The Nicotine Network

How Big Tobacco and Republican congressional leaders help each other gain power.

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Just four blocks from the headquarters of RJR Nabisco in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a small company called the Ramhurst Corp., which has been playing an instrumental role in the beleaguered tobacco behemoth’s political fortunes. Its key mission: to quash the biggest political and financial challenges the tobacco industry has ever faced–from federal efforts to regulate tobacco at the Food and Drug Administration to state attempts to impose excise taxes and smoking restrictions.

Launched in 1993 with the support of RJR, Ramhurst–which coordinates many of its activities closely with RJR–combines “grassroots” lobbying with inside-the-Beltway influence-peddling. “Grassroots” coalitions have become a vital tool for tobacco’s survival because of the industry’s increasingly negative public image. By forming coalitions with business groups, conservative activist organizations, and other industries, tobacco companies like RJR obtain useful cover and, in effect, go from being a “black hat” to a “white hat” in the political world.

Ramhurst occupies a special niche among grassroots organizers for tobacco, however: Its operatives have also forged ties with some of the most powerful GOP leaders in Washington, including Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and Arizona Rep. John Shadegg, Newt Gingrich’s hand-picked choice to succeed him as director of the powerful political action committee GOPAC.

Most significantly, a key Ramhurst operative has been tapped to head House Majority Whip Tom DeLay’s leadership PAC, considered by many the pre-eminent fundraising vehicle in the GOP, after Newt Gingrich’s money machine.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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