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IMCA Late Model national crown and rookie award go to Dumpert

first_imgHe’s the third Nebraska driver to win the national IMCA Late Model title, following Kyle Berck (1996) and Jason Friesen (2000) to the top of the podium. Starts 22                   Wins 9                Additional Top Five’s 11 Video sharing platform YouTube helped Dumpert prepare for first-ever outings at all four Iowa speedplants. Dumpert won nine of 22 starts in becoming the first driver in division history to achieve those feats in the same season. HIS SPONSORS: Safranek Racing of Merna; Donrich Machine and Driveline of McCool Junction; Extreme Automotive of York; Audie with Swartz Race Cars, Minford, Ohio; Trotter Fertilizer, Trotter’s Tire Pro, Arrow Aviation and LB Thoroughly, all of Broken Bow; Doran Post and Associates Inc. of Lexington; Progressive Fertilizer of Callaway; LG Pumping LLC of Osmond; Spanel Engines of Lincoln; ACG Ag Consulting Group; Channel; DeKalb Hybrids; and BSB Manufacturing of Wellington, Kan. “I want to race with 20 other cars. I like the challenge. That’s the fun part,” he continued. “I got second the next night racing against a lot of good drivers. That was my favorite weekend of the season. We raced the best of the best and came out decent.” Dumpert won four times at Boone County and five times at Junction, venues that rank among his favorites, along with U.S. 30 Speedway in Columbus because of their respective configurations and predictably well prepared racing surfaces. “We raced to have fun. We weren’t really trying for the national deal until there was about a month to go in the season,” he added. “Then we looked at the points and thought ‘Holy cow, we might have a chance.’” “Picking a highlight of the season is tough,” Dumpert said, before settling on the weekend that took him to Marshalltown and Davenport. “I made the trip with my girlfriend for the first time, started 18th (at Marshalltown) and finished second. That was the most fun I had in a race all year.” Dumpert was a fan of Friesen during his racing career and credits Berck with getting him into a Swartz Chassis. The York, Neb., driver found success on the road as well in 2019, and earned both national championship and rookie of the year honors as a result.center_img Cory Dumpert drove to both IMCA Late Model national championship and national rookie of the year honors this season. He is pictured with Speedway Motors President Clay Smith at left and IMCA President Brett Root at right. (Photo by Bruce Badgley, Motorsports Photography) He’ll bring first-hand experience with him when he returns in 2020. YORK, Neb. – New IMCA Late Model sanctions close to home meant new opportunities this season for Cory Dumpert. He won at both Albion and McCool Junction on the final weekend and finished outside the top five just twice all season. Dumpert ventured east to battle his Iowa competition four nights on their home tracks, running second at Marshalltown and Davenport, then posting third and fourth-place finishes later in the season at Dubuque and Maquoketa. “Next year the plan is to do Thursday-Saturday and Friday-Sunday swings in Iowa and race with that good competition over there,” he said. “We’re gearing up to make racing in Iowa a more frequent thing.” Dumpert had started racing go-karts, working his way up to hobby stocks and street stocks before moving into a Late Model in 2012. HIS CREW: Parents Cary and Debbie, brother Kyle, girlfriend Lindsey Roan, Kevin Safranek, Adam Fowler, Evan McIntyre and Edward Pritchard. “I thought we were pretty successful for never having been to any of those tracks before,” he said. “We did a bunch of YouTubing on the way there. You can learn who’s who, what’s what and how the track goes.” “We had started traveling last year and were successful in Kansas. We talked about racing IMCA this year because it was right in our back yard. It definitely turned out better than we expected and it means a lot to us to have accomplished what we did,” said Dumpert, also the track champion at Boone County Raceway and Junction Motor Speedway, and the top driver in E3 Spark Plugs Nebraska State standings.last_img read more

