Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 51. Robert D. Tollison working for Philip Morris

Overview of previous posts here

Tollison working for Philip Morris

In 1988 Tollison wrote the book Clearing the Air for Philip Morris. How he was recruited has not been discovered.

On top of that, in 1994 Tollison also started testifying for Philip Morris (WRO = Washington Relations Office)
Robert D. Tollison

In 1997, Tollison agreed to write a rebuttal to a study on the economic effects of a smoking ban in Hungary

All this on top of his work for the Tobacco Institute, British American Tobacco, other industries, and of course his regular job.

Monday, 31 August 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 50. Robert D. Tollison working for British American Tobacco

Overview of previous posts here

Robert D. Tollison working for BAT

In 1993, Tollison and Wagner wrote the 30 page paper Who Benefits from WHO?: Decline of the World Health, commissioned by British American Tobacco as the company needed a writer to attack the WHO

Tollison accepted and made following proposal

BAT's Sharon Boyse refused the offer


The LTDL is quite complete this time, so we know Tollison’s answer


The report indeed would get published by the UK thinktank Social Affairs UnitBut this memo shows Tollison sent the draft to BAT, not Digby Anderson or the Social Affairs unit, illustrating the SAU was not involved in writing the piece


Digby Anderson was kept out of the entire process leading to the report. Boyse told Tollison on May 21 he should contact Anderson. July 7, Tollison wrote

Was the paper ordered by BAT or the Social Affairs Unit? It is difficult to be certain, but this memo indicates it might actuallyhave been ordered by Anderson, even though why Digby Anderson was in Venezuela at the time is not explained.
Tollison must have started working for BAT in 1993, participating in media tours abroad. The tours seemed to have been a joint effort with Philip Morris. Why he also started working for BAT is not clear. Perhaps because the 1991 budget cut caused the TI to stop paying for Tollison's first class airline tickets

Media tours for BAT attended by Tollison
Country
1992 November 23
1993 October 6
1993 October 12
1993 October 16
1993 October 19
1994 May 25

Sunday, 23 August 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 49. Or the one with a secret network of lawyers. Different people, same dishonesty.

Overview of previous posts here

Lawyers network

As mentioned in the first chapters, the 1984 social cost excise plan did not just aim for an economist in every state, the tobacco industry also wanted to set up a network of lawyers.

In 1986, James Savarese sent Fred Panzer of the Tobacco Institute a very interesting letter

Savarese was paid $11,400 to set up the network and from Savarese's billing, we know the reason the network was created



The members can be found in the appendix (to be published at the end of the blogseries).

Savarese's wrote small remarks next to some of their names,illustrating the layers werevery well aware why they were recruited
  • Anthony Wiener - Tony will be out of the country during August. He was very enthusiastic about the free speech arguments. Harvard J.D., with strong economic emphasis in his teaching and research.
  • George M. Sullivan - George would like to see a legal brief on the subject he is arguing.
  • William Mitchell  - Bill will be in Washington in late August for the American Political Science Association meetings. He would like to go to lunch with us on August 28. I did not make any commitments. 
  • John Bagby - John is a business law professor at Penn State, which is about halfway between Pittsburg and Philadelphia.
  • Professor J[ames].R. Kearl - Jim is Mormon, so he has a problem with most Tobacco Institute issues; however, he says he would probably be comfortable with a 1st Amendment op-ed on the advertising ban.
Savarese charged $3.000 for producing 3 op-eds on the topic of ad bans. With titles like "The censorship nightmare" and "Freedom of speech" should just mean that there should be little doubt the lawyers were libertarians too.

Savarese reported and proves again the industry was rewriting the so-called work of 'independent' academics.


Another document shows Savarese seemed to be less in touch with the lawyers than the economists, a message such as this seems unlikely in the economists network




It may be the use of layers was a one time thing. Neither Google nor the LTDL reveal much more activity than listed here. Whatever happened to the network, in 1989 Savarese forwarded to the Tobacco Institute the letters sent by the lawyers to their local congressman.

We know Marshall A. Leaffer sent a letter to Senator John Glen, probably including his op-ed on a possible tobacco advertisement ban


Philip Morris Network
Another document in the LTDL hints there must have been several networks, not just the one's ran by the Tobacco Institute.

The documents carries the remark "not on Philip Morris List", suggesting there may have existed similar networks to the network described in this paper. This has not been explored.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network, Part 48 - How much did they earn ?

Overview of previous posts here

How much did the economists earn ?

