Ann Harper-Fender

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Ann Harper-Fender (aka 'Anne')was a professor of economics at Gettysburg College, PA. She was also one of two female members of the Cash for Comments Economists Network which was run for the Tobacco Institute by Professor Robert D. Tollison and lobbyist James Savarese with the help of Tollison's wife Anna and the staff from the Center for Study of Public Choice (located on the grounds of George Mason University).

The Cash for Comment Economists Network eventually split up and most of the members transferred over to work for the tobacco industry under the cover of the Independent Institute with William F Shughart taking a leading role. Savarese and Tollison then appeared to have formalised their partnership, with Tollison and his wife becoming part of James Savarese & Associates.



The Cash-for-Comments Economists' Network was run by Savarese through a partnership with Professor Robert D Tollison who used the staff and facilities of the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University to prove cut-out and organisation services. They developed and maintained a network of Economics Professors with at least one on tap in virtually every US state. As one Professor transferred or dropped out (there was a regular turn-over) a new one would be recruited in that State. In all, about 130 university professors were involved in the period 1985-1995, and costs ran to $3 million/year at a time when professor's salaries were in the $30-40,000 pa range. An active network member at a State university could almost double his normal salary.

  The main focus of the group was to write commissioned op-ed articles on a subject determined by the Tobacco Institute. The draft article would then pass back through the network to TI staff, who were essentially public relations experts. Here they were 'improved' and refined; then sent to the Institute's outside lawyers for vetting. Modified articles then returned to the professor, who would then send them to a designated State newspaper as if they were his 'independent expert opinion'. The professors received a base amount for writing and bonuses for successfully planting the article on the newspaper. Some, but not all, received a small (eg.$1000) annual retainer.[2]]

  Published papers would also be copied by the professor and sent to his local Federal Representative and Senator (for a further bonus). Sometimes there were special commissions, but generally the work was writing op-eds and LTE's where they were paid just on results (varied from about $700 to $3000 over the years). Network members could also be called upon to provide witness services and promote the cigarette companies' political/economic line at local ordinance or State legislative hearings. An active professor of economics at a State University could almost double his salary with these activities and with some further appearances, for instance, speaking on the importance of cigarettes in economic terms at major economic conferences, etc.
      Cash for Comments Economists Network   &   Robert Tollison   &   James Savarese   &   Network Document Index


Documents & Timeline

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.

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.

Ann Harper-Fender was to be detailed to make the contact with local Congressmen [by sending him/them the published op-ed]

PENNSYLVANIA (Rep. Schulze, Rep. Coyne, Sen. Heinz)
  •   Professor Anne Harper-Fender, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania [3]

1985 Feb 21 Roger Mozingo at the Tobacco Institute is sending his state directors a list of resources available to fight against excise taxes in their states. Anne Harper-Fender heads their state list of available economic witnesses for Pennsylvania. [4]

1985 Mar Tobacco Institute document "Federal Markets" on the likely allies the industry has acquired to oppose the earmarking of cigarette excises for healthcare. It also includes a record of their successful activities in each state

Positive Actions by Local Allies: Academics: Professor Ann Harper-Fender (Gettysburg College) wrote an op-ed article on tax reform which appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on April 19 (in home district of Ways & Means member Coyne). Copies were sent to Coyne and Ways & Means Member Schulze.

Business:Tobacco Wholesalers participated in anti-excise letter-writing campaign aimed at Ways & Means Member Coyne.
  National Association of Convenience Stores also participated in anti-excise letter-writing campaign.

Citizens:Several local constituents participated in anti-excise letter-writing campaign. See page 4 See Success List

1985 Apr 19 The Pittsburg Post Gazette published her articleWho should pay for the deficit?." published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is an attack on attempts to balance the budget by the use of excise taxes.

For example, Paul Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, recently advocated a $50 billion decrease in the deficit by 1986 using excise or value-added taxes.

Excise taxes look appealing at first glance: Initially they affect consumption rather than saving, investment or incentives to work. However, the impact of excise taxes on particular goods and sales taxes in general should not be minimized.

Traditionally, states have relied heavily on general and specific sales taxes. Pennsylvania has a general 6 percent sales tax and also singles out liquor, cigarettes and liquid fuel for excise taxation. [5]
[Most of the Tobacco Institute funded op-eds published at this time attack excised taxes in general, while dealing only superficially or obliquely with tobacco. In this op-ed, she avoids mentioning tobacco at all. She then plays the 'regressive' line, that the poor are hit hardest by excises -- completely ignoring the fact that a) they are hit hardest by the actual purchase of cigarettes, and b) there are devastating additional health costs incurred by poor families, and c) and they also face the potential early loss of the wage earner. Her article is very subtle -- in fact, probably too subtle for the tobacco industry (which is not mentioned).] See Page 8

1985 June 21 James Savarese submits his bill to the Tobacco Institute for the academics who have written articles, and those who have made speeches at important academic conferences promoting the tobacco industry line.

