Several Republicans who learned of the November effort have privately expressed concern that Blunt pushed the provision partly because of his personal relationship with Philip Morris lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Blunt, who several Republicans said spends considerable time with Perlman, would not discuss their relationship or whether the two had talked about the provision.
Blunt said he pushed the provision because he thought it was good policy, much of it drawn from legislation introduced last year by then-Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.). Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) recently introduced legislation that would do much of what Philip Morris was seeking to do, Blunt said. He said the provision was relevant to the homeland security bill because news reports last year showed that terrorist groups, such as the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, were profiting from the sale of contraband cigarettes.
In April, for instance, Blunt managed to have a provision inserted into a Senate bill, without debate, on behalf of United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. The two companies were seeking to block the expansion of a foreign rival's U.S. operations. Blunt's son [Andrew B. Blunt] also represents UPS in Missouri, as the Wall Street Journal first reported, and the two companies have contributed a total of $120,000 to Blunt since 2001, according to Federal Election Commission data.
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