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.
cash-for-comment economists network
— These are economists recruited by Prof. Robert Tollison (of GMU) and James Savarese to provide witness and writing services to the tobacco industry. —
The US Tobacco Institute had a number of cash-for-comments networks operating in different academic areas, and at different times. The members of these networks are distinguishable from consultants and WhiteCoats — although they overlap to a degree — as do the earlier 'witness lists' drawn up for major inquiries and Congressional hearings.
What characterises these cash-for-comments networks is that the economists were recruited from all American states, usually by:
The other obvious characteristic of these networks, is that the focus was on the recruiting university academics, usually at the level of Professor — since their intention was to exploit public sentiment that academics employed by recognised universities in the Western world have higher standard of ethics and morality than Joe Bloggs, the local used-car-salesman. [This, of course, is a delusion]
- Ogilvy & Mather PR (later Ogilvy Adams & Reinhart) under Rick Marcus. And then later by ....
- James Savarese & Associates, run by consultant Jim Savarese and Leslie Dawson. Which utilized the services of ...
- Center for the Study of Public Choice and Robert Tollison (at GMU), with Anna Tollison and CSPC staff (working under Jim Savarese). Also associated were ...
- Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations, which ran the media-tour operations.
When academics became enrolled in these networks, they were exploiting the collective reputation of their fellows, ainstakingly acquired by many academics who had dedicated themselves to decades of honest scholarship. The commodity being sold to the tobacco and other industries by these cash-for-comments economists was 'public trust' And in doing so, they devalued the reputation of all their associates and their institutions.
We now know that billionairre foundations like the Koch, Coors and Scaife family foundations gave tied grants to many of these institutions. For instance, the Charles G Koch Foundation (run by his sons) pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department on condition that the Foundation screen and sign-off on any new academic hired by the department.
During the first round of hiring in 2009, the Koch Foundation rejected nearly 60% of the faculty's libertarian suggestions before ultimately agreeing on two candidates.
Other Koch funded university seats were at the:
- George Mason University - Mercatus Center
- West Virginia University
- Brown University - Political Theory Project
- Troy University - Center for Political Economy
- Utah State University - Huntsman School of Business
Greed is Good. Society doesn't exist. Public Choice is what matters.This neo-Conservative (they would claim 'neo-Liberal') outlook was transformed into the later Public Choice economic theory which had, at its core, the behavioural assumption of the 'rational man' and the economic value of 'opportunistically rational and selfish behavior'. Public choice theory has philosophical, political, legal and economic aspects..
In the early 1980s, Maggie Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Great Britain announced that there was no such thing as a 'society' and that the illusion of collective well-being was created entirely by self-interested individuals intent only on their own financial improvement. Thatcherism and its close ally, Reaganomics, became the prevailing wisdom among the early economists who adhered to the Chicago School, and to zealous Austrian/Hayek acolytes.
It was therefore easier for 'Public Choice', 'Supply-siders' and 'Neo-con' economists to justify (at least to themselves) enrolment in cash-for-comments networks. It was every man for himself in an unregulated world of tooth and claw.
They did this despite obvious knowledge that the intent was to deceive the public. The PR flaks at the tobacco companies worked overtime giving them the pat phrases which helped them rationalise their irresponsible actions — 'personal freedom of choice', 'legally sold products', 'First Amendment commercial free-speech', 'scientific doubt', 'not-proven', 'regressive tax', 'attack on the working class/black/Hispanics', etc. etc.
For payments of $1000 (rising to $3,000) in hard cash for each commissioned assignment, the economist was willing to have his.her opinion articles (op-eds), speeches, or witness-statements 'improved' by James Savarese or Tobacco Institute staff writers and lawyers before being submitted to newspapers, or stated before ordinance or legislative hearings. Industry lawyers always filtered them to remove any possible 'harmful' [to the industry] statements.
The industry's public relations specialists also knew that adding the claim that the author was a 'non-smoker' suggests to newspaper readers that the 'Professor' from their local university could be trusted on matters of smoking policy since [many of the readers believed] his opinion is not being affected either by commercial considerations or by nicotine addiction. Yet it was all lies and deception.
The Medium [and the Manipulation] — not the Message.
