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.
Dominick T ('Dom') Armentano
(misspelled Armento - )
— A University of Hartford, Connecticut academic economist who worked for the tobacco industry. —
Professor Armentano is an undistinguished Professor of Economics who makes considerable money on the side through lecturing to business groups, etc. Twice each month he had a syndicated public affairs radio program, and he also claims organizational affiliations with
the advisory boards of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, Council for a Competitive Economy, the editorial board of The Journal of Libertarian Studies, REASON papers, and Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
He became part of a early network 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 [through the Tobacco Institute] with a number of academics who would be 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!
The 1985 Tobacco Institute document, "Federal Markets", which was sent to the Tobacco Institute's Regional and State Directors, provided a long list of the likely allies the industry had among academic economists in opposing the earmarking of cigarette excises for healthcare and for other purposes. The industry was particularly interested in attacking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which it always feared would attempt to regulate cigarettes as a drug.
The Tobacco Institute's contractors kept a registry of those academics available to write articles or letters on demand, provide witness services at legislative or local ordinance hearings, etc. or give lectures to various influential bodies — or have one-to-one meetings with legislators. They were never required to divulge the industry connections, and they were never required to make any outright statement in support of smoking ... in fact, the complete opposite. Those who could maintain proudly that they were non-smokers were seen to be more sensible, and to have more credibility with the gullible readers who thought that political influence involved brass-bands and flag waving zealots.
Writing economic and political op-ed pieces and letters to the editor were the easiest way for these academics to earn some quick cash without sticking their neck out enough to be noticed. In their articles they attacked the principle of cigarette taxes, not the taxes themselves. They attacked the idea of the FDA extending its mandate, rather than the question of whether nicotine was a drug.
Payments were laundered through a couple of channels linked to the George Mason University's Center for the Study of Public Choice and its director Robert Tollison, and also through a labor/economics lobbyist named James Savarese.
The purpose of the network was to provide propaganda and lobbying services to the tobacco industry in all 50 US States, utilizing trusted and prominent academics at the local universities, and the scam ran very successfully for a couple of decades. It was considered influential enough for the Tobacco Institute to continue its funding when other projects suffered budget cuts. As a result, hundreds of op-ed articles appeared in many dozens of influential newspapers across America.
|Content vs. Purpose?|
|The question is not what was said in these articles, but rather the reasons why they were written. |
If your vision of economics is merely that it is a form of commercial bookkeeping which can be considered in isolation (a view that almost universally prevailed in academia until the global financial crisis), then ethics, morality, and human well-being doesn't figure strongly in your calculations outside the value of humans as production and consumption units.
Clearly the early deaths of many older and disabled people [those who have passed their social usefulness and are a burden on the tax system] is of benefit to the survivors and therefore to the national economy as a whole. Smokers who are taxed during their smoking lives and then die young, in this calculus therefore benefit their communities by not becoming a burden.
It then follows that cigarette manufacture cannot be considered a social burden, but rather as pure economic benefit.
This sort of superficial analysis digs no deeper into the complexities of life, living and society than you would find in the preface of a Chicago University Economics 101 textbook written by the supply-sides and neo-cons.
Of course the same arguments can apply to euthenasia of the disabled and the elderly ... and perhaps to the hanging of all academic economists who propound this sort of simplistic nonsense.
Some key documents
• Professor of Economics, University of Hartford, Connecticut. His political target was Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut.
1966: PhD in Economics, University of Connecticut. Joined the Faculty as a lecturer.
1967: lecturer at University of Hartford
1972: The myths of antitrust: economic theory and legal cases (by) D . T. Armentano. New Rochelle. NV ., Arlington House ISBN 0-87000-159-0
1982–83: A brief CV sent to the Tobacco Institute around this date.
1985 Jan 31: A Tobacco Institute list of economists from the cash-for-comments network. It has been organise by State, and includes the names of Congressmen they wish to influence. This economist will be detailed to make the contact [by sending him/them the published op-ed]:
CONNECTICUT (Rep . Kennelly)
Professor Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut
1985 Feb 21: Roger Mozingo of the Tobacco Institute is sending his state directors a list of resources available to fight against excise taxes in their states. Dominick Armentano heads their state list of available economic witnesses for Connecticut.
1985 Mar: Tobacco Institute document "Federal Markets" on the likely allies the industry has acquired to oppose the earmarking of cigarette excises for healthcare.
Positive Actions by Local Allies:
Academics: Professor Dominick Armentano (Hartford University) wrote an op-ed article on tax reform that appeared in the Hartford Courant on April 13 (newspaper in home district of Ways & Means Member Kennelly) . Copies were sent to Kennelly .
See page 4
See Success List
1985 Apr 13: The Hartford Courant publishes his tobacco-funded op-ed "Excise Taxes Unfair to Consumer" which selectively uses the 'regressive nature' arguments and condemns the US Treasury for its
... official silence on federal excise taxes — sales taxes on items such as cigarettes, gasoline, telephone service and other selected commodities?
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 '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)
1985 Aug 5: The Hartford Courant published Armentano's op-ed "Taxes go down — and up." He writes [without mentioning that this article was commissioned by the tobacco industry]
The argument against raising excise taxes is more than persuasive. Excise taxes, especially cigarette taxes, are regressive; they are substantially more burdensome for low-income households than for high-income households. A household that earns an annual income of $50,000, on average, pays only 0.6 percent in excise taxes. By contrast a household that earns $5,000 a year pays almost 5 percent of its income in excise taxes. Moreover, there is no convincing argument why drivers or beer drinkers or smokers should be singled out to reduce the federal deficit. [... provided we pretend that income taxes, welfare, and Medicare costs don't exist]
1985 Nov 6: Ken Arnold of Ogilvy & Mather PR writes to Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute.
Fred, here is a summary of the Economist Op-ed and Economic News Service projects.
This chart list all the important Congressmen they want their economists to influence, including:
With regard to the Economist Op-ed project, we have submitted a total of 34 op-ed articles, and 18 of them have been published. Recent articles appeared in the Huntsville Times on September 11, by Robert Ekelund and in the Providence Journal on October 25, by Arthur Mead (see attachments).
Enclosed is a revised op-ed chart, indicating House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee Members impacted to date and the circulation of each newspaper publishing the articles. In most cases, the papers are the largest in the targeted district.
Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly
Hartford Courant (c. 300,000) April 13
Professor D.T. Armentano
University of Hartford
1985 Dec 12: Annual Report of the Tobacco Institute's Public Relations division lists him as having:
We believe that the active and creative use of experts — our scientists in particular — gives us an edge. But without question, public smoking is our toughest challenge.
A close second is taxation. In 1985, most of our resources in this area were focused on the federal situation.
That being the case, we concentrated almost exclusively on the home districts and offices of the 56 members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees.
We identified and utilized economists from universities in 48 of those districts. Some testified at the four federal tax hearings in which had interest. Others participated in academic symposia attended by Congressional staffers. Others communicated directly with their Congressmen.
And 34 of them wrote op-ed articles on the need to consider excises as part of tax reform. Many of these articles appeared in the principal newspaper in the targeted districts which have, by our estimation, a total circulation of nearly 4 million.
The economists were of great help. [SNIP]
Professor Dominick Armentano (University of Hartford) wrote an op-ed article on tax reform that appeared in the Hartford Courant on April 13 (newspaper in home district of Ways & Means Member Kennelly). Copies were sent to Kennelly.
1986: This is the Tollison/Saverese network list for 1986. It has 64 names, but it still doesn't cover all 50 States. Some States have two or three network members, so newspapers [and sometimes Congressmen] need to be specified for each member to ensure there is no accidental duplication.
Telephone numbers (office and home) are often included in case an urgent op-ed or ordinance hearing is needed. These are grouped by State:
Prof Dominick Armentano
Department of Economics, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT 06117, 203-243-4581
1986 Jan: The Tobacco Institute's Public Relations Resource Catalogue for their Regional Directors, lists documents, booklets, article, posters and people who can help them fight local public smoking ordinances and threats to raise the excise taxes on cigarettes.
It provides a long list of economists who are willing to speak at hearings, write letters to the editor, or create op-eds for the newspapers to counter any threat to public smoking or possible increase in excise taxes.