  • Op Ed Project -- $1000 each in 'professional fees'
    for Abrams, Alston, Armentano, Harper-Fender, T Anderson, Denzau, Bohanon, Jadlow, Wagner and Menchik.
  • Southwest Social Science Meeting -- Houston
    • Keith Watson ($1,000),
    • RB Ekelund Jr ($2,003)
    • Joseph Jadlow ($2,605),
    • Richard Wagner ($2,716)
    • Robert D Tollison ($5,000)
    • Henry N Butler ($2,070)
  • Eastern Economic Assoc, Meeting -- Pittsburgh
    • George E Hoffer ($1,431)
    • Gary M Anderson ($2,450)
    • Robert D Tollison ($6,375)
    • Bill Shurghart III ($2,529)
    • Michael D Pratt ($1,288)
    • John H Bowman ($1,000) [6]

1985 June 25 The Center for the Study of Public Choice lists Ann Harper-Feder as a participant in the Liberty Fund Conference series where the main speakers were James Buchanan and Robert Tollison. This came from a Tobacco Institute file. [7]

1985 Sep 6 Acey at the Tobacco Institute has sent a bundle of newspaper clippings along to their printer/copier.

Enclosed are 15 original newspaper clipings (don't lose them!) some in better shape than others. We'd like these articles on seperate sheets so the lobbyists can make up their own individual packets. They will also be including some publications too. This brings us back to the infamous Tax Folder... To hold all these clippings, publications and information on tax articles. [The] size should be a 9 x 12 folder to fit in a 9x 12 envelope. You know what I mean. Good looking folder, not too slick. Articles should be in black & white. [8]

[Harper-Fender's article is among those to be circulated.]

1985 Nov 6 Ken Arnold of Ogilvy & Mather PR (James Savarese's firm while he still worked for the TI) writes to Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute.

Fred, here is a summary of the Economist Op-ed and Economic News Service projects.

With regard to the Economist Op-ed project, we have submitted a total of 34 op-ed articles, and 18 of them have been published. Recent articles appeared in the Huntsville Times on September 11, by Robert Ekelund, and in the Providence Journal on October 25, by Arthur Mead (see attachments).

Enclosed is a revised op-ed chart, indicating House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee Members impacted to date, and the circulation of each newspaper publishing the articles. In most cases, the papers are the largest in the targeted district.

This chart list all the important Congressmen they want their economists to influence, including:

Congressman Richard Schulze and Congressman William Coyne
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (c. 264,500) April 19
Professor Anne Harper-Fender, Gettysburg College [9]

Also a section headed: Economic News Service:

Ogilvy & Mather appear to have organised a separate syndication system for economic articles which did not carry the names of the cash-for-comments academics, but which were simply distributed to these newspapers as if they were news. However, the titles show that they were carefully crafted to suit the local prejudices and interests -- so they were probably written anonymously by the same academics..

1985 Dec 12 The Annual Report of the Tobacco Institute's Public Relations division lists Walter N Woodson as saying:

We believe that the active and creative use of experts -- our scientists in particular -- gives us an edge. But without question, public smoking is our toughest challenge. A close second is taxation. In 1985, most of our resources in this area were focused on the federal situation.

That being the case, we concentrated almost exclusively on the home districts and offices of the 56 members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. We identified and utilized economists from universities in 48 of those districts.

Some testified at the four federal tax hearings in which had interest. Others participated in academic symposia attended by Congressional staffers. Others communicated directly with their Congressmen. And 34 of them wrote op-ed articles on the need to consider excises as part of tax reform. Many of these articles appeared in the principal newspaper in the targeted districts which have, by our estimation, a total circulation of nearly 4 million.

The economists were of great help. [SNIP] Professor Ann Harper-Fender (Gettysburg College) wrote an op-ed article on tax reform which appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on April 19 (in home district of Ways & Means member Coyne). Copies were sent to Coyne and Ways & Means Member Schulze. [10]

The spelling of her Christian name changed from "Ann" to "Anne" about this time. Mostly she used the hyphenated "Harper-Fender".