Not all op-ed articles written by these cash-for-comment academic flunkeys dealt with the issue of tobacco or smoking. Tobacco is one of the world's largest and most profitable industries, and the US tobacco companies also have billion-dollar interests in beer, food, oil and energy, shipping, insurance, hotels and media.
The tobacco industry also had common-cause coalitions with other industries to fight against class-actions and punitive damages in product liability suits ('tort reform'); restrictions on advertising ('commercial free-speech'); food and health standards ['the nanny state'); environmental pollution; energy conservation; global warming; State and Federal excise taxes, and the like — and for the right to exploit workers in the developing countries; while helping set global politicies and third-world economic priorities in favour of international trade.
Very often the network assignments given to the cash-for-comment economists would be directed at one or more of these problems, and make no mention of tobacco at all.
- 1979 Jan: Academic economists Professor Robert Tollison and Richard Wagner have been recruited by George Berman of Devon Management Resources to provide material supporting the International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI... later INFOTAB)
- 1980: Tollison and Wagner had been commissioned by ICOSI's Social Acceptability Working Party (SAWP) to write a monograph "Consumer Protection, Public Policy and Cost-Benefit Analysis"
- 1982: Under Tollison and Public Choice guru James Buchanan, the team of Public Choice economists at Virginia Polytechnic/State University resign en masse and migrate over to the break-away, corporate funded, George Mason University (including their think-tank Center) — thus providing the tobacco industry with a Washington DC pool of unfettered free-market Randian-political economists who are all looking for outside commissions.
- 1982 Nov: A labor economic lobbyist working for his own company (through via Ogilvy & Mather PR), James Savarese, proposes to the Tobacco Institute that they use academic economists (mainly Kenneth Greene of SUNY and Harold Hochman of CUNY) to prepare papers opposing cigarette tax excise increases in New York State.
- 1983: The Tobacco Instittue puts the Tollison/Wagner team (which has the resources of the Center for Study of Public Choice, together with Savarese and Ogilvy & Mather PR to prepare a book "Free to Smoke" and later a propaganda booklet Smoking & Society
- 1984 Jan /E. The Tobacco Institute is now expanding the Savarese-run network of economist to other States — mainly recruiting academic economists to write op-eds for their local newspapers. Tollison is able to provide the recruitment services through his Center for the Study of Public Choice and the Public Choice Society.
- 1984 April: The Tobacco Institute has again put Tollison together with Savarese and his associates to prepare a pseudo-study which will become their economic defence against proposed smoking bans in New York resturants. The TI's Excise Tax Plan for this month lists 14 Public Choice economists in other States who have been recruited to help in the fight against excise increases.
- 1984 Jun: The network has now been formalised under the name Committee on Taxation and Economic Growth. with Savarese as administrator. They have about 15 members overall and 10 active op-ed writers.
Some key documents
1982 Nov 18: James Savarese is writing to Michael J Kerrigan at the Tobacco Institute. This is obviously very early in their relationship. He is proposing a new way to counter state excise taxes:
Dear Mike: New York state was having financial problems at that time, as was New York City under Mayor Koch. Both Koch and the Governor-elect Mario Cuomo were likely to support increases in cigarette excises.
It was good meeting with you again last week. Per your request, I will attempt to lay out a strategy for "dealing with the cigarette excise tax problem in the state of New York.
As we discussed, the potential for increased bootlegging activities as a result of self-extinguishing cigarette legislation — and its implications for reduced excise tax collection may present the TI with an opportunity to take the offensive in both of these battles.
The mission is to target groups that are intensely interested both in the staters revenue-raising capacity and in the overall "fairness" of the state!s tax structure.
It seems obvious that government employee unions in New York State uniquely fit this description: teachers, firefighters, police, state workers, and employees of local government jurisdictions.
Savarese had been the Executive Director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (ARSCME) which...
... has 400,000 members in New York state and is a legislative and political powerhouse in Albany. We are on retainer with AFSCME to work on state and local government.finance problems. Savarese suggests that the Tobacco Institute should promote the "recessive" tax line — that such taxes fall most heavily on blue-collar workers. He also suggests targetting liberals ('fairness') and labor-union communities as potential allies.
His friend Richard Pomp is in charge of the New York commission studying the tax structure, and he will assist the TI in establishing working relationships with the union movement.