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Greensburg Bread of Life seeks volunteers

first_imgGREENSBURG, Ind. – Greensburg Bread of Life is seeking volunteers for a drive-thru soup kitchen each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.Volunteers are needed to serve as preppers, servers, and delivery drivers.“If you have not been traveling within the past 2 weeks and have not been ill, please consider volunteering to help in the kitchen. It takes 300 volunteer hours to provide over 400 meals each week,” Bread of Life announced. Contact Tina at 812-662-4887 or 812-663-1055 if you would like to help.last_img

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PBA chief believes Gilas can get back at Aussies

first_imgTrending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding MOST READ “They should watch out for us on July 2,“ said Marcial in Filipino during the Gilas Pilipinas vs Australia viewing party at Sky Park inside SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.A heavy underdog, Gilas stayed in step in the first half and even took a five-point lead in the second quarter.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutBut the Filipinos’ lack of offensive firepower due to the absence of hobbled key players particularly Jayson Castro showed in the second half.Shots started to fall for the Aussies in the last two quarters, where they led by much as 17. Reduced to tears after miscue, JP Erram shows immense love for game LOOK: Iya Villania meets ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ cast in Mexico Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Google honors food scientist, banana ketchup inventor and war hero Maria Orosa Pussycat Dolls set for reunion tour after 10-year hiatuscenter_img LATEST STORIES Already without Castro, who is sidelined with an ankle injury, it didn’t help Gilas’ cause that naturalized big man Andray Blatche appeared winded in the third quarter.“We lacked intensity in the end,” Marical cited.“They’re number 10 [in the world], we’re number 31, but just a little more conditioning by Blatche and we’ll be able to keep up with them,” he added.The Philippines, which eyes a bounce-back win vs Japan on Sunday, will be the host when it faces Australia for the second time.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Families in US enclave in north Mexico hold sad Thanksgiving AFP official booed out of forum Read Next PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, right, poses for a photo with Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely during the Gilas Pilipinas vs Australia viewing party at Sky Park inside SM Aura Priemier in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Mark Giongco/INQUIRER.netDepleted and all, Gilas Pilipinas made a good account of itself against heavyweight Australia on Thursday in Melbourne.And that gallant showing had PBA commissioner Willie Marcial more reason to believe that the Philippines will be a deadlier team in their rematch with the Aussies on July 2.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more

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10 months ago3 sackings in 4 years: In image & spirit this is Woodward’s Man Utd

