The government asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler on Tuesday to require the companies to fund a five-year, $10 billion program, a fraction of the 25-year, $130 billion program suggested by government witness Michael C. Fiore, a University of Wisconsin medical professor.
Now why would the government do that?
The Justice Department called the $10 billion program an "initial request" that could be expanded. But Kessler said Wednesday: "There may be some additional influences being brought to bear" on the government's decision.
"Additional influences" being lobbyists for rich tobacco companies/GOP campaign donors?
"The Justice Department's approach to tobacco litigation should be based on the facts of the case and not political favors to the tobacco industry," wrote Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Martin Meehan of Massachusetts.
A group of senators -- including Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, and Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts -- asked Fine "to determine whether improper interference by political appointees led to a reversal of the position advocated by the career professionals working on the case."
Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum said the government would address the stop-smoking program again Thursday, when closing arguments are scheduled to end. But, speaking to several reporters in the courtroom, he said he would not comment on what factors influenced the decision to seek a smaller program.
I can answer that in the absence of comments from Mr. McCallum...campaign money.