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.
Charles F ('Chuck') Mason
— An undistinguished cash-for-comments economist from the University of Wyoming who worked as part of the economists' network for the tobacco industry. —
Professor Charles ('Chuck') Mason was a late recruit to the Tobacco Institute's surrepticious network of academic economists who put out pro-tobacco propaganda on a cash-for-service arrangement.
The cash-for-comments economists network had between 50 and a hundred economists at various US State and private universities, who were signed up to work behind the scenes for the tobacco industry by Professor Robert D (Bob) Tollison and his partner James Savarese. Most did so with the proviso that their links to the industry were protected from discovery, and that payments were laundered by being passed through one or more corporate bank-accounts.
It worked this way:
- The economists were commissioned when needed.
- They passed drafted op-eds back to Savarese and Tollison for embellishment and checking,
- These were then cleared for legalities by tobacco industry lawyers.
- They were then returned to the economists with instructions to send them to newspapers designated by the Tobacco Institute,
- Copies were also to be sent on university letterhead to a list of Congressmen in their home State [usually those on key Congressional Committees].
This was a clear attempt to influencing Congressmen and the public via the media by utilising the special privileges and popular respect given to university academics entering into public discourse, on the understanding that they were not working on behalf of special interests. But these academics were.
A few of the more money-hungry of these economists were willing to provide witness statements prepared by the Tobacco Institute at Congressional or local ordinance hearings. Some were sent on two- or three-day media tours if some excuse would be found for them to be interviewed by regional print journalists, or to appear on various radio and TV shows. The Tobacco Institute retained a national PR company, Fleishman-Hillard to handle these tours — and.
In order to manage such a large and diverse group, Anna Tollison, the wife of Professor Robert Tollison, and two staffers from the Center for the Study of Popular Choice (George Mason University), began working part-time with James Savarese whose company James Savarese & Associates acted as the front and cut-out between the economists and the Tobacco Institute.
Thirty two Documents in the tobacco archives refer to Charles or Chuck Mason [spelled with an 'o'] at the University of Wyoming, while 25 spell his name "Masen" [with an 'e']. The man himself spells it in the conventional way.
He is now occupying the Chair in Petroleum and Natural Gas Economics in the Department of Economics & Finance, University of Wyoming. He appears to be a peripatetic gadfly who looks for a quick sabatical to some foreign university to provide him with some acommodation during his annual vacation.
His university contact page is http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/mason/cfmason.htm
There are quite a few Charles Masons, nicknamed 'Chuck' in the tobacco archives, so beware.
Some key documents
• Professor Charles F Mason, Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, University Station, Laramie, Wyoming.
Two other Professors at the same University were also involved in the cash-for-comment network; Professors Todd Sandler and Scott E Atkinson
• There are about 60 documents with his name in the tobacco archives.
In the early years (before 1989) Jim Savarese's employees (who often made spelling mistakes in names) seem to have been convinced that his name was Chuck Masen rather than Charles Mason.
1977: Chuck earned a double B.A. in Economics and Mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley.
1982: Joined the University of Wyoming
1983: Ph.D. in Economics at the University of California at Berkeley.
1985: In this year (the year before Mason joined the Tollison/Savarese network) there were also two other University of Wyoming economist working for the Tobacco Institute:
- Professor Todd Sandler, who was writing op-eds for the Caspar Star Tribune and sending copies to Senate Finance member Malcolm Wallop [Not that Wallop needed convincing!].
- Professor Scott E Atkinson who provided the Tobacco Institute with more quotable quotes than Sandler.
1986 June: /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]
Masen (sic) in Wyoming has been given the target of planting his article on the Laramie Boomerang. and was due for payment of $1025.00.
The GMU production staff were also being paid $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.
|Public Choice & Hayek Libertarianism|
|Most of these network economists held extreme free-market/ Hayekian/ Randian positions. But that is not the problem... many intellectually-honest and highly moral economists hold similar views.|
The objection is that these academics:
This is not a question of academic freedom, but of trusted academics engaged surrepticiously in commerical lobbying.
