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.
Susan K Feigenbaum
— A minor cash-for-comment academic from the University of Missouri, St Louis. —
Susan Feigenbaum became temporarily enrolled in the clandestine network of academic economists who secretly worked for the tobacco industry through the Tobacco Institute — but for only a very short time. The network was set up in November 1982 by James Savarese (working through his own company and Ogilvy & Mather PR) with later expansion nationwide through Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University.
Tollison and Savarese acted as contractors and cut-outs, using the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University (GMU), which supplied the adminstration staff. They recruited ultra-libertarian economics professors at the major state universities through the Public Choice Society and various regional economics societies.
The problem is not that these scientists were ultra-libertarians, and that many of them were Tea-Party disciples of Ayn Rand, Frederick Hayek and/or Ludwig von Mises. Nor was it necessarily made worse by the fact that the industry they helped prosper made a product that caused the premature death of about four million people globally each year.
The problem is that these academics
- exploited their trusted position as a teacher at a university to promote dubious corporate view points contrary to the public good.
- hid their corporate links from the university administration and staff, and from the public which ultimately paid their salary.
- exploited the public trust in universities and their reputation for independent research, for their own financial benefit.
- allowed the tobacco industry to preview, edit and alter the reports they wrote specifically as industry propaganda.
- wrote op-ed articles which were planted on their local newspaper — misleading both the editors and the readers,
- maintained a claim of being 'independent academic/scientists' when writing to politicians or giving evidence at hearings, etc. after being coached by tobacco lawyers.
- generally acting secretly as tobacco industry lobbyists.
Over a hundred professors of economics at major American universities were successfully recruited by Tollison and Savarese, and many of them remained in service to the tobacco industry for many years. Others only served for a short time, and then dropped out voluntarily ... or were found to be unreliable or unsatisfactory.
They were not paid retainers or salaries, but were erratically commissioned to perform specified functions (usually for $1000 to $3000 per project) when the tobacco industry came under attack. Some earned much more — often in the $20-40,000 range — for producing 'independent research' which was customised to produce the desired results.
Payments were never made directly from the tobacco industry to the economists. Commissions were all carefully laundered through Savarese's company or Tollison's GMU operations — and so the economist (wrongly) assumed this would provide deniability if ever challenged over selling out their academic credibility to the merchants of death.
Feigenbaum is a name that is also commonly spelled with the 'ei' reversed as Fiegenbaum. In this case, there appears to be no misspellings in the tobacco archives. There are 767 documents in the archives with the F eigenbaum name.
There is also a well-funded State Democrat Representative, Robert Feigenbaum, in the Missouri House
Some key documents
• Associate Professor of Economics at Claremont McKenna College (she was an econometrician). Later she transfered to the University of Missouri - St Louis. Also a visitor to the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University (and presumably also a Society member).
• Only 5 documents in the tobacco archives carry her name, which is very low for any economist who was willing to work for the tobacco industry. She appears to have been only involved in the production of a single op-ed for the Kansas City Times. There is no record of her recruitment, or her resignation.
1984 Jul: 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.
1985–86: Visiting Scholar to the Center for the Study of Popular Choice, at George Mason University.
1987 June 15: A proposal has been sent to the Tobacco Institute asking for a grant of $5,000 as a one-sixth contribution to "A Study of Initiative and Ballot Measure Voting in California, 1976 -1986" This has come from the Rose Institute of State and Local Government. The leaders of this study would be
Michael Meyers, President of Michael D Meyers Co., Inc., a political consulting firm specializing in data analysis and targetting, and Alan Heslop, Director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government.
Associated personnel will include Susan Feigenbaum, Associate Professor of Economics at Claremont McKenna College, Robert Walters, Director of Computing at the Rose Institute, and Linda Nelson, a consulting graphics specialist.
The Rose Institute of State and Local Government, a part of Claremont McKenna College, is a 501(c)(3) organization: contributions to this research project are tax deductible
1988: She joined the Department of Economics, University of Missouri — St Louis
1989 Dec 14: Jim Savarese is listing the economists taking part in their new Excise Tax Op-Ed project.
I have also listed the newspapers we plan to target and a package of the materials we are sending to the economists.
He lists for Missouri and Kansas
We should start getting drafts of the op-eds around the first of the year.
KANSASSusan Feigenbaum is not on this list. She must have been a last-minute additional recruit, and sent her op-ed to the Kansas City Times.
Michael Babcock Kansas City Kansan
Thomas Wyrick News-Leader (Springfield)
Michael Babcock (Kansas State Uni) had his op-ed in The Topeka Capital Journal in March, and Thomas Wyrick (Southwest Missouri State Uni) had his published in the News-Leader a couple of months later.
1990 May: This is a list of the Tobacco Institute successes in having economists on the network plant op-ed articles on their local newspapers. She is now listed as if she were the only economist looking after Missouri (but not so).
Susan Feigenbaum, University of Missouri - St Louis — Kansas City Times
1995 /E: The Cato Institute has published her article "Body Shop" Economics: What's Good for Our Cars May Be Good for Our Health She is "an associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a visiting scholar at the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University."
1995 /E: Dr Feigenbaum
received a competitive five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to support her research on scientific integrity in economic analysis.
She features in David M Levy's "How the Dismal Science Got Its Name."
She was apparently working on statitical ethics — " the idea that "scholar as truth seeker" model is flatly inconsistent with the rational choice perspective."
2000: She was named a Trustee for the Missouri Consolidated Health Plan, a state commission charged with providing health insurance for state and municipal employees.
2011 Mar 24: Endowed lectureship honors influential economist, artist wife
Susan Feigenbaum, professor of economics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has established a lectureship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in honor of a mentor and his wife.
Feigenbaum, who earned her master's degree and Ph.D. at UW-Madison, created the Shirley and Burton A. Weisbrod Lectureship in the Economics of Health, Education and the Nonprofit Sector in the Department of Economics.
"Burt Weisbrod has been a tremendous mentor to me throughout my professional career as an economist," she says of the emeritus professor, who taught and conducted research at UW-Madison for many years.
[ Burton A Weisbrod was also a cash-for-comments network academic.]
2012: An Open Letter from Economists to President Obama. Speaker Boehner Releases List of 88 Economists Who Agree Obama Tax Plan Will Hurt Small Business & Further Damage Economy
Feigenbaum's name is on the list along with Tollison, Vedder, Poulson, Davis, Niehaus, Shughart and the expected coterie of right-wing think-tank lobbyists.