Last week, Republic Report noted that six governors from both political parties attended a secretive trade talks conference in Washington, D.C. sponsored by a number of multi-national corporations, including Philip Morris International. These governors apparently were comfortable with allowing themselves to be wined and dined by some of the world’s most powerful corporate entities while pushing for a new NAFTA-style trade agreement for the Pacific region.
While U.S. politicians have grown accustom to this sort of stealth corporate lobbying, it appears that some of our overseas neighbors have not. The Australian embassy actually withdrew the Australian ambassador from the conference after it became apparent that Philip Morris would be sponsoring it.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, several political parties have called for Mike Moore, the country’s ambassador to the United States, to be fired because he attended an event sponsored by the tobacco industry. Other political parties have called for full disclosure of the details of how Moore ended up at the conference, including a disclosure of whether or not he was authorized by the government. Meanwhile, the Public Health Association there roundly condemned Moore.
Cabinet ministers in New Zealand’s federal government have pushed back against calls to censure or withdraw Moore, but it is interesting that his appearance at the conference has become a scandal at all. The reactions by the body politic in New Zealand and Australia to a conference sponsored by Big Tobacco as compared to the nonexistent response in the United States is instructive in how deeply corporate influence in our politics has become a normal affair.
This article originally appeared on Republic Report