first_img3 sackings in 4 years: In image & spirit this is Woodward’s Man Utdby Chris Beattie10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveCOMMENT: It’s happened again. Another one’s gone. A third sacking in four years. A fourth manager – soon to be a fifth – to be hired in that time. And Manchester United – again – return to the drawing board.A new man is now to arrive. A new pattern of play to be introduced. A new staff. New players. More change. More upheaval. Five years of uncertainty. Of instability. Though with one constant. The one man responsible for all this. The one who has overseen this managed decline of the world’s biggest club.Jose Mourinho is gone. But the man who hired him is still in power. As he was for the appointment of David Moyes. The hiring and demoting of Ryan Giggs. The arrival of Louis van Gaal. And of course, the signing of Mourinho. And yet, it’ll still be Ed Woodward who chooses the next manager. Just as it is he who has found Mourinho’s interim replacement. Kieran McKenna and Michael Carrick will be in charge of training this week, but United’s vice-chairman exec already has his former manager’s replacement lined up. The temporary appointment expected to be someone with no past connections with the club – that is apart from those cozy chats with Woodward.Yes. Yes. We can hear you. Mourinho has found himself in the same position as Van Gaal did three years ago. The Dutchman, to this day, claiming Mourinho and Woodward connived behind his back as he led United to a first FA Cup triumph in 12 years. But two wrongs don’t make a right. So again, another manager arrives. With his ideas. His approach. Let’s say, an experienced Guus Hiddink type. To muddle through to the end of the season. Well, that’d be the right thing to do. To put the club on autopilot ahead of the new man arriving. The fulltime manager. Woodward’s real choice. To go in there with a blank slate and start again.But there’s a Champions League tie with PSG to navigate. An FA Cup run to tackle. And a top four push to salvage. The caretaker will have to impose his ideas. His system on the players. Break down what Mourinho had them doing and build them up again. Only for, come June, to have all that work scrapped – again – by the fulltime manager.But that’s okay. No, really. Woodward knows what he’s doing. Clearly he does. Just look at his track record…That track record has three managers now on the dust heap. And there’s something to be said about those three managers and the relationship they had with Woodward. We may not get it directly from Mourinho, a gag clause in his payout will put paid to that hope. But his two predecessors have given us plenty. Bitter. Resentful. Not of the club. Nor the man who replaced them. But of the one who hired, then fired, them. Just over the weekend, Moyes, clearly the most personable of the trio, admitted his treatment still “rankled”.“It still rankles now because I felt I was suited for it. I didn’t think it was in Manchester United’s DNA to change a manager so quickly,” said the Scot. And then there’s Van Gaal, who really was sounding the warning to Mourinho and United in general about the club’s prime decision maker.”He never discussed anything with me – and you can talk about anything with me,” Van Gaal has said previously. “With all my experience, I know the unwritten laws of football. A club has to prepare for the future.“I can understand that and they should have approached me. Ed could talk to me but he did not.”Sound familiar? Well, if you’ve been paying attention it will. Mourinho never went as far as LVG. But his confidants let us know – including this column – that what he found with Woodward was just the same as the old Dutch master described. So who truly sets the tone at this club? The manager? The scowling. Bad tempered gaffer? Or does that image reflect what the man in the dugout has had to contend with since 2013? Good man-management at a club should never be restricted to those in charge of the football operation. It also goes for the higher ups. How they conduct business. How they build and foster relationships. It all filters throughout an organisation. Yes, the spirit of a dressing room leans heavily on the direction of the manager. Just as the manager’s morale has a reliance on his relationship from those upstairs.The attitude and resentment displayed by all three of United’s fulltime managers since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement speaks volumes. Ed Woodward is failing this club. Just as he has failed his three managerial appointments. Changing the face in the dugout will never be enough to get this club fulfilling it’s potential again.The managed decline will continue until improvements are made above the head of Manchester United’s next manager. TagsTransfersOpinionAbout the authorChris BeattieShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

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9 days agoChelsea invite Linfield teenager Charlie Allen for trials

first_imgTagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say Chelsea invite Linfield teenager Charlie Allen for trialsby Paul Vegas9 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveChelsea have invited Northern Ireland teenager Charlie Allen for trials.The Daily Express says the 15-year-old has already broken into the first team at Northern Irish champions Linfield, and is now being chased by a bevy of Premier League clubs, having had trials at Tottenham and Manchester City.Chelsea, currently under a transfer ban, are exploring the possibility of taking Allen on trial. Norwich and Glaswegian giants Rangers are also, though, on the teenager’s trail.Attacking midfielder Allen made his senior debut during the latter stages of last season, playing the final eight minutes of a 1-1 draw at Coleraine to become the club’s youngest debutant, as Linfield closed on the Danske Bank Premiership title. last_img read more

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US Pentagon chief headed to Mexico Guatemala

