AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - The Political Action Committee of the nation's largest electronic-cigarette company, Juul Labs, donated tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of several state attorneys general - including Ken Paxton.
According to records from the Texas Ethics Commission, Juul's PAC donated $5,000 to Paxton in 2018.
"It's true and all campaign contributions are public record and I wouldn't say there's any regret," said Jordan Berry with Paxton's campaign. "It's a contribution that happened two years ago and clearly had no standing on whether he was going to investigate [Juul] or not." Berry said Paxton has no plans to give the money back.
Last month, Texas and 38 other states sued Juul over it's marketing practices, saying it made misleading claims about the nicotine levels in its devices. Juul said it's working with government officials.
But Dr. Rob Crane with Tobacco21.org and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation said Paxton's acceptance of the contribution sends the wrong message. "It's really disappointing, verging on insanity. It's completely in opposition to public health. We know that because Texas last year passed one of the worst tobacco 21 laws in the country. Juul has proven itself to be not just a bad actor, but an evil doer in Texas and across the country. 5.2 million kids in middle school and high school are using Juul and products like it. That's unacceptable." Crane adds that it's not just Juul's contribution. "He's probably taking money from Walgreens which sells a ton of Juul, Walmart, convenience stores and cigar shops. It all adds up."