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.
Robert L Sexton
— A latecomer to the economists cash-for-comments network. He was employed by Pepperdine University, the temporary bolt-hole of Whitewater fanatic and Hilary Clinton persecutor, Kenneth W Starr. —
Robert L Sexton is best known for a series of economics textbooks of quality unknown. But since they have run into many editions, it can be assumed that they are above average standard.
However they can't have elevated his income to the degree he felt desirable, since he supplemented his university and book authorship incomes with some contract work for the tobacco industry. This was mainly in writing op-eds for local newspapers which failed to mention his vassalage to the tobacco industry.
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.
Sexton was associated with a sub-network/cabal; he was part of Dwight R Lee's stable of cash-for-comment economists. Lee's C/V shows that Sexton was co-author with Robert Lee and Philip Graves in numerous articles at a time when Sexton was at School of Public Policy, Seaver College in Malibu, CA. — which is actually part of conservative [Kenneth-Starr friendly] Pepperdine University.
Sexton is another who played the "I am a non-smoker ... so what I say about tobacco must be true" card. He is still with the Department of Social Sciences at Pepperdine University and is the author of texbooks "Exploring Microeconomics", "Exploring Macroeconomics", "Exploration of Economics", and "Exploring Economics' (He obviously lacks creative imagination in his selection of book titles)
|The Randian Connections |
|The Public Choice cult in economics offers an insight into the mindset of those who believe in a grossly exaggerated view of Adam Smith ... who was, after all, primarly a moral philosopher.|
These are essential Randian libertarians who follow the cult of Ayn Rand in believing that personal greed, rather than burdening the society, serves a higher purpose. They gave us the 'trickle down' theory, the 'J-curve', many decade of tax cuts for the wealthy, and eventually, the international financial meltdown. (Greenspan was a Randian)
But the motives behind the composition of the op-ed articles were not those of social duty — however misplaced — or of any service to the university which employed them — or, of a deep concern with government policy directions.
Their activites were entirely driven by cash-payments from the tobacco industry coupled with a guarantee from James Savarese that their payments couldn't be traced back to source. At most they can be credited with having an ideological crutch to support their own self-image.
In 1990 there was a Robert Sexton in Kentucky who was the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Another was associated with a tobacco grower who got into a legal battle with RJ Reynolds in 2001. A Robert Sexton was on RJR's weekly briefing e-mail list.
Some key documents
See also the document labled economists network
which treats the historical development of this network by Ogilvy & Mather, and then by James Savarese and Robert Tollison.
The idea began in 1979 and ran through the 1980s under the direction of Savarese and Tollison.
• Professor of Economics, Pepperdine University, Malibu CA
1995 Feb: Clippings of Economists's Network op-ed articles sent to the Tobacco Institute.
- The FDA's Quest for Power, by Gary M Galles and Robert L Sexton.
- Ever-expanding federal government stealthily constricting individual freedoms, by William J Boyes
- Smoking ad ban by FDA appears to be self-serving, by Joe Bell
- President can't hid political vanity behind a smoke screen, by Robert Higgs
- FDA Shouldn't take the Role of Parents, by Ed Price
- Teen-smoking crisis is really overblown, by Lowell Gallaway
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"
1996 Jan 5: The last of Savarese's Status Reports which used the names of the economists. This was for the FDA Op-Ed Program
Clearly they were having reduced success in planting these articles on the local newspapers. This member's record shows:
Robert Sexton Department of Social Sciences, Pepperdine University, Malibu
[The Status of his article was:] Received 12/19
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:
CALIFORNIA 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.
Robert Sexton, Department of Social Sciences, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA
[No information on publication]
"Received 12/19" [ie, It still needed to be checked and corrected by Savarese's staff]
See also the earlier version of this report which notes which op-eds have been sent for revision before being submitted to the newspaper.
[The following Status report does not include his name.]
1996 Feb 5: The Investor's Business Daily (a newspaper which consistently ran tobacco propaganda — usually by Michael Fumento) carried a Guest Editorial "The FDA's Quest For Power" by Gary M Galles and Robert L. Sexton
The Food and Drug Administration's plan to regulate tobacco is a notable power grab, even by Washington standards.
It credits both Galles and Sexton as economics professors at Pepperdine University.
By claiming to "save our children" from "evil tobacco companies," the FDA is justifying new powers far beyond any Congress ever meant to grant it.