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – United States Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel will depart Wednesday for Mexico City to hold talks with his counterparts from Canada and Mexico aimed at bolstering Washington’s security ties to its neighbors.Hagel’s three-day trip to Mexico and Guatemala will underline “America’s commitment to this region,” spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.The visit follows a Pentagon announcement for a planned sale of 18 Apache helicopters to Mexico.Kirby said the helicopters would “improve the security of a strong, strategic partner in Mexico, both in terms of combating organized crime and drug trafficking.”The Pentagon has informed the U.S. Congress of the planned arms sale, officials said.Hagel was due to begin his trip with a stop at Ft. Bragg, in North Carolina, to meet with special operations troops who lead training missions in Latin American countries. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is briefed on the ATLAS ROBOT, one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built, on April 22, 2014, at the U.S. Pentagon by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) personnel. Paul J. Richards/AFPHe will then fly to Mexico City to attend the second gathering of defense chiefs from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.“This ministerial, which first met in 2012, provides an opportunity to expand our bilateral defense ties with Canada and with Mexico,” as the countries “confront shared security challenges,” Kirby said.While in Mexico, Hagel will lay a wreath at the monument for the 201st Mexican Air Force Squadron that fought alongside U.S. forces in the Pacific campaign during World War II, he said.After Mexico, Hagel will travel to Guatemala, in the first visit to the country by a U.S. defense secretary since 2005.Hagel was due to visit U.S. troops carrying out medical training with the Guatemalan military, Kirby said. Facebook Comments Related posts:Solís put on the defensive as joint US-Costa Rican patrols come up for renewal OAS chief urges new approach to failed ‘war on drugs’ Costa Rica’s Solís flies in former drug plane to El Salvador US arrests relatives of Venezuela first lady over drug-trafficking allegationslast_img read more

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While some may see that as no big deal there are

first_imgWhile some may see that as no big deal, there are others in the business that didn’t take the social media purge lightly.Most notably, Steve Smith Jr., the former NFL WR and now analyst.Listen here….. former NFL legend Steve Smith just carved up Josh Rosen with the truth. Preach! Remember you been warned. pic.twitter.com/7n3Pwn064y— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) April 26, 2019“If you’re concerned about it, quit playing with your [expletive] fingers and going on Twitter and get your [expletive] in the weight room and get ready to play some football,” Smith said when asked about Rosen. “Now, you’re mad because they brought some competition in here so you’re going to try and take your ball? Well first of all son, it ain’t your [expletive] ball to take anyway.“So you keep playing with your phone and you keep showing us what the stigma of you and who you are at UCLA. Now, you’ve brought it to the professional level and showed us when things don’t go your way, you’re going to cry in the corner.”Related LinksKyler Murray introduced as the Arizona Cardinals’ first overall pickReport: Miami, Arizona ‘close’ on a trade deal for QB Josh RosenOklahoma’s Lincoln Riley: Kyler does ‘things you’ve never seen before’Rapoport: Miami, Arizona discussing potential Josh Rosen tradeGambo 3: Murphy, Brown, Ford all possibilities at No. 33 for CardinalsWhile Smith is certainly fired up on the subject, there are a few things to note.Yes, Rosen unfollowed the accounts, but he has been present with the team. It’s no longer a secret.The Arizona Cardinals drafted former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and seem poised to move on from incumbent QB Josh Rosen as trade rumors swirl.But while the move seems likely, Rosen is still under contract in the desert.He has, however, distanced himself — in a way — by unfollowing the team’s Instagram and Twitter accounts. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact – / 52 Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires 38 Comments   Share   Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling During the Cardinals’ voluntary mini camp last Tuesday, Rosen was front and center, working with the other two quarterbacks on the roster at the time. Even with all the talk of taking Murray No. 1. For reference, Patrick Peterson, who is reportedly dissatisfied with the team, was not in attendance.And while the unfollowing could be looked at as childish and immature, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury praised Rosen for his professionalism on Tuesday.“I’m just going to keep going back to how he’s handled it as far as professionalism as far as he’s led, showed up early, done everything to the nth-degree of what we’ve asked of him,” Kingsbury said. “That’s the sign of a true pro.“He went top-10 for a reason. I think people forgot that.”Arizona Cardinals2019 Draft BoardRoundPick #PlayerPos.11Kyler MurrayQB21Byron MurphyCB230Andy IsabellaWR31Zach AllenDE41Hakeem ButlerWR51Deionte ThompsonS61KeeSean JohnsonWR66Lamont GaillardC734*Joshua MilesT735*Michael DogbeDE740*Caleb WilsonTE* = Compensatory Selection© STATS – 2019 The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelolast_img read more

