It's not surprising that big tobacco is funding attack ads around the primary election for California's State Board of Equalization, which regulates state cigarette sales and oversees $40 billion in tax collections. What is surprising is that the mailing, from a group called the California Political Empowerment Committee, accuses one candidate of "being a shill for Big Tobacco," according to the Los Angeles Times. The group has received at least $57,000 from Altria's Kraft subsidiary, Lorillard and UST. Its mailing targeted state Assemblywoman Judy Chu, saying she "accepted money from tobacco companies and then voted to reduce penalties on them for illegally selling cigarettes to minors." Chu is actually a "staunch foe of the industry and refuses to accept its campaign cash." Public health activists called the mailing "a cynical attempt to drive voters toward her opponent," state Assemblyman Jerome Horton, who is "one of the Legislature's biggest beneficiaries of tobacco money."
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