Herman Cain As Washington Lobbyist Was Ally Of Cigarette Makers, Fought Lowering Blood-Alcohol Limits, Opposed Minimum Wage Increase

I find the closer scrutiny of Herman Cain interesting.  Now that the media is starting to ramp up the coverage of the back-story concerning Herman Cain the public doubts will set in, and his poll numbers will start to move south.   Cain was once able to fly under the radar–but no longer.  That is the nature of press attention to candidates who start to trek upwards in the polls.

When Mr. Cain took the helm of the restaurant association, anti-drunken-driving groups were waging a campaign to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent — a change that restaurant owners feared would hurt liquor sales. In an opinion article in his local newspaper, The Omaha World-Herald, Mr. Cain called instead for stiffer penalties for drunken driving — an argument that drew a pointed rebuke from Diane Riibe, a board member of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.       

“Mr. Cain and those he represents are in the business of selling alcohol,” Ms. Riibe wrote, “not saving lives.”       

Anti-tobacco groups were also upset with positions he advocated. Because the cigarette makers had a less than stellar image, they often built lobbying partnerships with other industries.       

Under Mr. Cain’s leadership, the restaurant association opposed higher taxes on cigarettes and the use of federal money to prosecute cigarette makers for fraud — positions that Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said had little to do with the restaurant business.       

And Mr. Cain argued vociferously that the decision about whether to go smoke-free was the province of individual restaurant owners, not the government. “The restaurant industry literally became the alter ego of the tobacco industry during that period of time,” Mr. Myers said in an interview.       

The restaurant association relied heavily on R. J. Reynolds for financial support, records show. Mr. Meyne, the Reynolds senior director of public affairs, served on the restaurant group’s board, and Mr. Cain served on the board of Nabisco, which had earlier merged with Reynolds.       

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