An incomplete overview of payments will be given in the appendix (to be published at the end of this series). The list with invoices is far from complete, but the LTDR contains millions of pages, and every single document cannot be checked. This survey has found invoices worth $1.56 million (without expenses like airplane tickets, hotels, ...).

It is surprising how detailed these invoices are, and how the economists let the industry pay for every little thing, even a 0.23 US$ phonecall in an invoice sent by R. Morris Coats

Robert D. Tollison was one busy guy

Tollison and Savarese sent so many invoices to the Tobacco Institute, they sometimes got confused




The Anna in the above letter is Tollison's wife Anna who became an employee of James Savarese and Partners, the consultancy firm controlling the economists network. The LTDL shows Anna did not work for free.

Robert Tollison worked for more industries as well as the Federal Government, as listed in his CV (do notice there's no end date given for his work at the Tobacco Institute)

Robert D. Tollison, consultancy

Tollison was one busy guy. The industry noted in 1987

Robert D. Tollison

How Tollison was able to combine all these efforts with his work at GMU is an open question.

The corrupted tobacco economist network, Part 47 - Post 1998 tobacco output

Overview of previous posts here

Post 1998 output and Richard Wagner's zealotry

Not all economists disappear from the files completely after 1998, but as a part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement the Tobacco Institute was dismantled. Some economists must have started working for the other tobacco companies.

In 2000, R. Morris Coats provided testimony similar to that the network had provided. Coats by that time already was working for Philip Morris. At least Coats acknowledged this in his curriculum vitae (no longer online, Coats deceased in 2015), while most of the economists don't mention their work for the tobacco industry. Remarkably Coats' c.v. also notes that his paper A Note on Estimating Cross-Border Effects of State Cigarette Taxes was "Used in testimony before legislatures in New York, West Virginia and Louisiana--based on phone conversations with Tobacco Institute"

William F. Shughart II kept writing op-eds until at least 2010.


An incomplete list of publications written after the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement include:
  • Sexton R. (1999): Political Science and Secondhand Smoke, Investor's Business Daily (Feb . 2, 1999)
  • Ault, R. Ekelund, R. B., Jackson, J., Saba, R. (2004) : Smokeless tobacco, smoking cessation and harm reduction: an economic analysis, Applied Economics
  • Ault, R. W., Beard, T., Jackson, J., Saba, R. (2005) : On the (mis)use of cross-price effects to gauge the effectiveness of smokeless tobacco in smoking cessation, The European Journal of Health Economics 34 (November 2006), pp. 712–730
  • Lucassen, R. A., Coats, R. M., Karahan, G. (2005) : Cigarette smuggling mitigates the public health benefits of cigarette taxes. Applied Economics Letters, Taylor and Francis Journals, vol. 12(12)
  • Ault, R. W., Jackson, J. D., Saba, R., Ekelund, R. B. (2006) : Smoking cessation, weight gain, and nicotine substitutes : the economics of reducing harm. The southern business & economic journal Vol. 29.2006, 3/4, p. 34-49
  • Brown, B. A., Rucker, R. R., Thurman, W. N. (2007) : The End of the Federal Tobacco Program: Economic Impacts of the Deregulation of U.S. Tobacco Production. Review of Agricultural Economics, Winter 2007, 29(4): 635-655. http://www.jstor.org/stable/i412804
  • Shughart W. F. (2010) : Tobacco Settlements, in Roger Chapman (ed.), Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Voices, and Viewpoints, vol. 2, Armonk, NY and London: ME Sharpe, 2010
Richard A Wagner's output

Richard E. Wagner provided the most post-1998 output. In 1999 he wrote the article The State as a Partisan Plaintiff: Reflection on the Tobacco Settlement. He also wrote The Tobacco Settlement, as Refracted through the Economics of Litigation, which seems to have been the draft version

