The Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids recently updated their database of campaign contributions from the tobacco industry to Members of Congress with data from the 2009-2010 election cycle. California has two senators and 53 representatives and 15 out of the 55 California members (all 15 are representatives) accepted contributions from the tobacco industry. This calculates out to 27 percent of the California Members of Congress taking campaign contributions from the industry responsible for the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. So why is that good news? Well, by comparison to Members of Congress from other states and California’s state legislators, California’s federal representatives are fairly responsible when it comes to not taking contributions from the tobacco industry.
Looking at the next five most populous states, California members accepted contributions from the tobacco industry at a lower rate than representatives from Texas (47 percent), New York (32 percent), Florida (44 percent), Illinois (57 percent) and Pennsylvania (67 percent). And California members accepted contributions at a lower rate than the entire US Congress, which was 45 percent.
California’s federal representatives also compare nicely to California’s state legislators. The Center’s latest Tobacco Money in California Politics report and our database of campaign contributions contain the figures for California’s state legislators. Tobacco interests made contributions to 59 out of 122 state legislators (more than 120 legislative seats, due to vacancies and special elections) during the 2009-2010 election cycle, a rate of 48 percent, much higher than the 27 percent for California Members of Congress. California’s federal representatives also fare better when looking at the average contribution amount per member who accepted contributions. California Assembly Members accepted an average of $8,284 in contributions per member and State Senators accepted an average of $8,120 per member, while California Members of Congress accepted an average of $4,000 per member.
It’s great that California Members of Congress accept tobacco industry contributions at a relatively low rate, but it is surprising to see how California’s state legislators compare to Members of Congress. A higher percentage (48 percent) of legislators in our state Capitol accepts campaign contributions from the tobacco industry than the percentage (45 percent) of Members of Congress in our nation’s Capitol.
This post is Part 2 of a four-part blog series on tobacco industry spending in California in coordination with the Center’s recently released Tobacco Money in California Politics report. See Part 1 for an overview of our report and the California Cancer Research Act.
— Justin Garrett