Marcia McGill, our firm's vice-president, served as AFSCME's director of economic affairs and has worked extensively with nearly all of the ad hoc coalitions that have been set up since the mid-1970s to deal with state revenue questions.
Two of our firm's associates are based in universities in New York state.
- Ken Greene, a public finance specialist, is Chairman of the Economics Department at SUNY, Binghamton
- Harold Hochman is Director of the Center for Business and Government at Baruch College, CUNY
[This appears to be the foundation document for the cash-for-comments economists network, before Robert Tollison and his Center for the Study of Public Choice at GMU was enlisted to help them develop it nationally.
James Savarese & Associates had a close relationship (later a merger) with Ogilvy & Mather PR.]
1983: The records of the economist network have an obvious gap between the suggestion of the conspiracy to mislead by Savarese in November 1982 and the evidence of substanital operations in January 1985.
In 1984, however, Savarese, Tollison and a number of the later cash-for-comment academics were employed in writing and editing a book "Free To Smoke."
1984 Feb: /E Remnants of a Tobacco Institute report with information about the Savarese cash-for-comments economists network. [Dated by other documents].
First, the scorecard cn the project to get our economic consultants pitching op-ed letters on tax policy, including low-rating of excises: — 31 drafts completed; nine delivered to editors; six published or accepted for publication. They have also been writing material for Sam Howard, Vice President of the Hopital Corpororation which was published by the US Chamber of Commerce (or National Chamber Foundation)
Back to our economists, some ten of them have started running economic seminars and pitching the resulting papers for publication in professional journals.
See also the document labled economists network which treats the historical development of this network by Ogilvy & Mather, James Savarese and Robert Tollison.
Encapsulated History: The economists cash-for-comments cabal was the longest-lasting and probably most successful of the various tobacco-supporting networks and, at its peak, it had over 60 members. (and about twice this number overall) It was almost entirely made up of academic economists at the less-than-ivy-league university level, although a couple of independent economic consultants were also admitted to fill gaps in their State-by-State coverage
- The organisation of a network began under Ogilvy & Mather PR.
- O&M's then contractor, James Savarese, absorbed it into his private company James Savarese & Associates under some deal [unknown].
- At the same time Savarese enlisted Professor Bob Tollison, of George Mason University (GMU) and his wife Anna as silent-partners. Tollison was both the Director of the Center for the Study of Public Choice at GMU, and President of the neo-conservative Public Choice Society so he had numerous contacts among the 'right sort of economists'.
- The Center for the Study of Public Choice was also part-funded by the tobacco industry, and the university itself was a right-wing hell-hole run by and for Big Business. The Center had numerous academic associates and many present and past 'fellows' with exploitable credentials, and these connections allowed the rapid expansion of the network.
The purpose of spending millions of dollars building and maintaining this network was to have readily available a list of academic economists (usually one or two in each state) who would remain "undercover", but who could be called upon to:
- write-to-order a commissioned opinion article ("op-ed") which would be planted in the writer's local newspaper (usually in capital cities)
- the drafts of their articles were returned to James Savarese, who cleaned them up and passed them over to the network organizer at the Tobacco Institute,
- the PR and Communications executives at the Institute would then add or delete information; generally making them acceptable to newspaper editors while emphasising the industry propaganda points.
- the finished op-ed would then be run past TI lawyers to ensure that nothing dangerous had been missed,
- It was then returned down the line through Savarese to the economist.
- The would send the articles to newspapers (often two or three until they found a 'taker'), and they were also required to send copies to their local Federal Representatives/Senators, or to State Assemblymen, (and if possible make personal contact).
- As "independent" witnesses, they may be asked by the Tobacco Institute to make submissions and attend Assembly or Congressional inquiries or local ordinance hearings (usually on smoking bans) to speak in support of the tobacco industry — usually on economic lines.
- speak to other economist at conferences, or write material for the professional journals (often letters to the editor, criticising some claim.)
Payments were usually laundered through Savarese & Associates, or the Center for the Study of Public Choice, and were made according to a fixed schedule for each job performed (between $800 and $4000 each time). There were no retainers.
This network ran from 1983 to 1999, although there were periods when it was in limbo in the late 1990s. Considering the amount of money spent, it seems to have had surprisingly little effect — perhaps because the supply-side/public choice economic theories were rapidly losing favour among politicians and the intelligent public.
