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.
Kevin B Grier
— A minor cash-for-comments economist from George Mason University who worked briefly for the tobacco industry via the economist network run by Tollison, Wagner and Lee. —
Professor Kevin B Grier 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.
This surreptitious network of compliant economists operated by using the facilities and staff of George Mason University's (GMU's) Center for the Study of Policy Choice [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' tradition; 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 focus on a number of issues 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 State Assemblies or at Congressional hearings.
- Lecture at economic meetings or conferences on issues effecting the tobacco industry.
- Occasionally appear on broadcast or print media.
Each network project involved an op-ed article or report written to order by the Professor, then sent via James Savarese to the Tobacco Institute for their lawyers and PR people for legal checks, corrections and "improvements". 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 that the independent status of their own university was compromised by them acting as secret lobbyists for the tobacco industry.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics, George Mason University who worked mainly with Richard Wagner on a number of very dubious studies.
1990 Apr: /E Tollison and Savarese have sent the Tobacco Institute a proposal to run special tobacco-oriented sessions at various regional conferences of economists.
They plan to run one for the Western Economic meeting in San Diego (June 30) on "Smoking and Public Policy", and another at the Atlantic Economic Society conference (October) on "User Fees" [The then current Tobacco Institute obsession]
They will use six or seven cash-for-comments economists from a pool consisting of: Robert Tollison, Richard Wagner, Dwight Lee, Fred McChesney, Bruce Yandle, Kevin Grier (George Mason University) Gary Anderson, Dan Williamson (Cal Poly San Luis), and Benjamin Zycher (The Rand Corporation).
Notes on the letter from Martin Gleeson, Carol Hryjak and Susan Stuntz show that they think this is a good idea — "an opportunity for promotion".
Carol Hryjak is given the go ahead, and Ogilvy & Mather is to be advised to promote the sessions. James Savarese is asked to do further work on developing group sessions like this at economiists meetings.
1990 Oct 19: Richard Wagner, as section-chairman of the Atlantic Economic Society [subtitled "Patriots of the Future", Williamsburg] reports to James Savarese on a session he has run on "User Fees and Budgetary Politics." [The document is clearly designed as proof of payable services to the TI]
He outlines his introductory remarks, then writes:
The participants did the rest. Dwight Lee, Fred McChesney, and Robert Tollison each presented their papers dealing with aspects of the session's theme, and Kevin Grier and Bruce Yandle offered some interesting observations in discussing the papers.
Indeed, one of Bruce Yandle's comments was to the effect that the three papers together provided a quite coherent, alternative body of analysis to the conventional literature on user fees.
[All speakers and pre-selected discussants were members of the cash-for-comments network]
1991: May14 James Savarese has sent a research proposal by [Richard] Wagner and [Kevin] Greir " Research Proposal for Earmarked Taxes" along to Marty Gleason at the Tobacco Institute.
Per your request, I have attached a proposal to produce a study on earmarked taxes which would provide the basis for arguments we could make against the earmarking of excise taxes.
This has an attached copy of the proposal which has been questioned and criticised by someone at the TI.
The time frame required to produce this study is 8-10 weeks.
[Is this] related to Chamber of Commerce Study? Cal George has replied:
Marty, this came up in review of the Earmarked tax plan on 13 May... included under Strategy I, Tactic 3, as aption.
Without more deailt and other qustions, costs... comments.. ?
[Someone in the Tobacco Institute doesn't think much of the proposal, and has scrawled rude notes on the draft. Grier and Wager later revised the proposal.]
1991 Mar 19: The Tobacco Institute's Martha Rinker writes internally to Susan Stuntz about a "Productivity Proposal" from two cash-for-comments economists:
Attached for your review and comment is the productivity study proposal prepared by our consulting economists Wagner and Grier. This proposal is for a much needed update of the productivity component of our workplace program.
The idea is very simple. It is a two part examination of public information on companies who have banned smoking to determine if such bans have increased worker productivity. The "event study" will compare the stock prices of companies that have imposed smoking bans with companies that have not. The study will chart the movement of stock prices before and after a company has imposed a smoking ban.
The time frame and budget for this project approximately 3 months from the time of approval to complete. The cost is projected as $42,500.
Wagner & Grier's proposal
1991 July 17: Jim Savarese writes to Cal George at the Tobacco Institute: he is now pimping Professor Richard Wagner like a prostitute. They are creating 'spec' reports for the industry.
Attached is the revised earmarked excise tax study which will be written by Dick Wagner. We included two new sections:
CBO = Congressional Budget Office
Let us know if you wish to proceed.
- A discussion of existing forecasts for excise taxes by CBO and OMB.
- Specific findings concerning excise taxes ability to fund a variety of health care programs in 15 states.
OMB = Office of Management and Budget (White House)
This proposal "Earmarked Excise Taxes for Health Care: A Fiscal Mismatch" teamed Wagner with Kevin Grier and was charged out at $42,000.
1991 July 26: A summary of the current "Proposals from Economists" at the Tobacco Institute.
[Note: US Average Annual Salary in 1990-91 was $9,669]
- Productivity: A popularized version, including discussions of health costs, insurance, and general costs of everyday life [proposal from Wagner & Grier].
