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News Summary

Tobacco cash came during debate on smoking ban

Publication Date: 2006-05-28
  • Author:Brian McGillivary
  • Publication:Traverse City Record-Eagle

A tobacco company contributed $2,000 to a hidden, political account maintained by state Sen. Jason Allen while he chaired a committee that resisted proposed legislation to ban smoking in Michigan restaurants.

The Traverse City Republican's administrative account in 2004 accepted two $1,000 contributions from Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co., a Record-Eagle analysis of Allen's account showed.

Administrative accounts provide state politicians a vehicle to solicit and obtain money from corporations or groups without the burden of public reporting requirements.

Allen in 2004 chaired a Commerce and Labor Committee and refused to hold a vote on a bill to ban smoking in Michigan restaurants. Donations from tobacco companies came within a month of Record-Eagle stories and editorials about Allen's stance on the bill.

The Michigan Restaurant Association also opposed the smoking ban bill and made a $150 donation to Allen's public campaign accounts in 2004. It then gave $2,500 to his private account just 10 days before Allen held a hearing on the bill.

Restaurant and bar associations gave Allen $7,700 since 2003.