American Family Business Institute

Anti-Estate Tax Group Pounds Louisiana Democrat

A group that has fought against the estate tax for years just launched its first TV ad of the election season, against the only endangered Democratic Senate incumbent, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

The American Family Business Institute, blames Landrieu for opposing oil exploration and supporting the estate tax, which conservatives call the "death tax." The ad says, "We're ready to get to work, ready to hire, ready to explore, ready to drill. But Mary Landrieu stands in the way." (A Chamber of Commerce ad, incidentally, has recently praised Landrieu's record on energy exploration.)

Formed in 1994, the institute's sole aim is the death of the estate tax. In the past, it received $500,000 from Raymond Harbert, heir to a construction fortune who runs an Alabama-based investment firm. Harbert served as the institute's "funding chairman," but apparently is no longer with the group. Portfolio magazine currently profiles Habert as a leader of a "shareholder assault" on the New York Times Company.

More information after the jump...

The institute leases office space from Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, and ATR used to have its logo on Nodeathtax.org, which is now the institute's Web site. But institute president Dick Patten says there is no affiliation between the groups.

The institute's board includes Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, CEO of Bollinger Shipyards in Louisiana; Steve Swanson, CEO of a lumber and aviation-services conglomerate in Oregon; and Larry Drummond, vice chairman of the Drummond Company Inc., an Alabama coal mining company. All three of these big firms are family businesses and, presumably, would have a large estate subject to tax.

The group's VP of government affairs, Howard Segermark, has a more political background: former economic counsel to the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC).

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