John David

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

Professor John David, taught economics at West Virginia Technic in Charleston; he was an early recruit into the Tobacco Institute's Cash for Comments Economists Network. John David and about 40 other economists (at any one time) wrote pro-tobacco industry articles which were planted on local newspapers like the Charleston Gazette. The operations of this network were kept confidentialt, and instructions and payments were all channeled through Ogilvy & Mather (PR), and later James Savarese & Associates; The O&M lobbyist, Jim Savarese had a economics background, and he ran a number of scams for the tobacco industry, all essentially dealing economics propaganda (against cigarette excise taxes, etc) and in running the Labor Management Committee (which handled bribery of union officials, and other related activities).

The Cash-for-Comments Economists Network was run by Savarese along with his TI-designated partner, Professor Robert D Tollison, who provided the services of the staff and facilities of the Center for Study of Public Choice (CSPC) at George Mason University. The staff of the CSPC also prove cut-out and organisational services, and most of the recruits were also linked to the Public Choice Society (PCS). Tollison and Savarese developed the network to maintain at least one academic economist in virtually every US state (there was a regular turn-over), so over time about 130 university professors were involved; (1985-1995) The annual costs ran to $3 million at a time when professor's salaries were in the $30-40,000/year range, so 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, where public relations experts would make them suitable for lay readers. Here they were also 'improved' and refined in ways that suited the tobacco industry; then sent to the Institute's outside lawyers for vetting. A modified article returned to the professor, and he/she would then send it to a designated State newspaper with a note claiming that it was his 'independent expert opinion'. The professors received a base amount for writing, and an extra bonus for successfully planting the article on important local newspapers.

Published papers would also be copied by the professor and sent to his local Congressional Representative and Senator (for a further bonus). 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 double his salary with these activities and with some further appearances, for instance, speaking engagements on the importance of cigarettes to the national economy -- or as a discussant at major economic conferences, etc. Articles written by one network economist could always be favourably peer-reviewed by another; and they often provide gratis reviews of articles free to their local newspaper, along with the occasional letter-to-the editor.

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