Representative gives back tobacco campaign money

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OKLAHOMA CITY—A state representative announced that she is returning campaign money to a major tobacco company.

Okla. Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman says she is returning an unsolicited $250 contribution to The Altria Group Inc.

Organizers say the group, formerly known as Philip Morris, made the contribution to Pittman’s 2012 election campaign.

“With all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, we need to recognize tobacco company money given to our campaigns for what it really is – blood money,” said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City. “Tobacco companies survive by addicting young people to deadly products. For decades, they’ve targeted our minority communities with intense advertising. They have even been convicted as racketeers.”

In 2006, a federal district court ruled the major cigarette manufacturers were guilty of fraud and racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Pittman says she will no longer accept campaign contributions, meals or other gifts from any tobacco company political action committee or lobbyists for tobacco companies.

“This is a corrupt industry,” said Pittman. “It has caused untold suffering and the early deaths of many thousands of our beloved Oklahomans. We should treat it appropriately. Children are suffering from early addictions because of the actions of tobacco companies.”

Pittman encourages Oklahomans to visit to track campaign contributions by registered tobacco lobbyists in the state.

The Altria Group is the largest tobacco company in the United States.