John O'Brien Apr. 25, 2008, 2:00pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's latest problem with the tobacco industry is with Internet sellers.
Blumenthal was scheduled to testify Friday before a Congressional that the U.S. Post Office should be prohibited from shipping cigarettes and other tobacco products.
"We cannot permit the United States Postal Service -- an arm of the government -- to deliver death and addiction to children," he said in a release. "Laws enabling it should be ended."
The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the State of Maine's heavily supported effort to regulate the motor delivery of cigarettes sold online. Thirty-one states joined Maine's cause.
Blumenthal said private delivery services like Federal Express already have a voluntary ban on shipment of tobacco products.
"The mails should dump, not deliver, cigarettes," he said. "We should put Internet sellers of cigarettes out of business and eradicate smoke and mirrors in the mail.
"Congress must bar mail delivery of cigarettes to effectively crash Internet sites selling cigarettes, and fight teen smoking and tobacco tax evasion."
His testimony came before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia Subcommittee.
State attorneys general and tobacco companies have long been at each other's throats. In 1998, the two sides reached the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which required a yearly payment from companies that wanted to continue selling to the 52 participating states and territories.
The settlement had an estimated worth of $246 billion. Trial lawyers hired by the states earned approximately $14 billion in attorneys fees.
In naming Blumenthal the worst state attorney general in recent history, the Competitive Enterprise Institute looked at his actions during the tobacco litigation.
Its report says Blumenthal steered $65 million in fees to his own allies and the associates of former Gov. John Rowland, later convicted of corruption in an unrelated matter.
It adds that Blumenthal went "through the motions" of soliciting letters from firms interested in representing the state in the lawsuit. Of the four he selected, one was his former firm, another's partner was married to a partner in the first firm and a managing partner in the third served as counsel to Rowland.