David Senter

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

David Senter had his own lobbying company known originally as Senter Associates and later as David Senter & Associates In 2003 he merger this company with Kimmitt Coates & McCarthy.

With his wife Joan, he was a very active lobbyist for the tobacco industry for decades through the American Agriculture Movement and also through the American Family Farm Foundation. These were originally handled at arms-length by the tobacco industry through the PR firm Ogilvy & Mather PR (Initially by James Savarese). Later the TI and AAM/Senter became much closer. A fairly recent puff piece on the man and his operations says:

Senter Associates specialized in trade, tax, transportation, energy, telecommunications, interior and agriculture policy for a variety of clients. Mr. Senter continues to work closely with Members of Congress and within the Administration to inform and educate them on a variety of issues. Mr. Senter has had experience working with the federal agencies, Congress and the White House during the past 25 years dealing with a variety of client issues. During such time he had had extensive dealings with both the House and Senate Authorizing and Appropriations Committees.

Prior to forming David Senter & Associates, Mr. Senter was the National Director for the American Agriculture Movement, Inc.(AAM) While serving in this capacity, Mr. Senter worked on three different farm bills as well as a number of critical pieces of legislation having a direct impact on family farmers and rural residents all across the country. During his tenure in Washington, he became a nationally known expert on agriculture, land use and rural policy and, more importantly, a leading advocate for family farmers. Mr. Senter is a widely traveled speaker at forums, national meetings and workshops. This enabled Mr. Senter to have direct contact with a bevy of national leaders, including the last six Administrations.

In addition to client work, Mr. Senter provides Pro Bono counsel for Farm Aid, advises Willie Nelson, Farm Aid Founder and President, as well as Farm Aid board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews. In addition, Mr. Senter provides counsel for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, an organization representing 20,000 black farmers in the south-east.

American Agriculture Movement

Both Senter and the American Agriculture Movement have many thousands of entries in the tobacco document archives. In 1989 he was working for the tobacco industry fighting against excise taxes on cigarettes. Obviously tobacco farming was a legitimate concern of the AAM organisation, so the tobacco industry assisted the AAM with meetings held at state agricultural departments and state fairs. [2] However David and Joan Senter's services to the cigarette companies was much more than just this. He was a primary lobbyist for them with a whole raft of Reps and Senators from agricultural states. The AAM also had links to other agricultural-based organisations like the Fertiliser Institute, etc.

An Ogilvy & Mather report in June 1989 talks about promoting an AAM study trying to prove that farmers are discriminated against by excise taxes. This study had been done by two members of the tobacco industry's Cash for Comments Economists Network, Robert B Ekelund and James E Long.

By 1993 the AAM was on the Tobacco Institute's budget for an annual payment of $108,000 [3]. The Senter family with all its agricultural associations and lobbying companies was probably earning much more from the industry than this.

Documents & Timeline

A puff-piece about his background tells us that:

Mr. Senter started his Washington political life with an appointment from then-Governor Bill Clements of Texas as the Agriculture Liaison for the State of Texas with the Congress. While in this capacity, David ensured that the voice of Texas farmers and ranchers was heard in Washington, DC and worked to negotiate favorable legislation for farmers and ranchers. Prior to the Texas state appointment, Mr. Senter operated a 2000 acre cotton and wheat farm as well as a 100 head dairy operation in Johnson County, Texas.

See American Agriculture Movement for main timeline.