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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Tobacco Company Spends $5M More To Fight Montana's Tobacco Tax Initiative

A 'no on I-185'" sign at a Missoula gas station.
Josh Burnham
A 'no on I-185'" sign at a Missoula gas station.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A tobacco company has dumped nearly $5 million more into the campaign to defeat a Montana ballot initiative in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

The cash loans and in-kind donations by Altria Client Services reported Monday puts the Marlboro cigarette maker's total contributions at more than $17 million to defeat the proposed tobacco tax increase.

Campaign finance reports show the ballot committee organized against the tax measure used Altria's money to buy $3.4 million worth of broadcast, digital and newspaper ads between Oct. 3 and Oct. 13.

The fight over whether to raise the tobacco tax and extend the state's Medicaid expansion program is one of the most expensive in the state's history of ballot initiatives.

Backers of the measure have been helped by the Montana Hospital Association's $5.4 million in contributions to date.

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