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.
George Emil Hoffer
(misspelled Hofer )
— A minor cash-for-comment economist with Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. —
Professor George Hoffer was a minor academic in the cash-for-comments network run on behalf of the Tobacco Institute during the 1980s. He appears to ahve fallen out of favor in 1986, so he only worked for the industry for about two years.
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 tracealble 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.
Economist were by far the most useful of the acolyte academics because the distinction between economics and politics was never clear: so support of the cigarette companies could always be portrayed as support for free-market economics including the rights of individuals to make public choices ... small government ... or even 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),) the principle organisers James Savarese & Associates, or through Bob Tollison's Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.
The aim was to have, in each State, at least
willing to jump into action and write op-ed articles for their local newspaper or to appear at local ordinance or legislative hearings. 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 always 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 with George E Hofer [one 'f') who was a financial/investment advisor.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics, (Adjunct Lecturer ??) Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond His university associates Professors Michael D Pratt and John H Bowman were also briefly involved in the network.
1964: BS University of Richmond
1967: MS Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
1972: PhD University of Virginia
1984 Nov 9: The economists have suggested to Jim Savarese that the Tobacco Institute should attempt to use economic forums to spread their propaganda in 1985. The TI should pay the network economists to attend and give papers at these forums. They have suggested:
These become projects for the network economists.
- Public Choice Society, New Orleans, LA, February 21-23
- Eastern Economic Association, Pittsburgh, PA, March 21-23
- Southwestern Social Science Association, Houston, TX, March 20-23
- Western Economic Association, Anaheim, CA, June 25-29
- Southern Economic Association, Dallas, TX, November
It is important to bear in mind that these papers must be a cut above the testimony we produced for the Treasury hearings, but they do not have to be of professional journal quality.
This is not to say that we wouldn't want to get several of these published independently in academic journals, but rather that this is not necessary in the majority of cases.
Again, unlike the Treasury hearings, the authors would have to do a good deal of the research themselves. We would work with them to insure that the main points are made, but we do need them to commit some of their time to the production side.
[Note how this is being spelled out. Clearly most of the research data in previous papers had been handed to the economists, with their papers or testimonials already written.]
In order to get on the program of these meetings , we will need to rely heavily on Bob Tollison, who has just been elected President of the Southern Economic Association for 1985.
With the help of Tollison, Tom Borcherding, and Hal Hochman; we can probably appear before each of these groups.
If The Institute is interested in pursuing their idea, I am available to work with Tollison to draw up a brief one page outline for programs for each of these forums. I will check.with the economists we have used to ascertain their availability ahd interest — and any ideas they might have concerning specific papers.
1984 Dec 18: Savarese is circulating a list of papers provided by his cash-for-comments economists to promote tobacco industry lines of propaganda at academic society meetings. This advices is from the Tobacco Institute files.
Attached are the panel sessions that were accepted by both the Southwestern Social Science Associations and the Eastern Economic Association in March, 1985. These are very strong academic panels and add a great deal of depth to our list of consultants for future use. I know all of these individuals personally except for Henry Butler who is a friend of Bob Tollison's at Texas A&M.
They all understand their mission and will be submitting papers for us to review well in advance of the meetings.
- SouthWestern Social Science Association meeting March 20-23 in Houston Texas, on Taxation and Social Process.
- Chairperson — Robert Ekelund Jr
- Henry Butler, "Excise Taxation in Texas."
- Joseph Jadlow, "taxation and Economic Growth"
- Richard Wagner, "Public Choice and Corrective Taxation"
- Discussant, Keith Watson
- Eastern Economic Association meeting March 21 -23 in Pittsburg. Robert Tollison has set up a special session on "Perspectives in Tax Reform"
- Chairperson — Robert Tollison
- William Shughart, "Sales Taxes and Tad Reform
- Gary Anderson, "Tax reform and the Size of Government"
- John Boman and Michael Pratt, "Local Cigarette Excise Taxes"
- Discussant, George Hoffer
[Every speakers listed here was knowingly employed by the tobacco industry to promote their Social Cost and Taxation agenda.]
1985 June 21: James Savarese submits his bill to the Tobacco Institute for the academics who have written articles, and those who have made speeches at important academic conferences promoting the tobacco industry line.
- Op Ed Project — $1000 each in 'professional fees'
for Abrams, Alston, Armentano, Harper-Fender, T Anderson, Denzau, Bohanon, Jadlow, Wagner and Menchik.
- Southwest Social Science Meeting — Houston
- Keith Watson ($1,000),
- RB Ekelund Jr ($2,003)
- Joseph Jadlow ($2,605),
- Richard Wagner ($2,716)
- Robert D Tollison ($5,000)
- Henry N Butler ($2,070)
- Eastern Economic Assoc, Meeting — Pittsburgh
- George E Hoffer ($1,431)
- Gary M Anderson ($2,450)
- Robert D Tollison ($6,375)
- Bill Shurghart III ($2,529)
- Michael D Pratt ($1,288)
- John H Bowman ($1,000)
1986 Jan: Public Relations Resources Commitee of the Tobacco Institute lists him as an available witness:
Public Smoking/Witness: Local economists are available on two-weeks notice to provide economic testimony on the public smoking issue. Those economists who have testified or prepared op-ed pieces on the economic effects of public smoking are marked accordingly. The others may be briefed on the potential cost to government of implementing smoking restrictions.
