While State Senator Isadore Hall Rakes in Tobacco Cash, Constituents Left Fuming


KEY POINT: Hall has taken $77,000 from the tobacco industry while using his position in Sacramento to weaken and block bills to protect tobacco companies - putting our children and public health at risk. 

A recent analysis of State Senator Isadore Hall’s campaign finance records has revealed that the Sacramento insider has accepted $77,300 from tobacco, cigar, and cigarette companies since entering the state legislature in 2008.

From his position as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Organization Committee (GO Committee), the senate committee responsible for reviewing legislation regulating the tobacco industry, Hall has the ability to take bold steps to prevent the tobacco industry from continuing to negatively impact the health and well-being of California residents and hold them accountable for their deadly product.

under Isadore Hall's leadership, the GO committee has become well-known for stalling, tabling, amending, or killing tobacco legislation opposed by Isadore Hall's donors.

For example, S.B. 648, which would have banned e-cigarettes everywhere traditional cigarettes were already prohibited, languished in his committee until the author, Senator Ellen Corbett, was forced to water it down to simply ban the sale of e-cigarettes in vending machines. Even with this concession, the legislation still failed.

Hall also killed S.B. 575, which would have banned smoking in most work places. Hall requested that the bill go to his committee and once he had his hands on the bill, he tried to amend it to exempt employer-owned businesses. The author of the bill, Senator Mark DeSaulnier, objected to the amendment and Hall shelved the bill.

At the time, some speculated that in addition to Senator Hall’s campaign contributions from the tobacco industry, his ties to tobacco lobbyists were also a factor in his attempt to kill tobacco legislation.

Similarly, when Hall had the opportunity to protect children from the dangerous impacts of tobacco, he failed to take a stand. S.B. 140, which was championed by the American Lung Association, would have included electronic cigarettes in California’s smoke free laws, prohibiting their use at workplaces, schools, daycares, restaurants, bars, hospitals and public transportation. It would have also regulated the sale of electronic cigarettes. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hall failed to vote on this crucial legislation.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported Senator Hall’s campaign committee spent $7,812 on cigars and membership at cigar lounges. Hall's spending and fundraising habits resulted in two warning letters and an advice letter from the state’s Ethics Agency.

Despite these warnings, his 2016 Senate Campaign committee has already spent over $1,000 on cigar lounges.

Supportive Background

·      Hall protected the tobacco industry, one of his biggest donors, by impeding smoking-related legislation in his committee. [Sacramento Bee, Editorial, 8/17/14], [Sacramento Bee, 8/2/14], [Sacramento Bee, Op-Ed, 5/18/15], [Sacramento Bee, 8/6/14]

·      The Legislature’s most restrictive anti-smoking measures were killed or watered down in the committee that Hall oversaw. [Sacramento Bee, 8/2/14];

·      Hall accepted more than $77,000 from tobacco, cigar, and cigarette companies since entering the state legislature in 2008, including Altria, Lorillard, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds. [California Secretary of State, Cal-Access, accessed 2/1/16]

·      After receiving $7,800 in campaign contributions from tobacco companies, Hall shelved a bill that would have prohibited smoking at most workplaces after the bill author refused a tobacco-backed exception for employer-owned businesses. [Eureka Times Standard, 7/21/11]