NLPC (Doc. Index)

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

The National Legal and Policy Center appears to be just another component in the Corporate/Republican web of American public-interest legal-center' networks. But, while it was Scaife-funded like most of the legal centers at this time, it's original emphasis was on countering union and civil-rights activism, and it later purported to plays a [highly-slanted] 'watch-dog' role over Congress and Democrat party-donors.

However it proved to be totally flexible in its counter-activism ... provided corporate money was available to fund its efforts. And so, Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds became allied with the NLPC in a concerted attack on Commissioner Kessler of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- and ExxonMobile supported it financially for climate denial activities. This page is devoted to material mainly culled from the Tobacco Industry Archives held at San Francisco University.

Part 1: The conventional entry National Legal and Policy Center
Part 2: This page, mainly documents from the tobacco industry archives.

General Overview

The NLPC was founded in 1991 with a pump priming injection of $100,000 from Richard Mellon Scaife. The principles clearly have a sense of humour, since they claim that their organization is "non-partisan" and "anti-corruption" -- and their logo carried the sub-title "Promoting Ethics in Public Life." Later they add the rider that "NLPC sponsors the "Corporate Integrity Project" .

Ken Boehm was a far-right-wing Republican lawyer from Colorado (the home of Joseph Coors) while his partner Peter T Flaherty was a long-time Reagan Republican fund-raiser and think-tanker. In 1991 they co-founded the NLPC with Boehm becoming the full-time 'Chairman' and Flaherty the 'President'.

Most of the actual research work at the NLPC was contracted out or done under the direction of Flaherty who is backed by a staff of ten or so, while Boehm was the public face of the organisation. Given the group's enthusiastic use of the lawcourts to harrass liberals, this was a full-time job for all dozen staffers involved.

These two are old friends. Flaherty ran the lobbying group Citizens for Reagan with Ken Boehm as Chairman (later it became Citizens for the Republic) in the early-to-mid 1980s. This was closely associated with the Fund for a Conservative Majority (Jack Kemp, Paul G. Dietrich, Ken Boehm) which was a major fund-raiser for the Ronald Reagan for President campaign during the same period.

Both were Californian-based in the early years, then they shifted to Washington to help run Reagan's successful Presidential campaign. Citizens for Reagan later became a major fund-raiser for Ollie North during the Iran Contra scandal.

The NCLP appears to be modelled both on the Citizens for Reagan and on the FCM, in terms of its use of litigation. It attempts to use law suit harrassment as a weapon against the Democrats by attacking their funding sources and annoying their supporters with frivolous charges. The NCLP carries on these grand old GOP traditions.

Like all good PR operation, it is not always glaringly obvious in its partisanship -- and it makes some efforts to pretend it is balanced. On the positive side of its activities, it does attack earmarking in Congress (both Republican and Democrat), and it does have the resources (roughly $1m a year) to identify and expose corrupt activities in Democratic organisations and among certain 'liberal congressmen'.

It achieves a fascade of bipartisanship by occasionally slapping the wrist of a few Republican trough-hogs in public, but it doesn't take them to court. The Democrats were usually slapped with a law suit.

When it comes to its trade-mark 'public interest legal suits', the NLPC is almost completely blind to the activities of those on the right. In fact, it is almost as vigorous in defending malfeasance on the right as they are in attacking it on the center or left. There is also a substantial religious slant to the NLPC that makes them blind to any iniquity performed in God's name.

In recent years NLPC seem to have become less-obviously in their lobbying for large corporations (which is the source of at least half their funding). Once they were major supporters of the tobacco industry, but since they were publicly exposed as having taken cigarette dollars for many years, their support for public smoking has diminished. The cigarette industry no longer funds them, but they have developed a fascination for chewing tobacco.

