This site deals only with the corporate corruption of science, and makes no inference about the motives or activities of individuals involved.
There are many reasons why individuals become embroiled in corporate corruption activities - from political zealotry to over-enthusiastic activism; from gullibility to greed.
Please read the OVERVIEW carefully, and make up your own mind.
Roger D Congleton
— A cash-for-comments academic economist from Clarkson University who inherited the mantle of Robert Tollison at George Mason University. —
Professor Roger Congleton was a minor cog in an extensive wheel of conspiracy organised by lobbyist James Savarese and Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University (GMU) on behalf of the tobacco industry. However, he eventually took over both the Professorship and the CSPC from Tollison at GMU after Tollison had destroyed its reputation.
This network of compliant economists operated by using the facilities and staff of GMU's Center for the Study of Policy Choice (CSPC) [supposedly an independent study center within the university]. It extensively utilized the Center's membership list of extreme-libertarian professors of economics — most of whom were members of the 'Austro-Libertarian/Randian' cult; belong to the Public Choice Society; and had tenured positions at various State universities.
These ultra-free-market professors were contracted on a pay-for-service basis to react to requests circulated by the tobacco industry for help in defeating either excise tax measures or smoking ordinances.
They were especially required to expoit the public trust inherent in their academic status — almost always a Professor at their local university — and not to reveal that the tobacco industry paid them for services rendered. In fact, many were encouraged to say they were 'non-smokers' — and use this claim to enhanse their credibility.
They were paid ($300 to $1000 per time) to:
The propaganda they generated rarely had cigarettes or tobacco at its center — the messages were more obtuse and often cloaked in academic obfuscation. However it always had had a number of focusses important to promoting cigarettes:
- Write op-ed articles for their main local newspapers. [chosen by the tobacco industry]
- Write to their local Senators and Representatives. [designated by the tobacco industry]
- Appear at local ordinance hearings and object to potential passive smoking bans.
- Appear before local Assemblies or at Congressional hearings.
- Lecture at economic meetings or conferences
- Occasionally appear on broadcast or print media.
For each network project, an op-ed article or report would be sent by the Professor, through James Savarese to the Tobacco Institute for their lawyers and PR people to check, correct and "improve" it. The doctored article was then returned to the Professor for transmission to the designated newspaper. Clippings, and copies of letters to Congressmen, were then returned to the Tobacco Institute as "proof of service rendered."
- Excise taxes were harmful to all American workers and businesses.
- Excise taxes especially impacted the low-paid because of its 'regressive nature'. [They paid proportionally more disposable income to satisfy their nicotine addiction.]
- Smoking bans of any kind were an infringement on Constitutional liberties — and once the government banned smoking, they would move to ban other personal pleasures.
- Like any business, the tobacco industry had the Constitutional right to advertise its lethal products.
- Personal freedom of choice was paramount. Smokers — including those addicted — were free to choose whether to smoke or not to smoke cigarettes.
While the members of this network were ideologically aligned to ultra-free-market economics, they were also knowingly part of a conspiracy to promote corporate-funded ideas without acknowlegement of the funding source. This was a conspiratorial deception perpetrated by a trusted academic on the citizens who ultimately paid his/her salary.
The particpants were involved for no other reason than personal greed. And they were recruited despite knowing that the ultimate consequence of their actions was to promote an industry which resulted in the premature deaths and debilitation of millions of people around the world.
It is difficult to know how effective this operation was, but the Tobacco Institute supported this group of 50 to 100 Professors of Economics for a couple of decades, so they obviously felt they were getting value for money. Over the years new members joined and others left the group — but generally Savarese and Tollison recruited one or two economists for each State.
The Professors themselves, of course, justified and rationalised taking money from the tobacco institute on 'ideological grounds' — and never questioned the fact that they were exploiting and undermining the reputation of academics in general, or the indepenent standing of their own university by acting as secret lobbyists for the tobacco industry.
|Public Choice theory|
|Public Choice theory is more politics than economics — which even their practitioners sometimes admit. It should be taught in political science classes rather than in economics departments.|
Not all public choice economists believe in the totally unfettered free-market, but the extreme position is practiced and preached by a group of Randians who liked to dabble in far-right wing politics. These are the people who gave the world the 2008-10 Banking Crisis and Global Financial Meltdown.
This particular group of self-interest economists also saw nothing wrong in working in a protected tenured environment (socialistic) while deceiving their public benefactors (the tax-payers) and their universities and colleagues by secretly working as lobbyists for the tobacco industry. See the brief explanation of Public Choice theory in Wikipedia
• There is also a Robert B Congleton in Lexington's Chamber of Commerce in Kentucky. They support the tobacco industry also.
