Bilbray gets burned by his cigars — Tracy Emblem takes on congressman’s stogie lobbying

It is not surprising that Americans for Prosperity appeared in North San Diego County to support Congressman Brian Bilbray as reported by an area newspaper on August 12.

Bilbray, for those who are unaware, sponsored the Congressional Cigar Association (CCA) in February 2009. The CCA has lobbyist board members and supports the tobacco and cigar industry. CCA events allow lobbyists to have direct contact and influence with congressional staff.

Earlier in April, the CCA pulled strings to get International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers inside the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center to brief house and senate staffers. In June, the CCA pulled off a lavish roof top event reported by the Huffington Post.

Bilbray’s relationship with the tobacco industry is becoming more obvious daily. It turns out that Americans for Prosperity is an astro-turf driven pro-tobacco lobbyist organization, and despite its name, the non-profit advocates “prosperity” on behalf of a chosen few.

According to, Americans for Prosperity lobbied against a smoking ban in Texas in 2005 and a state cigarette tax in Illinois in 2008. Its state affiliate, AFP Arizona opposed a proposition that would tax tobacco in that state.

Sourcewatch states: “On its website, Americans For Prosperity states that AFP gets its support from individuals and corporations which share its vision. However, it does not disclose which corporations fund its operations,”

With its track record, AFP should disclose how much of its funding is from corporate donors and representatives including those from the tobacco industry.

Sourcewatch further reports that Americans for Prosperity joined with other conservative groups to organize “town hall protests” where participants were urged to become bullies and shout down members of Congress talking about health care reform.

The public has become increasingly polarized by propaganda fostered by lobbyist driven organizations masquerading as “grassroots” organizations who exploit and mobilize groups through fear and anger.

Americans for Prosperity appears to have an agenda contrary to the American people at large. It is symbolic that Congressman Brian Bilbray has AFP’s support.
Tracy Emblem is an appellate attorney who has lived in Escondido since 1964. She received her law degree from National University School of Law in 1989, after working at the California Attorney General’s office, writs and appeals division. Working closely with her longtime husband, attorney Thor Emblem, she supervises the civil research on the firm’s major cases and has authored numerous civil and criminal writs and appeals which have been published in the California courts. Known for solving seemingly impossible cases, special writs of habeas corpus. Tracy ran as a candidate in the June 2010 California Democratic primary for the 50th Congressional District’s nomination and lost despite building many coalitions and receiving many state and national endorsements for a first time candidate.


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