Thomas F Pogue

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Thomas ('Tom') Pogue was a Professor of Economics at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. He was also a member 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 which was located on the grounds of George Mason University.

He was recruited by the tobacco industry in late 1984 or early 1985, but for some reason the C/V on their files dates from May 1987 -- so he must have been involved in some special project at about this time. See his C/V

The network later 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


C4C Network Phases

The Cash for Comments Economists' Network developed in five clearly identifiable phases.

  • Phase 1. (c 1979) Professors Robert D Tollison and Richard Wagner were recruited by George R Berman (Philip Morris and Devon Management Resources) to provide propaganda writing services to the International Committee on Smoking Issues (ICOSI) which met in Brussels under the direction of Mary Covington.
  • Phase 2. (c late 1983) Tollison and Wagner were transferred to the control of Ogilvy & Mather PR (James Savarese) in the USA under the control of the Tobacco Institute. They were joined by economics professors Harold M Hochman, Fred McChesney, Thomas Borcherding and Dolores Martin to form the Committee on Tax & Economic Growth. The CTEG offered advice on the desirability of low excise taxes on cigarettes to the media and politicians as esteemed members of an 'independent' society or experts.
  • Phase 3. (May 1984) Tollison and Savarese now established the cash-for-comments network for the Tobacco Institute using the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University as a money laundry channel. They recruited 42 professors (they claimed) from the Public Choice Society (some didn't last long) before the end of 1985. Their task was mainly to write op-eds on specified subjects for their local newspapers, and they were paid a bonus for contacting their local Assemblymen and Congressmen. They were also to be available to the tobacco industry's State lobbyists as 'independent' witnesses at ordinance and Congressional hearings on workplace smoking, etc. (The promised 'secrecy' was not well preserved within the Tobacco Institute).
  • Phase 4. (c 1986) Savarese and Tollison now formed a formal partnership Savarese & Associates and expanded the network to include at least one professor of economics in each State (some States had two). Payment was increased; there was a regular turnover, but the numbers stabilised. Eventually the Tobacco Institute became annoyed with the mark-up that the partnership added to its bills, and sent in the auditors. They didn't like what they found.
  • Phase 5. (c. 1996) The Savarese/Tollison partnership continued with a few of Tollison's close associates, but the bulk of the network broke away and began to operate directly to the Tobacco Institute under the leadership of Robert Higgs and William Shughart through the Independent Institute think-tank.

Documents & Timeline

1984 April 30 The Tobacco Institute's Cigarette Excise Tax Plan. This is a long document with substantial material about the enlistment of economists to help them fight excise tax battles

It notes that in August 1983, Governor Perpich of Minnesota had created a Tax Study Commission and that

It will release a final report this fall to "provide the Legislature with a data basis and policy guide for tax policy in the next 10-15 years." (Statement made by George Latimer, Chairman of the Commission). One chapter of the Commission's report is titled "Special Sales and Excise Taxation." This includes tobacco, alcoholic beverages, motor vehicles, and motor fuel. Tom Pogue, a public finance economist from the University of Iowa, is the author.

The report was due for release in the Fall of 1984. See page 85 of 109.

[This is probably the first time Pogue came to the attention of the Tobacco Institute's lobbyists. The new network of academic economists was just being established in 1984.]

1985 Jan 1 Draft articles have been sent to the Tobacco Institute by a number of academic economists. President Reagan, at the beginning of his second term, had asked Senator Robert Packwood (R-OR) to devise a plan to increase taxes without changing the income tax laws. This essentially meant an increase in excises on such products as cigarettes -- and so the tobacco industry mounted a full-scale attack on the 'Packwood Plan'.

They enlisted a new set of op-ed economist authors:

[All of the articles written by this new batch of economists attack the Packwood Tax Plan, and all have been carefully retyped by Tobacco Institute secretaries ready for distribution to appropriate local newspapers.]
[They all manage to write their article without mentioning cigarettes -- or that they were paid by the tobacco industry (and probably also by the newspaper.].

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). [3]
This was a massive amount of propaganda coverage for a payment of less than $1000 each to these Professors at that time.

1986 May The Tobacco Institute is celebrating their success in having Professors of Economics (the surreptitious members of their Cash for Comments Economists Network) and a few others, plant many articles attacking the Packwood excise tax plan on local newspapers (as op-eds) in many states. They have circulated this long memo with headlines and placement details in various State newspapers, together with quotes from the various articles:

Thomas F. Pogue, Professor of Economics, University of Iowa, in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
"Packwood Proposal is not tax reform"
"But for most low- and middle-bracket taxpayers, the benefits of lower tax rates and higher exemptions would be more than offset by the higher prices paid for products subject to excise taxes and tariffs."

1986 May /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]

The individual payments are listed here [5] and later supplementary payments here [6]. The GMU production staff were also being paid another $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.