Sharon Eubanks, the lead attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) case against tobacco companies, recently told the [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/21/AR2007032102713.html Washington Post] that Bush appointees at DOJ pressured her to weaken the government's case against the tobacco companies. The Bush administration has been linked to political rigging of judicial matters recently with the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys, but while these activities are in the headlines today, it's not the first time. A February 15, 2000 [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D00E5DD1531F936A25751C0A9669C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=print New York Times] article shows that [[George Walker Bush|President Bush]]'s longtime political advisor [[Karl Rove]] (now a senior advisor in the White House) interfered with Texas Attorney General Dan Morales' plans to bring a lawsuit against the major American tobacco companies to recoup state Medicaid funds spent treating sick smokers. Rove helped draft a 1996 push poll aimed at maligning Morales in an attempt to pressure Morales not to file the suit. The push poll was financed by tobacco companies.
A [[push poll]] is a political campaign technique that attempts to alter respondents' view of a candidate by asking misleading questions under the guise of conducting a legitimate poll. In push polls, respondents are asked damaging questions about a candidate, such as, "Would you vote for Mr. X if you knew Mr. X had been convicted of fraud and domestic violence?" Push polls are a form of negative campaigning. The technique has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants.
According to the 2000 article, George W. Bush, then Governor of Texas, threatened to fire any campaign staffer found to be involved with push polls. Bush's spokesman, [[Ari Fleischer]], denied that Rove was involved in drafting the poll questions, saying that Rove only reviewed a fifth draft of the survey. But in a deposition given in 1997, Rove admitted he had offered suggestions about the poll's questions.
Despite his admission of hands-on help in creating the push poll, Rove was never fired.
Karl Rove has had a dual relationship with [[Philip Morris]] and Bush's gubernatorial administration. Rove was a $3,000-a-month consultant to Philip Morris from 1991 to 1996, and between January 1995 and December 1996 was simultaneously employed as a political advisor to Bush.
When viewed through the lens of today's events, the New York Times story shows a potential pattern. Karl Rove interfered once with a major lawsuit against tobacco companies, on behalf of tobacco companies, and while in the employ of a Bush administration. History makes one wonder if Rove, who is now linked to [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.attorneys16mar16,0,6718406.story?coll=bal-pe-asection the DOJ attorney firings], might have also been involved in efforts scuttle DOJ's case against the tobacco industry.