Progressive, The, Dec, 1998 by Morton Mintz
Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, sent me an “invitation” to join recently. “For seventy-eight years, the ACLU, supported exclusively by caring, concerned people like you, has been the nation’s staunch defender of the Bill of Rights and freedom,” she wrote. Sadly, however, her description of who “exclusively” funds the ACLU is a falsity, which her underlining compounds. Unless, of course, tobacco companies are “caring, concerned people.”
In 1987, the ACLU’s executive director, Ira Glasser, began to solicit Philip Morris for annual grants without first consulting his board of directors, he admitted to me in an October 1992 interview. By that time, the leading cigarette manufacturer had given the tax-exempt ACLU Foundation $500,000. Second-ranking R.J. Reynolds also contributed, but Glasser refused to tell me how much.
How Strossen could not have known of the ACLU’s financial dependence on tobacco is hard to imagine. She was sitting beside Glasser and me when he revealed the Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds grants. In July 1993, moreover, leading news organizations–including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Reuters–publicized the grants in stories based on a report I’d done, “Allies: The ACLU and the Tobacco Industry.” Yet the ACLU still maintains the fiction that Strossen knew nothing of the contributions. “Nadine … is not involved with the accounting procedures of the ACLU,” membership liaison Rita Buland wrote on September 25 to an inquiring ACLU member, Stanley E. Cohen.
By PHILIP J. HILTS,
Published: July 30, 1993
WASHINGTON, July 29— Ralph Nader and the American Civil Liberties Union, often on the same side in the past, are fighting each other over the receipt by the A.C.L.U. of more than $500,000 from tobacco companies.
Mr. Nader, Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Public Citizen Health Research Group and others active in organizations seeking to protect consumers held a news conference here today to implore the civil liberties group to stop accepting the money.
The tobacco industry donations were unearthed by Morton Mintz, a retired Washington Post writer, who said that starting in 1987 the A.C.L.U. had accepted large sums of money from tobacco companies, including $500,000 from the Philip Morris Companies Inc.