It lists him as a contact in:
He is available on two weeks notice as a witness for hire.
- Professor Dominick Armentano
Department of Economics, University of Hartford, West Hartford CT
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.
Tax witness: [He will] "explain why excise taxes are regressive and unfair to consumers and unsuitable and unreliable as a means to increase the federal revenue."
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.
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 Office of Technical Assessment (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. Armentano is listed as one of the recipients for 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.
1986 Apr 3: This appears to be the approved copy of the letter on "New Research Proposals" that Jim Savarese sent to his long list of network economists. This letter leaves no doubt that these academic economist knew that they were being paid to protect the interests of the tobacco industry.
The economist were also being given outline "rebuttals" developed by Tollison and Wagner to help them in writing their counter-attacks to an an Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) anti-smoking report.
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. This went out to the long list of cash-for-comments economist on the network.
As you know, the tobacco industry is exposed continuously to a barrage of attacks on economic issues. Many of these attacks involve a serious perversion of the concept of social cost. 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.
I have attached a report prepared by the staff of the Office of Technology Assessment which is representative of the kind of "research" being put forth by anti-tobacco activists. I have also included the rebuttals developed by Bob Tollison and Richard Wagner to the OTA report.
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.
1986 May: /E A Tobacco Institute list of "Schedule of Payments - Excise Tax Op-Ed project." (April-May 1986) This lists those academic economists who have already planted their article on a local newspaper, and the amount they are to be paid.
They appear to have been paid $900 for each article, and $1025 if they had also made contact with their local Congressman. However a number of the cash-for-comments network members still have not completed their commission.
The George Mason (Uni) production staff of Bob Tollison, Bill Shughart, and Gary Anderson were paid for "rewrites, editing and research, 18 articles", and Carol Robert for the "production of final product. " A total of $18,000 + $1067 expenses [or $1000 per article to make them into saleable propaganda for their local newspapers]
Armentano of Connecticut has been given the target of planting his article on the Hartford Courant and was due for payment of $1025.00.
A later Scheudle of Payments increases this amount by another "$975.00 — Paid in Full"
The GMU production staff were also being paid another $9,500 for rewrites, editing and research on 9 additional articles, while Savarese seems to have been charging $5,800 + $235 in expenses for recruiting replacement economists in California, Montana, New York, Ohio and Tennessee.
1986 May: A bundle of information predominantly on Sick Building Syndrome and Indoor Air Quality is being circulated by the Tobacco Institute to its Regional Directors. However, Section 1 is headed
List of sources. Local and national experts you can call for quotes or background information. This economists name and address are included under "Tobacco & Taxation (listed by state, alphabetically)".
1986 Oct 3: A Tobacco Institute report on the economists network, lists the Congressmen they are expected to influence,and the economist's various academic specialities.
This early list is probably the most detailed of all. A later section of this 43 page document also runs through the 28 main states giving the names and details of witnesses willing to speak to legislators on Taxes (almost exclusively economists), and those available as witnesses for the tobacco industry on Public Smoking issues (economists and a range of others)
A major effort had also been made recently to enlist fire officers and brigades to counter demands for a 'fire-safe' cigarette which had low ignition propensity.
CONNECTICUT, (Rep. Kennelly)
[Economist:] Professor Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut, 203-243-4835
[Speciality:] Public regulations on industry; government spending and taxation, state finance, business economics.
| Tax Witnesses: ||Materials available|
|Dominick Armentano|| Conn. data card|
"Excise Taxes: The Fairness Issue"
"More Taxes on Tobacco...."
Earmarking topic sheet
Letter writing brochure.
| Public Smoking Witnesses: ||Materials available|
|Al Vogel (productivity)|
Steve Schlossberg (labor implications)
Lew Solmon (economics)
Bob Klotz (enforcement)
Response Analysis summaries
Public Smoking topic sheet
"Some Considerations" workplace kits
"In Defense of Smokers" reprint
"The Other Side of the Smoking Controversy" reprint
Letter writing brochure
| Fire: |
|Fire Safety Education Grant to: |
New Tools for Volunter Fire Fighters
- Hartford Fire Department — John B Stewart Jr
- New Haven Dept of Fire Services — Chief John P Reardon.
| Media Relations: |
|Contacts are in place in Old Greenwich and Waterbury. Contact Bill Toohey for assistance.|
1986 Oct 3: The State Directors for the Tobacco Institute have been reviewing all economics network witnesses in their territories, and culling those who are not actively participating. The Washington DC office is now circulating to its State Directors a list of the economists available who ...
" ...have been identified in several states by J. Savarese as available and hopefully capable to testify in our behalf, or aid in our defense against proposed state of local legislation, from an economic aspect. This list differs from others in providing a list of the economic specialities of each network economist, along with the Congressmen they were designated to influence. Armentano is listed as
CONNECTICUT (Rep. Kennelly)
Professor Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford.
West Hartford, Connecticut [specializing in:]
Public regulations on industry; government spending and taxation, state finance, business economics.
1986 Dec 8: Sam Chilcote is summing up the Tobacco Institute's activities in fighting the Packwood Tax Plan which attempted to impose special excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel (in the oil crisis years) to reduce use. Packwood also wanted to make these cigarette taxes and tariffs non-deductable for federal income tax purposes.
The document bundle (219 pages) includes:
[Some of the output of the economist's network]
- Pages 2 to 34: A major study done for the TI by Policy Economics Group
- Pages 35 to 50: Another major study commissioned from DeSeve Economics for the Coalition Against Regressive Taxation (CART) [which was a front organisation, funded by tobacco to provide 'grassroots' cover.]
- Pages 51 to 57: A couple of papers done for tobacco lawyers, Covington & Burling [This type of activity was always conducted through lawyers]
- Pages 58 to 100: A long document which has deliberately NOT included the name of the organisation which produced it within the document itself. [However we know it was also done by deSeve Economics Associates Inc].
- Pages 101 to 129 : A paper on the "Burden of Tobacco Taxes on Selected Demographic Groups" [To prove that the burden fell most on those who could afford smoking (and health care) the least.]
- Pages 130 to 144: Some booklet trying to rabble-rouse the Hispanic and Black communities and make them believe Packwood is attacking them racially [Using the 'disadvantaged' and regressive tax arguments].
- Page 145 to 177: A Citizens for Tax Justice 'poll' on attitudes. and a Coalition Against Regressive Taxation document.[Both general front groups for the cigarette and alcohol]
- From Page 178 on: many of the op-eds they have had published in newspapers by the cash-for-comment academic economists, (including one from this source.)
See Armento's article on page 206 of the document bundle.
1986 Dec 11: James Savarese sends Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute a summary of the activities of his network of economists. This is effectively the beginning of the main 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 = 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:
Connecticut [Region I]
Professor Dominick Armentano
Department of Economics, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut 06117, 203-243-4581
- original excise tax op-ed
1987 Feb 6: James Savarese has finalised the current list of compliant economists, and sends it to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute. It contains all the familiar cash-for-comment economists:
Old faithfuls: plus a few new ones:
Lee Anderson, Terry Anderson, Dom Armentano, Cecil Bohanon, Thomas Borcherding, Henry Butler, JR Clark, John David, Allan Dalton, Arthur Denzau, Clifford Dobitz, Robert Ekelund, David Gay, Anne Harper-Fender, Dennis Hein, John Howe, Wm Hunter, Joe Jadlow, Michael Kurth, Suuner LaCroix, Dwight Lee, C Matt Lindsay, Dennis Logue, Chuck Mason [Masen], Charles Maurice, Fred McChesney, Robert McMahon, Arthur Mead, Wm Mitchell, Allen Parkman, Wm Peterson, Thomas Pogue, Barry Poulson, Raymond Raab, Simon Rottenberg, Mark Schmitz, Richard Vedder, Richard Wagner
Greg Niehaus, Mario Rizzo, Roger Riefler, and Boon Yoon.]
1987 Feb 24: Dennis Dyer of the Tobacco Institute writes directly to Armentano, bypassing James Savarese (Savarese was ccd) He wants Connecticut versions of three papers written specifically for New York.
In anticipation of possible tax and smoking restriction legislation in Connecticut in 1987, I would like to discuss some of your opinions on the economic arguments in each of these areas.
