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.
William Herbert ('Bill') Peterson
— A short-term cash-for-comment academic economist from the University of Tennessee, Chatanooga. —
Professor William Peterson became recruited into a clandestine network of academic economists who secretly worked for the tobacco industry through the Tobacco Institute. The network was set up in November 1982 by James Savarese (working through his own company and Ogilvy & Mather PR) with later expansion nationwide through Professor Robert Tollison of George Mason University.
Tollison and Savarese acted as contractors and cut-outs, using the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University ( GMU), which supplied the adminstration staff. They recruited ultra-libertarian economics professors at the major state universities through the Public Choice Society and various regional economics societies.
Peterson stayed on the network list for a few years, but he appears not to have been very active or productive. And he was replaced by Professor Jeffrey R Clark, who moved down to Tennessee from New Jersey.
There are numerous Bill Petersons so beware.
One is Illinois State Representative, William Peterson. Also at the same time the same division of the Tobacco Institute was running Jack Peterson, a so-called Indoor Air Quality expert, and paying him to travel around the country as a 'scientific witness' promoting the idea that tobacco smoke wasn't harmful.
Some key documents
• Economist: He occupies the "Chair of Free Enterprise" at the Uni of Tennessee-Chatanooga.
[Note: at an earlier time the Tobacco Institute's Tennessee-academic franchise was held by Dr William Anderson, Office of Economic Development, City of Chattanooga, (the two co-existed for some time) and then later Tennessee became the territory of Jeffrey R Clark who appears to also replaced Peterson at the University.
- Economist and Assistant to the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the United States Steel Corporation;
- Senior Economic Adviser to the United States Department of Commerce; and economics speech writer on the campaign staff of Richard Nixon.
- Dr Peterson has served as assistant to the dean, associate professor and professor of economics in the Graduate School of Business Administration of New York University; [Under von Misen]
- John David Campbell Professor of American Business in the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona;
- Burrows T. Lundy Professor of Philosophy of Business at Campbell University in North Carolina.
• His CV held at the Tobacco Institute is here.
It has been filed under "Consultants — James Savarese Tax Economist"
1979 Jan: Dr Peterson was appointed to be a member of the Federal Drafting Committee of the National Tax-Limitation Committee. Led by Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman, this committee has composed a draft of a constitutional amendment to limit the growth of the Federal budget. (In 1982 this amendment passed the U.S. Senate but was defeated in the House of Representatives.)
[This would have brought him to the notice of the tobacco industry immediately.]
1981: Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge gave Dr Peterson an Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education.
1984 Nov: Peterson appears to have been recruited to the cash-for-comments network around November 1984.
1985 Jan 31: Hurst Marshall has distributed this 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.
Attached for your information are the names of economists who have been identified by PR to assist TI on the federal cigarette excise tax issue. This economist will be detailed to make the contact with Congressmen [by sending him/them the published op-ed]:
These people are also available to testify at the state level.
If you feel that this type of witness can be of assistance to you on state cigarette tax issues, please contact Fred Panzer for details and arrangements.
Please notify your lobbyists as to the availability of these people. At the same time, you may wish to ask them for their ideas or suggestions for other economists within their states.
TENNESSEE (Rep. Ford, Rep. Duncan)
• Professor William Peterson
University of Tennessee-Chatanooga, Chatanooga, Tennessee
1985 Feb 7: Judy Wiedemeier of the Tobacco Institute is writing to the regional lobbyists.
Attached for your information, are the names of economists who have been identified by our Public Relation department to assist T.I. on the federal cigarette excise tax issue. These people are also available to testify at the state level.
The attached list includes the contact details of this economist and also the Congressmen that are their targets.
If you feel this type of witness can be of assistance to you, please contact me for details and arrangements. If you have any ideas or suggestions for other economists within your state, please let me know, as we are always expanding our resources.
(Rep. Ford, Rep. Duncan)
Professor William Peterson
University of Tennessee-Chatanooga Chatanooga, Tennessee
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.
The Tobacco Institute offered their Regional Directors the C/Vs of all of these economists, and said
"Requests for economists should be made ASAP. Allow at least one week. PR approval needed." He is listed [along with 50 other economists] as a contact in:
He is available on two weeks notice as a witness for hire.
