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Smoke And Mirrors When lobbying groups lead small business astray

Jack Loughridge started the day tending to his Pensacola,Florida, printing shop and ended it participating in one of thestate's most controversial legal brawls. The transition came inthe innocuous form of a fax, which turned out to be sent fromFlorida's largest lobbying group warning that a new law couldhave damaging effects on businesses. Loughridge expressed hissupport for the law . . . until he later found out the group hadmisleadingly persuaded him to side with the tobacco industry.

Loughridge, whose father died of emphysema caused by smoking,was appalled that he had been unknowingly lumped with an industryhe despised. "It was explained strictly as legislation thatcould harm business-it was misrepresented to me," saysLoughridge. "I felt I was hoodwinked into siding with thetobacco industry."

Lobbying groups' efforts can trick a small business aseasily as that fax seeped into Loughridge's office. And whenlobbyists' aggressive and sometimes deceptive tactics intersectwith entrepreneurs' political blind spots, small-businessowners are often thrown into a panic.

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