Calvin H George

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

Cal George was an Issues manager at the Tobacco Institute in the period 1990 to late 1993. He worked with Martin Gleason, Martha Rinker, Susan Stuntz and Carol Hrycaj in handing many of the tobacco industry scams. This group handled the Cash for Comments Economists Network and the Labor Management Committee along with dozens of other underhand projects.

He also dealt with the various think-tanks and policy institutes which helped the tobacco industry, although payment of their grants/bribes would have been handled by a seperate division.

A list of Cal George's files in late 1993 gives an indication of the area he covered. The files all appear to be Democrat and union-oriented.[2]

In October 1993 there was a complete reorganisation of the Institute and his job was terminated along with 37 other staff members. [3]

Documents & Timeline

1991 Jun Calvin ('Cal') H George and Carol Hrycaj were now looking after the "Social Cost" issues management at the Tobacco Institute. Their report for June shows:

A task force comprised of consultants and TI staff was convened to discuss the promotion of The Institute's social cost resources and to address using the resources more aggressively in the workplace and public smoking areas.

The first draft was received of consulting economist Robert Ekelund's critique of the underlying methodology the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used to estimate the "social cost" of smoking. Review and clearance of the white paper will be completed this summer. We anticipate promoting the HHS critique this fall in major media markets and to key policy makers.

At the state level, social cost media tours were activated to respond to Pennsylvania Governor Casey's use of "cost" arguments to justify the proposed 30-cent hike in the state's cigarette excise tax. In advance of the tours, we developed the pitch materials and worked closely with Media Relations to finalize details for the visits.

Consulting economist Robert Tollison and a spokesperson from The Institute traveled to Harrisburg and Philadelphia to discuss the social cost concept and tobacco-related issues with the media. Richard Wagner discussed the taxes and social cost theory with reporters in Pittsburgh and Scranton. [4]

1991 Jul 1 Savarese now has a new executive at the Tobacco Institute in Calvin George. He writes to him with yet another Ekelund research proposal.

Excise Taxes and Excise Tax Increases: Effects on Rural Americans.
In research conducted in 1989 Ekelund and Long (May 1989) uncovered a significant bias in the distributional impact of excise taxes. Specifically, a disproportionate burden of such taxes fall on rural consumers, including farmers.

They want to update the old study for a fee of $28,000. [5]

1993 Apr 8 The economist's network is still functioning, but Savarese and Tollison have negotiated a different deal for the participants. Savarese now bills the Tobacco Institute for economist network op-ed commissions, half-down and half on delivery. They are being paid for preparing the articles rather than only when they succeeded in getting their articles published. This bill is for $37,000.

  • Op-ed article by Robert Tollison to be submitted to Wall Street Journal -- $4,000.00
  • Rebuttal article by Bob Ekelund, Auburn Univeristy, to be submitted to the Birmingham News -- $3,000.00
  • "Monster" tax op-ed project using twenty economists to submit articles in opposition to using excise taxes on cigarettes to finance health care reform - to be submitted to twenty newspapers in twenty different states. FIRST HALF = $30,000.00 [6]

[Note:They now get $3,000 each per article -- half on commission/half on deliver -- while Tollison gets $4,000]

1993 Apr 13 Calvin George writes to his Tobacco Industry boss Susan Stuntz asking for permission to spend the $67,000 for the 22 op-eds listed by Savarese.

As previously discussed, the 20 economists proposed for the comprehensive op-ed program in opposition to excise taxes for health care reform have been selected with two primary criteria in mind:

  • first, capacity to reach major media markets in states and Congressional Districts represented by key members of the Senate and House Leadership, as well as the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees; and
  • second, the previous track record of the economists in being able to place successfully op-eds in the major dailies identified.

The cost of this project would be $67,000, which is consistent with previous experience for similar efforts. I am recommending approval of this proposal. Funds are available for this purpose under the line items for "Economists to deliver briefings, testimony, and write articles..." ($45,000) and "Op-eds care costs" ($25,000). [7]

1993 Jun 25 Tollison to Susan Stuntz and Cal George, with 3 pages consisting of copies of letters-to-editors

"These have been submitted via fax to New York Times, News and Observer, Professor [Mark] Fleming at NC State." [8]

[Tollison has drafted LTE's for the Tobacco Institute -- perhaps Fleming has put his name to them?]

1993 Jul 1 Cal George was sending material to Bob Tollison [9]

1993 Jul 12 Public Affairs at the Tobacco Institute sending material to Richard Wagner at GMU [10]

1993 Oct Towards the end of this year there was a reorganisation of the Tobacco Institute where:

  • The overall TI budget was proposed to be cut by 61%, from $38,925,000 down to $15,000,000
  • 38 staff positions were to be eliminated.
  • 34 staff were to be fired (15 professional and 19 support staff) -- $2m in termination costs.
  • Close all field offices -- terminate 5 Regional VPs
  • Freeze all salary reviews
  • Eliminate the Public Affairs and Federal Relations divisions and merge the remaining staff into Issues Management

His position was terminated and he was advised in November

1993 Oct 22 Job was terminated at the Tobacco Institute, along with 37 other staff members.