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell RKy say

first_imgSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his “highest priorities” is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking.McConnell has sponsored a bill, along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, that would increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21.In a speech on the Senate floor last month, McConnell said, “The sad reality is that Kentucky has been the home to the highest rates of cancer in the country. We lead the entire nation in the percentage of cancer cases tied directly to smoking.”Indeed, nearly 9,000 Kentuckians die every year from smoking — roughly 24 people every day. Kentucky also spends $1.9 billion on smoking-related health problems like lung cancer, strokes and premature birth.”Our state once grew tobacco like none other,” said McConnell. “And now we’re being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other.”Still, McConnell noted, “I might seem like an unusual candidate to lead this charge.”For many public health advocates, that was a vast understatement.Following the industry’s leadAn NPR review of McConnell’s relationship with the tobacco industry over the decades has found that McConnell repeatedly cast doubt on the health consequences of smoking, repeated industry talking points word-for-word, attacked federal regulators at the industry’s request and opposed bipartisan tobacco regulations going back decades.The industry, in turn, has provided McConnell with millions of dollars in speaking fees, personal gifts, campaign contributions and charitable donations to the McConnell Center, which is home to his personal and professional archives.One lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds called McConnell a “special friend” to the company.Much of the relationship between McConnell and the tobacco industry happened behind the scenes. But the disclosure of millions of once-secret tobacco industry documents — which are now readily searchable online — has opened a window into McConnell’s interactions with tobacco executives and lobbyists.Many of the records were first reported by the Lexington Herald-Leader, as part of a yearlong investigation into McConnell. Other documents on McConnell’s relationships to the industry are being reported by NPR for the first time as part of a series produced by the Embedded podcast.As a whole, ethics watchdogs say the documents raise questions about how McConnell is crafting legislation dealing with wealthy, powerful industries, even with millions of lives at stake. Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 people in the United States every year.And, upon closer look, it appears McConnell’s legislation to raise the tobacco purchase age actually followed the industry’s lead.Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and a major stakeholder in the e-cigarette maker Juul, announced that it supported the measure back in 2018. Several states and localities have already raised their tobacco purchase age.NPR also found that vaping and tobacco companies are currently employing McConnell’s former policy adviser, his former policy director and his former chief of staff to lobby on their behalf. Lobbying groups frequently hire former staffers to top senators of both parties, though former top Senate staffers are prohibited from lobbying their old bosses within a year of leaving government.In the month before McConnell announced his support for the measure, two government affairs executives at Altria donated to McConnell’s Senate campaign.A spokesperson for Altria did not respond to questions from NPR.Some public health groups, such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Action Network, have praised the bill.But multiple anti-smoking groups have raised concerns about McConnell’s bill and the industry’s support for the legislation. The Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids called for major changes to the bill. And the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation has announced its “strenuous opposition.”One concern for these groups is that the legislation will stave off tougher regulations on vaping, particularly regulations on flavored e-cigarettes.”It’s a Jedi mind trick,” says Sharon Eubanks, who led the Justice Department’s landmark racketeering case against the industry.E-cigarette companies want to avoid liability for the youth vaping epidemic, says Eubanks, and “the industry’s support for such measures gets them off the hook.”McConnell is “covering for them,” says Dr. David Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Still, whatever the motivation, Kessler says he welcomes increasing the tobacco age to 21.”I’ll take it,” he says. “But this is happening because the industry is in trouble.”In fact, the day of McConnell’s announcement, a board member for the Vapor Technology Association, an industry trade association, tweeted, “Hopefully, this will cause #FDA to reevaluate” tougher regulations on flavored e-cigarettes.Later that month, members of the vaping industry trade group met