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William Anderson

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


William Anderson, an economics professor with the Office of Economic Development, City of Chattanooga, was recruited to help the tobacco industry survive by Robert Tollison an economist at George Mason University and James Savarese, a lobbyist with Ogilvy and Mather in the early 1990s (later with his own lobbying company).

Overall, this pair recruited (in total) between 120 and 130 professionals and professors of economics (usually Libertarian - Public Choice zealots at State Universities). Some stayed with the tobacco industry for the duration, and others washing temporarily through this lobbying scam. Most of the recruits were members of Tollison's Public Choice Society which had the public-choice libertarian economics guru James Buchanan at its head. Anna Tollison (wife) also appears to have handled the Society and some network operations, while Savarese had Leslie Dawson (wife of Sam Dawson from United Steel Worker's Assoc/union) and Kelleigh Varnum (aka Kelleigh Varnum-Roffman) as his key assistants.

The recruited professors would be instructed on occasions to write a 1200-1400 word opinion article (known as 'op-eds') for their local newspaper. The subject to be discussed or the claim to be challenged, and any important statistical information and possibly a broad outline, would be sent to them along with the names of (usually two) selected newspapers. They would also be given the name of two local Federal or State politicians to lobby by sending a copy of their article, along with a personal note.

They were paid on the basis of work performed -- at rates which varied between $600 and $3,000 for each article. This was good money for a second-rate State university professor of economics at the time. See longer explanations: Economists' network and the full-blown Cash for Comments Economists Network.

Documents & Dates