A rewritten (?) version of The State as a Partisan Plaintiff: Reflection on the Tobacco Settlement was published in 2000 by the Public Interest Institute (no longer online). It is an example of his extreme viewpoints:
What is a defendant to do when confronted with a subsidized political plaintiff driven by partisan interests and ideological zealotry? The defendant faces an adversary that calculates differently than commercial plaintiffs. A private plaintiff might think in terms of possible excess medical costs imposed by smokers. For a political plaintiff, however, those claims are secondary, a smoke screen to provide cover as it were, for the pursuit of an ideology animated by a vision of a smoke-free America. For the ideological plaintiff, the desired objective is not to offset some (non-existent) drain on state treasuries attributed to smokers, but rather is to degrade the commercial value of tobacco companies. 
One might reasonably wonder why the tobacco companies might have capitulated when the claims lodged against them were so patently false. A man sitting on an iceberg in the North Atlantic as it floats south will recognize his ultimate fate, and yet be thankful when clouds obscure the sun. It is perhaps similar with the tobacco companies. The famous "problem of the gambler’s ruin" from probability theory tells us that in a fair game of chance, the player with the smaller fortune will eventually be ruined by the player with the larger fortune. In ordinary games, of course, play is voluntary, and either party can terminate the play at will. But the state can command participation, and it can exhaust the fortune of anyone against whom it plays. A wise person would not continuously play a fair game of chance against a much wealthier adversary, and similarly would not want to play continuously against a zealous, interest-driven political plaintiff. Settlement is perhaps like that welcome cloud in the North Atlantic. It brings respite to a weary soul, but it does not give peace of mind. 
The general theme illustrated by the tobacco settlement is the danger of being on the opposite side of the partisan use of state power to advance a private interest agenda at public expense. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, as Patrick Henry noted. And the state is potentially the biggest threat of all. We may well fault the tobacco companies for capitulating against the onslaught of state power. For if everyone did, this liberty would perish. Yet the state as a partisan plaintiff can pursue a strategy of divide-and-conquer against its potential defendants, which may render some such capitulation understandable, even if it can never render it admirable.

In 2004, Wagner wrote Meddlesome Preferences and Rent Extraction: The Tobacco Shakedown, continuing the same themes as above. In 2005, he wrote State Excise Taxation:Horse-and-Buggy Taxes In an Electronic Age, both still attacking excise taxes.


There is no evidence to know if the tobacco industry was still paying Wagner to write these articles, or they were merely expressing his worldview.

Even though he's 79 years old, Richard E. Wagner still is working at George Mason University

Thursday, 20 August 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network, Part 46 - towards the end of the network.

Overview of previous posts here

Towards the end of the network

The industry kept working with economists throughout the 1990's. The same activities as explored iextensively in previous blogposts continued: attending conferences, writing op-eds, appearing at testimony, etc. As there's not much new too learn, I will not go into detail.

Until roughly 1992 the LTDL documents many activities. After that, it becomes increasingly difficult to find anything substantial, and many network members suddenly disappeared from the files. One is money (we'll another reason at the end of this post)

In 1991 the Tobacco Institute faced a budget cut of 1.1 million US$, so one reason is the institute had to downsize certain activities:


(...)





The summary of a June 26, 1991 meeting are revealing the industry did not just improvise and the "that the heart of the current program is the consulting economists who produce the studies, get them published and promote them in academic circles"




(...)

Also in 1991, Tollison and Wagner published their last tobacco book The Economics of Smoking. It is clear the budget did not increase


The same document shows that year the industry had already spent $16,290 and only had a budget of $19,710 left. In the late 1980's the industry had paid the tobacco economists $15,500 to appear at one convention, so the 1992 budget in comparison was minimal. 


Further, around that time, the Tobacco Institute wrote many memoranda complaining about 'going over budget' (not just for the social cost economists), showing the budget cut must have really hurt the Institute. From 1985 to 1991 the economists appeared at economic conferences, but not afterwards.

Many of the original members were dropped around 1991/1992, leaving only an ever smaller core group. The "tax hearing witnesses" list was decreased from an economist in every state to just three economists: Robert D. Tollison, Richard A. Wagner and Dwight R. Lee

In 1993, the Tobacco Institute still suffered from the decreased budget, leading to the Tobacco Institute demanding a new contract with James Savarese


James M. Savarese


Even though the network kept delivering material until at least 1998, this letter probably marked the final turning point in the functioning of the network. The letter to Savarese was written on the same day as a document announcing the Tobacco Institute's 1994 budget would decrease another 62%

Some members of the network started working for the individual tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris (e.g. Walter E. Williams), R. J. Reynolds (Richard Wagner, from 1994). Tollison on his side started working for British American Tobacco in 1993. The economists may have been too expensive for the reduced budget

Dwight R. Lee

Still, in 1994 the Tobacco Institute budgeted $102,000 - $194,000 for the activities of Tollison, Wagner and Lee

From about 1993, the industry shifted to using think tanks (especially the Independent Institute - this will be explored in future blogposts) instead of directly ordering reports from the economists. But it was not the end of the network yet, as the economists still wrote op-eds, and Tollison and Lee still appeared at hearings.

