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DECEMBER 23, 1998   3:45 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Public Citizen
 
Killer Industries Fund Congressional Champions of "Family Values"; $18.1 million boosts gambling, gun, tobacco and booze interests
 
WASHINGTON - December 23 - Congressional Republicans took $12.7 million from alcohol, gambling, tobacco and firearm interests in the 1998 election cycle - dollars that were used to attack family values, according to a report released by Public Citizen today.

In a story in the current issue of Public Citizen News titled "Family Values, Killer Industries," Public Citizen tied campaign contributions from dozens of "anti-family" PACs and individuals to defeated bills that would have protected American families from deaths and injuries.

In all, these four killer industries handed out $18.1 million to members of Congress in the 1997-1998 election cycle, successfully killing proposals that would have strengthened drunk driving standards, held adult owners legally responsible for failing to lock guns away from children, penalized Big Tobacco for marketing to children, and funded minority school scholarships by ending a massive pro-gambling tax break.

"Too many Congressional leaders pose as the protectors of family values while taking money from these anti-family special interests," said Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen. "This Congress is catering to killer industries.

"It rejected a national tobacco control bill, defeated national drunk driving standards, blocked important gun controls, and halted repeal of the gambling tax deduction. Family values were shredded."

Among the findings cited in the article:

*Republicans vacuumed up 70 percent of the $18.1 million contributed by the four industries. Of the total, $11.2 million was unregulated "soft money" and $6.9 million was from PACs.

*Big Tobacco was the fifth leading "soft money" industry giver to the Republican Party, lavishing $3.9 million on the GOP. It also gave individual candidates $2.1 million in PAC money - 71 percent to Republicans. A Public Citizen study of 14 Senate tobacco-control votes in the 105th Congress found 34 senators who voted with Big Tobacco most of the time received seven times as much in tobacco PAC contributions as the 40 senators who voted with consumers most of the time.

*Beer, wine and liquor industries handed out $2.2 million in "soft money" - about evenly split between the GOP and Democrats. But 74 percent of the alcohol industry’s $2.2 million in direct PAC contributions to candidates went to Republicans. Result: The industry’s friends in the House prevented a vote on a .08 percent blood-alcohol level passed by the Senate, and stopped it from being adopted in conference.

*Firearms groups like the National Rifle Association, ignoring a spate of high-profile school shootings, spent nearly $2 million in PAC and soft money contributions (84 percent to Republicans) to help turn aside an amendment that would have held adult gun owners legally responsible for failing to lock their guns away from children.

*Gambling groups chipped in, too, as Mirage Resorts gave the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) $250,000 - the third largest "soft money" check written during the 1997-98 election cycle. Thanks to that and a fall 1997 American Gaming Association fund raiser, where former Republican National Committee chairman Frank Fahrenkopf gave Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) $100,000 for his Republican senatorial committee, the gambling industry downed an amendment that would have repealed a tax deduction for gambling losses to pay for education scholarships to low-income children. Overall, Big Gambling made $4.9 million in PAC and "soft money" contributions in the period - 58 percent to the GOP.

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