Policies and Programs

They were for:

  • Ronald McDonald flogging his fattening fries,
  • The Smokeless Tobacco industry,
  • The unfettered energy industry.
  • The Republican party and (after Reagan, for George W Bush).
  • God and his representatives on earth, provided they vote Republican

They are/were against (in rough order of precendence):

  • Liberals and the 'liberal media'
  • Hillary Clinton and health care reform
  • Federal Electoral Commision's perceived 'slackness'
  • Presidents Clinton and Obama, and their puppet-master Satan
  • Democrat Party leadership - especially Nancy Peolosi
  • George Soros and billionairres who don't vote Republican
  • Legal Services Corporation and legal aid to the poor
  • Climate 'doomsayers'
  • Google
  • people who think tobacco chewing is as bad as smoking
  • funding of Rev Al Sharpton's Democratic presidential campaign (justified)
  • Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae giving Jesse Jackson's fundraiser (probably justified)
  • Regulations against tobacco smoking because it is a personal choice

Legal Aid

During the Reagan Administration Boehm served as Counsel to the Board of Directors of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the federal government program which ostensively provides legal assistance to the poor. However, his activities were all aimed at gutting the program. (He failed.)

Boehm appeared as a regular on the program Conservative Roundtable with [Howard Phillips]], another Republican apparatchik who also specialised in attacking the LSC. Boehm also took on the role of climate sceptic, attacking a 60 Minutes special "Dire Predictions on Global Warming" as "unilateral" and "misleading", and questioning the show's motivations for allowing such a piece to air.

Peter Flaherty co-hosted a NET Capitol Watch program attacking tobacco regulation, and he shared both his media interest and financial base with Boehm who was also a radio talkback host and was a regular on PBS. The NCLC was well funded by the tobacco industry to promote their various causes. Now after the exposure of the dangers of smoking and the chicaneries of the cigarette industry, he now defends smokeless tobacco vigorously.

Hillary Clinton and the FEC

NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful 1993 lawsuit to open the meetings and records of Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care task force. Peter Flaherty then wrote a book in 1995 entitled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton which is about as dispassionate and fair-minded as you would expect from an avid Republican moralist.

But despite the focus of their hatred on the Clintons and the liberals, the main activity of the NLPC was to file suit with the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC). There must be a whole division of the FEC fully devoted to examining the claims laid against Democrats and their supporters by the NLPC. More recently, in October 2004, the organization accused billionaire George Soros of election law violation. Soros had undertaken a media and speaking tour in some swing states during which he called for the defeat of President Bush. His appearances coincided with two-page newspaper ads and mass mailings to voters with the same theme.

The NLPC alleged that Soros may have made illegal expenditures because he failed to fully disclose expenses related to his swing-state speaking tour. Also named as respondents in the complaint were Fenton Communications (a liberal/environmentally-inclined PR organisation) which assisted Soros, and two nonprofit organizations that hosted Soros speeches.

[Note See the excellent Wikipedia entry. There is little point in us duplicating it.]

Documents & Timeline

1983 July Tobacco lobbyist Paul G. Dietrich asks for a donation of $30,000 from the Tobacco Institute to support his National Center for Legislative Research He provides a budget and lists the conservatives and Congressional tobacco friends associated with the NCLR. The Board of Directors consists of Jack Kemp, Samuel G Landfather, Paul G Dietrich Robert Heckman, Dr Thomas Field, Ronald Henges and Kenneth F Boehm. [2]

1984 - 88 Peter T Flaherty served as Chairman of the lobbying group Citizens for Reagan along with Paul G. Dietrich. [3]

1991 Ken Boehm who was the Chairman of Citizens for Reagan, co-founded the National Legal and Policy Institute with Peter Flaherty. Boehm took the title of Chairman, while Flaherty became President. Richard Mellon Sciafe gave the NLPC $100,000.

1993 NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful 1993 lawsuit to open the meetings and records of Hillary Rodham Clinton's health-care task force which had been conducted in private (to avoid Republican attacks while the policy was being formulated).

