It appears author Steven J. Milloy of JunkScience.com was right when he quipped that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “owns” the American Lung Association (ALA). Taxpayer money may be indirectly financing lobbying campaigns aimed at banning smoking in public places. Since 2001, the EPA has given the ALA more than $20 million in grants, and the ALA, in turn, has been passing on grant money to local governments to encourage such bans. For example, smoking is now banned on the beaches of Fenwick Island, Delaware, after its town council accepted a grant from the ALA. Officials in nearby Dewey Beach are planning to ban smoking on their beaches, too, and are seeking money from the ALA to promote the ban.
“A blockbuster congressional investigation of campaign finance activities by corporations, trade associations, and high net worth individuals may be coming,” warns Covington & Burling, a law firm that focuses on election law. According to its latest report, not only 501(c)(4) groups and trade associations may be congressional targets, but also 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), has announced he will “tackle … the use of secret money to fund political campaigns.” Levin is notoriously tough, and his new ranking member on the other side of the aisle is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is famous for his willingness to have Congress restrict political speech.