[He is also listed under the heading ]
- Professor George Emil Hoffer, Chairman, Department of Economics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond VA
Taxes/Witness: Local economists are available to provide economic testimony on excise taxes. The economist explain why excise taxes are regressive and unfair to consumers and unsuitable and unreliable as a means to increase the federal revenue.
1986 Apr: Economic Inquiry, "The Efficacy of State Mandated Minimxam Quality Certification: The Case of Used Vehicles,"by Michael D. Pratt and George E. Hoffer.
In a provocative study of state-level consumer protection legislation, Michael Pratt and George Hoffer examined the effects of new laws, adopted in several states, requiring used-vehicle dealers to disclose any knowledge of product defects. [This study may not have gone down well with the tobacco industry which had real product liability problems.]
1986 Apr 3: James Savarese writes to his stable of economists on the subject of "New Research Opportunities." [A sure-fire come-on with academics]
I would like to thank you for all of your cooperation and diligence in handling the projects we have worked on together. I am taking this opportunity to alert you to some new research opportunities that may be available in the upcoming weeks.
He includes an OTA paper on the dangers of smoking and also...
The Tobacco Institute is interested in considering research proposals which would establish a much more realistic examination of the social cost issue as it relates to the smoking issue.
... rebuttals developed by Bob Tollison and Richard Wagner to the OTA report.
The scent of possible research money on top of the op-ed writing must have generated substantial academic enthusiasm. Hoffer is listed as one of the recipients of this letter on the "Brainstorming - Research Ideas" project.
The Institute would like to examine proposals for research that test, in a quantitative way, a number of propositions on the relevant cost considerations that apply to the smoking issue.
If some aspect of this interests you, please provide me with a brief (1-2 page) description of any project you have in mind by April 30. Please include a cost approximation.
This went out to the long list of cash-for-comments economist on the network including
Economics Department, Virginia Commonwealth University,
901 W. Franklin Street, Richmond
1986 May: A bundle of 72 pages of information is being circulated by the Tobacco Institute to its Regional Directors. The data is predominantly on the tobacco-industry beat-up known as Sick Building Syndrome and on the general problems of Indoor Air Quality [all down-playing the effects of smoking in confined spaces]
Section 1 is headed
List of sources. Local and national experts you can call for quotes or background information. It promotes the services of three specialist lobbyists
They have also provided a list of the 52 Professors of Economics from various State Universities who can be called on to provide services for roughly $1000 a time: This economists name and address are included under "Tobacco & Taxation (listed by state, alphabetically)".
- Lewis Solmon - an academic who discounts problems of workplace smoking
- Al Vogel - who claims to be an expert in public attitudes to smoking
- Mike Forscey, a labor lawyer/lobbyist who helped the tobacco industry keep the union movement on-side.
1986 Dec 11: James Savarese sends Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute a summary of the activities of his network of economists. They are expanding the cash-for-comments economists network.
There are now 62 names on the list (Some states have 4 or 5) not counting himself and Bob Tollison. The details given for each consist of State, Regional Division [of the TI], Name, Address and Telephone number. Added to this is a list of the 'Projects' they have completed (in later lists, also the names of Congressmen they have contacted.)
I have attached a list of all the economists we have used along with the projects they have worked on in behalf of the Tobacco Institute.
Virtually all of these cash-for-comment academics have been generating op-ed articles for newspapers, or have, in some unspecified way, opposed the Packwood Excise Tax plan — or perhaps helped fake up one of the 'Chase' [Econometrics studies]. A few participants have attended Congressional or government inquiries ['Treasury I') or local ordinance hearings as 'independent witnesses' while secretly acting for the tobacco industry. Two of the 64 members ( Ann Harper-Fender and Gary Anderson) were acting termporarily as advisors to Ronald Reagan's Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations— which sought to bring pressure on the FDA, EPA and OSHA and stop them being pro-active with smoking bans.
Other participants have been promoting the industry line at various academic conferences and fora [mainly as keynote speakers at economic society meetings] , and a few of the core-team were involved in brianstorming sessions with members of the tobacco industry looking for new angles for their PR, and for possible research project which might generate some economic propaganda for the industry.
Many of them have joined in with the industry's orchestrated letter-writing campaigns opposing workplace smoking bans.
- GSA = General (Government) Services Administration.
- 'Ways & Means' = Congressional committee on finances
- ALEC = American Legislative Exchange Council (a formalised way for big business to directly influence Congressional and State politicians)
- Chase Econometrics = A company that did economic impact studies for the tobacco industry in various locations to 'prove' that smoking bans would destroy local economies.
The references for this network member were:
Virginia [ Region VI ]
Professor George Hoffer
Economics Department, Virginia Commonwealth Univ., 901 W. Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia 23284, 804-257-1717
There was a general culling of unproductive economists fom the list at about this time and Hoffer's name disappears along with many others.
1994 Mar: Journal of Political Economy, Steven P Peterson and George E Hofer, (sic) "The Impact of Air-bag Adoption on Relative Personal Injury and Absolute Collision Insurance Claims,"
2010: Adjunct Professsor at Robins School of Business, University of Richmond.