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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Action America was a nonprofit organization set up in 1994 by supporters of then Arkansas Governor (and in 2008 Republican Presidential candidate) Mike Huckabee to help raise money to advance his political career. In late 2007 Newsweek magazine reported that, while Huckabee was serving as lieutenant governor, Action America raised $119,916, of which $71,500 was paid directly to Huckabee for speeches and traveling expenses. Newsweek also reports that when the press discovered the fund, Huckabee refused to disclose the names of Action America's donors, claiming that doing so would somehow violate federal law.
Tobacco company funding source
Two former Huckabee political consultants who went on to become directors of Action America, J. J. Vigneault and Greg Graves, told Newsweek that Action America was "substantially funded by one source: R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco giant" for the primary purpose of using Huckabee to fight then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's health care proposal. Clinton had proposed funding her health care proposal by adding a federal excise tax to every pack of cigarettes sold, thus prompting strong tobacco industry opposition to the proposal. (See Americans for Tax Reform and Big Tobacco for more details of RJR's efforts to defeat the Clinton healthcare plan).