I would appreciate your written candid comments on the substance of, presentation of, and ability to defend the materials. During the near future, I will be in Hartford and would like to get together with you to discuss these materials and how they can be improved. In addition, I would like to discuss the potential for your active participation in their development and presentation to various publics within Connecticut.
Again, my thanks for your continued interest. I hope we can develop some believable materials for use in Connecticut
[He obviously wants to use Armentano as an legislative or ordinance witness. And, don't you love the "believable" qualification to "materials"?]
1987 Mar 13: Armentano has a column "Cigarette taxes flunk on fairness" in the Hartford Courant which the tobacco industry newsletter circulates (in condensed form)
"... the total tax on a pack of cigarettes [in Connecticut is]... 51 cents....
"... we don't single... out (other products] for punitive taxation. Should we tax pulp novels because they steal time from reading Shakespeare? Should we tax pastry because it may contribute to national obesity? Should we tax down-hill skiers to discourage skiing and thereby reduce back injuries?...
"... most cigarette smokers are people with low to modest incomes. The cigarette tax, therefore, tends to be borne by those in society with the least ability to pay. Such taxes are termed regressive and generally are considered unfair and inequitable....
1987 Mar 24: Jim Savarese writes to Jeff Ross at the Tobacco Institute about the "Tobacco Excise Tax Op-ed Project".
Attached please find two more excise tax op-eds and a copy of the clipping from the Hartford Courant.
Attached were 7 new articles (in draft form) from Professors Chuck Mason, Dennis Logue, Charles Maurice, Dominick Armentano, William Mitchell, Robert McMahon, and Clifford Dobitz.
As of today, 18 articles have been written and 2 articles have been published. As I mentioned earlier, the Des Moines Register has accepted an article and we have a good chance at the Houston Post.
Armentano's article was "The High Cost of Private Smoking." [Again, highly smoking-specific (which the others weren't) — which suggests there was an arrangement (or at least tacit acceptance) of lobbying articles at the Hartford Courant].
He ends with the old 'I'm a non-smoker' ploy used to imply independence and credibility:
"I'm a non-smoker, and it would be easy to conclude — despite the cost and equity arguments — that cigarette consumption should remain heavily taxed.
That would be easy to conclude, but it would not be right. Non-public smoking should be treated by the government like all other private consumption: it should be left alone."
1987 May 5: Cotton Mather ('Matt') Lindsay of Clemson University has written an article "Excise Taxes: Facist Finance" which is being circulated at the Tobacco Institute .
He has discovered through his extensive research that 'vertical equity' means either everyone paying the same in cash value, or alternately it means that the burden is felt equally by both rich and poor. He chooses to use the first definition:
it is difficult to achieve vertical equity [equal cash burden on everyone] through excise taxes because the amount of the tax paid depends on purchases rather than income. [The implication being that it would be more equitable if taxes were highest on those with the higher income]
This simplistic, one-sided, paid-for analysis is accompanied by a list of the cash-for-comments economist from the network [to whom it will presumably be sent as an example (See note "at last ....")].
Breweries and tobacco companies write checks to the government for the excise taxes on beer and cigarettes, but here economists agree [economists never agree!]; these companies pass these taxes on to consumers. One's share of the burden of the revenues raised by these taxes depends on how much beer one drinks and how much one smokes.
The unfairness of these excises is manifest; it is not merely another economists' debating point. [In fact, it is a central and primary debating point among economists.] The tobacco excise tax, for example, is the most regressive tax in the federal system. It is paid only by smokers who are today predominantly lower-middle income earners, lower income working women and blue collar workers.
Some have argued that these taxes are appropriate because the funds can be earmarked for expenditures like Medicare, environmental protection and even public employee pensions. [Medicare and environmental costs are higher with those who smoke and drink to excess.]
Why beer drinkers and cigarette smokers ought to pay more for such things is far from clear, however. To the extent that these activities shorten life, they relieve the burdens of Medicare and pension funds by removing potential claimants from the eligibility roles. [This is the old "smokers die young" claim from the same tobacco companies claiming that cigarettes had no adverse health effects. It also ignores the burden on relatives and welfare services.]
Viewed from another perspective, smokers and beer drinkers not only bear a disproportionate share of taxes because they pay excises on these commodities, but they get less for their money, too. Because they live a shorter life span, they collect less in retirement benefits and receive fewer Medicare benefits. [One could also suggest that they get short-changed by
This may be fine for Mussolini, but it is antithetical to tax principles in a free and open society. [And if anyone knows anything about the origins of fascism, it is Public Choice economists.]
- the tobacco companies, and
- by the academic economists who take a salary to help educate their children — but who also work on the side to promote tobacco industry disinformation]
This rubbish is accompanied by a handnote between two Tobacco Institute organisers (Bill Orzechowski, and Roger Mozingo) and an evaluation list of the Economic Witnesses, Northern Sector (states). The area director/s have made contact with each, and these are their notes about the potential of the cash-for-comments economists as witnesses at legislative and ordinance hearings, etc.
- Prof Dominick Armento — "Yes: Contacted, make good witness"
- Prof Summer LaCroix — "Yes: if needed in Hawaii"
- Prof Allan Dalton — "Yes: Good Witness"
- Prof Fred McChesney — "No Contact. Reported to be OK and could be used in future.
- Prof Cecil Bohanon — "Should be replaced by listed Indiana Economist, Pro. James A Dayher (or Payher)"
- Prof Thomas Pogue — "Yes, Could be outstanding."
- Prof Robert McMahon — "Yes: Creditable witness and one-on-one contact."
- Pro Greg Neihaus — "Yes, outstanding witness"
- Prof Raymond Raab — "Yes: Outstanding"
- Prof Terry Anderson — "Yes, Good Witness"
- Prof Terry Logue — "Yes: Outstanding witness"
- Prof Kenneth Greene — "Yes: Only in particular situations with controlled information."
- Prof Cliff Dobitz — "No contact: State not lend itself to Economic witness use."
- Prof Richard Vedder — "No - Conflict minimises effectiveness"
- Prof William Mitchell — "Yes, Good witness"
- Prof Ann Harpert-Fender — "No contact - out of country, will contact in June.
- Prof Arthur Mead— "Yes: Good witness"
- Prof Dennis Hein — "Contact somtimes back; will probably be good witness and usable in 1988.
- Dr Mark Schmitz — "Washington — No"
- Dr Dennis Chinn — "Washington —Yes, Excellent"
1987 Jun 3: Memo on "Economic Witness Evaluation" from Dennis Dyer of the Tobacco Institute (TI) to an associate George Minshew. They initially identified six economists in New England who appear willing to work with them on tobacco-related issues [lending their names to op-eds, studies, etc. and giving witness for the industry at inquiries].
In April another economist was identified and subsequently contacted — Professor Simon Rottenberg, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
On February 24, I contacted each of the identified economists in the region by letter (Attachment B). In each instance I provided the economist with three examples of Tl-generated economic impact studies and asked for their initial impressions and recommendations.
[This is the tobacco industry's standard technique of recruiting scientists and academics. Before they are formally contracted, they must prove they are aligned to industry requirement by turning in some written commentary which shows that they support the industry's pro-tobacco position.]
Dyer has a plan for more effectively use of these economists, nationwide; he appears to be testing how much these academics would publicly support various tobacco industry positions. He also includes the full multi-page resume of Professor Dominick T Armento who has proved to be a successful recruit. They were obviously intending to widen the scope of the economist's activities.
On Page 44 there is a copy of Dyer's letter to Armentano who had been previously contacted by Jim Savarese [the primary organiser]. This was the follow-up letter arranging a formal review of some literature [presumably to ascertain Armentano's willingness to express opinions re smoking] and to arrange a meeting for recruitment discussion. This letter has been prominently labeled:
"**SAMPLE LETTER TO ECONOMIC WITNESSES**"
- Attachment 1. Page 15 is a pro-industry article Armentano has written in the Hartford Courant, "Cigarette taxes flunk on fairness"
- Attachment 2. Page 16 is the resume of Robert C McMahon, who is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Uni of Southern Maine
- Attachment 3. Page 19 is the resume of Lee J Alston, assistant professor of economics at Williams College and a private consultant to an unnamed law firm. [He is in Australia on leave - see reply page 45]
- Attachment 4. Page 24 is the resume of Dennis E Logue of the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. [He is at Georgetown University at this time, and he replies (Page 46) favourably reviewing the literature he has been sent, and suggesting lines of defense for the industry]
- Attachment 5. Page 32 is the resume of Arthur C Mead, Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island. [He didn't reply to the TI request that he review their literature and comment on the economic case]
- Attachment 6. Page 37 is the resume of K Celeste Gaspari, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Vermont. [She replies (Page 48) saying she is still waiting for the annual $1000 retainer she was promised, and is disappointed with the Tobacco Institute. She won't work with them if this is the way they do business.]
