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.
Robert Exley ('Bobby') McCormick
— A minor cash-for comments economist who was available when others from Clemson University were overloaded. —
Professor Robert McCormick 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 McCormick was in the thick of the Public Choice circle of economists who made up the bulk of the cash for-comments network, and he had joined forces with Tollison and Richard Wagner before the organisation of the network began on a state-by-state basis.
This surrepticious 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 ultra-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.
- There is a Californian TV news anchor and interviewer, Robert McCormick
- A West Virginia House of Delegates member, Robert L McCormick was convicted (later appealed) for extortion and taking bribes to help foreign doctors get registered.
- "an ideosyncratic publisher of the Chicago Tribune?"
Some key documents
• Professor, Department of Economics, at Clemson University, North Carolina. McCormick is also the BB&T scholar in the John E. Walker Department of Economics and senior research associate in the Arthur M. Spiro Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.
• McCormick was also associated with PERC, the Political Econonomy Research Center (Now renamed the Property and Environmental Research Center) at Bozeman, Montana which is a component of the right-wing "Wise-Use" movement and part of the Atlas Network of libertarian think-tanks. [Don't confuse with the PERC run by NCPA and the Koch brothers].
1972: BA in Economics, Clemson University
1974: MA from Clemson University
1978: PhD in Economics from Texas A&M University. His dissertation was co-directed by Robert Ekelund and Robert Tollison — two of the most notorious of the cash-for-comments network organisers.
1979 Jan 30: Tobacco lawyer, Jacob & Mendiger, presents a supplementary bill at end of this month which adds a few new names and entries for ICOSI/SAWP operations:
- Dr Peter Berger — $750
- Edward Harris — $766 (additional payment)
- Prof Robert Tollison — $1200 (additional payment by SA1 Ck)
- Prof Robert McCormick — $1125 (by SA1 Ck)
- Institute for Policy and Management Research $16,000
[SA1 probably refers to Special Account #1 run by Jacob & Mendiger to launder payments to academics..]
1981: He was co-author with Robert Tollison on "Politicians, Legislation, and the Economy." (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff, 1981)
1981 May: [Admission made in 1998 Dec 9 trial] George Berman (of Devon Management Resources) who recruited both Robert Tollison and Richard Wagner for the international smoking lobby ICOSI was being deposed in an Iron Workers Local v Philip Morris case.
He admits to the recruitment of the first six scientists/academics on this list. They were employed him when he organised the May 1981 Wharton Conference for Philip Morris:
- Q. Robert Nozick
- Q. Robert Tollison
- Q. Aaron Wildavsky
- Q. Peter Berger
- Q. Steven Littlechild
- Q. Sherman Feinhandler
- Q. Robert McConnick (sic McCormick)
A. No (He also said No for three others as not recruited by Berman... but probably by Tollison)
Q. The individuals who you were developing counter measures to respond were making assertions to the public that were not true. Is that the belief at the time ?
A. Yes, that's correct.
1981 May 19: Dr Vernon A Howard, Harvard Graduate School of Education , speaking at Wharton conference
Also Robert E McCormick, economist, Graduate School of Management, Rochester University. He says that social costs are often overstated:
"The usual way to describe this problem is to
say that smokers impose an uncompensated social cost on nonsmokers. The standard prescription is either a tax, an outright ban, or an inclusion of these costs in a cost-benefit analysis for smoking."
McCormick maintained that "Clearly in the case of a restaurant or other privately owned establishment, that prescription is flawed."
[This conference was exposed as a Tollison, Berman, Wildavsky, Littlechild ICOSI front in a George Berman deposition much later.]
1982 Apr: "A Positive Theory of Environmental Quality Regulation," by Michael T Maloney and Robert E McCormick (both cash-for-comments economists), Journal of Law and Economics
1984 Apr 26-27: Proceedings of a Conference on "Consumer Protection Economics" sponsored by the FTC's Bureau of Economics.
[Note Ryan Amacher of Clemson had just left the FTC]
This document contains a study by Richard S Higgins (then FTC later cash-for-comments) and Fred S McChesney (then Emory University - later cash-for-comments) "An Economic Analysis of the FTC's Ad Substatiation Program" which is an attack on the new principle that advertisers had to be able to prove that their claims were true — as against the FTC being required to prove that they were false. Cigarette filters and health claims were one of the FTC's main focusses at this time.
The article carries the footnote
* The views expressed here are the authors'. They doubtless do not reflect the views of some Commissioners, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Commission itself.
