Back in December, Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) made headlines when he proudly declared to the masses, “Yes, I vape.” Then again, just yesterday, Hunter was back showing off sick clouds right in the middle of a congressional hearing. So is the man just wildly passionate about vaping? Maybe, sure. But it probably doesn’t hurt that, since 2010, Duncan Hunter has received $31,500 in donations from big tobacco’s e-cig manufacturers.
All three big tobacco firms—Lorillard Tobacco, Reynolds American, and Altria Group—have dipped their toes in the e-cig (otherwise known as vaping) market. And according to OpenSecrets.org, all three have donated to Hunter’s campaign and/or his leadership PAC over the years.
In 2010, 2014, and 2016, Altria (which produces MarkTen e-cigs) gave Hunter $2,000, $6,000, and $5,000, respectively. Lorillard, which owns the wildly popular Blu e-cigs, has given the least to Hunter, donating only $5,000 to his campaign committee in 2014. But Reynolds, which boasts an entire vape-based subsidiary, was the biggest spender with contributions of $6,000, $7,500, and $10,000 in 2012, 2014, and 2016, respectively.
We reached out to Hunter to ask how much influence the money from Big Vape might have had on his his highly public vaping habits over the years. His chief of staff, Joe Kasper, sent us the following response:
None. Before anyone decided to support him, he vaped and was passionate about the issue. And people can choose to support him or not, their call.
Kind of a ridiculous question. To help you? He’s also led tobacco amendments via the NDAA.
Either way kids, just remember: It doesn’t pay to vape. Except, you know, when it literally does.