- Attachment 7. Page 40 is the resume of William F Shughart II, ex Special Assistant to the Director, Bureau of Economics at the FTC, and now an Associate Professor at Clemson University. [He apparently didn't reply by letter, but was very close to Tollisson and probably didn't need to reply.]
He lists Armentano as feature speaker at many conferences, and having a public affairs radio program.
His organizational affiliations include the advisory boards of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and the Council for a Competitive Economy; he is also on the editorial board of The Journal of Libertarian Studies and REASON papers. His public affairs radio program, BYLINE, is heard on 150 stations across the country twice each month.
Professor D.T. Armentano was a recipient of the 1980 Leavey Foundation Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education presented by Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
This is followed by a C/V and samples of his tobacco columns.
1987 June 9: The Tobacco Institute's Phase II - Excise Tax Op-Ed project involved :
- James Savarese of James Savarese & Associates as the principle operator and cut-out.
- Robert Tollison at George Mason University who organised this secret network
- The Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University, which was a front part-funded by the tobacco industry. They supplied part-time staff.
- The Public Choice Society which Tollison ran and used as a recruiting ground.
- Anna Tollison, the wife of Bob Tollison, was employed by James Savarese Associates to keep a record of the articles generated by the large contingent of academic economists, and to organise payment.
- At the Tobacco Institute, in the mid 1987s the project was under control of Jeff Rose
- Rose worked under the direction of Peter Sparber
The Tobacco Institute's focus at this time was on defeating cigarette excise tax increases — and especially the threat of such taxes being 'earmarked' to bolster health care budgets. Anna Tollison reported that
"In sum, 41 economists were solicited to write editorials. We have publications in 20 states, 14 articles have been written and submitted, and 7 articles are still outstanding." [Others were in the offing] [She included a long list of the economists who wrote the articles, the newspapers in which they were published, together with their circulation figures.]
1987 Aug 5: A list of quotes excerpted from major newspaper editorials and op-eds from the TI's cash-for-comments economists about the Packwood tax plan.
Hartford Courant, August 5, 1987
"For those with an annual income of $30,000 or less, the entire 1986 tax saving would be wiped out by the excise tax hike. So much for tax reform."
Dominick T. Armentano, professor of economics, University of Hartford
1987 Aug 21: Jeff Ross at the Tobacco Institute has prepared a consolidated summary of "Field Staff Evaluation of Economists" for his superiors, William Kloepfer and Peter Sparber. They have been asked to look at 34 of these academics. This includes an outline of their recent achievements.
Professor Dominick Armentano University of Hartford West Hartford, CT
Excise Tax Op Eds: Hartford Courant — 03/15/87
Economic Witness/Testimony: (nil)
Field Staff Contact: Yes.
Field Staff Evaluation: Good witness.
1988 Jan 15: Jim Savarese, subcontracted to the tobacco industry via Ogilvy & Mather, is writing a proposal which was sent to the Tobacco Institute.
Nineteen eighty-seven was a banner year for the Tobacco Institute in its fight against excise tax increases at the federal level.
He then outlines a couple of problem areas before dealing with the "Economists Program." [No full list for these 42 network economists appears to exist]
Through careful coalition building and effective message dissemination, the Institute was able to fight the battle on its own terms and secure a substantial victory.
In reviewing your 1988 plans, we found many areas where Ogilvy & Mather and Savarese and Associates can continue to provide services. There are also new areas where we have expertise which have not been fully explored.
Our work with the network of forty-two economists should continue into 1988. In 1987, the network was effective in producing op-eds and submitting and presenting testimony. These activities should continue in 1988. In addition, the economists network can be used for editorial board briefings, presentations at conferences and the placement of articles on this issue with major media outlets.
In order to make the most of the new opportunities for the economist network, several factors must be taken into consideration:
The opportunity exists to place economists on key economic programs, panels, and at national and regional tax policy conferences. As an addendum to this effort, it is possible to have their comments reprinted and distributed.
- only 7 or 8 of the economists within the network have the potential to make presentations to editorial boards and conferences.
- those economists selected to make presentations to editorial boards and conferences need a training program. This program may include media training through Michael Sheehan and briefings by Jim Savarese and Bob Tollison.
- the editorial board program is a limited strategy with applicability mainly at the federal level with some use at the state level.
- when implementing the editorial board program, Ogilvy & Mather can assist with pitch materials, press kits, and a placement program.
They also want to commission studies. They suggest:
They also propose to work with a number of right-wing tax groups, some left-wing labor groups, minority groups, senior citizens, agricultural groups, and advertising companies. They propose to sponsor conferences, and make a video on excise taxes.
- Effects of an excise tax increase on the federal budget (and its fairness)
- on bootlegging "and come up with some strong conclusions" [predetermined!]
- In addition, Savarese and Associates can locate a conservative economist to make the argument that there is an acceleration of government spending when taxes are increased. The program will include placement in an economic journal.
A national Excise Tax Op-ed Program will target various importnat members of the Congress and big businessmen (e.g. Lee Iaococca) on the National Economic Commission (NEC). The network economists will be required to target specific newspapers, and a few key political figures. The target for this member of the network is:
Targeted paper: Hartford Courant
Economist: Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford
[Why selected:] Commission members Sen. Patrick Moynihan and Felix Rohatyn are from New York. Because we have great difficulty in getting published in New York, we have decided to target the entire Northeast area.
1988 Mar 31: The Tobacco Institute's list of available economists, with details of their target for a review of Robert Tollison and Richard Wagner's "Smoking and the State" book (secretly funded and published by the tobacco industry). Jim Savarese writes to Jeff Ross who looks after the cash-for-comments network:
I have listed below potential areas where we could place book reviews for the Tollison/Wagner monograph.
Targeted paper: Hartland Courant
Economist: Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford.
1988 May 18: The New Haven Register carries another of Armentano's tobacco propaganda pieces: "Reagan's successor must resist temptation to raise taxes"
Despite so-called tax reform, the overall tax burden on the average American is heavier today than ever.
Figures released recently by the Tax Foundation, a research group based in Washington, D.C. confirm what some of us already suspected — despite the Reagan tax rate cuts, the average taxpayer is paying more taxes this year than at any time in our history,
Nothing lowers government revenue like a recession, and nothing is more likely to put the U.S. economy in a recession than new tax burdens on producers or consumers.
1988 June 23: Debbie Schoonmaker at the Tobacco Institute receives a memo from contract organiser James Savarese with "an update status on the NEC Op-Ed Project: [NEC = National Economic Commission, the group they were trying to influence.]
As it now stands, 9 articles have been published, 4 articles (New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, and Idaho) are forthcoming, 4 articles have been submitted for publication, and 2 articles are in the revision stage. It lists the network economists by the state in which they operate together with their successes in planting articles on their principle state newspapers.
1989 Jan 11: The Tobacco Institute's Scientific Consultancy Activity 1988-89 This is an 80 page mixed bag of files dumped together. [First is from 1990]
- Pages 3 to 23 It begins with Witness Appearances in 1988 and 1989 involving both "Indoor Air Quality experts" who work for the Tobacco Institute, and three economists [ Bob Tollison, Richard Wagner and Dwight Lee]
- Pages 24 to 31 Labor IAQ Presentations in 1988 and 1989 which involves key figures in the labor movement and a few "IAQ experts."
- Pages 32 to 39 IAQ/ETS conferences attended by tobacco industry disinformation experts in 1988 and 1989
- Pages 40 to 41 Academic and Unaffiliated Scientfic Witnesses
- Pages 43 to 53 Smokers Rights Legislation in various states.
