Lobbyists work for Moffitt and big tobacco

08/06/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa has a reputation as one of the best in the country. U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the facility as the 16th best in the country.

But the treatment center and research institute is also paying thousands of dollars to lobbyists in Tallahassee, that are also registered lobbyist for tobacco companies.

Mark Ferullo is with the group Progress Florida, which reported on this seeming conflict of interest on its website today.

We also attempted to speak with one of the lobbyists mentioned, Carole Duncanson.

She lobbies for Moffitt and for Swisher International. On its website, Swisher International says, “As a longstanding member of the Cigar Association of America, Swisher International believes that cigar smoking is an activity to be enjoyed by adults, and is adamantly opposed to the use of cigars of underage individuals.”

WMNF contacted Carole Duncanson this afternoon. She said she wouldn’t comment on air because she said she had not seen the report, but said that her lobbying for Swisher International was regarding taxation issues, and had nothing to do with tobacco.

(On Thursday, a day after this story aired, Moffitt Cancer Center did reply to our request for comment.

In a statement sent by Michelle Foley, spokesperson for Moffitt,

"The issue has been raised that Moffitt Cancer Center employs lobbyists whose companies also have clients from the tobacco industry. Moffitt hires the consultants who can best help assist the cancer center in accomplishing its legislative goals but are concerned about the perception this business practice has, therefore, moving forward, Moffitt will be reviewing its policies concerning who represents the cancer center with the legislature."

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