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Philip Morris Likes All Four Candidates for Governor

Tim Craig

Altria, the parent company of Richmond-based Philip Morris, is hedging its bets in this year's campaign for governor.

During a one week period in mid December, Altria gave $10,000 each to the all three Democratic candidates for governor. In addition to the campaign contributions to Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), on Dec. 9 Altria also gave $10,000 to Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor, according to the Virginia Public Access Project

The donations came one week after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) proposed a 30 cent increase in the state's tobacco tax. Altria did not donate to Kaine in 2008, but the company has given $20,000 this year to both House and Senate Democratic campaign committees. House Republican campaign committees also received $20,000 this year from Altria.

McDonnell, who opposes Kaine's tax increase, has collected a total of $35,000 from Altria this year. Deeds and Moran have both received a total of $15,000 this year from the company. McAuliffe has picked up $20,000, including a $10,000 donation from Michael E Szymanczyk, the chairman of Philip Morris.

Deeds was initially undecided on Kaine's tobacco tax, but said last week he is now open to supporting it. Moran has yet to take a position on the legislation. McAuliffe has said he doesn't think taxes should be raised during a recession, but quickly adds he's uncomfortable "second guessing" Kaine.

By Tim Craig  |  January 19, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Tim Craig  
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