The Tobacco Institute sent a memo in 1995 mentioning that the economic consultants still were able to provide op-eds in no less than 30 states and effectively the economists started organizing an op-ed campaign against FDA-regulations, with 17 economists trying to get published, including a new names (Lowell Gallaway). The industry once again pressed its agenda, and suggested to write on

Lowell Gallaway


In 1996, not 17 but 20 op-eds were sent to newspapers. In 1998 the last new name that could be found appears: Gary D. Ferrier wrote an op-ed that year, but there is no indication he ever was formally recruited. His name appears in exactly five documents.

Yet still, despite this last joined effort in 1995 and continued recruitment of new authors, the impression remains after 1992/1993 things went steeply downhill. The sparse documents show a network with less coordination

After some years of legal actions, in 1998, the US government reached the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. More and more whistleblowers were explaining industry methods, the industry realized it would face trial long before 1998, and knew the authorities would be uncovering the lobbying-tactics and people used by the industry.

It is nearly impossible to find anything relevant to the economists network in the LTDL from 1995 onwards and the documents often stopped giving names. The first attempts to hide names started around 1995, until the 1998 Settlement, after which the industry systematically stopped using names. From that point on, it is impossible to trace the network. In 1995 Savarese and Tollison wrote another proposal for the Tobacco Institute though, proposing several studies, op-eds etc. Amongst the proposals was a $27,500 report that would conclude that a Rand Corporation study in JAMA overestimated the social cost of tobacco. Of course, they knew their conclusion before actually conducting the research.

The early documents always carried the names of the economic consultants and overview of whose op-eds were published, but in 1998 James Savarese simply wrote "payment of $22,000 for "Consulting Services - Op-Ed Project - 1st of 2 payments".

Unlike the documents from the 1980's the invoice does not mention a single name. While the document overviews the published op-eds, it does not mention the names of the authors, only the university where the op-ed was written. Only through the older documents is it still possible at times to link the university with the author. Yet it is clear the Savarese memo differed strongly from those from the 1980's. Remember the 1987 audit, and the industry complaining Savarese withheld some names from the industry? The industry was aware it was under scrutiny in and started culling names...

Even though the network of economic consultants vanished from the LTDL, it seems it did not really cease to exist, but rather the industry adapted communications to the new reality after the Tobacco Masters Settlement Agreement. Thus, it is not possible to detect if the network really ceased to exist or not. The correct title of this chapter therefore perhaps should have been: the end of the traceable network.

Yet another possible reason the industry stopped working with the economists is that it seems people like Tollison and Wagner became very radical, and started writing op-eds with titles like Scientific integrity consumed by anti-smoking zealotry. DEspite this ectreme title, it was cleared by the Tobacco Institute. The same year they wrote a letter tot the editor, stating

Robert D. Tollison

In 1999, only a handful of the social consultants signed an open letter to the US Attorney General, defending the tobacco industry. It contained the standard free-market reasoning, wans was signed by 5 network members (Bruce L. Benson, Robert B. Ekelund, Lowell Gallaway, William F. Shughart, II and Walter E. Williams) and some 37 other economists, all of them known for their strong free-market views. By that time (1999), the role of the economists network had already been replaced by tobacco-friendly think tanks, and this letter probably originated somewhere in a think tank, not the Tobacco Institute's economists network.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network, Part 45 - More tobacco publications.

Overview of previous posts here

Other tobacco publications

There have been more papers and booklets written by the members of the network, probably ordered by the tobacco industry. I didn't explore them because I don't think it will provide much new information and the list is long, very long, starting with:
  • Tollison, R.D., Wagner, R.E. (1983) : WHO: No Rx for a Healthier World. Center for Study of Public Choice, George Mason University, 39 p.
The following two pieces were published in the same volume of the same journal, so there may have been some pal-review:
  • Jackson, J. D., Ekelund, R. D. Jr. (1989) : The Influence of Advertising on Tobacco Consumption: A Debate: Some Problems with Chetwynd et al.'s Analysis, British Journal of Addiction 84 (November 1989), pp. 1247-1250
  • Boddewyn, J. J. (1989) There is No Convincing Evidence for a Relationship Between Cigarette Advertising and Consumption. British Journal of Addiction. Volume 84, Issue 11 (November 1989), pages 1255–1261