1996 Feb 5: The economist's network went into a period of decline around this date — the economists were obviously fearful of having their names exposed, and so the Status Reports made to the Tobacco Institute began to carry only the names of their institutions, not the economists themselves. [A policy not always adhered to.]
Sexton (and possibly Galles) was listed under
Published February 5 1996 — Investor's Business Daily
[ Investor's Business Daily was a tobacco-friendly newspaper which could always be counted on to publish tobacco industry handouts]
1996 Mar 8: Kelleigh Varnum, of Savarese & Associates advises Carol Hrycaj at the Tobacco Institute that:
We have located an economist to replace John David (WV). His name is Cliff Dobitz (ND). The status report reflects this addition.
Professor Cliff Doblitz was an old network contributor from North Dakota. But presumably he had not then been contracted to attack 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 FDA Op-ed Program records Sexton's involvement. He had submitted an op-ed on the subject to the Los Angeles Times (declined), then tried the tobacco-friendly paper, Investor's Business Daily (published Feb 5 1996) and also planted it on the Daily News (published Feb 12 1996). He also contacted Congressman Beilenson on 13th February 1996 to lobby on the tobacco industry's behalf.
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. The general list also records this economist succcess and failures with:
- 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.
Contacted Congressman Beilenson 2/13/96
- Los Angeles Times - declined
- Investor's Business Daily - Published February 5,1996
- Daily News Published February 12,1996
1996 June 24: Someone slipped up and included names in the Status Report on the FDA Op-Ed Program which showed that
Robert Sexton had submitted his article to:
and he had contacted Congressman Beilenson 2/13/96
- Los Angeles Times — declined
- Investor's Business Daily — published Feb 5 1996
- Daily News — published Feb 12 1996
1996 Sep 20: A rehash of the anti-FDA February article earned Sexton and Galles another fifteen hundred dollars or so ... plus the editorial payment from the San Francisco Chronicle. The article was now retitled, FDA's Rapacious Quest for Power by Robert L. Sexton and Gary M. Galles
Power grabs are part and parcel of politics. However, the FDA's proposed new regulations on tobacco are notable in this regard, even for Washington. It has twisted data to create a questionable crisis, stretched its statutory language beyond recognition to reverse its own position that such restrictions were beyond its regulatory reach.
These proposals go far beyond reducing youth smoking, a goal even the tobacco companies support (with money as well as words). But they use "save our children" imagery, contrasted with that of "evil" tobacco companies, to extend their control far beyond anything ever legislatively imagined for the FDA.
1996 Dec: /E Robert Sexton has now co-written "Regulate the FDA — Not Smoking" with Dwight R Lee, who by this time was virtually working full-time as a tobacco industry lobbyist.
They'd obviously become keen environmentalist, since they recycled all the old claims and phrases they've delivered many times in the past. However they do add a few touchs touches of new and exotic information — which makes one wonder how they stumbled across such esoteric data. [for about half-a-second!]
The Food and Drug Administration, with President Clinton's approval, wants to impose more regulations on advertising and selling cigarettes to reduce teenage smoking. [It goes without saying that Sexton and Lee do not approve — either about the FDA, or President Clinton]
We can only guess that regular perusal of the Norwegian Medical Journal was commonplace for economists at Peppidine University when they weren't discussing Whitewater over coffee with Ken Starr.
For example, after cigarette advertising was completely banned in Finland in 1978, teenage smoking increased, even though it had been decreasing before the ban.
A similar reversal in teenage smoking was also experienced in Sweden after its 1979 ban of cigarette advertising. Norway, which banned cigarette advertising in 1975, experienced little noticeable effect on smoking rates, according to a study in the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association.
The FDA would do more to protect lives by reducing its regulations rather than trying to expand them. Originally, the FDA was charged with protecting us from unsafe drugs. Well and good. But in the 1960s, the FDA succeeded in expanding its authority (and budget) for the purpose of protecting us from what it considers unsubstantiated claims by drug companies.
[I]f we want to save lives, we should be doing more to regulate the FDA rather than giving the FDA more to regulate.
[And there's not a mention of Lee or Sexton receiving cash payments from the Tobacco Institute in the whole article.]
The economist's network went into a dorman year. However in 1998 the idea was revived with an extra layer of protection included against discovery.
- The communications links between the economist and the Tobacco Industry now passed through
- James Savarese & Associates
- the BSMG public relations company (James Morgan)
- Tollison appears no longer to have been a partner with Savarese in the venture.