The following are a list of the organisations and the people involved in various stages of this scam.
IT WILL BE SOME TIME BEFORE THESE ARE COMPLETED.
Ogilvy & Mather (later Ogilvy Adams & Reinhart)
James Savarese & Associates
Tobacco Institute:Executives and staff involved at various times.
George Mason University
Other Institutes and Think Tanks which helped the Tobacco Institute make distorted economic claims.
Preliminary Advisory Network.
MEMBERS OF THE ECONOMIST'S NETWORK
All are professors or lecturers in economics at academic institutions (mainly universities and colleges). A few have their own consulting firms on the side.
Outside the formal network, but providing similar services
- Prof. Dominick Armentano — Uni of Hartford.
- Prof. Burton A Abrams — Uni of Delaware.
- Prof. Lee Alston — William College
- Prof. Ryan C Amacher — Clemson Uni
- Prof. Gary M Anderson — Californian State at Northridge
- Prof. Lee Anderson — Uni of Delaware
- Prof. Terry Anderson — Montana State Uni.
- Prof. William Anderson — OECD, City of Chatanooga.
- Prof. Roger Arnold — California State University, San Marcos
- Prof. Richard W Ault — Auburn Uni. [with R Ekelund et al]
- Prof. Michael Babcock — Kansas State Uni.
- Prof. Joe A Bell — Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield.
- Prof. Bruce L Benson — Florida State University.
- Prof. Peter J Boettke — Oakland Uni, MI,
- Prof. Cecil Bohanon — Ball State Uni
- Prof. Thomas Borcherding — Claremont Graduate School
- Prof. William J Boyes — Arizona State University
- Prof. Charles Breeden — Marquette University, Wisconsin
- Prof. Lawrence Brunner — Central Michigan Uni.
- Prof. Bill Bryan — Uni of Illinois
- Prof. Henry N Butler — Texas A&M Uni; George Mason Uni, School of Law
- Dr Dennis L Chinn — Applied Economics Associates, Seattle, Washington
- Prof. Morris Coates — Marshall Uni.
- Prof. Roger Congleton — Clarkson Uni.
- Prof. Jeffrey R Clark — Uni of Tennessee, Farleigh Dickson University
- Prof. Michael Crew — Rutgers Uni
- Prof. Allan Dalton — Boise State Uni.
- Prof. John David — West Virginia Tech.
- Prof. Michael Davis — Southern Methodist Uni.
- Prof. Arthur T Denzau — Washington Uni, St Louis
- Prof. Clifford Dobitz — North Dakota State Uni.
- Prof. John Dobra — University of Nevade, Reno
- Prof. Randall Eberts — Uni of Oregon
- Prof. Robert B Ekelund — Auburn Uni.
- Prof. Roger L Faith — Arizona State Uni
- Prof. David Fand — Wayne State Uni.
- Prof. Susan Feigenbaum — University of Missouri, St Louis
- Dr Clifford Fry — Resources Inc. Texas
- Prof. Lowell Gallaway — Ohio University
- Prof. Gary M Galles — Pepperdine University [co-wrote with Robert Sexton,]
- Prof. Celeste Gaspari — Uni of Vermont
- Prof. David ER Gay — Uni of Arkansas
- Prof. Kenneth V Greene — State Uni of New York
- Prof. Kevin B Grier — George Mason Univeristy
- Prof. Brian Goff — Western Kentucky Uni.
- Prof. Sherman Hanna — Kansas State Uni
- Prof. Anne Harper-Fender — Gettysburg College
- Prof. Kathy Hayes — North Illinois Uni.
- Prof. Dennis Hein — Augustana College
- Prof. James Heins — Uni of Illinois
- Robert Higgs — Research Director, Independence Institute.
- Prof. F Steb Hipple — East Tennessee State Uni.
- Prof. Harold M Hochman — City Uni of New York.
- Prof. George E Hoffer — Virginia Commonwealth Uni.
- Prof. John Howe — Uni. of Kansas
- Prof Randall G Holcombe — Auburn Uni, later Florida State Uni
- Prof. William Hunter — Marquette Uni.