1994 Oct Flaherty became co-host of National Empowerment Television (NET)'s (Paul Weyrich's) Capitol Watch program which was funded by Philip Morris to attack tobacco regulations. [4]

1995 Fall: CATO Institute's Policy Review article by Kenneth F Boehm and Peter T Flaherty, "Legal Disservices Corp: There Are Better Ways to Provide Legal Aid to the Poor," [5]

1995 Jan 17 Richardson Ziebart Consulting memo to RJ Reynolds headed Ideas for Working with National Legal and Policy Center [Note: The reference to FACA is of the act that allows the Department of Health to form advisory committees.] The NLPC is being used as an attack-dog, trying to challenge the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health by using the FACA. The memo makes it clear that Peter Flaherty and Ken Boehm are trying to 'get' Kessler.

"Peter and Ken believe that Kessler's action probably violated Federal guidelines relating to establishing policy with private groups and individuals without proper public debate.

Our next step is to get back together with them in the next week or so to plot out a specific strategy for further exploring the above issues and other pertinent areas. We believe there is a great opportunity here and will keep you apprised as we progress. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments."


1996 publishing a book co-authored by NLPC President Peter Flaherty entitled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Vital Issues Press).  [7]

1996 Mar /E Further harrassent of the FDA over an insomnia drug Halcion - dutifully reported in the EPA Newsletter (secretly controlled by Philip Morris) [8]

1996 May 3 Boehm is still "chairman of the NLPC while Michael J Nelson is Project Director. Nelson sends Boehm a list of FDA staffers believed to be involved in tobacco regulation (followed by 11 pages of detailed biographies of FDA staff) This is the work of a professional researcher or private detective. (It has been copied to the files of RJ Reynolds).

Each biography lists statements the FDA staffer may have made about tobacco dangers; industry information about past dealings; and it provides details as to which other FDA problems they have worked on (presumably to enlist other industries that the FDA staffer has policed) [9]

1996 Mar 29 Investors Business Daily (a tobacco- and big-business-friendly newspaper, reports on further FOIA harrasment of the FDA "Have FDA officals gone Rogue?" [10]

1996 May 3 Ken Boehm is "chairman" and providing Philip Morris with background on FDA staffers and their anti-tobacco meetings. This is real spy stuff. [11]

1997 Nov 7 The weekly report of Philip Morris Federal Tobacco Team's Washington lobbyist, Beverly McKittrick, reports

"Had lunch with J Carlisle of National Legal and Policy Center."

along with her other scam work on product liability, etc.[12]

[Note: This meeting is with John K Carlisle, who also worked for the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) run by Amy Moritz Ridenour (an ex-PM employee, described in tobacco documents as "a willing ally".)
As with the NLPC, the NCPPR was formed in the 1980s to support the Reagan administration's military adventures in Central America, but by 1997 it was calling itself a "communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems." It ran the tobacco-supported Project 21 association, a conservative African-American organization that has been funded by RJ Reynolds.]

1999 May 4 A Philip Morris contact report is enthusiastic about using the NLPC because the

"NLPC also ran a program called, FDA Watch. This program monitored David Kessler in the last two years of his term. They round many irregularities at FDA through the enthusiastic use of the Freedom of Information Act.
This is an effective organization. They sent a letter to Senator Robb opposing the Federal Lawsuit.

[Note: The letter was opposing the Clinton Administration suing the tobacco industry]. [13]

1999 May 27 Philip Morris meeting report says:

The anti-tax group, Citizens Against Unfair Taxation, was represented by Dan Rene. They have been very effective in the past by mailing letters in opposition to the 55-cent hike proposed by President Clinton.

Peter Flaherty, representing Citizens for Reform (CFR) was also present. CFR is an organization that opposes the growth of government and the like. Like CAUT, Mr. Flaherty has sent letters [for the tobacco industry to congressmen] in the past and has a particular interest in the Federal Lawsuit.