[The two authors, Ryan Amacher and the six [bold] commentators were all tobacco network academics.]
We received helpful comments on earlier drafts from Ronald Bond, Gerard Butters, David Haddock, Cotton Lindsay, Robert Mackay, Michael Maloney, the late Steven Marston, Robert McCormick, William Shughart, Robert Tollison and Bruce Yandle
1984 Dec: "The Disinterest in Deregulation" by William Shughart, Robert McCormick and Robert Tollison, American Economic Review
1985 July: "Finantial Analysis of Mergers: Rules for Antitrust Case Selection," by Michael Maloney and R. McCormick. (both cash-for-comments economists) This was published as part of a Working Paper Series by Clemson University's corporate-funded Center for Policy Studies
1985 Aug: "Crime and Income Distribution in a Basketball Economy," by Robert McCormick and Robert Tollison. This was published as part of a Working Paper Series by Clemson University's corporate-funded Center for Policy Studies,
1986 Jul: "Athletes vs. Academlcs?" by Robert E McCormick and M Tinsley.This was published as part of a Working Paper Series by Clemson University's corporate-funded Center for Policy Studies,
1994 Mar 8: Two economists working for the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Jane G Gravelle and Dennis Zimmerman published a document "Cigarette Taxes to Fund Health Care Reform: An Economic Analysis"
The CRS is 'bipartisan' in that both Republicans and Democrats can have people supporting their own ideology on staff. In this case these two published a damning criticism of the anti-tobacco activists, using statistical attacks on the EPA, etc. It was a highly influential paper which the tobacco industry actively promoted for a most of a decade.
Also publishing on the same theme and quoted by Tollison-Wagner were Keith ('Kip') Viscusi, a contract academic lobbyist for the tobacco industry; the Yale Uni team of Alvan Feinstein and Carolyn Wells, who also worked extensively for the tobacco industry; James Bennett and Thomas DiLorenzo;and a raft of cash-for-comments networkers. In fact, these papers manage to quote almost exclusively from the 'studies' done by tobacco industry consultants.
These papers became referenced in a Tollison and Wagner paper "Smoking and the Cost of Medicare and Medicaid: An Overview" — of which a couple of different drafts are collected here into one Tobacco Institute file. It says:
What we were able to accomplish, of course, is apparent in the attached two papers. The first paper, by Robert Tollison and Richard Wagner, outlines the normal treatment of Medicare expenditures with respect to allocating costs to smokers. Most, if not all, of this procedure is seriously flawed and based upon the earlier cost estimates of the Office of Technology Assessment, which are also seriously flawed.
The second paper, by Robert McCormick, Robert Tollison, and Richard Wagner, is a conceptual and empirical effort to show why even the "best" case put forth for taxing and allocating "social costs" to smokers is seriously flawed and produces an estimate of the "optimal" tax on smoking that in an order of magnitude too high.
The reason for the error is that the authors of the Rand study (Newhouse, et. al) and the Congressional Research Service study (Gravelle and Zimmerman), as well as Viscusi, treat portions of social insurance programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, as "social costs" when they are, in fact, transfers. The second accompanying paper seeks to right this error and in so doing recompute the implied tax and cost allocation for cigarettes. When done correctly, such an approach as the Rand study suggests that the amount of "uncompensated" costs imposed by smokers is on the order of a penny a pack.
There is a substantial gap in the records for a few years here. Either the records have been culled, or McCormick didn't work for the network during this period.
1996 June: Clemson University cash-for-comments economist, Robert McCormick figures in some brochures put out by the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation [now known as FreedomWorks]. The organization was run at this time by C Boyden Gray, a Reagan/Bush aide and heir to a substantial part of the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company (run by generations of the Bowman Gray family)
Control of the CSE later passed to Texas Republican Congressman Dick Armey who had been both House Majority Leader and a professional lobbyist. [Now Tea Party organizer.]
The CSE/FredomWorks think-tank has always been available to support any industry that is willing to pay. In 1996, as well as lobbying for tobacco, it appears to be promoting privatization of the electric generation industry.
Electricity RestructuringThis booklet was sent along to Pat Donoho, Senior Vice President at the Tobacco Institute, asking for their continued financial support.
Since Texas CSE and Texas CSE Foundation first got involved in the growing effort to end government-protected monopolies' control over electricity generation, CSE has campaigned to help customers at the state and federal levels gain a choice of electricity service providers in an open marketplace.
