A heavy smoker for much of his life, former Sen. Wendell Ford, D-Ky., died last month at age 90 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.
Among Ford’s many distinctions: He was the longest serving Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman in the organization’s history.
So it’s with some curiosity that on Jan. 29, two days after Ford’s funeral, tobacco giant Altria’s political action committee donated $15,000 to his beloved but beleaguered DSCC.
Nothing suggests the timing of Altria’s contribution to the DSCC is anything but coincidental.
Altria Group Inc. spokesman David Sutton, who declined to comment on this specific donation, accurately noted that the company’s PAC has previously contributed to the DSCC — and a host of other political committees run by Democrats and Republicans alike.
The largest seller of tobacco in the United States, Altria’s policy is to support politicians who understand “the “legislative and regulatory issues related to Altria’s businesses,” according to its website. Its products include such brands as Marlboro, Parliament and Black & Mild.
Altria’s transaction nevertheless stands as an example of how political committees’ hunts for financial fuel — and special interests’ willingness to provide it — is all but unyielding, even during times when such activity would have not long ago seemed ill-timed, even uncouth.
Today political campaigns no longer wax, then wane: They are effectively permanent and ever-present.
Just ask Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla.