Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


1987 A Texas-size payoff

Bob Bullock Philip Morris initiates a six-year effort for “tort reform” in Texas. In essence, the bill provides the tobacco companies with retroactive protection: It claims that, if customers are forewarned by a label of a product’s danger, the company cannot then be held responsible after purchase–thus relieving tobacco companies of liability to diseased smokers. According to one Philip Morris lobbyist, the company’s Washington operatives, coordinating the Texas effort, are repeatedly heard to remark, “We’ll pay whatever’s necessary.”

Working through a front group, the Texas Civil Justice League, Philip Morris lobbyists use family and political connections to entice Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock to broker a deal in the Texas Senate removing tobacco, liquor, and firearms from the list of actionable products. The victory costs cigarette companies $5 million to $10 million, in exchange for the “biggest gift any legislature has ever given the tobacco industry,” according to one critic of the deal, who also blasts Bullock for accepting campaign funds from the industry. Bullock’s spokeswoman replies that the $7,500 he had taken is peanuts compared to what others have accepted.

1988 Black lungs

Philip Morris is an early contributor to black causes. One company official suggests, “The real issue isn’t smoking against nonsmoking–it’s discrimination against intolerance.” Officials like former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (now the mayor of San Francisco), who took $200,000 from tobacco companies over a five-year period, offer other rationalizations: “I’m not concerned about smoking–it’s not my issue. I’m concerned about substance abuse.”

Other black leaders, however, understand their community’s vulnerability to the smoking peril and begin speaking out. Reed V. Tuckson, commissioner of public health for the District of Columbia, labels the tobacco industry’s philanthropic programs among blacks a “predatory strategy” with the sole goal of making money: “They go to the people of color; they go to women; they go to the poor.. . . There is a meanness to this greed that is unprecedented in its intensity, tenacity, and consequences. It is unjustified by any standard of humanity.”

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate