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The ANR-SAYNO Lawsuit

Two players entered the debate over the future of Proposition 99 with the explicit goal of forcing the debate out of the Legislature and back into the public arena and the courts: ANR and the new organization Just Say No to Tobacco Dough (SAYNO).

ANR was increasingly critical of the approach that the voluntary health agencies were taking in Sacramento, which ANR viewed as gutless. ANR director Julia Carol described the voluntaries' AB 816 reauthorization effort this way:

Nobody was willing to fight. They're all still asking nicely. …the CMA was still eagerly grabbing the money and none of the voluntaries were willing to publicly slap their hands about it or to use any sort of clout. You know, in advocacy you have two tools. You have a carrot and you have a stick. The really good advocates figure out when to use which and how much, and whether you use both. What the voluntaries were using mostly was the carrot. They said they were doing an aggressive fight, but they didn't really know what that meant. …I think it means [to them] that every now and then they write a sort of tough letter that they don't publicize in any way. And that they speak up kind of boldly behind the scenes in closed-door sessions.[36]

If ANR was to get involved, it would be outside the Legislature's back rooms.

Attorney A. Lee Sanders, who had been executive director of California Common Cause in the 1970s, wanted to do something to discourage politicians from taking money from the tobacco industry. He had just formed SAYNO to encourage candidates for office in California to refuse such contributions. When he contacted Stanton Glantz for information on campaign contributions by the tobacco industry, Glantz expressed frustration that none of the health groups had sued to restore the integrity of Proposition 99. When Sanders expressed interest, Glantz put him in touch with ANR, which joined with Sanders because of the organization's belief in the power of outside strategies.[37] On February 2, 1994, SAYNO and ANR sent formal demand letters to the California State Treasurer and Controller, asking for the return of funds already diverted from the Proposition 99 Health Education Account and threatening to


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sue if the money was not returned. ANR invited ALA and the other voluntary health agencies to join their effort, but they “would have nothing of it at the time.”[36]

On the morning of March 23, just hours before the Conference Committee was scheduled to meet to consider AB 816, ANR and SAYNO held a press conference in Sacramento to announce that they had filed a lawsuit against the governor, the Legislature, and others seeking restoration of the $165 million that had been diverted from the Health Education Account into medical services under AB 75 and AB 99 and attempting to stop future misappropriations. The lawsuit (ANR et al. v. State of California, Sac. Super. Ct. No. 539577) derailed the plan for a quick passage of AB 816.

Najera and the other lobbyists were furious. They believed that the ANR lawsuit made the AB 816 fight more difficult because the legislators did not separate ALA from ANR. Najera tried to distance himself from the suit, and an April 8 ALA press release announced that the American Lung Association of California “is not currently a party to, or involved in any way with, a lawsuit filed by Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) and Just Say No to Tobacco Dough (SAYNO).”[38] Najera was still hoping for success at the inside game that ANR was disrupting.


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