GLENDALE, WI – Milwaukee area voters, health care providers, parents, and community members voiced their concern for Sen. Alberta Darling’s role in inserting a last-minute budget amendment that makes it easier for tobacco giant Philip Morris to push cancer-causing tobacco products to Wisconsin children – marketing them with fruity flavors and candy-like packaging. The amendment was pushed in Madison directly by Philip Morris parent company Altria, and provided Big Tobacco with a huge tax break over the status quo and their competition.
“Alberta Darling did not have a problem taking money from Big Tobacco but we have a problem with her taking that money,” said Melissa Ugland, mother and voter in Darling’s district. “These products are designed with flavors and with packaging that make them especially appealing to children. If you propose legislation that is written by Big Tobacco and was funded by big tobacco and even Scott Walker can’t stand your legislation, you have got to go.”
Darling pushed the amendment after receiving a $1,000 donation from Altria/Philip Morris in November, just days after she became chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee where she was able to insert the amendment. The amendment itself is
nearly identical to “model language” provided to state legislators by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive corporate-funded group with strong connections to the tobacco industry, including Altria/Philip Morris. Darling’s connections to ALEC go back to 2009 when she used tax dollars to pay $200 in membership fees to the organization, giving her access to exclusive, closed-door meetings with potential corporate donors. Ultimately, Darling’s tobacco amendment was vetoed by Gov. Scott Walker who said it represented a huge threat to the health of Wisconsin’s kids. Walker even vetoed the measure after Altria/Philip Morris sent him an email directly to lobby for the measure.
“As a health care provider, I really am concerned about what is going on, especially with this tobacco situation,” said Emily Berres, retired Milwaukee County nurse. “And it really shocks me that Alberta Darling would back something like this and have no concern for the children in our area.”
Following the event, constituents attempted to deliver a giant card signed by Milwaukee area voters to Darling’s campaign staff to show their opposition to Darling’s shameless attempt to help friends in the tobacco industry to the detriment of Wisconsin children. The event also featured an appearance from Joe Camel who brought a big check for Darling as a thank you for supporting the tobacco amendment.
### Paid for by We Are Wisconsin PAC, Phil Neuenfeldt, Treasurer. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s agent or committee.