Fred McChesney

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

Fred McChesney was was a Bureau of Consumer Protection official, who later became an associate of Robert D. Tollison and James M. Savarese in two cash-for-comments networks of academics.

He was a key member of the Committee on Taxation and Economic Growth which helped large corporations and trade associations counter tax increases, and also a leading member of the Tobacco Institute's clandestine Economists' network -- a group of academics who helped the tobacco industry fight proposed tax increase on cigarettes, and tried to counter the declining acceptability of public and workplace smoking.


Fred S. McChesney was born on November 19, 1948 (Washington, D.C.),

In 1978 he received his J.D. at the University of Miami and in 1982 his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Virginia.

In this year he was also a 'Bureau of Consumer Protection' official who was involved in a Federal Trade Commission questionnaire used to survey evidence on the size of the cigarette health-hazard warning on its impact and effectiveness. [1]

In 1983 he became an Assistant Professor at Emory University (Atlanta, GA) and two years later, an Associate Professor at the same university.

Tobacco witness

In June 1984 the U.S. Treasury Department held tax simplification hearings throughout the country. Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) was involved in six out of the eight hearings, hiring local academicians in each city to prepare and deliver testimony against excise taxes. They also arranged media coverage for the academicians and traveled to each city to coordinate their activities. [2]

At the hearings held in Atlanta on June 20 1984 McChesney gave his testimony, and excerpts were later published in a brochure issued by the Committee on Taxation and Economic Growth entitled: ...The U.S. "Deserves to Have a Tax System Which Looks Like Someone Designed it on Purpose." [3]

The committee had been founded by long-term tobacco lobbyist and academic recruiter, Robert D. Tollison, with Fred McChesney and three other economists (Harold M. Hochman, Thomas E. Borcherding and Dolores T. Martin). It was basically an operation run by O&M for the tobacco industry. A Tobacco Institute document discusses "an informal committee of economists from 42 states who have collectively and individually participated in activities on behalf of the tobacco industry in the areas of excise taxation and public smoking." [4]

On 31 January 1985, M. Hurst Marshall (Tobacco Institute Vice President) sent to his state branches a list of economists from their Economists' network who could "assist TI on the federal cigarette excise tax issue". An attachment to the letter asked them to spread this information to their lobbyists. [5] [6]. This was essentially a list of members of the 'Economist's network' or the 'Committee on Taxation and Economic Growth' (they overlap).

On February 8, 1985 Robert D. Tollison and Fred McChesney participated in tax reform seminar sponsored by the Emory University and featuring Congressman Fowler. [7] [8] [9]

On March 6, 1985 Maureen Delanty of O&M reported in the 'February Monthly Report' to Peter G. Sparber (TI Vice President) that she had:

"Attended Public Choice Society meeting in New Orleans and reported to you on the event. Final revisions are complete on Fred McChesney's paper and he will submit it for publication in the next two weeks." [10]

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, GA) published on March 10, 1985 an op-ed article called "Simplifed Tax System Is Needed to End Confusion and Inequities" in which he wrote:

"Both excise and corporate taxes should be eliminated. ... tobacco-product manufacturers have an effective rate of 36 percent. Other corporations escape with tax rates as low as 2 percent of income." [11] [12]

Another of his tobacco industry friendly op-eds called "Is the American Tax System Fair? " was published in News (North Tonawanda, NY) on July 31, 1985. [13]

Current activities

In 1986 and 1987 he was the John M. Olin Fellow in Law & Economics at the School of Law, University of Chicago and a Visiting Professor in 1987 and 1988 at the same university.

On January 11, 1989 his name was still on TI's list of economists. [14]

More recently Fred McChesney occupies the position of the James B. Haddad Professor at Northwestern University Law School (Chicago, IL).

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