For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

Friday, October 20, 1995 Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Nader Says Bob Dole Cares More About Bananas Than Working Families in America

Ralph Nader said that "Bob Dole is not supposed to be running for president of a banana plantation," following reports that Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) told Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee that his "top priority" for the upcoming budget reconciliation bill is a banana trade provision for big money contributor Carl Lindner.

Nader said that "Dole seems to care more about his banana bill than all the hardworking families whose taxes he wants to raise." The Wall Street Journal reported on October 19 that an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation shows that half of American taxpayers -- those earning less than $30,000 per year -- would receive a tax increase under Senate GOP tax proposals.

The Journal of Commerce reported on October 18 that "According to aides for several senators...Sen. Dole said the Chiquita bill was his 'top priority' for the tax package [budget reconciliation]..."

"Bob Dole has lost it," said Gary Ruskin, Director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "Is he trying to turn the United States into a banana republic? Dole's top priority is not the health or family values of Americans -- it's moving a banana provision for a big contributor."

The banana provision would benefit Carl Lindner, who is Chairman and CEO of American Financial Corp., which is the parent company of Chiquita Brands International, Inc. Chiquita has failed to convince the European Union to eliminate its restrictions on banana imports. It hopes that Dole's banana bill -- which would revoke all trade benefits for Colombia and Costa Rica -- would threaten and convince these countries to stop cooperating with the restrictive European Union rules. The rules have a negative impact on Chiquita's market share in the European market.

Steve Warshaw, Executive Vice President of Chiquita, was quoted in a January 22, 1995 Cincinnati Enquirer article saying "Europe has been the largest and most profitable market for Chiquita, and it's in our absolute best interest to protect our access."

Mr. Lindner is a major contributor to Senator Dole and Republican causes. He gave $100,000 to Dole's now-defunct Better America Foundation. Common Cause reported that Lindner, American Financial and subsidiaries contributed $200,000 on November 1, 1994 to the Republican National Committee, and American Financial contributed an additional $50,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on December 6, 1994. Newsweek reported on April 24, 1995 that since 1993 Dole has accepted three flights on company jets owned by American Financial Corp.

Senator Dole insists he doesn't accept money from groups with special agendas. Referring to his now-reversed decision not to take a campaign contribution from the Log Cabin Republicans, Senator Dole said that "if it's somebody with a special agenda, we're not going to accept their money." But according to the October 18 Journal of Commerce article, "Mr. Lindner has personally lobbied Sen. Dole on the [banana] issue." The article also states that "Three times this year, Sen. Dole attempted to push the banana bill through the Senate without debate."

Mr. Lindner is mentioned in "The Big Fix," authored by James Ring Adams, as a "mentor" of Charles Keating Jr., of "Keating Five" fame. Keating, who owned the famous Lincoln Savings and Loan, arranged more than $1 million in contributions to five Senators, who intervened on Keating's behalf with federal regulators in the late 1980's. Adams wrote that Keating "learned from Lindner's deft use of political contributions."

"Senator Dole is not leveling with the American people. He has accepted large contributions from Lindner, and is now doing favors for him. This is exactly why we need campaign finance reform -- to stop the cycle of big contributions and big favors," Ruskin said.