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California Political Empowerment Committee
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
California Political Empowerment Committee is a a tobacco industry front group funding attack ads in the 2006 primary election for California's State Board of Equalization, which regulates state cigarette sales and oversees $40 billion in tax collections.
Notably, a mailing from a group called the California Political Empowerment Committee accuses a candidate of "being a shill for Big Tobacco," according to the Los Angeles Times. The group has received at least $57,000 from Altria's Kraft subsidiary, Lorillard and UST. 
The mailing targeted state Assemblywoman Judy Chu, saying she "accepted money from tobacco companies and then voted to reduce penalties on them for illegally selling cigarettes to minors." Chu is actually a "staunch foe of the industry and refuses to accept its campaign cash." Public health activists called the mailing "a cynical attempt to drive voters toward her opponent," state Assemblyman Jerome Horton, who is "one of the Legislature's biggest beneficiaries of tobacco money." 
- Evan Halper, "Tobacco Helps Fund Anti-Tobacco Ad: The flier accuses tax board hopeful Judy Chu, a staunch foe of the industry, of being soft on the issue. Rival says he has no tie to the attack", Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2006.
- Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, "Big Tobacco's Political Dirty Tricks Hit New Low in Calif., Ariz., Ohio", Media Release, June 2, 2006.