• A Curtis Congleton, who is an oustanding Kentucky tobacco grower
• Bruce Congleton, a Florida food insutry lobbyist and Grocer's Association Executive Director who supported the tobacco industry
Some key documents
• Prof Roger Congleton, Department of Economics, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York. Also with Tollison's think-tank, the Center for the Study of Popular Choice at George Mason University in the mid 1990s.
1985 Oct 1: Congleton is a contributer to the Southern Economic Journal.This has no tobacco significance.
1986: This is the Tollison/Saverese network list for 1986. It has 64 names, but it still doesn't cover all 50 States. Some States have two or three network members, so newspapers [and sometimes Congressmen] need to be specified for each member to ensure there is no accidental duplication.
Telephone numbers (office and home) are often included in case an urgent op-ed or ordinance hearing is needed. These are grouped by State:
Prof Roger Congleton
Department of Economics, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York 13676
Professor Allan Leiken
State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, 516-444-3243
1987 June 9: The Tobacco Institute's Phase II - Excise Tax Op-Ed project involved an article-writing campaign by cash-for-comment economists was run by James Savarese & Associates and secretly directed by Robert Tollison from George Mason University with Savarese as the organiser and front.
In the mid 1987 period, the project was controlled by Jeff Rose [under Peter Sparber] at the Tobacco Institute and it focussed on defeating cigarette excise tax increases — and especially the threat of such taxes being 'earmarked' to bolster health care budgets.
Saverese and Tollison appear to have been in some form of loose partnership, because Anna Tollison, the wife of Bob Tollison, was employed by James Savarese & Associates to keep a record of the articles generated by their large contingent of academic economists and to organise payment.
She reported that
"In sum, 41 economists were solicited to write editorials. We have publications in 20 states, 14 articles have been written and submitted, and 7 articles are still outstanding." [Others were in the offing] She included a long list of the economists who wrote the articles, the newspapers in which they were published, together with their circulation figures [eg. the potential number of readers they may have influenced] and the publication date. This economist is featured on her list.
NEW YORK, Congleton, Albany Times Union, [circ.] 85,000, [no pub date]
1987 June 22: The Tobacco Institute has been sent by Savarese a "Schedule of Payments — Excise Tax Op-Ed Project." It details the name of the cash-for-comment economist, the State, the targetted newspaper, and both past and current payments — with a separate column labled "Total Earned to Date".
In NEW YORK
Cogleton for Schnectdy News —Owed $1250 — Total to date $1250
1987 Aug 21: Jeff Ross at the Tobacco Institute has prepared a consolidated summary of "Field Staff Evaluation of Economists" for his superiors, William Kloepfer and Peter Sparber. They have been asked to look at 34 of these academics.
This includes an outline of their recent achievements — writing op-eds and planting them on local newspapers; acting as 'independent expert witnesses' who supposedly volunteer to give evidence and local ordinance hearings, or Assembly or Congressional hearings. Or perhaps just contacting a local politician and trying to persuade him to support some legislation.
Professor Roger Congleton Clarkson University Potsdam, NY
[He was clearly one of the under-performers on the network, and since he was paid by the job, he couldn't have needed the money.]
- Excise Tax Op Eds: None accepted for publication.
- Economic Witness/Testimony: [none listed]
- Field Staff Contact: None,
- Field Staff Evaluation: None.
1987 Aug 31: Peter Sparber
[Issues Manager] to Bill Kloepfer
[PR head] at the Tobacco Institute:
Jeff [Rose] has done a good job of summarizing the economic consultant situation and I am attaching my copy of his report with some marginal notes. I think he should consider sending a collection of all of the published op-ed pieces to each of the consultants for the sake of inspiration.
[This memo leaves no room for doubt that these economists knew precisely who they were working for, and why they were being paid (about $1000 per article) by the tobacco industry.]
In the case of those who have not had an article accepted for publication I would like to know whether they submitted one.
The economists were visited by State [regional] tobacco staff, and subject to an evaluation of their work and their prospects. Not all measured up. Jeff Ross reported:
Two general comments from field staff warrant some consideration. Michael Brozak recommended a political orientation to prepare witnesses for potentially politicized hearings.
We agree and recommend that State Activities consider advising field staff to conduct such briefings as appropriate. Richard Scanlan suggested that an economist from the state capital city is much more valuable. We have asked Savarese and Tollison to see if they can identify a candidate.