with McConnell’s staff.A representative of the Vapor Technology Association did not respond to NPR’s request for comment.In an email, Georgeanna Sullivan, deputy press secretary for McConnell, wrote, “Senator McConnell’s bipartisan Tobacco-Free Youth Act has been endorsed thus far by nearly 50 public health groups who share Leader McConnell and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine’s goal of having less tobacco products in the hands of young people.”Kaine, like McConnell, represents a large tobacco-producing state, Virginia. But, he said, “what’s more important than tobacco, by far, is the health of our young people. So it’s the spike in youth smoking that I think has turned this into a matter of urgency.”McConnell’s deputy press secretary also pointed out that McConnell helped craft the $10 billion tobacco buyout in the mid-2000s, which ended federal price supports for tobacco and led many tobacco farmers to switch to other crops.”No one has done more to help transition Kentucky and our nation past tobacco culture than Senator McConnell,” wrote Sullivan.McConnell himself noted to NPR that both Republicans and Democrats in Kentucky fought hard for the tobacco industry.”There was nobody not fighting for tobacco in Kentucky in that era,” McConnell said. “Nobody.”A window into McConnell’s contacts with tobacco lobbyistsSince he was first elected to the Senate in 1984, Mitch McConnell has vehemently opposed regulations of the tobacco industry — from banning in-flight smoking, to allowing the FDA to regulate the industry, to including smoking in anti-drug school lesson plans.To be sure, Kentucky’s culture and economy have been intertwined with tobacco growing for decades. McConnell has argued that his support for the industry is because it employs tens of thousands of farmers in the state. “Farming tobacco put shoes on kids’ feet,” McConnell said in May. “It put dinner on the table.” In the 1990s, tobacco contributed more than $2 billion annually to Kentucky’s economy, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal at the time.But the importance of tobacco to Kentucky can sometimes be overstated. The Courier-Journal declared in 1998, “Despite Kentucky Lore, Tobacco Is Not King,” noting that tobacco was only 3% of the overall state economy.Regardless, the industry documents reveal the methods tobacco lobbyists used to gain favor with politicians from tobacco-growing states.Soon after McConnell won a U.S. Senate seat, he was invited to the Tobacco Institute’s boardroom to give a speech in January 1985.The main lobbying organization for the tobacco industry at the time said it would also pay McConnell $2,000 for his time.He continued to give paid speeches to the industry throughout the 1980s. In those days, it was legal for senators to take speaking fees — called “honoraria” — from corporations and lobbyists with business before Congress.For McConnell, that included a winter retreat to a Tobacco Institute legislative conference in Palm Springs, Calif., with “an honorarium of $2,000, plus expenses,” according to McConnell’s invite.The documents also reveal that McConnell and his Senate office frequently accepted gifts from tobacco industry lobbyists, a practice which was also legal at the time.The gifts included tickets to NFL and NBA games, a production of Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment, a Ringo Starr concert, “top-quality brandy,” and what McConnell called a “beautiful ham.”McConnell often ended his thank you notes to tobacco lobbyists with an offer:”Please feel free to call on me whenever I may be of assistance to you.”In response to NPR’s questions about these gifts, a spokesperson for McConnell wrote, “these gifts were legal.”The email continued, “It is wrong to insinuate that Senator McConnell’s support for Kentucky tobacco farmers was unique in an era where, regardless of party affiliation in Kentucky, with at least some tobacco grown in 119 out of 120 counties—and over 100,000 growers, everyone in the Kentucky Delegation was fighting for tobacco in Kentucky in that era.””We will provide maximum help early”Throughout this time, the industry also provided McConnell with major campaign contributions.When McConnell has sought re-election, tobacco company employees and PACs have typically donated to McConnell more than to any other member of Congress, according to data from the Center For Responsive Politics. Since 1989, he has received at least $650,000 in campaign contributions linked to the industry and solicited hundreds of thousands more in soft money donations to Republican Party committees.Internally, the tobacco industry knew that its campaign contributions were difficult to refuse, even as public opinion shifted against them. “In the end, candidates act in their own self-interest,” an internal Philip Morris memo stated in 1996, “so few who have taken our money in the past will stop taking it.”In fact, the documents suggest McConnell was eager to solicit those contributions.When lobbyists from R.J. Reynolds went to meet with McConnell in 1995, their talking points for the meeting