Money talks: Big tobacco spends huge to reverse public opinion, appears to defeat Calif. cig tax

Updated
By Aliyah Shahid

The most money spent on politics Tuesday night wasn’t by Scott Walker—it was by tobacco companies in California.

They spent a whopping $46.8 million on fighting a $1 tax on cigarette and tobacco products in the Golden State, msnbc host Rachel Maddow revealed Wednesday night. That dwarfs the $30.5 million Gov. Walker spent on the much-hyped recall election in Wisconsin. 

You’d think the tax would have been a slam dunk to pass. After all, California has the second lowest smoking rate in the country. The money raised would go to cancer research. And most important of all, before the giant companies started campaigning against the initiative, two thirds of the state’s voters said they were in favor of raising the tax, polls found.

But after the ad blitz, it looks like the initiative has gone down to defeat, though votes are still being counted.

This isn’t just about tobacco—it’s about the now-overwhelming power of money in politics. ”Even on an issue this popular, this incontestable, all it takes is unlimited corporate money on the other side and everything is outweighed,” said Maddow.

 

Tom Barrett and Scott Walker

Money talks: Big tobacco spends huge to reverse public opinion, appears to defeat Calif. cig tax

Updated