- Professor William Peterson
Department of Economics, University of Tennessee-Chatanooga, Chatanooga. TN
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 May: A bundle of 72 pages of information is being circulated by the Tobacco Institute to its Regional Directors. The data is predominantly on the tobacco-industry beat-up known as Sick Building Syndrome and on the general problems of Indoor Air Quality [all down-playing the effects of smoking in confined spaces]
Section 1 is headed
List of sources. Local and national experts you can call for quotes or background information. It promotes the services of three specialist lobbyists
They have also provided a list of the 52 Professors of Economics from various State Universities who can be called on to provide services for roughly $1000 a time: This economists name and address are included under "Tobacco & Taxation (listed by state, alphabetically)".
- Lewis Solmon - an academic who discounts problems of workplace smoking
- Al Vogel - who claims to be an expert in public attitudes to smoking
- Mike Forscey, a labor lawyer/lobbyist who helped the tobacco industry keep the union movement on-side.
1986 Aug 6:
Walter Woodson who directs "State Activities" at the Tobacco Institute reports to his superiors on their US Senate/House Contact program.
On July 28, State Activities was asked to generate as many quality contacts as possible with members of the U.S. Senate on the 8-cent cigarette tax hike proposed by the Senate Finance Committee on 7/23 in its budget reconciliation recommendations.
Late in the day on Friday, August 1, State Activities was asked to redouble efforts on members of the House Ways & Means and Rules Cmtes in an attempt to let those lawmakers know our opinion of a possible Rostenkowski move to add an 8-cent cigarette tax increase floor amendment to the House budget reconciliation bill. We were also asked to contact several key tobaccoland members.
He then reports on each of the major Region's actions, and gives details of the horse-trading involved... "you scratch my back", etc. They were calling in favors.
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 Congresmen they were designated to influence. He is listed as specializing in:
TENNESSEE (Rep. Ford, Rep. Duncan)
Professor William Peterson
University of Tennessee-Chatanooga, Chatanooga, Tennessee
[No specialisation listed]
[The list now has 43 economists with franchises to write op-eds and contact Congressmen in 42 states. (With two in New York and Tollison servicing Washington DC)]
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:
Tennessee [ Region VII ]
Professor William Peterson
Department of Economics, University of Tennessee, Chatanooga, Tennessee 37403, 615-755-4118
- original excise tax op-ed
1987 Jan 6: and 12 Jim Savarese charges the Tobacco Institute to update the list. He has been
" re-contacting 42 economists to update list — $3,200.00 "Some economist on the older lists were no longer working for his network. However William Peterson is still being listed as their main Tennessee economist-for-hire.
In order to keep this project straight with respect to the economists, we were specifically assigned to go back to all 42 names on the original list to check to see if the economists were still interested in working for us, still in the same state, and available to meet with representatives from state activities.
[The invoice is missing, and he gives no details of the current project.]
We have 34 who fit this criteria and have been contacted. The list is attached. The states that we once had that are currently missing are Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The attached invoice covers the project of re-contacting the original 42 economists and coming up with the present 34 people.
An internal memo within the Tobacco Institute explains to Regional Directors why they had needed Savarese to check on availability:
The primary purpose of this contact is to determine if a given economist is capable of testifying effectively before a legislative body.
They have been informed that someone from TI will be in contact with them.
We request that an initial contact be made by telephone immediately. Please let me know when this initial contact has been made. Personal meetings should be arranged and completed no later than May 1, 1987.
[The records show that he had produced one op-ed on tobacco excise taxes, but there is no clippings or draft document in the archives.]
1987 Feb 6: James Savarese has finalised his list of compliant economists, and sends them to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute. It lists 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 11: The Economists network is now covering 41 States.
1988 Sept: Jeffrey R Clark who had been running New Jersey for the Tobacco Institute, (a part-time professor at Farleigh Dickinson University) shifted to Tennessee and became Professor of Economics and Free Enterprise at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
He appears to have taken over Peterson's role in writing op-eds for Tennessee newspapers.
Peterson disappears from the archives after this date.
2005: Received the Gary G. Schlarbaum prize for lifetime achievement in liberty,the Mises Institute's highest honor,
2012 June 19: Bill Peterson obit.