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Cause of Action report says Obama stimulus funds used illegally to lobby for tax hikes, anti-obesity measures

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A new Cause of Action investigative report says federal officials at the Centers for Disease Control encouraged state and local officials to use funds from President Obama's economic stimulus program to lobby for tax hikes and anti-obesity laws. Such actions violated at least four federal laws and guidelines.

Centers for Disease Control officials encouraged Obama stimulus program grant recipients in seven states to use the funds illegally to lobby local and state governments for new anti-obesity and tobacco laws, according to an investigation by the group Cause of Action.

In a report being released today, Cause of Action said its 19-month investigation found that CDC officials "permitted and even encouraged Communities Putting Prevention to Work grantees in Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and California to violate federal law and use CPPW funds to lobby state and local governments."

The CofA report said "internal emails, applications to the CDC outlining plans for the funds, and meeting notes blatantly show systemic corruption and use of taxpayer dollars for lobbying."

Cause of Action is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, non-partisan advocacy group that describes its purpose as "to protect transparency and economic opportunity when federal regulations, wasteful spending, and cronyism threaten it."

The CPPW was an initiative funded by President Obama's economic recovery program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and was meant to be used for public education and job creation efforts.

But the CofA probe found that "CPPW money went to support lobbyists and public relations companies who used taxpayer dollars to push laws and agendas that would lead to tax increases on tobacco and high calorie products -- essentially transforming the CPPW program into a conduit for lobbying for higher taxes on tobacco and bans on otherwise legal consumer products."

At least four federal laws and regulations were broken in response to the CDC actions, including the federal Anti-Lobbying Act "that prohibits the use of money appropriated by Congress to influence, 'an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation,'" according to CofA.

For more information from Cause of Action, go here.