- See page 54: Tobacco Institute "Confidential" memo on "Tax Hearing Readiness" which is their battle plan to counter earmaking of cigarette excise taxes to fund health programs. It lists a large number of organizations and a few congressmen who can be relied on to help. It also has both primary and secondary lists of economists from Tollison's "cash-for-comments" network willing to give testimony.
The Tobacco Institute's list of cash-for-comments professors and senior academics who were available to write op-eds and give evidence at Congressional hearings, and various other activities by labor groups, etc. had grown extensively.
- Bill Orzechowski, Tobacco Institute
- Robert Tollison, George Mason University
- Richard Wagner, George Mason University
- Dwight Lee, University of Georgia, Athens
- Michael Davis, Southern Methodist University
- Gary Anderson, California State at Northridge
- William Prendergast (resource: Prendergast/Solmon papers)
- Other Network economists [see Secondary attached list below]
"Due by mid-year is a book examining earmarking and "user fees" from a public choice perspective. The treatise will contain 8-10 chapters written by respected economists, including, Henri LePage and Nobel laureate James Buchanan ."
CONNECTICUT: The attached "Tax Hearing Readiness document lists the economists network and Dominck Amentano as available to help them fight the legislation.
- March 8 — Hartford, CT — Connecticut AFL-CIO — IAQ presentation [by] Tom Donahue, Jr [IAQ here means they have hired the union President to oppose workplace smoking ban]
- Sept 7 — New Haven, CT — Connecticut AFL-CIO President — one-on-one meeting (Tom Donahue, Jr.) [One-on-ones are meetings of the lobbyist with a politician without any one else present.]
- BILL Connecticut H7212
- Summary: Bill prohibiting smoking on school grounds was amenended to include the requirement that a smoking car be on all MTA commuter trains beginning or ending in Connecticut. [This] Would overturn ban imposed by Metro North line by New York MTA
- Status: Bill is defeated - Failed to be reported to Senate floor before deadline
- BILL Connecticut H6050
- Summary: Would set standards for indoor air quality to ensure buildings have adequate ventilation.
- Status: Bill failed to meet consideration deadline.
[TI budget papers show that each op-ed now earned the economists $3,000. Presentations to conferences earned them $5,000. Savarese was paid $70 to $100,000 pa for this project, and Ogilvy & Mather $250,000.]
See page 5
1989 April 18: Susan Stuntz (Issues Manager) at the Tobacco Institute memoes her boss Sam Chilcote. She is sending him material previously used for a two-day "Gerry Long" presentation. He wants to use it in a shorter one-day (unspecified) briefing session.
[Gerald H Long was the CEO of RJ Reynolds who in 1988 had just taken over as Chairman of the Tobacco Institute's Executive Committee and wanted to make changes.] This document has the speaker's powerpoints, including a list of network economists divided on a State-by-State basis. Note the document is 117 pages
The outline for the Powerpoint slides is here in full, together with the names of the politicians they were required to influence. It boasts that the..
Economists' Network 64 Strong [is] Targeted to Congressional Tax Writing Committees [and utilizing the] Production of Op-Eds on Federal Tax Policy.
[List of economists]
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.
This economist is on the list for CONNECTICUT, Hartford Courant.
We should start getting drafts of the op-eds around the first of the year.
1990 Jan: - Feb The Tobacco Institute's "Communications Activities" report says:
MEDIA TOURS BY CONSULTANTS They list other media tours by Gray Robertson (ACVA/HBI) Tollison and Wagner, and Jolly Ann Davidson (NABSE). Also
In place of "Truth Squad" media tours. Jack Peterson, Dave Weeks and Larry Holcomb have been conducting interviews on the publication of the report from the [Philip Morris devised and controlled] ETS Symposium held at McGill University.
THIRD PARTY AND ALLIED ACTIVITIES
Editorials written by economists Richard K. Vedder of Ohio University, Dominick Armentano of the University of Hartford, and J.R. Clark of the University of Tennessee, appeared.
These editorials, opposing excise taxes and discussing "user fees," appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the New Haven Register, the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Jackson Sun, the Kingsport Times, the Paris Post-Intelligencer, and the Weakley County Press.
His editorial is an attack on President George Bush I "Bush hides tax increase by calling it a user fee."
See clipping page 4
1990 Apr 23: He has copied the Tobacco Institute with duplicate letters sent to Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly, Senator Joseph Lieberman and Senator Christopher Dodd. They each also received a copy of his op-ed in the New Haven Register.
I understand that genuine user fees have some merit and that increasing them will bring in needed federal revenue.
Excise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, however, are not user fees and increasing them would be both inefficient and unfair. Higher taxes will lower consumption and output in these industries, something we can ill afford to do.[In fact, this is their main value!]
In addition, these taxes are regressive and consumers of these products get nothing in return for the special taxes that they already pay. Raising the excise taxes still higher would add insult to injury."
[I kid you not! He actually wrote "add insult to injury" — a tax insult added to cigarettes-induced lung-cancer. The Tobacco Institute must have been delighted with his honesty!]
1990 May: This is a list of the newspapers designated to certain economists on the network. They are to attempt to plant an op-ed article on "Excise Taxes" on their local newspapers. Dominick Armento has been allocated the Hartford Courant as his propaganda target.
In the mind of the editor of the Hartford Courant, there can be little doubt who was funding the writing of these articles. In fact, it is a wonder the newspaper didn't charge the tobacco industry itself for the advertorial space ... or maybe it did!
1990 June: - July Communications Activities report from the Tobacco institute lists their various successes in these two months in planting articles on newspapers, and in generating interviews and news items on radio and television via 'media tours' by paid consultants (who pretended that they weren't) It includes:
Economists are weighing in on the federal budget debate with a new series of anti-excise tax op-eds in key congressional districts. Economists appearing in print (copies enclosed) include:
- J.R. Clarke, Jackson Sun and Commercial Appeal;
- Ryan Amacher, Anderson Independent-Mail:
- Todd Sandler, Fort Dodge Messenger;
- Domenick Armentano, Hartford Courant:
- William Mitchell, Register Guard; and
- Barry Poulson, Alamaso Valley Courier.
1990 July: The Monthly Communications Activities Report of the Tobacco Institute advises the top executives that:
- The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) prepared a response to the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study, "Federal Taxation of Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverages and Motor Fuels."
Distributed to Members, the media and other interests, the response rebuts the CBO's methodology and concludes: "No matter what criteria for the tax burden one uses. increasing excise taxes will mean an increased tax burden on the majority of Americans of modest incomes."
A copy of EPI's material and the National Journal article featuring the analysis are enclosed.
- Economists are weighing in on the federal budget debate with a new series of anti-excise tax op-eds in key congressional districts.
Economists appearing in print (copies enclosed) include :
- JR. Clarke, Jackson (TN) Sun and Memphis Commercial
- Ryan Amacher, Anderson (GA1 Independent-Mail;
- Todd Sandler, Fort Dodge (IA) Messencter;
- Domenick Armentano, Hartford (CT) Courant;
- William Mitchell, Register Guard (OR); and
- Barry Poulson, Alamaso (CO) Valley Courier.
See page 5
A clipping from the Hartford Courant, July 11
1990 Aug: This long document has media tour records [being conducted by Fleishman-Hillard] for the cash-for-comments
The economist's media tours are to promote the Wagner and Tollison book on the Social Cost of smoking which had been written for the Tobacco Institute. and reviewsd by many of the cash-for-comment economist network members.
- economists network
- ventilation network members (mainly HBI)
- biological scientists network,
- academic lawyers nework
- labor network and
- advertising academics network
Also there is attached a list of Savarese's network economist triumphs which has the intriquing heading "Consulting Economists — Not on Philip Morris List" which suggests that PM was running a parallel operation to that of the Tobacco Institute.
This list holds the recent successes in planting op-eds on local newspapers, and a few appearances of economists at State hearings, conferences, etc.
Professor of Economics, University of Hartford
1/90 Excise Tax/"user fee" op-ed published in New Haven Register
1990 Aug 3: Sam Chilcote at the Tobacco Institute has advised the Members of the Executive Committee of plans to develop a celebrity speakers program using academics and other expert consultants. There are offer the speakers both money and personal promotion:
[W]hile it is clear that there are a number of individuals who can and are speaking out on our issues independent of The Institute, there also is much more that could be done. There are, for example, opportunities to develop higher profiles for those individuals with whom we enjoy an existing relationship, and to increase within the media an awareness of their availability.