- allowed the Tobacco Institute to stipulate the subject matter for 'learned articles', and nominate both the media outlet and the Congressmen to influence, then
- agreed to the Tobacco Institute staff and lawyers editing, modifying and 'improving' articles published under their name (with university affiliations) while proclaiming "these views are my own."
- (Some) took commissions to produce and publish 'customised' or manipulated research, designed to mislead.
- They also collaborated and conspired with others on the network to promote what was clearly tobacco industry propaganda, and
- hid these commerical relationships from their universities, students and the general public — the people who paid their salaries and provided them with positions of trust.
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 Masen [sic Mason], 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 6: This is the Tollison/Saverese network list of economists recruited until the end of 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:
Professor Chuck Mason
Department of Economics, University of Wyoming,
University Station, Laramie, Wyoming 82071
About this time Todd Sandler moved to Iowa State University, leaving a gap in the cash-for-comments network.
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.
See April 4 Editorial
1987 May: A list of 26 quotes excerpted from major newspaper editorials and op-eds from the TI's cash-for-comments economists about the Packwood tax plan.
Laramie Boomerang, April 4, 1987
"Singling out specific consumption goods for special taxation does not allow the market to make unfettered allocations..."
Charles F. Mason, assistant professor of economics, University of Wyoming
1987 May 28: Economic Consultants in Region VIII — Recruitment document from Tobacco Institute staffer Stan Boman to his superior Hurst Marshall in the State Activities division at the Tobacco Institute.
Following is the information you requested on TI economic consultants in Region VIII.
Contact will be made during the next week with Allen Parkman in New Mexico and Chuck Masen [sic] in Wyoming. I will update my report accordingly at that time.
He has identified five new consultant economists:
Colorado: Prof Barry Poulson
Contact made — Personal Visit
Results of Contact — Excellent - extremely knowledgeable and persuasing
Recommendations — Recommend retaining him and using him extensively in the future.
Kansas: Prof John Howe
Contact made — Personal Visit
Results of Contact — Good — Scholarly appearance and demeanor — very knowledgeable
Recommendations — Recommend retaining him,
Missouri: Prof Arthur Denzan
Contact made — Phone call
Results of Contact — Cordial — good speaking voice — seems eager to help
Recommendations — Recommend retaining him, and using him at first opportunity
Oklahoma: Prof Joseph Jadlow
Contact made — Personal visit
Results of Contact — Positively excellent! — Extremely articulate and advocates our position very well
Recommendations — Recommend his continued retainer.
[Note: 'continued'. ]
Texas: Prof S Charles Maurice
Contact made — Personal visit
Results of Contact — Makes a good impression — seems eager to be of help
Recommendations — Recommend retaining him.
1987 June 9: The Tobacco Institute's Phase II - Excise Tax Op-Ed project involved an article-writing campaign by cash-for-comment economists was run by James Savarese & Associates. It was secretly directed by Robert Tollison from George Mason University with Savarese as the organiser and front.
In the mid 1987 period, the project was controlled by Jeff Rose [under Peter Sparber] at the Tobacco Institute and it focussed on defeating cigarette excise tax increases — and especially the threat of such taxes being 'earmarked' to bolster health care budgets.
Saverese and Tollison appear to have been in some form of loose partnership, because Anna Tollison, the wife of Bob Tollison, was employed by James Savarese & Associates to keep a record of the articles generated by their large contingent of academic economists and to organise payment.
She 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 [eg. the potential number of readers they may have influenced] and the publication date. This economist is featured on her list.
WYOMING, Mason, Laramie Boomerang, [circ.] 8,000, [pub date] 4/14/87
1987 June 22: The Tobacco Institute has been sent by Savarese a "Schedule of Payments — Excise Tax Op-Ed Project." This is a detailed accounting for all the current active members of the network.
It details the name of the cash-for-comment economist, the State, the targetted newspaper, and both past and current payments — with a separate column labled "Total Earned to Date".
In WYOMINGAlso there were payments to George Mason production staff ( Bob Tollison, Bill Shughart and Gary Anderson) for rewrites ($27,500) and a $5,800 payment for replacement of five economists (presumably because they were unproductive or unsatisfactoy). Carol Roberts was also paid for the final production. ($5,000)
Masen (sic) for Laramie Boomerang — Owed $1025 — Total to date $1025
Total here with expenses was $33,810 on top of the $40,525 paid to the network economists.
