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.
Paul W Wilson
— A minor economist at the University of Georgia, Athens, who was influenced by his cash-for-comments associates to temporarily take a commission from the tobacco industry. —
Professor Paul W Wilson 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. He was probably recruited by Tollison's associate, Dwight Lee.
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.
For each commission they were paid $300 to $1000 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 the focus was always on economic issues important to promoting cigarettes:
- Write op-ed articles for their main local newspapers. [specified by the Tobacco Institute]
- 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 or provide 'Discussion' at economic meetings or conferences on issues effecting the tobacco industry.
- Occasionally appear on broadcast or print media.
Most of the network project involved an op-ed article or report written to order by the Professor, then sent via James Savarese to the Tobacco Institute. It was then improved, then sent to their lawyers and PR people for legal checks. The doctored articles were then returned to the Professors for transmission to their designated newspapers. Clippings, and copies of letters sent 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 generally 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.
In 1987 there was a political consultant named Paul Wilson. This may, or may not be the same as the Paul L. Wilson, a Missouri assistant attorney general who was trying to get County Commissioners to comply with a 2-year-old state law that limits cigarette smoking in government buildings.
There is also a Paul David Wilson, a 'lecturer, humorist and human relations expert.'
Some key documents
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.
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.
Wilson was probably recruited in early-to-mid 1988 by Dwight Lee who was also operating out of the University of Georgia.
1988 June 30: Paul Wilson fom the University of Georgia has been commissioned through the Savarese network to present a paper (funded by the Tobacco Institute) at the meeting of the Western Economics Association in Los Angeles,
It was on the tobacco industry's main propaganda theme at that time; "User Charges and the Problem of Externalities" — attempting to discount the claim that cigarette excises were little more than a special charge paid by smokers for the economic damage they did to the society at large.
He is in good company with Benjamin Zychter, Dwight Lee, and Richard Wagner — all cash-for-comments economists.
1988 Sept 1: Jim Savarese is billing the Tobacco Institute for services rendered during August. He has been "working with economist on social cost research proposals"
| • Himself and Leslie Dawson ||$20,000|
| • Subcontractor A [almost certainly Tollison] || $3,500|
| • Subcontractor B [Probably Dwight Lee]|| $1,800|
| • Subcontractor C [Minnesota Tax Consultant]||$1,500|
| • Western Economic Association expenses |
[Held in Los Angeles]
| Dwight Lee|| $846|
| Richard Wagner|| $830|
| Paul W Wilson|| $625|
|Note: Two participants, Zycher & Borcherding, are from Los Angeles.|
1988 Nov 28: Debbie Schoonmaker at the Tobacco Institute writes to Savarese about Social Cost Research Papers.
Enclosed are drafts of the Wagner and Ekelund social cost papers.
She also attaches three lists of cash-for-comments speakers who have been selected to talk at various meetings of local economic associations they wish to influence [See earlier list]:
Each has been reviewed and will not need further clearance provided the recommended changes are incorporated into the final versions of the papers.
The legal comments are fairly straight-forward. If you or the authors need an explanation or wish to discuss further, please call.
You'll also see that I've enclosed a copy of the California Health Department's "social cost" study. We can discuss this example in our "SWAT team" meeting.
- Atlantic Economic Assn., Philadelphia, Oct 6-9 , meeting on User Charges: has
- Dwight LeeChairman + paper, "Some Bureacratic Implications
- Richard Wagner"User Charges: Principles and Practice"
- Bruce Yandle, "User Charges: Evaluation and Critique.
- Discussant: Robert Staaf.
- Western Economic Association, Los Angeles, June 30 — July 3 meeting on Tax Earmarking and User Charges.
- Dwight R. Lee, "The Political Economy of Tax Earmarking"
- Richard Wagner, "The Fiscal Politics of Tax Earmarking"
- Paul Wilson,"User Charges and the Problem of Externalities"
- Discussants: Thomas Borcherding and Benjamin Zycher, Rand Corporation [unknown relationship]
- Southern Economic Association, San Antonio, Nov 20-22 on Excise Taxation
- Robert Ekelund, Chairman:
- Dwight R. Lee, "Political Economy of Corrective Taxation"
- Randall Holcombe, Auburn University. "Excise Taxes in Theory and Practice"
- Richard E. Wagner, "The Fiscal Politics of Excise Taxation"
- Discussants: Joseph Jadlow, and Henry Butler,
1989 Jan 11: Carol Hrycaj at the Tobacco Institute writes to Debby Schoonmaker on the "Promotion of Economic Conference Papers."
Of the six papers presented during those sessions, only two that were discussed at the Western meeting may be suitable for public consumption: Lee's paper, "The Economics and Politics of Tax Earmarking' and Wagner's paper, "Fiscal Norms, Fiscal Practice and Tax Earmarking."
Paul W. Wilson, Thomas E. Brocherding and Bruce Yandle also submitted papers; their relationship with our consultants is unclear. Regardless, the Wilson, Brocherding and Yandle papers are technical treatments of the subject matter and would be difficult to repackage for the general public.
This appears to be Paul Wilson's only venture into becoming a tobacco lobbyist. Dwight Lee took over all of the University of Georgia functions
1990 June 29: The Western Economic Association annual conference shows that Wilson has turned his attention away from tobacco. His paper at this conference was "Work Stoppages by Public School Teachers." amd mpme pf tje dossissamts were network economists.