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.
Burton A Weisbrod
(about 40% of the time spelled Weisbord)
— A University of Wisconsin economist who in 1984-5 was temporarily persuaded to join the Tobacco Institute's cash-for-comments network. He appears not to have actually done anything for them, however. —
Burton Weisbord's name only appears on eight significant tobacco archive documents. He appears to have been contacted, and agreed to work for the tobacco industry, but then renegged on the idea. However, for reasons of completeness, we have included him here.
Professor Burton Weisbrod was one of the original cabal of economists who became the nation-wide network working for the Tobacco Institute. It was put together by tobacco lobbyist James Savarese and Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University who collaborated in the 1980s to provide the tobacco industry with academics willing to write propaganda material ... always provided their names were not linked to the industry or to any of the cigarette companies.
The idea was simply that the 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 academics to the tobacco industry because the distinction between economics and politics was never clear: so support of the cigarette companies could always be claimed as support for free-market economics ... the rights of individuals to make public choices ... small government ... or even the first Amendment to the Constitution.
The economist always claimed to be 'independent', 'professionals' and they wre recognised 'academics' 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 precision, 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 one academic economist, one academic lawyer, and one academic from a business management, business law, marketing or advertising discipline willing to jump into action and write op-ed articles for their local newspaper, or to appear at local ordinance or legislative hearings. Copies of these articles were always to be sent to a local Congressman who sat on some important (to the tobacco industry) committee.
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!
- 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.
The foundation document for the network still in the tobacco industry archives is the Draft plan (below) dated 30 April 1984
This 109 page DRAFT Tobacco Institute "Cigarette Excise Tax Plan" was aimed at countering the Reagan Administration's "Packwood Tax Plan" and the list of economist involved includes James Heins.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics at Northwestern University (1985 - 1990)
(Director Center for Urban Affairs & Policy Research... renamed... Institute for Policy Research) [See his current C/V ]
[The CV fails to list the Tobacco Institute in a very long list of consultancies, however.]
1961: Published "Economics of Public Health", by Burton A. Weisbrod, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1961.
1968: Burton Weisbrod, "Income Redistribution Effects and Benefit-Cost Analysis," in S.B. Chase (ed.), Problems in Public Expenditure Analysis (Washington: Brooking, 1968) This was cited by Tollison & Wagner in their report on "Consumer Protection, Public Policy and Cost-Benefit Analysis."
1980: Robert Tollison and Richard Wagner in their draft article for the Tobacco Institute "Consumer Protection, Public Policy and Cost-Benefit Analysis" quote from Weisbrod's study for Brooking Institution. At this time he appears to be seen as a peer-review expert in the economic effects of cigarette smoking and on the burden this imposes on medical care expenditures [see archive index at this time].
1980 Aug: Robert E Leu of the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Basel Switzerland (Temporarily with the Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin, Madison) in his paper "Modifying Risk-taking Behavior Through Public Policy: The Case of Cigarette Smoking" acknowledges the help of Burton Weisbrod in the preparation of the paper.
This paper examines the effectivity of using taxation to reduce the incidence of smoking. Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have typed draft copies of this paper, but there is no sign that they have commissioned it. It accepts the dangers of smoking.
1984 Apr 30: The Tobacco Institute's Cigarette Exercise Tax Plan (DRAFT) shows that they are disillusioned with President Reagan because, after the deregulatory fiascos of his first term, he was now leaning more towards the use of excise taxes to offset some of the income tax reductions given to the wealthy — resulting in a fast-growing deficit which had now reatched $200 billion.
Outlook for 1985 Earmarking of cigarette excises for Medicare was being suggested. The various state excises were also under consideration.
Once the elections are over, it is almost certain that the new Congress will consider a significant tax increase. Since an enormous amount of revenue is needed to balance the federal budget, it will be very difficult to keep federal cigarette excises out of a final tax package.
They also suggest the hiring in each state:
Economic Consultants It also had draft copy and designs for a couple of different booklets aimed at different states, and others aimed at labor/union and racial groups, and it identifies the Congress Committeemen and state Assembleymen who should be targetted as most likely to be influenced, adding an appendix which lists economists who could be enlisted to help.
One public finance economist for 10 days @ $1,000 including meetings with coalition members and/or the Governor's staff; research and preparation; and testimony.
One economist for a union workshop on the tax issue, including 3 or 4 training sessions over the course of a convention.