- Prof/ Stephen Huxley — University of San Francisco
- Prof. John D Jackson — Auburn Uni. [with R Ekelund et al]
- Prof. Joseph M Jadlow — Oklahoma State Uni
- Prof. Cecil Johnson — Ball State Uni
- Prof. Samson Kimenyi — Uni of Mississippi
- Prof. David Klingaman — Ohio Uni
- Prof. Michael Kurth — McNeese State Uni.
- Prof. David Laband — Uni of Maryland, Baltimore County.
- Prof. Suuner Lacroix — Uni of Hawaii
- Prof. Dwight R Lee — Uni. of Georgia, Athens [& GMS]
- Prof. Dennis Logue — Dartmouth College
- Prof. C Matt Lindsay — Clemson Uni.
- Prof. Donald P Lyden — Business Law at Cal. State Uni, Northridge.
- Prof. Craig MacPhee — Uni of Nebraska
- Prof. Delores Martin — Uni of Nebraska
- Prof, Chuck Mason — Uni of Wyoming
- Prof. Charles Maurice — Texas A&M Uni.
- Prof. Fred McChesney — Emory Uni.
- James E McClure — Ball State University (co-writer with Bohanon)
- Prof. William McEachern — Uni of Illinois
- Prof. Richard McKenzie — Clemson University/Missouri/Heritage Foundation
- Prof. Robert McMahon — Uni of Southern Maine.
- Prof. Arthur Mead — Uni of Rhode Island
- Prof. Paul L Menchik — Michigan State Uni
- Prof. John F Militello — Wharton Center for Applied Research
- Prof. William C Mitchell — [Pol.Sci] Uni of Oregon
- Prof. Greg Neihaus — Uni of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- Prof. James A Papke — Purdue University
- Prof. Allen Parkman — Uni of New Mexico
- Prof. Mark Pauly — Uni of Pennsylvania
- Prof. William Peterson — Uni of Tennessee-Chatanooga.
- Prof Harlan Platt — Northeastern Uni.
- Prof. Thomas Pogue — Uni. of Iowa
- Prof. Barry W Poulson — Uni of Colorado.
- Prof. Edward ('Ed') Price — Oklahoma State Uni.
- Prof. Robert Pulsinelli — Western Kentucky University
- Prof. Raymond Raab — Uni of Minnesota, Duluth
- Prof. Morgan Reynolds — Texas A&M Uni.
- Prof. Roger Riefler — Uni. of Nebraska
- Prof. Mario Rizzo — Univ. of New York.
- Prof. Simon Rottenberg — Uni of Massachusetts, Amhurst
- Prof. Terry Ridgeway — University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Prof. Randy Rucker — North Carolina State Uni.
- Prof. Richard Saba — Auburn Uni.[with R Ekelund et al]
- Prof. Todd Sandler — Uni of Wyoming
- Prof. David Saurman — San Jose State Uni. [ex/ Auburn with R Ekelund]
- Dr Mark Schmitz — [Seattle, Washington]
- Prof. Robert Sexton — Seaver College, Malibu [later Pepperdine Uni]
- Prof. William Shughart — CSPC, George Mason Uni.
- Prof. Robert J Staaf — Clemson University
- Prof. Thomas Stimson — Uni of Minnesota, St Pauls.
- Prof. Wendell Sweetser — Marshall Uni.
- Prof. Mark Thornton — Auburn Uni.[with R Ekelund et al]
- Prof. Mark Toma — Miami University, Ohio
- Prof. David G Tuerck — Suffold Uni, Boston.
- Prof. Charles Van Eaton — Hillsdale College, Michigan
- Prof. Richard Vedder — Ohio University, Athens
- Prof. Bruce Vermeullen — University of Maine.
- Prof. Richard Wagner — Florida State Uni; George Mason Uni
- Prof. J Keith Watson — Auburn Uni.[with R Ekelund et al]
- Prof. Burton Weisbrod — Uni of Wisconsin
- Prof. Walter E Williams — George Mason Uni
- Prof. Thomas L Wyrick Southwest Missouri State Uni.
- Prof. Bruce Yandle — Clemson Uni.
- Prof. Boon Yoon — State Uni of New York, Binghamton
- Prof. Richard D Zerbe — University of Washington.
Non-economist recruits — used on occasions