- Savarese's company had been re-absorbed into Ogilvy & Mather (now called Ogilvy Adams & Reinhart), which itself had become part of Cassidy & Associates [Along with Powell Tate]
- The Names of the economists were no longer used on lists sent by Savarese to the Institute — only their Institutions.
1997: There is nothing in the archives for 1997
1998 June 18 In this year the network was revived with an extra layer of protection included against discovery. The communications links between the economist and the Tobacco Industry now passed through:
- James Savarese & Associates, to the
- BSMG public relations company (James Morgan), and then to
- Walter Woodson at the Tobacco Institute
- And after checking and improvement by the Public Affairs and legal staff
- back through Morgan and Saverese to the economist.
Tollison appears no longer to have been a partner with Savarese in the venture. Savarese's company had been re-absorbed into Ogilvy & Mather (now called Ogilvy Adams & Reinhart), which itself had become part of Cassidy & Associates [Along with Powell Tate]
The Names of the economists were no longer used on lists sent by Savarese to the Institute — only their Institutions.
1998 Aug 15: The Florida "Press Journal" carries an article "Government assults success" by cash-for-comments economist DT Armentano which attacks the McCain tobacco bill and the FDA.
The list of the activities of the other economists shows that the network continued to be operated by the Tobacco Institute itself (under Walter Woodson, and Lance Morgan - both Public Affairs division). [Savarese is not now in the picture.]
However, since legally discovered tobacco documents had already begun to appear on-line, they have carefully deleted the names of the Professor of Economics who wrote each op-ed piece.
Sexton is listed under the camouflage heading
CALIFORNIA, Pepperdine University
- PUBLISHED — 6-12-98 San Diego Union-Tribune
- PUBLISHED — 6-23 LA Daily Journal
- PUBLISHED - 6-19 Ventura County Star.
- PUBLISHED — 7-3 (Not recorded)
1998 Aug 30: An editorial planted with the Ventura County Star "Politics clouding objective science: Secondhand smoke; EPA manipulated information to fit policy," by Robert L. Sexton, (no Galles) The Sexton byline says he is a professor of economics at the School of Public Policy and Seaver College in Malibu (no Pepperdine University mentioned).
He had been rolled out to take advantage of a momentary reversal of the industry's legislative position when US District Court Judge Osteen temporarily invalidated a portion of the Environment Protection Agency's 1993 report on the potential carcinogenesis of second-hand tobacco smoke.
It attacks the EPA and praises the Congressional Research Service analysis (which was very dubious at the time — and now condemned as useless). It has all the hallmarks of the insider knowledge of tobacco industry problems that you'd expect if the Tobacco Institute had been behind it's publication.
Sexton attacks the EPA scientific honesty and uses as his reference a well-exposed academic lobbyist for the tobacco industry, Alvin Feinsten of Yale University.
This makes one suspicious that the EPA is not practicing objective science, but rather "political science." Other scientists apparently share the same concern. Alvin Feinstein, a Yale University epidemiologist, said that he heard a prominent epidemiologist admit that the EPA's secondhand smoke study was "rotten science, but it's for a worthy cause. It will help us get rid of cigarettes and to become a smoke-free society." [Hearsay about hearsay about supposed slanted opinion, being regaled as fact.]
[And maybe the 'debate' is not a debate at all — but an attempt by paid lobbyists of the tobacco industry to throw 'doubt' into the mix and so fool the public — for their own crass commercial motives. But no one would accuse a 'nonsmoker' of having such base motives, would one?]
But should we see corrupted science as a basis for public policy? Should science be adjusted to fit policy? [Gee! That's a hard one Robert!]
The debate about environmental tobacco smoke, to me, a nonsmoker, is not really about smoking, but rather it is a debate about the integrity of science and how the EPA manipulated that science for political purposes.
And surprise, surprise! There is a copy of this article on Steve Milloy's 'junk-science website.
[This website was set up by APCO & Associates, a PR front for tobacco, using Philip Morris funding.]
1999 Feb 2: There are no more appearances of Sexton's name on Tobacco Institute lists but clearly he continued to work for them. On this day the Investor's Business Daily published another Sexton op-ed as a "Guest Editorial." It is listed in the archives as:
'Political' Science and Secondhand Smoke,
Investor's Business Daily (Feb. 2, 1999);
A copy of the article in the archives shows that he is attacking the EPA for "practicing 'political science'" again [presumably this is less worthy than "crass-commercialised academia"]