-third of cardiovascular disease deaths and one-third of cancer deaths in the United States each year, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration. 

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls tobacco  “the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” It also says that the average life expectancy for smokers is “at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.”

Altria Group giving money to Neal is nothing new; its political action committee donated the maximum allotted $10,000 to help Neal get re-elected in 2020. He defeated his more progressive primary challenger, then-Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse (D-Holyoke), 59 percent to 41 percent last year, according to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office.

The political action committee has given him $45,500 since 2007, the Federal Elections Commission shows.

Coincidentally, Neal supports raising the excise tax on e-cigarette tobacco in a proposal that exempts traditional tobacco from an excise tax hike, including analog cigarettes.

Neal isn’t the only active member of Congress from Massachusetts who has taken Altria Group’s money. Its political action committee gave Seth Moulton a $1,000 campaign contribution in 2017, as NewBostonPost previously noted

Neal’s campaign could not be reached for comment on Tuesday this week. Nor could Altria Group.



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