Six economists @ $5,000 and one senior economist @ $20,000 for a tax symposium, including publishing of the proceedings at $3,000. The senior economist would play an oversight/organizational role and would be responsible for editing the proceedings. Such a symposium would be staged for regional or national impact.
One economist provided to a public employee union to do original research on the need for adequate services to be funded by broad-based taxes; this would include the final report and testimony.
Potential Economic Consultants
Following is a list of economists in key states who might assist us as consultants. We have begun contacting them to ensure their willingness and expertise. We are asking each about past experience; work with similar issues; previous work with the industry; published articles or research; and speaking availability.
As discussed in the body of this program, our intent is to have a group of individuals who we can call upon regularly to testify, conduct special research projects, and discuss their research and/or views on excise taxes with the media.
Robert Tollison is the most influential and prestigious on this list; he was hired to consult on federal tax situations and to oversee efforts of the others throughout the country.
- California, Thomas Borsherding, Claremont College
- Connecticut, William McEachern, University of Washington
- Florida, Richard Wagner, Florida State University
- Georgia, Fred McChesney, Emory University Law School
- Illinois, James Heins, University of Illinois
- Massachusetts, Harlan Platt, Northeastern University
- Minnesota, Thomas Stimson, University of Minnesota (St. Paul Campus)
- New York, Harold Hochman, City University of New York
- Ohio, David Klingaman, Ohio University
- Pennsylvania, Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania
- Texas, Charles Maurice, Texas A&M University
- Washington, Yoram Barazel, University of Washington
- Washington, D.C. Robert D. Tollison, George Mason University
- Wisconsin, Burton Weisbrod, University of Wisconsin
See last page Yoram Barazel is the only name on this list who appears to have resisted the Institute's overtures.
The Tobacco Institute's Cigarette Excise Tax Plan
The plan augments our basic lobbying efforts by relying on groups outside the industry — some not regularly associated with the industry — to argue against excise taxes for us.
It is an ambitious program, based on the notion that many of the most effective protests against tobacco taxes will come from groups philosophically distant from The Institute. Many such groups agree with us on the excise issue, even though they disagree with us on other matters.
At the federal level, supporting Congressional members from the tobacco states is essential to our lobbyists. The tobacco members consistently vote as a unified group — something that is rarely seen in Congress today. They are our lobbyists' most important resource.
The program recommends that economic and other consultants assist us in developing, "packaging," and presenting our anti-excise arguments in legislative testimony or meetings with coalition members.
Economic consultants with different areas of expertise will conduct research and act as spokespersons for The Institute and organizations supported by The Institute. Specific activities with economists are discussed throughout the tactics.
- Stimulate reputable public finance economists at key state universities to determine the validity of state revenue forecasts, perhaps on behalf of state business organizations and present arguments against excise taxes in various forums; e.g., meetings with potential coalition members or budget officials.
- Encourage economists to make the case against regressive taxation in meetings with potential coalition members and legislators.
- Retain public finance economists affiliated with non-profit organizations to research the subject and use their findings in forums such as:
- Private meetings with state legislators or staff ;
- formal testimony before government bodies ;
- targeted media appearances;
- speeches before business, civic, labor, and other groups ;
- tax symposia in key states where the proceedings could be published for use in other states ; and
- articles which raise the visibility of key arguments in the business, academic, and popular press.
- Presenting specific members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees with arguments prepared by economists with whom they share some common interest; e.g college affiliation, service on the same commission.
- Gaining the support of Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), the most influential labor/liberal tax reform group in the country, in opposition to excise taxes.
- Relying on the AFL-CIO — via The Bakery, Confectionery, and Tobacco Workers Union — to ensure that the labor/liberal tax package that emerges in the next session of Congress does not include tobacco.
Appendix: A list of economists in key states who may be willing to act as industry and third-party spokespersons on the tax issue.