Many more papers were published by members of the network, e.g.:
  • Lee, D. R. (1990) : An Economic Analysis of the Economic Burden of Cigarette Smoking in Georgia Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia (March 1990): pp. 161-164.
  • Lee, D. R. (1990) : Social Cost and The Cigarette Excise Tax: A Misguided Rationale for an Inefficient Policy, The Journal of Private Enterprise (Fall 1990): pp. 17-33.
  • Rucker, R. R., Thurman, W. N., Sumner, D. A. (1990) : Production Rights with Limited Transferability: A Case Study of the U.S. Tobacco and Peanut Programs. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, December 1990
  • Ault, R. W., Ekelund, R. B., Jackson, J.D., Saba, R. B., Saurman, D. S., (1991) : Smoking and Absenteeism: An Empirical Study, Applied Economics. 1991, 23, pp. 743-754 .
  • Rucker, R. R., Thurman, W. N., Sumner, D. A., (1991) : An Economic Analysis of the Effects of Eliminating Restrictions on the Transfer of Tobacco Quota. in Current Issues in Tobacco Economics, Vol. 4, Tobacco Merchants Association of the United States, Inc., Princeton, NJ, 1991.
  • Lee, D. R. (1991) : environmental economics and the social cost of smoking. Contemporary Economic Policy, Volume 9, Issue 1, pages 83–92, January 1991
  • Bohanon, C.E, McClure, J.E. (1993) : The Prohibitive Taxation of Cigarettes. Indianapolis Star.
  • Saba, R. at. al. (1995) : The Demand for Cigarette Smuggling, Economic Inquiry.vol. 33, no.-2 (April 1995), pp: 189-202;
  • Coats, R. M. (1995) : A Note on Estimating Cross-Border Effects of State Cigarette Taxes National-Tax Journal, vol. 48, no. 4 (December 1995), pp. 573-84;
  • Rucker, R. R., Thurman, W. N., Sumner, D. A. (1995) : Restricting the Market for Quota: An Analysis of Tobacco Production Rights with Corroboration from Congressional Testimony Journal of Political Economy, 1995, 103(1): 142-175.
  • Boyes, W. J., Marlow, M. L. (1996) : The Public Demand for Smoking Bans, Public Choice, 88: 57-67. (Marlow was not a Savarese-network member, but was working for Philip Morris)
  • Lee, D. R. (1996) : The Turf Fight for Indoor Air Quality Protection. Center for the Study of American Business, Volume 79, May 1996 http://news.heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/5854.pdf
  • Vedder, R. K. (1997) : Bordering on Chaos; Fiscal Federalism and Excise Taxes in William F. Shughart II, ed., Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publish- ete, 1997)
  • Boyes, W. J., Marlow, M. L. (1997) : The Effects on Businesses of laws Restricting Smoking
  • Lee, D. R. (1997) : Will Government's Crusade Against Tobacco Work ? Center for the Study of American Business, Washington University, Contemporary Issues Series 86 , Jun1997, pp. 2-4
  • Lee, D. R. (1997) : The use and abuse of excise taxes. Tax Foundation, working paper 19, May 1997, 19 p.
  • McCormick, R. E., Tollison, R. D., Wagner, R. E. (1997) : Smoking, insurance and social cost. Regulation : the Cato review of business and government.- Vol. 20.1997, 3, p. 33-37

And then there is the output of other scholars, like this book:
Magda E. Schaler, Jeffrey A. Schaler (eds.) : Smoking, who has the right ? (Prometheus, 1998)

The connection of these authors to the economists network, if any, is not clear, but like the main members of the network, Jeffrey Schaler was working at. . . George Mason University.

The Schaler and Schaler-book contains contributions from George J. Annas, Gary S. Becker, Peter L. Berger, Richard Daynard, Antony Flew, Peter D. Jacobson, Stanton Glantz, Robert E. Goodin, Joseph R. Gusfield, Stephen J. Heishman, Graham E. Kelder, David A. Kessler, Mark Edward Lender, Stephen C. Littlechild, Rajendra Persaud, Robert N. Procter, David Ryder, Robert J. Samuelson, John Slade, Edward L. Sweda Jr, Robert D. Tollison, Richard E. Wagner, Lee S. Weinberg, Walter E. Williams, and Richard Vatz.

Although some were not members of the social cost consultant network, those underlined were people who had worked as consultants for the tobacco industry, via direct evidence in the Tobacco Legacy Documents Library. It raises questions why and how the book was compiled.

Clearly, in the 1980's and 1990's, economists suddenly were very interested in tobacco ...