stated, “Don’t be surprised if he raises the need for [R.J. Reynolds] and the industry to help often and early. As we have done during his previous elections, we will provide maximum help early.”In one letter, McConnell said he was grateful for the support of the Tobacco Institute but was concerned that a “pledged contribution of $1,000″ had not yet made it to his Senate campaign.”It would be very helpful if you could check into this matter,” McConnell wrote, “and forward your contribution as soon as possible.”McConnell added by hand in the margins, “Hope to hear from you soon.”Donations to McConnell Center revealedOn top of campaign contributions, the industry also made major donations for the McConnell Center based at the University of Louisville. The center offers scholarships to college students, hosts lectures and holds McConnell’s private archives.For years, McConnell and the university fought to keep the identities of the donors to the center secret. But, in 2004, a lawsuit by the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper forced the university to disclose who gave checks.The disclosure revealed major contributions from tobacco companies: $200,000 from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., $450,000 from Philip Morris, $500,000 from the RJR Nabisco Foundation, $14,000 from the Tobacco Institute, and $125,000 from U.S. Tobacco.Ethics watchdogs say donations like that open the door to improperly influencing the political process.”It is troubling,” said Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.”The worry is the company is going to give money to the nonprofit, Sen. McConnell is going to know about that, and is going to be more disposed to be to look favorably on policies that help that company,” Bookbinder said.In fact, the tobacco documents reveal that R.J. Reynolds made sure McConnell personally knew about the donation to his McConnell Center. An R.J. Reynolds lobbyist sent a donation check not to the university, but to McConnell’s U.S. Senate office.After a fight, a requestOne of the most striking episodes revealed in the tobacco industry documents came in October 1998, a midterm election year.”[S]en. mcconnell just called me requesting 200,000 [dollars] soft,” R.J. Reynolds lobbyist Tommy Payne emailed a colleague, referring to soft money contributions that were not limited by federal law.After his colleague agreed to send more contributions, Payne followed up in an email, “[A]re you feeling a choking sensation?”A spokesperson for R.J. Reynolds declined to comment. And McConnell did not answer NPR’s questions about this email.”It sounded like they were feeling squeezed by Sen. McConnell,” said John Cheves of the Lexington Herald-Leader, the first reporter to uncover that email.The email is even more notable for its timing.Just a few months earlier, McConnell helped defeat major tobacco legislation championed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McConnell’s role in that debate led to intense scrutiny of his relationship to the industry.The McCain bill would have ratified and strengthened the proposed settlement between the tobacco industry and attorneys general from most of the states. It would have also allowed FDA regulation of nicotine and penalized companies that failed to reduce teen smoking.The tobacco industry launched a massive $40 million ad campaign to defeat the bill.McConnell, who had repeatedly clashed with McCain over campaign finance legislation, helped lead the opposition.”We know, of course, that only 2% of smokers are teenagers,” McConnell said. “We wish they would not engage in this habit, and we ought to do everything we can to deter that behavior. But this bill… is about big government and big spending and big taxes.”(In fact, nearly 90% of all smokers begin before they turn 18 years old.)Fifty-seven senators ended up voting for the bill — three short of breaking the filibuster.But in the days after the vote, a story emerged.”Sen. Mitch McConnell stood up at a closed-door meeting of Republican senators to deliver good news,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “The tobacco industry would mount a television ad campaign to support those who voted to knock off the bill.””That to me is the most egregious incident that I have seen about the appearance of corruption since I have been a member of the United States Senate,” McCain later said of McConnell’s comments, which he witnessed.”What I should have done is stand up and say this is an outrage for you to say this kind of thing,” McCain said. “But I was so astonished that any member of the Senate would say such a thing, I was temporarily at a loss for words.”McConnell called McCain’s accusation a “smear.””All I said to my colleagues was a statement of the obvious,” McConnell said, “which was that the companies were going to continue to express themselves.”Matthew Myers, the president of the Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids, worked closely with McCain on the bill.”I thought it had moved beyond the line of brazenly trying to influence the process with campaign contributions,” says