When the major American tobacco companies signed the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with the 46 states who sued to recover the costs of treating sick smokers, the companies agreed to nominal advertising restrictions and massive yearly payouts to the states. Lawyers who made money on the settlement began donating heavily to the Democratic Party, which opposes the corporate-organized "tort reform movement" that works to block such suits in the future. The massive lawsuit, subsequent settlement and increased donations to the Democratic Party (particularly in the South) sparked a vicious, under-the-radar war between Southern Democrats, the Republican Party and its corporate allies. Raw Story exposes the serious repercussions the tobacco settlement has had on the integrity of U.S. elections, particularly in the Southern U.S., as the Republican Party and corporate interests seek to cut off Democratic donations and exact retribution on lawyers and public officials involved in the original lawsuit.
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