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America’s second-largest tobacco company burned through over $16 million in political donations in 2020, a show of force that previews the difficulty the Biden Administration might face as it seeks to ban menthol cigarettes.
Reynolds American made more than 700 donations totalling $16,229,475 to candidates, committees, ballot initiatives, and PACs from both sides of the aisle and at all levels of government, according to a new corporate governance document posted on Reynolds American’s website and reviewed by Insider.
The contributions came either from Reynolds American directly or through its corporate political action committee.
Read more: The FDA is planning to ban menthol cigarettes and all flavors of cigars, and Biden approves
In a show of the company’s force, Reynolds American, the manufacturer of Camel, Pall Mall, and Newport — the nation’s most popular menthol cigarette — last year poured $10 million into the “California Coalition for Fairness.”
The blandly named group is backing an effort to repeal a 2020 California law that banned flavored cigarettes. The law is currently suspended until 2022 pending a referendum.
Reynolds American also gave $25,000 to a committee controlled by a Democratic California assemblyman, Adam Gray, who introduced a vaping bill that anti-smoking advocates say was more lenient on tobacco companies than an outright ban.
Other notable contributions from Reynolds American include $600,000 to the Republican-backing Congressional Leadership Fund, a $50,000 payment to the Republican mayor’s group Community Leaders of America, and $225,000 to GOPAC, which is aimed at “educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders.”
The company also provided heavy financial support to the Republican National Convention last year, donating $350,000 to the Charlotte, North Carolina, host committee formed before COVID-19 forced the convention to scale down and relocate to Washington, DC.
Reynolds American also tossed a quarter of a million dollars to the 2020 Jacksonville …read more