- 20-25 pages for management/business journal — cost $18,500
- Earkmarked Excise Taxes for Health Care: A Fiscal Mismatch (Grier & Wagner)
- Sent to Marty Gleason and Carol Hrycaj at the TI on the 9 April 1991 — total fee $32,500.
- Resent 15 May 1991 - tentative approval.
- Resent once more on 17 July 1991 — total fee $42,000
- Smoking & Workplace Efficienty: An Assessment of the Record
(Productivity Study - Wagner/Grier)
[Note says "Tell them will pay next year" (must have overrun the budget)]
- Sent to the Tobacco Institute 7 March 1991. Approved 10 April 1991 — total fee $42,500.
- Revised version sent to Carol Hrycaj on 19 March 1991
- Excise Taxes and Excise Tax Increases: Effects on Rural Americas (Ekelund).
- Sent to Cal George at the Tobacco Institute July 1 1991, — total fee $28,000.
- Scientific Fraud and the Organization of Science (Wagner/Tollison)
- Sent to the Tobacco Institute on 12 April 1991 — total fee $29,500
- Sports Advertising: (Ekelund)
- Sent to Shelia at the Tobacco Institute (approved) 19 Mar 1991 — total fee $26,500
- Bootlegging Study II: (Ekelund)
- Cal George and Carol Hrycaj were looking after it.
- Sent to Tobacco Institute 7 March 1991 — total fee $27,000
- Specific State studies were $4,500 each.
1991 Aug 5: Martha Rinker (Issues Manager) to her superior Marty Gleason at the Tobacco Institute.
We have one productivity work in progress, the Wagner and Grier "event study." The first draft of this project is expected in September. Its $42,500 price was taken into consideration during the budget process. RJR [RJ Reynolds] is very excited about this study and are anxious to see the final report.
Four proposed projects emerged from the meeting held a few weeks ago: a popular paper discussing the [Robert] Ekelund, et al results, a speaking tour, an op-ed program, and a possible health costs study.
The only task that has had a price tag attached to it is the "popular" article, $18,500. This should be less when the project is pared down to the size and audience discussed above. The speaking project would include the cost of preparation of the speech andtravel and expenses for the economists. The op-ed project costs would be the hourly fees for the economists preparing the op-eds. And, finally, the health care costs study would be the costs of recovering the information, research and writing of the study.[Projected total costs were $100,000]
- The preparation and publication of a popular article by [Richard] Wagner and [Robert] Tollison that would include a discussion of the Ekelund et al results, health care and insurance costs issues, and the social costs of everyday life.
The proposal is more than we want or need. A 20-25 page paper like this would have to published in a university business journal. What we had in mind, and I've discussed this with Savarese, is a shorter article to be placed in the personnel or human resource trades. The article would be good for reprints and possibly a TI brochure.
- The preparation and testing of a speaking project for [Dwight] Lee and Tollison. The tasks would include the preparation of a standard speech and the solicitation of speaking engagements with Chamber of Commerce type audiences.
- An op-ed campaign based on the paper prepared by Wagner and Tollison listed in the first task above. The op-eds would be written by economists in the targeted areas identified by TI.
- A possible health costs study looking at the actual costs of smokers and non-smoker
Work could begin in the first and last projects late in 1991 with delivery of the papers (and payment for the work) in 1992, The "popular" paper would mainstream the information we now have and need to circulate to counter the anti's. The other two tasks, preparation of a speech, solicitation of speaking engagements and writing op-eds could be started early in 1992.
1991 Dec 5: Savarese has sent the Tobacco Institute a bill for $42,000 and the first draft of the Wagner/Greer study which is now called "Smoking and Workplace Efficiency: An Assessment of the Record."
1992 Sept: A "Public Smoking" report by Karen Fernicola Suhr at the Tobacco Institute lists under "Project and Activity Status"
Grier/Wagner draft of "Workplace Efficiency: A Market-Based Assessment": Authors are attempting to get the article published in the Journal of Law and Economics. [Kevin B Grier is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University who worked with Wagner on occasions.]
The "Social Costs" report by Calvin George lists under "Message development and Media Strategies."
- Worked with consultants and the economists' network on placing an op-ed developed in August in response to a recently released study by the Institute for Health and Aging at the University of California at San Francisco, which alleged that cigarette smoking imposes a $7.2 billion annual "cost" on Californians.
Op-ed was sent to two additional major California daily newspapers, neither of which have published the piece.
- SAMMEC II critique and "journalistic" overview drafts were forwarded to legal counsel for review. Also met with consultants and Division's Director on Issue Management to discuss needed revisions in promotion plan, which should be made in October. Legal clearance (as well as requested revisions) should also occur in October.
- Reviewed and obtained revisions for a final draft of "Earmarked Taxes and Health Care: A Fiscal Mismatch" by Kevin Grier and Richard Wagner. Forwarded to Division's Senior Vice President for review and comment prior to sending to legal counsel for clearance. Expect to convene meeting with consultants and co-author in October to plan dissemination activities.