This is the first of a three-part series on Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) and his relationship to Big Tobacco throughout his career.
Even thought he opposed tobacco price supports, which put him squarely on the opposite side of that issue from the tobacco industry, Armey solicited a relationship with the industry.
In 1987, Armey wrote a letter to Samuel Chilcote, President of the Tobacco Institute, saying he had a lot to learn about politics and asking if Chilcote would do him the “great personal favor” of sitting on his Political Action Committee Advisory Committee. Handwriting on the letter, apparently by Chilcote, cites a scheduling conflict, and indicates Chilcote likely did agree to Armey's request.
Nevertheless, after that the Tobacco Institute started regularly donating funds to Armey's re-election campaigns through its political action committee (“TIPAC”) in fairly small amounts at first – just $250 in 1987. The industry's donations to Armey grew steadily as his time and his influence in the House increased. By 1991, Armey was getting $500 donations from TIPAC, plus additional donations from individual cigarette companies.
By 2000-2001, Armey was routinely pulling in $1,000 donations from TIPAC and individual tobacco companies like R.J. Reynolds (RJR), Lorillard and Philip Morris.