Roger A Arnold
— A minor cash-for-comment academic economist from Nevada, and later the California State University, San Marcos —
Arnold appears to have had only a minor flirtation with Tollison/Savarese cash-for-comments economists network, although he was clearly on the right side of the political fence being closely associated with the Center for the Study of Public Choice which ran the network and provided the administration.
Tobacco lobbyist James Savarese and Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University collaborated in the 1980s to provide the tobacco industry, through the Tobacco Institute, with networks of academics in various disciplines who would be willing to write and sprout propaganda material ... always provided the payments for these services were not directly traceable back to the Institute or to any of the cigarette companies.
The idea was simply that these academic 'sleepers' would be available on a cash-for-services basis when needed to counter attempts to increase excise taxes or to ban public smoking ... or just to appear as 'independent experts' at Congressional hearings and promote the industry causes. These were the economic equivalents of the 'WhiteCoat' scientists.
Economist were by far the most useful of the acolyte academics because the distinction between economics and politics was never clear. So support for the cigarette companies (and against smoking bans) could always be portrayed as nothing more than support for free-market economics — including the rights of individuals to make public choices ... or the promotion of small government ... or even upholding of the first Amendment to the Constitution.
The economist working for Savarese, always claim to be 'independent' 'professionals' and ' academics', and they exploited the fact that they came from some credible university. They never revealed the source of their funding in their op-eds or letters-to-the-editor.
If ever put under cross-examination, they must be able to claim (with weasel-word imprecision) that they had "never received a penny from the tobacco industry". Therefore all payments were laundered, either through tobacco industry lawyers (usually Covington & Burling),) or the principle network organisers James Savarese & Associates and Bob Tollison's Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.
The aim was to have, in each State,
These individuals must be willing to jump into action and write op-ed articles for their local newspaper or to appear at local ordinance or legislative hearings when required. Copies were always sent to any local Congressman who sat on some important (to the tobacco industry) committee.
- one academic economist,
- one academic lawyer, and
- one academic from a business management, business law, marketing or advertising discipline
The academics were expected to wave their own and their university's credentials vigorously, and loudly proclaim their "independence' from any crass-commercial motives. And those who could boast of being 'non-smokers' were especially prized — since, without this addiction, their non-dependent-on-tobacco status was thought to be proved beyond any doubt!
Unfortunately, it worked.
Don't confuse him with Ron Arnold, the anti-environmentalist who also worked for the tobacco industry.
Some key documents
• California State University - San Marcos (ex Uni of Nevada, Las Vegas)
1981–82: The Reason Foundation's Annual Report. In 1982 he was helping the Reason Foundation with a seminar on economics. At that time he was at the University of Nevada.
1985 June 25: The Center for the Study of Public Choice lists him as a participant in the The Ninth Annual Liberty Fund Conference, co-sponsored by Liberty Fund [A free-market institute based in Indianapolis]. The main speakers were James Buchanan and Robert Tollison from the Center, who were also major players in the organisation of the economists cash-for-comment network.
The conference took place at George Mason University in Fairfax from 25 June - 2 July 1985 on the topic: "Contractarianism, Libertarianism, and Social Order." Roger Arnold is listed as a participant in this Tobacco Institute file.
1986 Oct 3: A Tobacco Institute report on the economists network, lists the Congressmen they are expected to influence, and the economist's various academic specialities.
This early list is probably the most detailed of all. A later section of this 43 page document also runs through the 28 main states giving the names and details of witnesses willing to speak to legislators on Taxes (almost exclusively economists), and those available as witnesses for the tobacco industry on Public Smoking issues (economists and a range of others)
A major effort had also been made recently to enlist fire officers and brigades to counter demands for a 'fire-safe' cigarette which had low ignition propensity. The list includes (listed by State) dozens of the well-known, well-established cash-for-comments economists, most with links to Tollison and the Center for the Study of Public Choice. However Nevada does not have a listed network participant at this time. It records on:
NEVADA [Later Nevada was listed as the state for Professor Roger Arnold]
| Tax Witnesses: ||Materials available|
|None listed|| Nevada data card|
"Excise Taxes: The Fairness Issue"
"More Taxes on Tobacco...."
Earmarking topic sheet
Letter writing brochure.
| Media Relations: |
|Contacts are in place in Los Vegas. Contact Bill Toohey for assistance.|
See page 17
1990 May: This is a Tobacco Institute/Savarese network success list in having economists on the network plant op-ed articles on their local newspapers.
Roger Arnold, Univ. of Nevada — Las Vegas — Las Vegas Review Journal
1991 Jan: /E Tobacco Institute draft plan for 1991 with emphasis on "Taxes." These are the economist-related paragraphs:
To discourage reliance on consumer excise taxes on cigarettes to meet social and economic objectives by demonstrating that excise taxes are regressive and inconsistent with fair taxation.
Goals and Tactics:
- Commission two op-ed articles in 1991 from consulting economists. As articles are published, provide to other Institute decisions for promotion and submission to appropriate policy makers.
- Conduct at least 10 presentations by consulting economists on the excise tax issue before national, regional and state tax policy conferences.
- Continue to utilize consulting economists for testimony and briefings. Expand appearances to include presentations to business clubs and the business press. Conduct media refresher courses for public speaking appearance and delivery of testimony.
- Utilize the consulting economists for an op-ed program that addresses the national earmarking issue and state specific earmarking issues. As articles are published, provide to other Institute divisions and promote to appropriate public policymakers. Use field staff network to support distribution efforts.
1991 Jan 8: Jim Savarese has sent the current updated list of network economists to Carol Hyrcaj at the Tobacco Institute. It contains three new names, but otherwise is essentially the same as the old lists. California now has two members of the network:
CALIFORNIA [Arnold had previously done some work for the network from Nevada. He must have advised them as to his new location.]
- Gary Anderson, California State at Northridge
- Roger Arnold, California State Univ. - San Marcos
[There is no further evidence of him working for the network or the tobacco industry after this date.]
From: Roger Arnold
Subject: Tobacco Industry mention
Date: 6 May 2012 4:18:28 AM AEST
I happened to come across your website the other day and saw my name mentioned as a cash-for-comment economist. I do not recall ever writing or saying anything in support of tobacco and the tobacco industry, although (as your site mentions) I have been affiliated with the Public Choice Center when it was at Blacksburg, Va. I was a graduate student at Virginia Tech (the home of the Public Choice Center at the time) from 1974-79.
I am happy for my affiliation for the Public Choice Center to be noted, but your site goes beyond this and seems to indicate that I have written and said things that were in support of the tobacco industry, which is false. Not only have I not said or written anything in support of the tobacco industry, I certainly have never received any "cash for comment." I hope you will correct the error that appears on your site.
Thank you. Sincerely,
Roger Arnold, Ph.D.
California State University
San Marcos, CA 92096
[It is difficult to reconcile Professor Arnold's statement with the documented evidence that he was on the Savarese/Tollison list of cash-for-comments academics for over two years. He was also listed in two different states, which means that he must have advised them of his new appointment.
He wrote at least one article for the Las Vegas Review Journal at the request of the Tobacco Institute. However, we do acknowledge that he was only ever a minor participant — but not as innocent as he makes out here. ]