Washington Justice Department lawyers have warned that they may soon be forced to abandon the federal government's landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry because the Bush administration has not proposed enough funding to keep the litigation alive, according to a confidential memo reviewed by The Washington Post.
Justice lawyers have estimated they need $57.6 million in the coming fiscal year to continue the government's lawsuit, which seeks more than $100 billion in damages from tobacco companies for allegedly engaging in a 45-year pattern of racketeering. But the budget proposed by President Bush holds the budget at $1.8 million for a staff of 31.
A March 12 memo to Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft from the Justice Department's Tobacco Litigation Team said that without sufficient funding, "we cannot maintain the action" and "there are no realistic prospects for a settlement" in the case.