He then lists:
There also are a number of individuals who have been identified who do not currently have a relationship with the industry, but whose views appear to be compatible with our own. Should the Executive Committee decide that it wants to proceed with an expansion of our speakers' program, these individuals would be contacted to determine their interest in our issues.
The addition of new speakers to our program will be expensive. Most of these individuals command substantial consulting fees; media and other activity will require a new commitment of funds, although an exact amount cannot be determined until candidates have been approached.
This economist, along with dozens of others, is thought to be a potential speaker and is credited with recent achievements:
- Authors, newscasters and newspaper columnists
- Well-known politicians, political aides, White House staffers, State authorities, agency administrators, etc
- Heads of various coalition groups (American Advertising Federation. etc)
- Cash-for-comments legal and business academics from Savarese's network list.
- Cash-for-comments 'risk assessment' academics and promoter.
- Cash-for-comment experts in indoor air pollution and ventilation systems.
- Cash-for-comment academic economists + some likely allies:
- BRUCE L. BENSON, professor of economics, Florida State University and board member, James Madison Institute, a Tallahassee think tank.
- DWIGHT R. LEE, professor of economics, holder of the Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise, University of Georgia
- JAMES C. MILLER, Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, Washington; former director of OMB
- WALTER E. WILLIAMS, professor of economics, George Mason
University, Fairfax, Va.
- BOB TOLLISON, George Mason University, Center for the Study of Public Choice
- Some more minor network academics, together with their recent achievements.
Professor of Economics
University of Hartford
1/90 Excise Tax/"user fee" op-ed published in New Haven Register
1990 Oct: /E Tobacco Institute document. It lists the services that academics and secret consultants have provided to the tobacco industry during 1989 and 1990 — both as witnesses and as authors of articles and letters.
- Pages 2 - 9 Advertising: lawyers and advertising administrators
- Pages 10 - 30 Science and Public Policy on ETS/IAQ
- Pages 31 - 39 Taxation
This gives the dates of each of the services, and any 'Current Projects' they may be working on:
Professor of Economics, University of Hartford
- 1/90 Excise Tax/"user fee" op-ed published in New Haven Register
See page 32-5
[TI budget papers show that each op-ed still earned the economists $3,000. Presentations to conferences earned them $5,000. Savarese was paid $70,000 to $100,000 pa for this project, and Ogilvy & Mather $250,000.]
See page 5
1991 Jan: /E Tobacco Institute draft plan for 1991 with emphasis on "Taxes." These are the economist-related paragraphs:
To discourage reliance on consumer excise taxes on cigarettes to meet social and economic objectives by demonstrating that excise taxes are regressive and inconsistent with fair taxation.
Goals and Tactics:
- Commission two op-ed articles in 1991 from consulting economists. As articles are published, provide to other Institute decisions for promotion and submission to appropriate policy makers.
- Conduct at least 10 presentations by consulting economists on the excise tax issue before national, regional and state tax policy conferences.
- Continue to utilize consulting economists for testimony and briefings. Expand appearances to include presentations to business clubs and the business press. Conduct media refresher courses for public speaking appearance and delivery of testimony.
- Utilize the consulting economists for an op-ed program that addresses the national earmarking issue and state specific earmarking issues. As articles are published, provide to other Institute divisions and promote to appropriate public policymakers. Use field staff network to support distribution efforts.
1991 Jan 8: Savarese has sent the current list of network economists to Carol Hyrcaj at the Tobacco Institute. It contains three new names, but otherwise is essentially the same as the old lists.
1993 Mar 23: Jim Savarese is proposing to Cal George at the Tobacco Institute a new Op-ed program.
Outlined below is our proposed op-ed program in opposition to the use of excise taxes to finance health care. This economist is listed as one of the proposed lucky recipients of $3,000 in largess from the Tobacco Institute for slashing out a quick op-ed. He was to submit the article to Hartford Courant and New Haven Register
- Op-ed article by Robert Tollison to be submitted to Wall Street Journal $ 4,000.00
- Rebuttal article by Bob Ekelund, Auburn University, to be submitted to the Birmingham News $ 3,000.00
- "Monster" tax op-ed project using twenty economists (list attached) to submit articles in opposition to using excise taxes on cigarettes to finance health care reform - to be submitted to twenty newspapers in twenty different states $60,000.00
1993 Apr 8: The economist's network is still functioning, but Savarese and Tollison have negotiated a different deal for the participants.
The Tollisons appear to be dropping out of the day-to-day running of the network, and Savarese now bills the Tobacco Institute for economist network op-ed commissions on the basis of half-down and the other half on delivery.
In effect, the university economists are now being paid up-front for preparing the articles rather than only when they succeeded in planting their articles on a newspaper. This bill is for $37,000.
- Op-ed article by Robert Tollison to be submitted to Wall Street Journal — $4,000.00
- Rebuttal article by Bob Ekelund, Auburn Univeristy, to be submitted to the Birmingham News — $3,000.00
- "Monster" tax op-ed project using twenty economists to submit articles in opposition to using excise taxes on cigarettes to finance health care reform — to be submitted to twenty newspapers in twenty different states. FIRST HALF = $30,000.00
[They now get $3,000 each per article — half on commission/half on delivery — while Tollison gets $4,000]
1993 Apr 13: Calvin George writes to his Tobacco Industry boss Susan Stuntz asking for permission to spend the $67,000 for the 22 op-eds proposed by Savarese.
As previously discussed, the 20 economists proposed for the comprehensive op-ed program in opposition to excise taxes for health care reform have been selected with two primary criteria in mind:
The cost of this project would be $67,000, which is consistent with previous experience for similar efforts. I am recommending approval of this proposal. Funds are available for this purpose in "A/C#1305-7301" under the line items for
- first, capacity to reach major media markets in states and Congressional Districts represented by key members of the Senate and House Leadership, as well as the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees; and
- second, the previous track record of the economists in being able to place successfully op-eds in the major dailies identified.
"Economists to deliver briefings, testimony, and write articles..." ($45,000) and "Op-eds on...health care costs" ($25,000).
The list of these 20 economic network participants, and the newspapers that published their articles, shows that: Prof Dominick Armentano had an article published in the New Haven Register, 5/16/93
1993 Apr 19: Armento sends a draft article to the Tobacco Institute: "Clinton Never Met a Tax He Didn't Like" which attacks the new president within days of the inauguration.
Candidate Bill Clinton ran as a "new Democrat" and on a platform of "change." But few really understood what he had in mind. After three months in office, President Clinton has cleared up the confusion. He intends to increase our taxes, increase federal spending, and increase the national debt by almost $1 trillion. Someone at the Tobacco Institute has been improving it.
1993 May 16: One of his op-eds "Clinton fiscal plan is recipe for disaster" is published in the New Haven Register.
See page 3
See records of network successes
1993 May 24: Armentano has written a virulent attack on President Clinton and his "borrow and spend" policies ("Clinton fiscal plan is recipe for disaster" New Haven Register, May 16 1993) which makes numerous wild predictions about the economic armageddon about to be unleashed on the American public by a "new Democrat" president. What is outstanding, with the value of hindsight, is the sheer number of prediction errors in this article.
The reason why Clinton has become the focus of these attacks is illustrated here in a copy of a Wall Street journal article (not written by network economists) which points out that changes in health care are likely to be funded by higher cigarette exise taxes. [Of course he makes no mention that the fusillade was organised and funded by the tobacco industry.
1993 Aug 3: This is a series of lists dated from March to August 1993. Savarese's staff have sent these to the Tobacco Institute to progressively report successes and failures with the economists writing op-ed pieces and having them published.
Collectively they give us a good idea as to how the network worked and how litte they managed to plant on the major newspapers (the smaller local papers were obviously easy.) It's also interesting to observe the mechanical processes and the tight control the tobacco industry and its lawyers exerted over these academic lackies.
Clearly, by 1993, many of the original network members were dropping out. The Tobacco Institute also appears to have been having problems getting even those academics who stayed loyal to write articles that justified their $2000 to $3000 payments. [Perhaps some of them developed a conscience!]