In 1995 and early 1996, even likely supporters of competition were holding back, asking how competition would affect consumers, producers, and the economy as a whole. CSE Foundation responded by commissioning Professors Michael Maloney, Robert McCormick and Raymond Sauer, all of Clemson University, to study the issue.
[All three were cash-for-comments economists in the network run for the Tobacco Institute by Jim Savarese and Robert Tollison]
The independent study Customer Choice, Consumer Value was released in June and immediately became the talk of the industry. The study has propelled CSE Foundation into the role of leading authority on the economic effects of electricity price deregulation, and cast CSE as the most influential grassroots organization advocating customer choice for residential ratepayers.
CSE has been asked by members of Congress, state legislators, and fellow think tanks and advocacy groups to review legislation and educate officials and their staff on ways to ensure the freest, most efficient marketplace for electricity services.
During 1996, CSE and CSE Foundation began a long-term educational campaign to ensure market-based alternatives were included in the debates about high-profile environmental issues, such as global warming, clean air regulations, endangered species, and hazardous waste.
[They were equal-opportunity denial lobbyists]
CSE Foundation launched a multi-faceted grassroots program to educate citizens that a clean environment and a sound economy can go hand-in-hand.
Tax and budget issues kept CSE and CSE Foundation at the forefront of many battles in 1996. While our broad efforts were aimed at promoting reduced government spending and lower taxes for all Americans, our primary goal was to educate policymakers and the public about the need to simplify the tax code.
With your support, we can continue to achieve greater economic freedom and prosperity for all Americans
[The tobacco industry had long been one of the CSE's most reliable donors, and with both C Boyden Gray and Dick Armey, it had friends in any Republican presidency or policy group.]
1997 June: /E Regulation magazine [now published by the Cato Institute] publish a feature article "Smoking, Insurance, and Social Cost" by three cash-for-comments network members:
It is worth reading just to see how hypothetical calculations can be applied to rough assumptions and dubious claims to come out with what purports to be an expert assessment of a social problem.
- Robert E. McCormick is a professor of economics at Clemson University.
- Robert Tollison is the Duncan Black professor of economics
at George Mason University.
- Richard E. Wagner is the Harris professor of economics at George Mason University
2001: Julian Simons Fellow at PERC — heavily engaged in the research of carbon sequestration and its impact on global warming. In this research, McCormick is investigating how income affects carbon sequestration as a solution for global warming.
He is also engaged in research with a PERC research associate, Frank Limehouse, in measuring the price people are willing to pay for a golf course that has been assessed and certified by Audubon International. He is also conducting research on golf courses as green space.
2002: Senior fellow at PERC — now the Property and Environmental Research Center.
2003: Hoover Press published "The Relation Between Net Carbon Emissions and Income" by Robert E McCormick. He is in the camp of the climate doubters (as is both the Hoover Institute and PERC)
[T]here is no universal agreement about the problem itself. Serious scholars have data on both sides of the question of global warming, and others have interpreted existing facts in myriad ways. The public seems to believe that the Earth is warming, unnaturally, but public perception, although politically important, is not always scientifically accurate. If all this were not enough, there is even disagreement about the impacts of global climate change, assuming it to be real. He then concludes:
The results presented in
He gives credit to a substantial section of the old cash-for-comments group:
this chapter indicate that net carbon emissions will decline if economies
grow and people get richer. The analysis supports the view that higher
incomes are associated with a better natural environment. Fascination
with emissions controls and the Kyoto Protocol is somewhat hard to
understand in this context.
One simple but profound fact remains. Even while US and global total gross emissions are on the rise, there is little or no growth in total or gross carbon emissions per person in either the United States or the world. Moreover, taking sequestrations into account, there is even less of an issue with carbon emissions.
Robert E. McCormick is professor and BB&T Scholar in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University and a senior associate at PERC.
This work borrows extensively from joint work coauthored with Joshua Utt and Walker Hunter (Utt, Hunter, and McCormick 2002). Terry Anderson particularly, but also Richard Stroup, Bruce Yandle, and Daniel Benjamin, provided intellectual stimulation and insights that make this work presentable. I acknowledge a debt to all of them and to PERC while retaining residual rights to the effort.
McCormick's bibliograph show that in the past few years he has co-written extensively with Robert Tollison, William Shughart, Mike Maloney, Brian Goff and Gary Anderson — all well-established 'core' members of the cash-for-comments network.
2013: McCormick also is available as a witness for hire through the company Nathan Associates, Inc. for fighting anti-trust cases, etc.