Saturday, 14 November 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 54 - Working with Think tanks

 Overview of previous posts here

Tobacco Employee Roy Marden was one of the tobacco employees responsible for the communication with think tanks. He wrote the following memo, titled Tobacco Strategy on the think tanks he was responsible for (the industry divided the think tanks between a couple of its employees)

Roy Marden

(...) (the document is 6p. long)

The tobacco industry sought the help of right-wing think tanks to fight excise taxes.

In 1995, the Tobacco Institute sent a memo, mentioning that the economists still were able to provide op-eds in no less than 30 states. The same memo illustrates how the industry worked with the different think tanks

A similar document was written in 1998, most likely by Roy Marden. Notice how long the list is. It no longer only mentions thinks tanks, but many journalists, and even an actor and a magician (???). It's not clear why the document mentions Dwight R. Lee and Walter Williams, but it is possible Marden was not aware of their membership in the social cost economists network. Do also notice he mentions he's on the board of the Heartland Institute. 

[ETC, the list is a couple of pages long]

While there always have been contacts between the industry and think tanks, and they worked together since at least the 1980's, it was only in the 1990's that the industry's involvement would become so pervasive that one could say the industry 'owned' some of these organizations.

In the long run, think tanks probably were much more powerful allies than a secret network of economists ever could have been.

S. Fred Singer wrote his infamous Alexis De Tocqueville Institution's tobacco-paper in 1994 (see further), with Robert D. Tollison helping him. Tobacco economists were working with the Heartland Institute since at least 1991. The Independent Institute was was joined by many members of the economists' network. In 1994, Tollison and Wagner became members of the Independent Institute's advisory board.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 53 - Tim Hyde's cunning plan

Overview of previous posts here

Tim Hyde of R.J. Reynolds wrote a very long key document on how to blend the tobacco message into a broader range of political arguments, like 'freedom of choice'. It is a few pages long, but interesting from A to Z so I'm copying the whole document. 

Notice how much he respects his allies. (FC = Field Coördinators)

Just like with the recruitment of the social cost economists, the idea was to direct the existing bias of people towards viewpoints beneficial for the industry

In hindsight, we can see how much of Hyde's plan has been executed on the right side of the political spectrum. By using free market think tanks, serving as an ideological basis for the Republican Party, huge parts of the right wing succumbed to the ideological influence of a message created by corporate lobbyists, thereby effectively changing society's view.

Tim Hyde's cunning plan is not the only document in the LTDL hinting the industry deliberately tried to mix tobacco and freedom in one big blurry message.

Whether the industry started working with the think tanks for the Machiavellian reasons Tim Hyde had in mind, or just for financial reasons is not certain. The think tanks opposed taxes anyway, and with financial aid from the tobacco (and other industries) they would start to write numerous free market reports, papers, etc.

In the 1980's the Tobacco Institute spent much money sending the economists to economics conferences. Even though the tobacco economists' sessions were only attended by an average of 20-25 people, the economists were paid for years to keep presenting their work at these meetings. Savarese explicitly wrote that the aim was to "plant a seed": they hoped other economists would start copying the message, without realizing it was a tobacco message. When googling for the economists, one indeed can see the "academic output" quite often were often cited in scientific papers by economists not paid by the industry. In other words: the plan worked.

By the 1990's the industry knew which think tanks were willing to work with them, a contrast with 1988 when the industry was still looking who to work with. In the 1980's there already were plenty of contacts, but it appears that then think tanks still were seen as an external factor the industry needed to lobby


In the 1990's the industry would have much closer contact with the think tanks, and the industry hired consultants whose only job was to gain a foot in the door at these think tanks.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

The corrupted tobacco economist network Part 52 - A new path.

The list of activities of the tobacco economists in the previous chapters was already extensive, but there's one thing not mentioned yet: their activities in a variety of free market think tanks. To understand the reason why so many social cost economists ended up in think tanks, it is necessary to examine some history,

In 1987, the industry evaluated potential allies per US State. The document shows the industry was thinking of partnering with business allies to create a broad coalition of industries lobbying together to put more pressure on politicians. It seems politicians at the time were seen as "aliens", and the industry had difficulties getting in touch with them.

Gradually though the industry shifted viewpoints and their plans became more and more ambitious: at first the industry tried to place articles in the media to alter the public's opinion of tobacco, later it tried to control external allies and media.

Ultimately the industry took the game to a whole different level: no longer did they try to influence the politician's mind on tobacco alone, but instead they tried to alter the politician’s mindset all together, so they would conclude that tobaccco taxes were unnecessary. They had to reach people surrounding politicians, like think tank members, to create a worldview where all environmental sciences would be regarded as junk. Once again, seeding doubt, and stressing the right wing bias of freedom would be the path followed by the industry.

This aim was very ambitious: the industry tried to alter the thinking of broad parts of society!  

Again, feeding bias would be the tool. So before looking at the think tanks involved, it is necessary to have a look at the broader plan, but this idea to expand their lobbying has received a fair amount of attention in other papers, so this will only be a short summary.

We'll explore this in the next post, the second part of the report on the secret economists network, hereby focussing on the economists in the secret corruptes network in the 1980's/1990's. 

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
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.