- The articles were either rejected, revised or passed by Jim Savarese and his staff
- They were then sent for checking and alteration by Calvin George [Cal] at the Tobacco Institute.
- The lawyer David Reemes who worked for the industry's main Washington lawfirm Covington & Burling then cleared them for publication.
- The economist then received the revised copies back for onward transmission to the selected newspapers.
- They would then send a copy to their local Congressmen without mentioning the tobacco industry's contractual arrangement.
Despite the protestations, these are not 'independent' opinion articles. They are industry-shaped, manipulated propaganda pieces designed as advocacy vehicles to promote tobacco interests in political, media and public circles — even when they don't directly mention or promote cigarettes or smoking.
These lists are all headed 'MONSTER' Tax Op-Ed Project:
[The Code term for anti-Clinton material]
Professor Dominick Armentano, 1515 Shorelands Drive East, Vero Beach, Florida
- Mar 23 — [TI designated newspaper/s] Hartford Courant and New Haven Register
- Apr 9 — Recieved 4/19/93 — Sent to Cal 4/19/93 — Received from Cal 4/22/93 — Waiting - legal — Returned 4/29/93 — Rev. Draft 4/30 Submitted to New Haven Register
- May 12 — (as above)
- May 18 — Published New Haven Register 5/16/93
- June 2 — (as above)
- June 14— (as above)
- Aug 3 —
1994 March 16: A group of academic economists including almost all the members of the Tobacco Institute's cash-for-comments network sent an "An Open Letter to President Clinton on Healthcare Reform." This had been organised by David J Theroux, the founder and operator of the Independent Institute apparently with the assistance of an academic network member, Simon Rottenberg. [The institute was well-funded by the tobacco industry]. The document says:
In The Open Letter to President Clinton, 565 economists and 76 other scholars from all 50 states and the District of Columbia state their firm opposition to any form of direct and indirect price controls in any healthcare program.
Rationing Health Care: The New Threat of Price Controls, by Simon Rottenberg and David J. Theroux
They use the old straw-man scare techniques of the sky-falling claims:
In countries that have imposed these types of regulations, patients face delays of months and years for surgery, government bureaucrats decide treatment options instead of doctors or patients, and innovations in medical techniques and pharmaceuticals are dramatically reduced.
[Which, as anyone who has lived in England, Canada, Australia, etc. knows, is pure rubbish. ]
Along with Armentano and his associates, also on this list of signatories were a number of think-tank lobbyists [including most of the Hoover Institute] and others who worked for the tobacco industry, including the Research Director of the Independent Institute, Robert Higgs, who was also a fill-in network economist.
1995: By this year the ultra-Libertarian supply-sider and Public Choice economic theories had lost traction with most politicians, and the usefulness of the nationwide network of academic professors at the universities was no longer justified. Savarese had already culled the network, getting rid of those who were unproductive, and those in the less-important states.
The Tobacco Institute's Media Report for the year said:
An extensive economist op-ed program was implemented to focus media attention on the FDA's agenda. The program attacks the FDA proposal from an anti-big government, anti-regulatory perspective.
The major changes were that Todd Sandler had bailed out of Iowa, and some new economists had been recruited. Notably:
Economists prepared and submitted op-eds for publication to major newspapers in select states:
- Dr. William Boyes, Arizona State University
- Dr. Barry Poulson, University of Colorado
- Dr. Dominick Armentano, University of Hartford
- Dr. Dwight Lee, University of Georgia, Athens
- Iowa economist tbd [to be determined]
- Dr. Cecil Bohanan, Ball State University
- Dr. Robert Pulsinelli, Western Kentucky University
- Dr. Michael Kurth, McNeese State University (Louisiana)
- Dr. Bill Shughart, II, University of Mississippi
- Dr. Joe Bell, Southwest Missouri State University
- Dr. Terry Ridgway, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Dr. Allen Parkman, University of New Mexico
- Dr. Lowell Gallaway, Ohio University
- Dr. Ed Price, Oklahoma State University
- Dr. William Mitchell, University of Oregon
- Dr. J.R. Clark, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- Dr. Michael Davis, The University of Texas at Dallas
- Robert Higgs, Independent Institute, Edmonds, Washington
- Dr. Charles Breeden, Marquette University
- Dr Terry Ridgeway, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- Dr Lowell Gallaway, Ohio University
- Robert Higgs, Independent Institute, Edmonds, Washington
- Dr Robert Pulsinelli, Western Kentucky University
1995 Nov 12: That old faithful tobacco-friendly newspaper, The Hartford Courant, has published another of Armentano's tobacco industry propaganda pieces: "The wrong approach to teenage smoking." It opposes the FDA's moves to restrict advertising of cigarettes in an attempt to reduce teenage smoking.
Yet [FDA Commission] Kessler would prohibit cigarette vending machines and the distribution of tobacco products by mail even though there is no evidence that a curtailment of these marketing techniques would impact teen cigarette consumption.
The byline says that he is 'on sabbatical from the University of Harford'. The 'sabbatical' was spent in the sun at East Vero Beach, Florida where he spent every winter — and now for most of the year.
The bottom line is that these proposed prohibitions have little to do with changing cigarette consumption by teenagers. What they will do, however, is hurt certain advertisers, promoters of sporting events, tobacco manufacturers and their employees, and vending-machine owners, among others
1995 Dec 21: Savarese & Associate's Status report to Carol Hyrcaj at the Tobacco Institute on the FDA op-editorial program [Dec 8th].
As reflected in the status report, we have replaced Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Houston congressional district with three new states (California, Massachusetts and West Virginia). As you know, we have already received Robert Sexton's (California) article, as well as confirmation that the economist in Massachusetts is able to participate.Clearly some of their draft articles were not entirely satisfactory and required rewrites by Savarese's staff. The notes include some additional revealing items such as:
At this time, we are asking those economists that have published, to forward a copy of their article to their congressman/congresswoman.
[These last two were obviously a fill in for a Texas and a Wisconsin economist who had dropped out or the network.]
- Professor Cecil Bohanon — "Revised op-ed returned to economist 11/10"
- "Professor Pogue has been contacted. We are waiting to hear whether he will be able to particpate."
- Professor Kurth — "Will have op-ed to us by next week" [for checking]
- Professor Ridgway — "Will have op-ed to us in a week"
- Professor Gallaway — "Returned revised op-ed to economist 11/2"
- Professor Davis — "Returned revised op-ed 11/3"
- Clifford Fry, Resources Inc, Bryan Texas — "Had to identify new economist. Sent materials 11/14"
- Prof Charles Breeden, Marquette University, — "Had to identify new economist. Sent materials 11/14"
1995 Dec 26: Dom Armentano has filled out his Xmas 'sabbatical' in Florida by writing to Republican Representative Dave Weldon, and enclosing one of his op-eds which had miraculously appeared in the November 12 issue of the Hartford Courant. On behalf of the tobacco industry, it attacked the FDA's
... dramatic new regulations on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. I argue in this article that these regulations are totally unworkable as experience in several other countries has demonstrated. I would hope that you strongly oppose this and any further attempts by the FDA to regulate this industry.
1996 Jan 5: This Status Report on FDA Op-ed Program is revealing about the master-servant relationship between the tobacco industry and their network economists. It lists 20 attempted newpaper plants of their anti-FDA propaganda and details about the 20 economists who wrote these articles on commission:
CONNECTICUT Attached in front of this document is a model letter to be used by the professors when sending a copy of their article to a local Congressman. Of course the cover letter to the Congressman makes no mention of the fact that the Tobacco Institute paid $3,000 to have the op-ed written.
Professor Dominick Armentano, 1515 Shorelands Drive East, Vero Beach, Florida
The Hartford Courant - Published November 12,1995
Contacted Congressman Weldon ON 12/26/95
See also the earlier version of this report which notes which op-eds have been sent for revision before being submitted to the newspaper.
1996 Mar 8: Kelleigh Varnum, of Savarese & Associations advises Carol Hrycaj at the Tobacco Institute that:
We have located an economist to replace John David (WV). His name is Cliff Dobitz (ND). [An old networker, who has returned to the fold] The status report reflects this addition.
Dobitz was an old network contributor from North Dakota. But presumably he had not then been initially included for attack on the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which was the then-current project for both op-ed writing and contacting Congressmen.