Ken Boehm from the National Legal and Policy Center was also present . He has a keen interest in the FDA as NLPC ran FDA Watch for the last two years of Mr . Kessler's tenure at the FDA . NLPC is also the organization that successfully sued the Health Care Task Force of Mrs. Clinton. [14]

1999 Aug Article about a law suit in Kentucky for $194,032.72 in reputed unpaid wages and damages to Mexican workers. [Note the incestuous quoting] NLCP complains that:

Legal Services Corp., a non-profit group that receives the majority of its funding from the Federal government to provide free and subsidized legal help to the poor, is overstepping its boundaries by aiding Mexican nationals. Ken Boehm of the watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center points out that the Corp. is violating a provision that requires the organization to represent only those clients who are living in the United States. Boehm said,"They're asking for the world, and they are litigating in a way. . .that's just unethical." [15]

2001 Jun 19 The NLPC is still being contacted by the tobacco Field Action Team representatives over a "FDA Education" program [16] [17]

2002 Mar The NLPC was obviously now 'friendly' with the Smokeleass Tobacco Council,

2002 Apr 15 An article by Joseph A D'Agostino:

The NLPC, a watchdog group, has long trained its fire on another middy-grounded entity, the government-funded Legal Services Corp. (LSC) . The LSC, which is supposed to provide legal assistance to poor people, perennially attracts criticism from conservatives for pursuing left-wing causes and wacky class-action lawsuits paid for with taxpayer money.

"The history of the Legal Services Corp. is a history of failed attempts at reform," NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm testified before a House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Bob Barr (R.-Ga.) on February 28. "Much of the debate in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1973 over pending legislation to establish the Legal Services Corp. dealt with restrictions to prevent a repeat of the political and ideological activities associated with the legal services program which existed under the Office of Economic Opportunity.

"The controversies that have plagued the federal legal services program remain the same. The central criticism has been that activist lawyers have used the program to advance a political and ideological agenda."

Boehm went on to detail how the LSC has circumvented restrictions imposed upon it by Congress in 1996. Among other measures, Congress forbid LSC grantees to take on class-action suits, encourage political activities, or resent aliens not in the country. All 11 members of the LSC's board are up for nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate, said Boehm. "The real issue with Legal Services is, will it be a Bush board or a Daschle board?" he said. "We would like to see the 1996 reforms enforced, and that means that the President must appoint a board that will enforce them." During the first Bush Administration, "Sen. Kennedy never held a hearing on any of Bush's nominees," he said. "The President kept recess-appointing them."

The NLPC is also a clearinghouse for information on union corruption and sends out periodic reports with comprehensive summaries about the never-ending series of union corruption scandals. A new, potentially huge, scandal is now developing, said Boehm and NLPC President Peter Flaherty. A federal grand jury and the AFL-CIO are investigating transactions by the members of the board of insurance company Ullico, which may have allowed the board members to profit at the expense of the company. At least 12 current or former building trade union presidents are members of the board, and so is AFL-CO President John Sweeney. The potential scandal includes an investment in now-bankrupt Global Crossing.

Part of the problem behind incessant union corruption, said Flaherty, is that unions' disclosure forms are 'vague.' And, said Boehm, "Unions don't have to use generally accepted accounting practices," as corporations must.

Any criticism of unions by conservatives must include a mention of Communications Workers of America v. Beck, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled that Workers cannot be forced to fund unions' political activities. But many union members do not know that, because Beck has never been enforced. "The best way is for Congress to pass a statute, but that isn't going to happen," said Flaherty. Essentially, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) must enforce the decision -- something that only the President could trigger with good appointments.

Right now, NLPC is helping the get -- Jesse-Jackson campaign. "Jackson's approach is akin to yakuza and other classic protection rackets: You hand over money, or we'll carry out our threat," Flaherty wrote in a September 2001 article. "His method of retaliation? Playing the race card."

"We've heard talk of a RICO suit," said Boehm. "We could see how it might qualify. We even know of a black minister who says he was sold out by Jackson."[18]

2003 Sep 22 After years of taking Philip Morris's silver, the NLPC has had a change of heart about regulation -- but it is caught up in a quandry: Flaherty now has to play Mr Clean -- the anti-Big Tobacco activist.