1989 Jan 11: The Tobacco Institute's Scientific Consultancy Activity 1988-89
This is an 80 page mixed bag of files dumped together [Well worth perusing]. The first document is from 1990 [ordered in reverse]
- Pages 3 to 23 begin with Witness Appearances in 1988 and 1989 involving both "Indoor Air Quality experts" who work for the Tobacco Institute, and three economists [Bob Tollison, Richard Wagner and Dwight Lee]
- Pages 24 to 31 Labor IAQ Presentations in 1988 and 1989 which involves key figures in the labor movement and a few "IAQ experts."
- Pages 32 to 39 IAQ/ETS conferences attended by tobacco industry disinformation experts in 1988 and 1989
- Pages 40 to 41 Academic and Unaffiliated Scientfic Witnesses
- Pages 43 to 53 Smokers Rights Legislation in various states.
- See page 54: Tobacco Institute "Confidential" memo on "Tax Hearing Readiness" which is their battle plan to counter earmaking of cigarette excise taxes to fund health programs. It lists a large number of organizations and a few congressmen who can be relied on to help. It also has both primary and secondary lists of economists from Tollison's "cash-for-comments" network willing to give testimony.
The first six on this list are part of the core-group.
The Tobacco Institute's list of cash-for-comments professors and senior academics who were available to write op-eds and give evidence at Congressional hearings, etc. had grown extensively.
- Bill Orzechowski, Tobacco Institute
- Robert Tollison, George Mason University
- Richard Wagner, George Mason University
- Dwight Lee, University of Georgia, Athens
- Michael Davis, Southern Methodist University
- Gary Anderson, California State at Northridge
- William Prendergast (resource: Prendergast/Solmon papers)
- Other Network economists [see Secondary attached list below]
"Due by mid-year is a book examining earmarking and "user fees" from a public choice perspective. The treatise will contain 8-10 chapters written by respected economists, including, Henri LePage and Nobel laureate James Buchanan."
Prof Roger Congleton, Clarkson University
Prof Allan Leiken, State University of New York.
[TI budget papers show that each op-ed now earned the economists $3,000. Presentations to conferences earned them $5,000.
Savarese was paid $70 to $100,000 pa for this project, and Ogilvy & Mather $250,000.
We don't know how much Tollison was being paid for the network contacts at this time. His payments are confused by other work he did for the industry.]
See page 5
1989 Mar 17-19: The Annual Meeting of the Public Choice Society together with the Economic Science Assocition. These are Hayek-oriented neo-con economists of the kind which gave us the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-9. The speakers list mentions many active members of the economists network: — some of whom spoke more than once. (William Hunter in particular.) It is clear that this society was a profitable recruiting ground for Tollison and Savarese.
The large group of speakers connected with Tollison's Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University completely dominated the conference session on Public Health.
- Robert Tollison
- Richard Wagner
- David ER Gay
- Dwight Lee
- William C Mitchell
- Burton Abrams
- Cecil E Bohanon
- Charles Breeden
- William J Hunter
- Bruce Benson
- Burton Weisbrod
- Bruce Yandle
- Roger L Faith
- Roger Congleton
- James Buchanan
- Gary Anderson
- Peter J Boettke
- Jeffrey R Clark
- Robert J Staaf
This document also contains a list of the Public Choice Society's participants, many of whom were also members of the economist's network.
1989 April 18: Susan Stuntz (Issues Manager) at the Tobacco Institute memoes her boss Sam Chilcote. She is sending him material previously used for a two-day "Gerry Long" presentation. He wants to use it in a shorter one-day (unspecified) briefing session.
[Gerald H Long was the CEO of RJ Reynolds who in 1988 had just taken over as Chairman of the Tobacco Institute's Executive Committee and wanted to make changes.] This document has the speaker's powerpoints, including a list of network economists divided on a State-by-State basis. Note the document is 117 pages
The outline for the Powerpoint slides is here in full, together with the names of the politicians they were required to influence. It boasts that the..
Economists' Network 64 Strong [is] Targeted to Congressional Tax Writing Committees [and utilizing the] Production of Op-Eds on Federal Tax Policy.
[List of economists includes Congleton]
1990: The Annual Report for 1989 of the Center for the Study of Popular Choice lists many of the more legitimate reports that the cash-for-comments economists were writing.