1985 June/1986 March-July The Cash for Comments Economists Network was commissioned by the Tobacco Institute to write economic opinion pieces opposing excise taxes on cigarettes in mid-year-1985. This propaganda requirment resurfaced as a major project for the economist in the peak of the Tobacco Industry's PR campaign against the Packwood tax plan (although the threat was obviously still a possibility until the end of 1986r).

The Tobacco institute (much later) put together a package of commissioned economics reports (see front section of document), followed by about thirty op-eds and composite pieces which were generated by the Tollison/Savarese Cash for Comments Economists Network in this 1985-86 time frame. It illustrates the propaganda value of this network -- and shows what it can accomplish in a very short time for just a few thousand dollars in academic bribes.

These op-eds attacking the Packwood tax plan were all published in local newspaper across the USA. (Copies needed to be sent in for payment to be made.) A few are from July 1985 and the rest appeared in local newspapers during March-July 1986. These spontaneous independent expressions of expert opinion all miraculously come from Professors of Economics attached to the Center for Study of Public Choice ...

Joseph M Jadlow, Oklahoma State Uni. (He had two op-eds in different papers.);   William C Mitchell Uni of Oregon, Eugene;   Lee G Anderson, Uni of Delaware;   John S Howe Uni of Kansas, Lawrence;   D. Allen Dalton, Boise State University;   Thomas F Pogue, Uni of Iowa, Iowa City (He had two.);   Scott Atkinson, Uni of Wyoming. (He had two in different papers.);   S. Charles Maurice, Texas A&M Uni;   Todd Sandler, Uni of Wyoming;   Michael A Crew, Rutgers Uni, Newark;   Robert B Ekelund Jr., Auburn Uni (He had two.) ;   Ann Harper-Fender, Gettysburg College;   Lee Alston, Williams College;   Paul L Menchik, Michigan State Uni;   Henry N Butler, Texas A&M Uni;   Burton A Abrams, Uni of Delaware;   Ryan C Amacher, Clemson Uni (He had two.);   Dominick T Armentano, Uni of Hartford;   Fred McChesney, Emory Uni;   and a think-tanker David Wilhelm (Citizens for Tax Justice);

Also short extract pieces and letters-to-the-editor from A James Heins, Uni of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana;   William J Hunter, Marquette Uni, Milwaukee;   Dennis E Logue, Dartmouth College;   William F Shughart, George Mason Uni;   Harold Hochman, Baruch College, City Uni of New York;

Also uncredited overviews in the Newport Daily News, the Times-Review in Texas, Herald PA, etc. which expresses the encapsulated wisdom of most of the above with the addition of Thomas Borcherding (Claremont Graduate School, Calif);   K. Celeste Gaspari, Uni of Vermont, Birmingham;   David N Laband, Uni of Maryland;   Dean Tipps (Service Employees Intl. Union);   Allen M Parkman, Uni of New Mexico, Alburquerque, NM;   Richard K Vedder, Ohio Uni, Athens;   Roger L Faith, Arizona State Uni, Tempe;   Lee Alston, Williams College Mass;   and William J Hunter, Marquette Uni, Wisc.; (Some sections were published in multiple papers). [11]
This was a massive amount of propaganda coverage for a payment of less than $1000 each to these Professors at that time.

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."

She is listed [along with 50 other economists] as a contact:

Professor Anne Harper-Fender
Head, Department of Economics, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg. PA

She is available on two weeks notice as a witness for hire.

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: [She 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. [12]

1986 March to April: Ann Harper-Fender, using Gettysburg College letterhead writes a number of letters (enclosing her economic 'essay') in opposition to the Packwood Tax Plan, to:

  • Senator Arlen Specter
  • Senator H John Heinz III
  • William Deibler, Managing Editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • Paul Golias, Managing Editor of the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader
  • Edwin Rogers, Managing Editor of the Scranton Times
  • Roy Heffelfinger, Managing Editor of the Allentown Morning Call
  • Clement Sweet, Managing Editor of the Harrisburg Evening News
  • Gene Foreman, Managing Editor of the Philadephia Inquirer [13]
[She must have been paid at a rate set by the number of letters sent! Certainly not by the quality of the newspapers.]

She appears to have stopped working for them in late 1987- or early 1988.

1988 Mar 31 James Savarese was still listing her as a potential writer of a review for the Tollison/Wagner tobacco-funded book "Smoking and the State". Her target newspaper was the Gettysburg Times. However, while she remained on their lists as the economist-of-choice for Pennsylvania, she doesn't appear to have done any later services for the cigarette companies. [14]