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Report: DeKalb spent tax dollars on anti-smoking lobbying, stripper focus group

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DeKalb anti-smoking lobbyingA national taxpayer watchdog has accused a local health department in Georgia of abusing federal grants to lobby for broader tobacco restrictions.

Cause of Action, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit that investigates regulatory overreach, says it uncovered evidence that the Dekalb County Board of Health misappropriated funds made available through the Communities Putting Prevent to Work, a $373 million federal grant program, to underwrite overt political activities.

Grantees of the 2011 initiative, which is managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was designed as vehicle to educate the public about the dangers of obesity and tobacco, are not allowed under federal law to use the funds for lobbying activities.

But DeKalb’s public health department, along with six others across the country, violated that law when it advocated on behalf of a clean air indoor ordinance (CIAO) and a steeper excise tax on cigarettes, according to the new watchdog report.

The 19-months-long investigation revealed DeKalb officials had “partnered with the Georgia Alliance for Tobacco Prevention … to train coalition partners and finance a media campaign in support of state cigarette tax increase.”

The report also found evidence the department had conducted a focus group with local exotic dancers to determine support for an expanded indoor smoking ban.

The county’s grant proposal said it would it would use the funds to support smoke-free ordinances throughout the state.

That DeKalb’s application was approved despite federal regulations barring the use of congressionally-appropriated funds to influence government officials or the legislative process, the report said, “blatantly show systemic corruption” at the CDC.

A spokesperson for the DeKalb County Board of Health did not immediately respond to an inquiry Thursday by Tipsheet.

- James Richardson

1 Comment.

  1. Sheila Martin

    To get to the bottom of this funding of illegal lobbying by the government, you have to travel back to when Robert Wood Johnson Foundation started the war to promote smoking bans. RWJF is the “philanthropic arm of Johnson and Johnson, the sellers of the patches and gums. RWJF has millions of shares of J&J stock. They, after J&J cornered the patch and gum market, started grant funding other non profits to promote smoking bans on local and state levels. (Right after they funded the creation of the second hand smoke myth.)RWJF created the Tobacco Free Kids Campaign in most every state to lobby for bans also. RWJF has what they call their “Trustees” who work tirelessly in their “government jobs” to promote the use of the patches and gums. The CDC spent $100,000,000 in one year on two ad campaigns to get people to call Quitlines, where people are informed that the useless placebo patches and gums are the “best way to quit”! Regina Benjamin was a trustee. Nancy Deparle, ex Healthcare Czar for Obama was one.
    RWJF people are in Congressmen’s offices, and are paid by RWJF to “advise” our elected officials. RWJF/J&J are in the CDC, HHS, FDA, the Whitehouse, control the media, pay for the “science” used to justify smoking bans, grant fund “non profits” to lobby for bans, and, all this now, in collusion with government funding.
    Sebelius is riding in the cart BEHIND RWJF/J&J. She does what she is TOLD by pharma and pharma philanthropies. She did not call and ask RWJF for $10,000,000, they told her they were giving it, and now Nancy DeParle is out of the WHitehouse and hitting up insurance companies to kick in with money to promote Obamacare! It must be a bit embarrassing for RWJF and Sebelius to admit that the paltry half a million donated by H&R block, looked trivial compared to the $10,000,000 donation by RWJF. (But SOMEBODY had to make it look like it wasn’t ONLY RWJF!)
    The elephant in the room is RWJF. They wrote the Healthcare Bill, they are paying to promote it, and they will benefit from it.
    Our elected officials are getting some nice campaign money from pharma, and many hold J&J and Pfizer and Glaxo stocks.
    Do you THINK the media, who get hundreds of millions of ads from pharma are going to tell the story? Do you THINK elected officials who get campaign donations are going to investigate this? Do you think grant moochers and spongers are going to stop illegal lobbying for bans and tax increases with federal and pharma money?
    I am told that “this is the way it works”, and no one cares that it is illegal. Lying to the IRS about your direct or indirect funding of lobbying seems to be legal.
    Look at the 990′s of the Cancer Society and RWJF and look where you check the box asking if you lobbied!
    They call lobbying “educating” now. And THAT makes it legal? CPPW funds are not the only federal funds flowing into communities to be used for lobbying. Social Innovations grants are too! Then these two federal funding sources are mixed with the pharma dough, and small town business owners have nothing to fight back with.
    It seems to me that if the pharma products worked, they would sell themselves, and the pharma companies wouldn’t need to buy Legislators and legislation to push the need” for these products. Not only is the CDC marketing patches for J&J, the government is BUYING them from J&J and handing them out with our tax dollars.

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