John Boehner Now Sits on the Board of a Major Tobacco Company

Pledge to America
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, smokes a cigarette after a news conference outside of Tart Lumber Company in Sterling, Va., were they unveiled "A Pledge to America," a governing agenda devised by House Republicans for the 111th Congress.
Photograph by Tom Williams—Roll Call via Getty Images

John Boehner has always loved Big Tobacco.

In 1995, the former House speaker was caught passing out checks from tobacco lobbyists to his fellow congressmen—something he later said he regretted. And when Boehner resigned late last year, OpenSecrets data showed he took more money from the tobacco industry than any other lawmaker during his 26 years in Congress. Not to mention Boehner smokes so much that when he left the Capitol, his office was fumigated to get rid of the smell, according to CNN Money.

So it’s no surprise that Boehner now sits on the board of Reynolds American (RAI), the second biggest tobacco company in the country. He will serve on the corporate governance, nominating and sustainability committee, likely helping his colleagues shape how Washington regulates the struggling U.S. tobacco sector, CNN reports.

This year alone, Reynolds American ranked second in contributions from tobacco lobbying-related groups, having donated more than $470,000 to mostly Republican lawmakers, according to OpenSecrets.


However, in Congress, Boehner received money from other tobacco companies: The campaign and political action committees (PACs) affiliated with Altria (MO)—which owns subsidiary cigarette-makers such as Phillip Morris—gave Boehner more than $139,000 over the course of his time in Congress.

U.S. Tobacco and Brown & Williamson’s campaign and PAC committees ranked 11th and 13th among Boehner’s campaign contributors between 1997 and 1998, giving him a combined $21,000 that year, OpenSecrets reports. Then in 2012, Boehner received $50,000 from Swisher International-related PACs and campaign committees, as well as $30,500 from Altria-related committees.

Altogether he received $43,500 from Altria in 2014 and another $15,200 from Eby-Brown. Eby-Brown is the largest privately owned tobacco company in the U.S.

Boehner’s current employer may be missing from the list, but the company does make his cigarette of choice: Camels.

“It just is what it is,” he told NBC’s Brian Williams of his smoking habit in 2011. “You know, it’s a bad habit. I wish I didn’t have it. But I have it.”

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