Republicans and tobacco-state lawmakers, who in the past beat back plans to regulate tobacco products, are joining forces with the biggest cigarette manufacturer in supporting new strict oversight of the industry. "This is clearly a very different kind of momentum than what we've had before," said Wendy Selig, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society.

A Senate committee on Thursday is expected to consider a tobacco regulation bill that would give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to regulate tobacco. Tobacco-state lawmakers are backing such a measure in exchange for financial help for cash-strapped tobacco farmers. Republicans now see that Philip Morris USA, a top party contributor and maker of Marlboro cigarettes, has reversed course and favors regulation.

"Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) , today criticized an emerging deal on Capitol Hill that would provide tobacco growers a one-time payout between $13 billion and $16 billion, while at the same time bringing tobacco products under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Pursuant to the deal orchestrated by Philip Morris lobbyists, tobacco state legislators would drop their longstanding opposition to FDA oversight of tobacco, if anti-tobacco legislators would support the bailout.

Flaherty said.
"Let me explain this unholy alliance. After years of fighting FDA oversight, Philip Morris, the dominant tobacco manufacturer, now sees the proposed FDA advertising and marketing rules as a useful tool to punish its competitors and increase its market share. This is a classic case of a big company manipulating government regulation to squeeze its competitors.

The NLPC is now the farmers friend - promoting a government buyout of tobacco quotas. (Chewing tobacco doesn't use much)

"Money from a quota buyout would enable older farmers to retire. Younger farmers, many of whom lease quotas, could use the buyout to pay off debts and switch crops, if they can find profitable alternatives. Both outcomes would serve public purposes well." [19]

2004 Mar Ken Boehm of the National Legal & Policy Center (NLPC) filed a request under the Data Quality Act (DQA) for correction of a document from the National Institute of Aging (NIA) that contained, what they said was misinformation, regarding the relative risks of Smokeless Tobacco versus cigarettes.

The request resulted in a change of wording from the original text:

"Some people think ST (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safer than cigarettes. They are not."

The revised wording from NIA was:

"Some people think ST (chewing tobacco and snuff), pipes, and cigars are safe. They are not."

The claim that Smokeless Tpbacco products are not "safe" is a tactic that can be traced back to the 1986 Comprehensive Smokeless Tobacco Education Act, which required as one-of-three warnings on all Smokeless Tobacco products: '"This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes." [20]

2004 Dec 24 A Denver Business Journal article is headlined: "Questions HHS Stance On Banning All Tobacco Use."

Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, questioned the rationale of the US Department of Health and Human Services'mban on the use of all tobacco products on its campuses starting January 1, because the measure implies that smokeless products pose the same health risks as cigarettes, and ignores a growing body of scientific research about smokeless tobacco. [21]

2005 Sep 22 The NLCP seems to be attacking the National Institute for Aging again.

In response to a formal complaint lodged by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) of Virginia on March 16th, the National Institute of Aging (NIA) in Wisconsin sent a letter on June 29th to the NLPC stating that the institute has agreed to revise its Age Page website as well as printed literature entitled Smoking : Its never too late to stop. The NLPC had accused the NIA of disseminating inaccurate information regarding the relative risks of smokeless tobacco products and violaring the Data Quality Act. [22]

2009 Feb 3 NLPC Report: "The center's nonprofit status allows it to keep its funding private. Flaherty wouldn't disclose his donor list but acknowledged that the biggest source of funds comes from foundations associated with Richard Mellon Scaife, the billionaire heir to the Mellon fortune and well-known supporter of conservative public policy organizations. Scaife's donations make up less than 10 percent of the center's $1.4 million annual budget, with the lion's share of the rest coming from individuals and averaging $200, Flaherty said.

He also fed the media information via via a special channel to journalists at Murdoch's New York Post] [23]