Also attached is Ed Price's (OK) letter to Congressman Largent.
The Status Report for this (Anti-) FDA Op-ed Program records:
Professor Dominick Armentano,
of 1515 Shorelands Drive, East Vero Beach, Florida 32963
Submitted to: The Hartford Courant
Published November 12, 1995
Contacted Congressman Weldon 12/26/95
1996 Apr 8: Kelleigh Varnum at James Savarese & Associates writes to the Tobacco Institute.
Please find enclosed David Tuerck's (MA) published op-editorial. I will forward the original to you as soon as I receive it.
Also enclosed is Congressman Weldon's response to Dom Armentano (CT)
1996 Apr 16: Kelleigh Varnum advises the Tobacco Institute on the progress of the FDA Op-ed Program.
To date, 14 of 20 articles have published.
- David Kurth (LA) informed us that his op-ed published on February 21, in Lagniappe. Apparently, there was a breakdown in communication with the editor and he did not realize that the article had published. Enclosed is a copy of the article. Unfortunately, it is of very poor quality. We will forward the original to you when we receive it.
- Although the Atlanta Constitution has promised for quite some time to publish Dwight Lee's op-editorial, there still have not been any developments. As a result, we have directed Dwight to pursue other outlets for submission.
- Cecil Bohanon (IN) is contacting the editor of the Journal Gazette. He will pursue other outlets for submission if they decide not to publish his article.
- Publication of Barry Poulson's (CO) and Cliff Dobitz's (ND) op-editorials is forthcoming.
- Both Mike Davis (TX) and Terry Ridgway (NV) are checking with their editors on the status of their articles.
The general list also records this economist successes.
1996 June 24: Status Report on FDA Op-Ed Program lists the various network economists and the articles they have planted with their newspapers, together with the Congressmen who have been contacted. About this network economist it says:
Professor Dominick Armentano1515 Shorelands Drive East, [Note: he is still working for the tobacco industry from his retirement/sabbatical in Florida as the network comes to an end. The Hartford Courant in Connecticut was still publishing his articles, and he was sending them to Congressman Weldon]
Vero Beach, Florida 32963
The Hartford Courant Published November 12, 1995
Contacted Congressman Weldon 12/26/95
At sometime early in this year the Tobacco Institute and its contractors decide to stop using the names of the network economists on their internal correspondence — despite the fact that they often attach the article being discussed which carries the by-line of the economist.
Instead of the economist's name, the lists only refer to their affiliated institutions. This was a consequence of both the Master Settlement Agreement and the fact that many leaked tobacco documents were now floating around the Internet.
At much the same time they began using Lance Morgan of the PR firm BSMG as a third cut-out between the Tobacco Institute and James Savarese.
1998 July 22: Walter Woodson to Lance Morgan (BSMG)
Here is an updated report on the Savarese group project. The results are fairly impressive. This includes the now-familiar, no-economist-names list of op-ed writers with details of the publication dates.
Armentano's piece had been declined by the New Haven Register, but was supposed to be published shortly by the Hartford Courant.
1998 Aug 15: The Florida Press Journal carries an article "Government assults success" by Armentano who is bylined-puffed as "professor emeritus in economics at the University of Hartford and an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute. He lives in Vero Beach."
It is an attack on the McCain tobacco bill and the FDA, and he manages to blend the monopolisitc legal practices of Microsoft with the battle to block teenager smoking.
America was once the land of the free and home of the brave, where individualism and selfresponsibility counted for something. No more. Now "nanny" bureaucrats and ambitious state attorneys general use the power of the government to shake down any firm or industry with deep enough pockets.
[The Cato Institute must have cheered, and Microsoft also. As would the funders of both Cato and Armentano; the tobacco industry.]
If you don't like Microsoft or tobacco companies by all means stop using their products and even encourage others to do so; that's your right. But it's not right — nor is it sound economic policy — to unleash the trial lawyers and regulators and attempt to legally punish firms for their marketplace success.
This document also contains a list of the activities of the network economists, but since the discovered tobacco documents had already begun to appear on-line, they have carefully removed the name of the Professor of Economics who wrote each piece.
Armentano is listed under the heading
CONNECTICUT University of Hartford
- DECLINED: New Haven Register
- DECLINED: Hartford Courant
- DECLINED: Journal Inquirer
- PUBLISHED 8-15-98 Press Journal
COMMENT: Since the papers in Connecticut declined, the economist published in Florida.
1998 Aug 20: Walter Woodson, who is the Tobacco Institute's VP looking after the cash-for-comments network, is memoed by Lance Morgan, the intermediate cutout from the PR company BSMG, who handles the contacts to James Savarese, who run the network and communicates with the economists. Savarese has passed on up the chain the message about an op-ed "Government assaults success" by Dominick Armentano. [The one eventually published Aug 15 by the Press Journal in Florida] He includes a clipping of the article.
He also includes a full list of the progress of all the other economists on the network using their strange secretive method of not writing the names of the professors, but only their university affiliations. Armentano is listed here only as "University of Harford" despite the fact that he has his feet up in Florida.
2011 Nov 30: Professor Armento has objected to this opinion piece and some notes in the timeline. He writes:
|"Your Hit Piece on Me"|
Get your facts straight. During my teaching years, I never "spent every winter" in Vero Beach! Where the hell did you get that?
- I moved here in December, 1994, after I retired from the University of Hartford, never having been here before.
- I never recieved "$5,000" for "presentations to conferences" associated with the Tobacco Institute or Jim Savarese.
- I NEVER once spoke at any conference for tobacco money
- nor did I EVER testifty before any legislative body for the tobacco people or anything related to them.
- You also imply that Cato may have paid me for work and even Microsoft. Never happened. You had better remove such inaccurate and inflamatory nonsense.
- I did, of course, do some contract work for Jim Savarese. Do I appologize for it? Never. My guess is that I wrote a total of maybe, at most, 10 op/eds that were published over the years. As I recall, I was paid $1,000 for each. Wow, big money, right?
Besides, I'm a libertarian, free market economist. Getting paid to do work is not a problem for me.
In addition, all of the op/eds reflected those views (my "science" was never "corrupted') and all had to be accepted by skeptical/liberal editors at newspapers in Connecticut and elsewhere. In short, the SUBSTANCE of the articles had to pass muster with the editors or they would never have seen print. My facts and arguments had to be convincing. Where is the "corruption"? 
Most professional op/ed writers like Tom Sowell or George Will are "paid" for their work and their particular viewpoints; given my free market perspective, I saw absolutely no good reason to be an exception.
But for us, the public would have never seen ANY "opinion" pieces favorable to any free market perspective on tobacco and taxes, or do you dispute that? You believe in free speech, don't you? Or is only the fact that academics may occassionally be "paid" for work that bothers you? Were you, in fact, paid to write the hit piece? 
Vero Beach, Florida, 32963
| Replies to his points:|
 However in 1995 he was still writing op-eds for Hartford newspapers and letters to Hartford congressmen for the Tobacco Institute using his previous title and address, "Professor of Economics, University of Hartford".
 No one said he was paid $5K for presentations, just that this was the going rate for cash-for-comments economists.
[3-4] No one said he spoke at any conference for tobacco ... nor at any legislative body. But his network associates did. Armentano also had a regular radio program [?].
 The Cato Institute was, like these economist, a devoted supporter of the tobacco industry, and equally grateful for its generous donations. His links to Cato are worthy of note - and that's all they got.
 Private consulting must have been lucrative if in the early 1990s an academic could regard $1000 for a quick op-ed as trivial.
 Any "corruption" lies in him cloaking himself in the good reputation of his university (earned collectively by many trustworthy academics); writing op-eds for his local newspaper which were intended to promote the tobacco industry; and never revealing this commercial connection to either the editors or to the reading public. Also worth mentioning is his pretence of independence from bias, by declaring himself to be a non-smoker. This shows a deliberate attempt to mislead.
 Tom Sowell and George Wills are paid by their newspapers (presumably) and not by the tobacco industry ... or is he perhaps telling us something we didn't know ??
 Editing payments? None. Nor are any of the others who work on this website paid for their work — something a libertarian economist must find beyond comprehension.
The real point is that this wasn't "free speech" at all. It was paid, camoflaged, commercial lobbying.