Following is a list of economists in key states who might assist us as experts receiving honoraria. We have begun contacting them to ensure their willingness and expertise. We are asking each about past experience; work with similar issues; previous work with the industry; published articles or research; and availability.
|California|| Thomas Borsherding, Claremont College|
|Connecticut|| William McEachern, University of Washington |
|Florida|| Richard Wagner, Florida State University |
|Georgia|| Fred McChesney, Emory University Law School |
|Illinois|| James Heins, University of Illinois |
|Mass.|| Harlan Platt , Northeastern University |
|Minnesota|| Thomas Stimson, University of Minnesota (St.P)|
|New York|| Harold Hockman, City University of New York |
|Ohio|| David Klingaman, Ohio University|
|Penn.|| Mark Pauly, University of Pennsylvania|
|Texas|| Charles Maurice, Texas A&M University|
|Wash.DC.|| Robert D Tollison, George Mason University.|
|Wisconsin|| Burton Weisbord, University of Wisconsin |
|[This was the core group which established the cash-for-contents network. Over the years the numbers reached over 100.]|
Our intent is to have a group of individuals whom we can call upon as needed to testify, conduct special research and discuss their research projects and/or views on excise taxes with budget officials, potential coalition members, legislators and the media.
1985: A later paper by Robert E Leu (now with Thomas Schaub) "Does Smoking Increase Medical Care Expenditure? also acknowledges Weisbrod's help at the University of Wisconsin. This study has all the hallmarks of a cigarette-inspired analysis — specifically the use of the "death benefits" argument (but without explicitly stating it)
The impact of smoking on medical care expenditure is analyzed, challenging the widespread belief that smoking imposes a large cost burden on health services systems. The results imply that lifetime expenditure is higher for nonsmokers than for smokers because smokers' higher annual utilization rates are overcompensated for by nonsmokers' higher life expectancy.
Population simulation, taking into account the effects of past smokinp on present-population size and composition, suggests that 1976 expenditure would have been the same if no male born since 1876 had ever smoked. The male population would have been larger, particularly at older ages, increasing medical care expenditure, but this increase would have been offset bv lower annual medical care utilization rates.
Thus the results imply that smoking does not increase medical care expenditure and, therefore, reducing smoking is unlikely to decrease it.
Both of these authors had found favor with the Tobacco Institute by 1984-85 and were being funded by the Swiss subsidiary of Philip Morris, known as the FTR.
1985 March 29: The Monthly Report of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) to the Tobacco Institute shows that the economists did not necessarily write their own columns (at least in 1985). The report says:
Legion article: O&M provided revised version of the article for client approval. Ryan C Amacher, PhD, from Clemson University will sign the piece. They also says further down the page:
O&M provided an update on this project. We are collecting original copies of the published articles to print in a collection.
Economic news service:
O&M provided draft copies of three "tax quotes" columns and three editorials. We are writing two additional sets of materials and obtaining economists' photographs for final production.
Preparing for excise hearings in Congress:
O&M will begin preparing C Mather Lindsay for testimony and will identify spokespersons at AFL-CIO and CTJ.
[ Cotton Mather Lindsay was another member of the economists network.
CTJ = Citizens for Tax Justice, an O&M-run think-tank that the tobacco industry partly financed]
The April Billings of O&M also include the news that the PR company had:
- Arranged for economic consultant, Dwight Lee, to testify against Pennsylvania legislation to restrict smoking in public places.
- Drafted and revised article on tax reform and excises for submission to American Legion Magazine. Ryan C Amacher, Ph.D., from Clemson University signed the piece.
- Continued to prepare op-ed articles on tax reform and work with area economists to place in newspapers in home districts of members of House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees. Prepared weekly update on this project's status. (To date, 14 articles have been published; others are either pending with editors or still being revised for submission.)
- Drafted three Q&A columns featuring our economic consultants and three editorials for "economic news service" mailing to local media nationwide. Also worked with designers to develop format for the service. We are drafting two more columns and editorials and collecting economist's photos for the final layouts..
[This refers to a "matte service" where the copy is written and typeset, often complete with a photo of the economist who supposedly wrote it. Then high-quality "matte copies" are distributed to dozens of small give-away and local newspapers. They will then insert the TI propaganda into their pages ready for printing. It cuts the costs of newspaper production, makes them look like serious newspapers, and fools their readers into believing they are getting real information. The Tobacco Institute distributed numerous 'economists columns' via matte.]
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.
[ Burton Weisbrod's participation in this conference was in the "Public Goods and the Private Sector" session.
He is not associated with the "The Political Economy of Public Health" session which was run by Robert Tollison and his cabal of cash-for-comments economist in the appropriately-named "El Toro" room at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Orlando, Florida.]
After this Weisbrod's name disappears from the Cash-for-comments network lists.