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U.S HOUSE MEMBERS BENEFIT FROM $10 BILLION TOBACCO BUYOUT
| From an AP Wire
A handful of Congressmen have managed to personally profit from a measure they helped push through the House to pay tobacco farmers to give up a Depression-era federal program to bolster prices |
Rep. Bill Jenkins (Rep.-Tennessee) would get an estimated $39,600 | His wife, Kathryn, an additional $14,500
Only 462 individuals or groups will become instant Millionaires as a result of this Congressional Buyout. Click here to see if you are one of them |
Jenkins chairs the House subcommittee that deals with tobacco farming | He helped draft the $9.6 billion farmer buyout approved by the House last month as part of a broad corporate tax bill.
Rep. Bobby R. Etheridge (Dem.-North Carolina) would get about $30,900
"I grew up on a farm, growing tobacco," Etheridge said. It's sort of like a part of our heritage." He added that he saw no reason he should have divested himself of his tobacco interest |
Rep. Lincoln Davis (Dem.-Tennessee), owns with his brother a farm on which tobacco is grown. A spokesman for Davis said only the congressman's brother, Ceifer Davis, would get money | It's estimated the brother would get $29,700.
Rep. Edward Whitfield (Rep.-Kentucky.) His mother owns a small amount of tobacco quota. She would get less than $1,000
Rep. A.B. "Ben" Chandler (Dem.-Kentucky) also disclosed that some of his relatives would benefit, although he did not say who they were or how much they would gain.
The proposal would pay farmers to exit the federal system that sets price and production controls on U.S. leaf. Farmers would have to give up their tobacco allotments, which limit how much they can sell each year.
Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group
, said lawmakers should have announced how much money they would receive under the buyout plan when the House took up the proposal.
Some of the lawmakers' tobacco holdings were first reported on Thursday by the National Journal, a politics and government weekly.
The Senate also has passed a corporate tax bill, but without a tobacco buyout. Lawmakers hope to merge the two bills when they return in September from a five-week recess.
SOURCE: Agribusiness Examiner
NOTES: Responding to an inquiry from Jenkins last year, House ethics officials said he did not have to abstain from voting on or sponsoring legislation dealing with tobacco just because he owned a government quota | A lawmaker would have to abstain from legislating only on a matter that "would impact the member in a direct and distinct manner rather than merely as a member of a class," according to a letter Jenkins received from ethics officials | Nonetheless, there is the appearance of a conflict of interest, said Larry Noble, head of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics | Noble said the problem with lawmakers' sponsoring or supporting "a bill that will enrich them or their family is that it's really impossible to tell whether they're doing it for self-interest or for their constituents."