1987 July: a selected group of the economists have been commissioned to write op-eds about cutting the deficit — and to de-emphasise the value of excise taxes. Generally they follow the line of listing four possibilities approaches
In this bundle are very similar articles planted on their local newspaper in the March-April period by
- a general consumption tax (efficient but regressive)
- increased excise taxes (inefficient and regressive)
- a national lottery (regressive and competitive with State lotteries)
- increased income taxes (unpopular)
- Dwight Lee (2 of),
- Dominick Armentano (3 of),
- John Howe,
- Joseph Jadlow,
- S Charles Maurice (2 of),
- Thomas Pogue,
- Cecil Bohanon (2 of),
- Chuck Mason,
- JR Clark (2 of),
- Allen Parkman.
- Robert Ekelund Jr. (2 of),
- William Mitchell,
- Cliff Dobitz (2 of),
- Barry Poulson,
- William Hunter,
- Michael Kurth,
- John David,
- David Gay,
- Lee Anderson,
- Robert McMahon,
- Craig McPhee,
- Brian Goff (2 of),
- Dennis Logue,
- Thomas Wyrick,
- Arthur Mead,
- Richard Wagner.
[This was one of their most successful projects. Professor Dominick Armentano writes to Anna Tollison [wife of Robert] that "... the article went national"]
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 Chuck Masen (sic) University of Wyoming Laramie, WY
Excise Tax Op Eds: Laramie Boomerang — 04/14/87
Field Staff Contact: None.
Field Staff Evaluation: None.
1987 Aug 31: Peter Sparber [Issues Manager] to Bill Kloepfer [PR head] at the Tobacco Institute:
Jeff [Rose] has done a good job of summarizing the economic consultant situation and I am attaching my copy of his report with some marginal notes. I think he should consider sending a collection of all of the published op-ed pieces to each of the consultants for the sake of inspiration.
[This memo leaves no room for doubt that these economists knew precisely who they were working for, and why they were being paid (about $1000 per article) by the tobacco industry.]
In the case of those who have not had an article accepted for publication I would like to know whether they submitted one.
The economists were visited by State [regional] tobacco staff, and subject to an evaluation of their work and their prospects. Not all measured up. Jeff Ross reported:
Two general comments from field staff warrant some consideration. Michael Brozak recommended a political orientation to prepare witnesses for potentially politicized hearings.
We agree and recommend that State Activities consider advising field staff to conduct such briefings as appropriate. Richard Scanlan suggested that an economist from the state capital city is much more valuable. We have asked Savarese and Tollison to see if they can identify a candidate.
1987 Oct 7: The tobacco industry front called Coalition Against Regressive Taxation (CART) run by Tom Donahue has put out a press release attacking excise taxes. It includes quotes from dozens of cash-for-comments economists including this economist.
[ Tom Donahue was a lobbyist with Ogilvy & Mather Public Affairs and later with James Savarese and Cassidy & Associates.]
1988 Feb 8: The Tobacco Institute to its Regional VPs and Directors.
Attached is an updated list of The Institute's cadre of excise tax economists. These economists are available for testimony, one-on-one meetings with legislators, writing letters and op-ed pieces in the states in which they teach, as well as in any state you deem appropriate. Charles Mason is listed.
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: Laramie Boomerang
Economist: Chuck Masen, University of Wyoming.
[Those who have already successfully planted their articles on a local newspaper have been ticked. The fact that there is an ethical question about promoting a book like this by a close associate without revealing the nature of your relationship doesn't appear to have occurred to any of them.]
This is the last time his name was mis-spelled Masen.
1988 May 26: James Savarese advises the Tobacco Institute that
We have initiated the book review project. A copy of the book and a short summary were sent out today to 17 economists across the country with instructions for writing a brief review suitable for newspaper publication.
I have attached a list of the economists. I'll keep you up to date as soon as the reviews start rolling in.
1989 Jan 11: The Tobacco Institute's Scientific Consultancy Activity 1988-89
This is an 80 page mixed bag of files dumped together [Well worth perusing]. The first document is from 1990 [ordered in reverse]
- Pages 3 to 23 begin 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, 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."
