Two tobacco giants chipped in another $15 million against a tobacco tax initiative on Friday, bringing their running tally to $38 million in the Proposition 29 campaign, state records show.
The new donations by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Philip Morris USA and their affiliates came as the No on 29 campaign launched a new television attack ad featuring an unnamed researcher in a lab.
Of note, the latest campaign finance report showed nearly $700,000 in non-monetary contributions from the cash-strapped California Republican Party. Altria Group, the parent of Philip Morris USA, gave the state GOP $205,000 between September and January.
Update (11:50 a.m.): California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns said the party's non-monetary contribution involved sending an e-mail and print mailer to its members against Proposition 29. The initiative would impose a new $1-per-pack tax on cigarettes to pay for cancer and heart disease research and related facilities. She said the party opposes the tax and wanted to get the word out to its members.
Of the Altria donations, Kerns said, "it's not uncommon to have donors who are like-minded on a number of issues, taxes being first and foremost."