Roger Congleton (with Wendall Sweetser of Marshall University) explored the extent to which the logic of the veil of ignorance can be applied to ordinary day-to-day decision making. They demonstrate that ignorance of the particular distribution of benefits associated with alternative policies can facilitate political decision making while improving the normative properties of the decisions reached. Evidence from the U.S. Congress suggests that excessive distributional information has slowed down the federal budgetary process.
1990 May 7: The Tobacco Institute's "1991 Tax and Social Cost Plans" have sections on
This is an updated list with the current locations of each, with phone numbers and addresses.
- "Social Costs" Hearings Readiness (preparation for fielding witnesses at Congressional hearings.) They list here the arguments that the Institute and its allies must be prepared to present.
- "Tax" Hearing Readiness (as above, but for excise tax increases, State and Federal)
- List of cash-for-comment network economists in each State.
Prof Roger Congleton
Department of Economics, Clarkson University
Potsdam, New York 13676
Professor Allan Leiken
State University of New York
Stony Brook, NY 11794 516-444-3243
1990 Aug 29: Robert Tollison, as Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice has put a submission into the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its scientific exchange over Indoor Air Quality (ANR-445).
His submission is deceptive from the opening paragraphs. He says:
I come to the issue of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) from a background as a professional economist. It is therefore the economic aspects of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed guide to workplace smoking policies which I will critically assess. This is an outright lie. In fact he comes to the ETS problem from the position of a well-paid lobbyist working for the Tobacco Institute and its global equivalent, the ICOSI/INFOTAB organisation.
He claims that the application of basic economic principles would result in the conclusion that...
... there are presently no uncompensated costs in the workplace arising from ETS; hence, there can be no cost savings from banning ETS in the workplace. The outright stupidity of this conclusion is mind-blowing. Not even the tobacco industry would claim such an absurdity. He compounds his mendacity by saying...
there is no persuasive evidence that smokers impose special costs on their employers or that smoking employees are more costly overall than nonsmokers. Second, to the extent smoking is an issue, employers and employees already have sufficient incentive to negotiate an efficient employment relationship. [In other words, the ill-health of workers imposes no costs, and non-smoking workers can learn to put up with tobacco smoke — or perhaps leave.]
In support of this ridiculous position he refers the EPA to material prepared by his stable of cash-for-comments economists, including:
Richard W Alt; Robert B Ekelund Jr, John D Jackson; Richard Saba; David Saurman, Richard E Wagner; [This submission was made on Center for the Study of Public Choice letterhead.]
1994 March 16: A group of academic economists including almost all the members of the Tobacco Institute's cash-for-comments network sent an "An Open Letter to President Clinton on Healthcare Reform." This had been organised by David J Theroux, the founder and operator of the Independent Institute apparently with the assistance of an academic network member, Simon Rottenberg.
[The Independent Institute was well-funded by the tobacco industry]. They say:
In The Open Letter to President Clinton, 565 economists and 76 other scholars from all 50 states and the District of Columbia state their firm opposition to any form of direct and indirect price controls in any healthcare program.
They use the old straw-man/Chicken Little scaremongering techniques of burning the 'socialist' effigy while maintaining that the sky is falling.
Rationing Health Care: The New Threat of Price Controls, by Simon Rottenberg and David J. Theroux
In countries that have imposed these types of regulations, patients face delays of months and years for surgery, government bureaucrats decide treatment options instead of doctors or patients, and innovations in medical techniques and pharmaceuticals are dramatically reduced. Anyone who has lived in England, Canada, Australia, etc. knows that this claim is pure rubbish.
Along with Congleton and his associates, also on this list of signatories were a number of think-tank lobbyists [including most of the Hoover Institute] and others who worked for the tobacco industry. Also the Research Director of the Independent Institute, Robert Higgs, who was a fill-in cash-for-comment network economist.
2010: Roger Congleton has taken over Robert Tollison's old positions as Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Director of the Center for Study of Public Choice
2011 Jan 21: Post: WVU Will Welcome Roger Congleton as the BB&T Chair! by Andy Young.
Excellent news for myself and the rest of the WVU economics department!
Roger Congelton (currently at GMU) has accepted the BB&T Chair in Free Market Thought. Roger is an incredibly well-read, prolific, and fascinating scholar. His latest book, Perfecting Parliament, earns the following praise from Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom: "an extraordinary effort of great value for scholars, students, politicians, and citizens". Cool!
Roger will be an huge asset to our graduate program and we all look forward to having Roger as a colleague!
2011 Aug: Professor Congleton joined the Department of Economics at West Virginia University in August 2011, after a long association with the Department of Economics and Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.