Prof Chuck Mason, University of Wyoming
[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
1990 May 7: The Tobacco Institute's "1991 Tax and Social Cost Plans" have sections on
This is an updated list with the current locations of each, with phone numbers and addresses.
- "Social Costs" Hearings Readiness (preparation for fielding witnesses at Congressional hearings.) They list here the arguments
What TI and Its Allies Must Cover
- "Social cost" arguments used to justify excise tax increases, smoking restrictions and ad bans are not valid.
- Independent economists state that "social cost" calculations used by anti-smokers do not withstand credible economic scrutiny.
- There is no convincing economic evidence that smokers impose costs on society. Any supposed costs are "private costs" and are borne by the smoker.
- Other industries are vulnerable to social cost attacks. A "slippery slope" may exist as anti-smokers, using "social costs" arguments, seek legislation restricting smoking or increasing taxes. These efforts may signal lawmakers to regulate other products as well.
- "Tax" Hearing Readiness (as above, but for excise tax increases, State and Federal)
What TI and Its Allies Must Cover
- Excise taxes are regressive and take away tax reform for low- and middle-income Americans. As a percentage of income, low income families pay as much as 27 times more in federal excises than high-income families.
- Cigarette excise taxes are discriminatory. They fall disproportionately on Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.
- Excise taxes are unfair. Tobacco consumers are forced to pay more than others for government services benefitting everyone. Why should smokers pay more for national defense than nonsmokers?
- List of cash-for-comment network economists in each State.
Professor Chuck Mason
Department of Economics University of Wyoming
University Station Laramie, Wyoming 82071
1990 June: The Annual Report by Carol Hrycaj to the Tobacco Institute makes special mention of Mitchell.
After weeks of budget discussions involving administration officials and congressional leaders, President Bush rescinded his "no new taxes" pledge by issuing a statement calling for "tax revenue increases." The debate then shifted from whether taxes would be raised to which taxes; reports indicated that cigarette excises were at the top of the list of revenue options.
The recently commissioned consulting economist anti-excise tax op-ed campaign moved forward quickly with the economists preparing and submitting for our review several draft articles.
We also requested that an economist in Wyoming be identified and approached to participate in this effort.
[Their old network member Professor Charles F Mason of the University of Wyoming was about to drop out. Todd Sandler must have filled in temporarily.]
By month's end, placements included: Todd Sandler, the Fort Dodge Messenger, William Mitchell, the Eugene Oregon Register-Guard, Ryan Amacher, the Anderson Independent-Mail, J.R. Clark, the Memphis Commercial Appeal and the Jackson Sun.
We developed an outline for an economist media tour program to be launched in light of recent tax developments at the federal level. Consulting economists would be sent to select markets in key congressional districts to discuss elements of the tax issue with the media.
1990 Aug 23: Chuck Mason's op-ed "Why duck the issue & tax the poor?" appears in the Star-Tribune.
1990 Oct 30: Charles H Powers, Senior VP of Public Affairs at the Tobacco Institute has sent a note to his boss, Sam Chilcote:
Sam, Attached is the article (Aug 23 1990) "Why duck the issue & tax the poor?" It rehashes the same old themes — and avoids any mention of the danger of smoking, or the costs of medical services, welfare, avoidable fires, etc. The byline carries the note that:
This past August, an op-ed by one of our economists appeared in the Caspar Star. The column opposes excise taxes including those on cigarettes.
It is the practice that the economist mail the op-ed, once published, to elected federal officials for a response. I am following up on that.
Charles Mason is an associate professor of economics at the University of Wyoming. but it doesn't credit the people who commissioned this propaganda — the Tobacco Institute.
This appears to be the last job he did for the tobacco industry. However the files were culled at some time, so it is difficult to be sure.
1998 Jan: - June He is a visiting scholar at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. He then spent five weeks at the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at Australian National University, Canberra.
2003: (Fall) University of Cambridge as a visiting fellow
2004: (Spring) Visiting fellow at the University of California at Davis
2008: (Fall) two months at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, as a Visiting Research Fellow.