Myers, “to as close to an outright bribe as you could find.”C. Everett Koop, Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general and a Republican, also criticized McConnell.”This is a scandal of politics for sale,” Koop said at the time, “and to my dismay, some Republicans are going to the highest bidder.”Ultimately, both the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice looked into the matter. Neither found any wrongdoing by McConnell.Advocacy for the tobacco industryIn his email to NPR, McConnell said, “We were standing up for tobacco and fighting in every way that we could.”And the internal tobacco documents provide several other examples of McConnell’s support for the industry, and the industry’s role in shaping McConnell’s stances:Secondhand smoke: When the Senate considered bills to ban in-flight smoking, McConnell stood in opposition, saying that “there is no solid, incontrovertible evidence” that secondhand smoke was a health hazard.In 1993, he also opposed banning smoking in federal buildings, saying the government was singling out cigarette smoke among other “so-called carcinogens” in the workplace, such as “spray cleaners.” The records suggest his 1993 statement was actually entirely drafted by the Tobacco Institute (though the institute initially intended the statement for another lawmaker).An intervention: When new tobacco regulations were proposed in Congress in 1990, a Philip Morris lobbyist wrote that he had asked McConnell and another senator “to intervene” with the George H.W. Bush White House on behalf of the industry. “We were successful,” the lobbyist wrote.After hearing from the lobbyist, McConnell wrote a letter to the White House chief of staff saying, “Many choose to attack the tobacco industry however, I have chosed [sic] to defend the people of this industry. Fighting this bill may not be favorable to the general public, but as an elected official, my Kentucky tobacco farmers expect it.”Anti-drug campaign: When the National Commission on Drug-Free Schools criticized the tobacco and alcohol industries in its 1990 report, McConnell wrote a member of the commission to complain. McConnell also argued that tobacco should not be included in anti-drug materials sent to schools.”Equating the use of cigarettes and beer to cocaine and heroin is confusing our kids and it is wrong,” McConnell wrote, echoing language developed by the Tobacco Institute.In an email to NPR, McConnell’s office did not address these documents specifically but noted that McConnell “consistently fought hard for tobacco farmers and their families,” and that “the goal of Senator McConnell’s bipartisan Tobacco-Free Youth Act is to having less tobacco products in the hands of children.”FDA investigation: When the FDA investigated the tobacco industry in the mid-1990s, McConnell requested that the General Accounting Office, the original name of the Government Accountability Office, investigate the FDA itself. Internal memos show that tobacco lobbyists had discussed the investigation with a top McConnell staff member prior to his request and included it in their lobbying action plan.A memo written by the R.J. Reynolds lobbying team described McConnell as “a constant thorn in Kessler’s side,” referring to then-FDA Commissioner David Kessler. The memo stated that the lobbyists should thank McConnell’s staff for fighting the FDA, noting that they had already “maxed out to his campaign” with contributions.In response to NPR, McConnell’s office noted that a GAO investigation was “requested because FDA refused to provide the requested documents regarding their spending to the Appropriations Committee.”Racketeering case: When the Department of Justice accused tobacco companies of decades-long fraud and racketeering for knowingly misleading the public, McConnell worked with the industry to try to discredit and defund the lawsuit.In 1999, McConnell introduced the Litigation Fairness Act to protect companies from government lawsuits. He said publicly that the legislation was “not about tobacco.” But internal documents show that the legislation was drafted with the help of tobacco company attorneys and was a part of a Philip Morris lobbying plan to attack the Justice Department’s lawsuit. The records show that McConnell’s office even asked industry lobbyists to outline a congressional hearing for them.McConnell’s office told NPR, “The Litigation Fairness Act sought to protect any individual or company sued by the federal government. It simply would have required state and federal government to follow the same rules as private litigants – ensuring that the government has to play by the same rules as any litigant.”Ultimately, the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry proceeded. The federal courts determined in a landmark ruling that the companies had conspired to commit racketeering. Many of the documents disclosed in that case involve McConnell himself, including the 1998 email about McConnell’s request for soft money. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

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