The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 15, 2012
Tobacco ally Grover Norquist jumps into tobacco tax fight

Grover Norquist shocked no one when his Americans for Tax Reform based in Washington, D.C., sided with the tobacco industry by opposing Proposition 29 on the June ballot to raise the California tobacco tax by $1.

Nor should it surprise anyone that Norquist long has done business with the tobacco industry, as documents in UC San Francisco's massive online tobacco library show. Those documents became public as a result of settlements of suits against the industry in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

In one letter, Norquist solicited a modest sum, $2,000, to help fund an expansion of his campaign to convince state legislators to sign the anti-tax pledge that he continues to push.

Whether Norquist received that $2,000 isn't readily apparent from the documents. But other tobacco papers suggest Americans for Tax Reform was a regular recipient of tobacco industry largess in the 1990s.

Nonprofit corporations such as Americans for Tax Reform are under no obligation to reveal their donors, and generally don't.

Occasionally, however, donations become public, as occurred when tobacco companies were compelled to release internal documents.

Some documents showing donations to Americans for Tax Reform can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Norquist aide Patrick Gleason didn't respond to inquiries about the tobacco donations, but questioned the news value of "a story on the fact that ATR opposes a tax increase, whatever it may be on."

"ATR doesn't think a tax increase that targets those with below average incomes and does nothing to rectify the state's overspending problem is sound policy," Gleason said in an email.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter