Robert Wolper

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Bob Wolper was the Tobacco Institute's labor lobbyist in Pennsylvania. He worked for and through the Labor Management Committee run by James Savarese and Susan Stuntz. Wolper was married to the Democrat Representative Karen Ritter, who was also a partner in his lobbying business Wolper & Ritter. This gave him a special position in lobbying circles in Philadelphia.

Documents & Timeline


1991 Feb Wolper's first Activities Report to James Savarese, John O'Connor and Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute. His main points were:

  • [He had an] orientation meeting with the Labor Management Committee (LMC) in DC on the 8th Feb.
  • Upon officially being retained by the LMC, I received Bill George's permission to attend the PA AFL-CIO biennial legislative conference in Hersey, PA, on 2/28/91.
  • Bill George and Judi Heh (the Executive VP of the PA AFL-CIO) have expressed interest in the possibility of the LMC hosting a reception or dinner during the CLC conference.
  • I have had an in-depth discussion with Bloomingdale on the National AFL-CIO policy against excise taxes, which I will be continuing in the next two weeks.
  • I should note my request for funding help for a revenue study to be conducted by the PA Institute on Public Policy (PIOP). The purpose of this study would be to create the research base that could be used to support arguments against excise taxes.
    [He then lists a number of top union officials he is trying to recruit]
  • As a result of indications I received at the meeting in DC that the LMC would be interested in working with Citizen Action organizations on the tax issue I established contact with Jeff Blum, the Executive Director of PA Citizen Action. I have known Jeff since we were both on the founding Board of PennPIC, the predecessor of PA Citizen Action.
          Jeff indicated that he would be interested in helping LMC on the tax issue by acting as a consumer voice against regressive taxes. He said that he would make the rounds of talk shows in the state and he could even gear up his entire organization if sufficient funding could be made available.
          Blum indicated that he was looking for S10,000 per month for his organization or, alternatively, for $5000 per month for himself if he was to be working on the issue alone.


1992 Jan 31 LMC consultant, Bob Wolper's monthly activities report to Savarese, Stuntz and O'Connor. He has been highly active in organising union leaders with the Tobacco Institute lobbyists Jim Carey [who worked for Savarese] and Bob Cohen.

I also talked with them about the IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) concept and they were very receptive. In fact, they assured me that as soon as there was a bill drafted that would call for full-cost contracting of state bids they were prepaned to start to apply pressure for its passage.

The Pittsburgh meeting was designed to get the Trades and unions like AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and SEIU (Service Employees International Union) to work together to focus on the need for OSHA standards for IAQ and to create a demand for NEMI involvement in building inspection and the consequent retrofitting needed to restore sick buildings.

[The NEMI was a union based operation funded by the tobacco industry that was pre-programmed to produce reports which would demand retrofitting of buildings with higher air-exchange-rate ventilation systems. This would then largely obviate the need for smoking restrictions (but cost a fortune to run].

The last major meeting that I had this month was a dinner with Bill George [AFL-CIO], Dan Sullivan, Tom Miller who heads the PA Building Trades, H&W Chairman Dave Richardson and two of his staffers, Policy Chair Allen Kukovich and State Representatives Vince Hughes, Leo Trich, Karen Ritter [Wolper's wife], Bob Freeman, Sara Steelman, Harold James and his staff person, Mike Sturla and Dave Levdansky along with Professor Marshall Barry of Miami International University.

The purpose of this meeting was to talk about the Operating Engineers proposal, and to see if there was interest in such an idea being adapted in Pennsylvania.

I have also received a request from Bill George for LMC to participate in the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Convention in March of this year. The request is attached. Without having definitive cost estimate I don't really know yet what this would cost but I would assume that both events would total a little less than $10,000.

Given the level of involvement that LMC has ongoing with Labor, and especially with Bill George and the AFL-CIO on a whole range of issues. I would recommend that LMC meet this request [3]

1992 Mar 31 Wolper is reporting on his activities to James Savarese & Associates. He was working on the issues of Indoor Air Quality, dedicated funding, and privacy. Gene Knopf and the PA AFL-CIO conference are mentioned
He is working as a tobacco lobbyist at the convention [4]

1992 Dec 15 Ogilvy Mather & Rinehart are running the Labor Management Committee (LMC) and their consultant/lobbyists are being commissioned to lobby freshmen Congressmen on behalf of the tobacco industry. These consultants have just been given a junket in Puerto Rico to attend a conference.

  • Phil Giarrizzo -- Californian LMC lobbyist
  • Frank Ortis -- Florida LMC lobbyist
  • John O'Connell -- Illinois LMC lobbyist
  • Doug Weiland -- Michigan LMC lobbyist
  • Senator John D Cherry -- Michigan (ex-political director of AFSCME)
  • Harry Kaiser -- Ohio and later federal LMC lobbyist
  • Bob Wolper -- Pennsylvania LMC lobbyist
  • Harry Hubbard -- Texas LMC lobbyist
  • Charlie Pearce -- Mid-Atlantic LMC lobbyist
  • Joe Daniels -- Washington State LMC lobbyist

See the full lobbyist/consultant list plus LMC organisers, union leaders, Tobacco Institute staff, etc. invited to the Fall 1993 conference

1992 Dec 15 A Tobacco Institute: Points of Discussion/Agreement document

  • Develop strategy for reaching new members of House Ways and Means Committee.
  • Have Labor Management Committee (LMC) work with Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on new fair tax study.
  • Explore possibility of CTJ and/or EPI doing research.
  • Through some LMC ally, prepare a report which "bundles" the range of middle class tax increases which are being proposed to finance economic stimulus, health care reform and/or deficit reduction.

Robert Wolper and his wife, politician Karen Ritter, are listed as contacts to be utilized.

1993 Feb 24 Ogilvy Adams & Rinehart/James Savarese & Associates reports to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco institute about

"the activities of Jim Carey, Leslie Dawson, Tom Donahue Jr, Mike Forscey, John Jarvis, Harry Kaiser, Eric Shulman, Marcia Silverman and Jim Savarese during the AFL-CIO Executive Council meetings at Bal Harbour, Florida.

Discussion here about the value of Bob Wolper as liason with ALF-CIO

1993 Jul 23 Bob Wolper and his Democrat politician wife Karen Ritter are listed as "Attendees" at a Pennsylvanian Delegation Dinner run by the tobacco industry at an National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) conference in San Diego. They are not included as lobbyists, although they are with numerous Tobacco Institute staff and state/regional lobbyists. [The Honorable Karen Ritter is also listed to receive the tobacco industry's 'Gift Pack' at Xmas]

1993 Aug 4 Tobacco Institute Labor Managment Committee financial accounts. For the Year to July:

Disbursements -- lobbying expenditures --

  • Jan -- $ 4,620
  • Feb -- $ 7,319
  • Mar -- $ 5,858
  • Apr -- $ 7,893
  • May -- $ 6,425
  • June -- $ 4,669
  • July -- $ 4,761

1993 Oct 14 Savarese & Associates is again billing the Tobacco Institute for -- September Consulting Fees -- $20,000 They are also seeking the recovery of air-fares for LMC union leaders on a junket to the annual Labor Management Committee conference, this time in Phoenix Arizona. This person is listed as having taken the junket. The LMC (via Savarese) is paying for two consultants:

  • John Brown -- 16 hours at $130 -- $2,080 This charge is for the September Activities of John Brown who

    Assisted in preparation for President Clinton's speech [and] Contacted labor representatives to gauge response and support.

    [Not clear whether this was writing a speech for Clinton via the AFL-CIO, or writing a criticism about a Clinton speech.]

  • Stan Gordon -- (called Subcontractor B) -- 15 hrs at $100 -- $1,500 He is lobbying the AFL-CIO by meeting with new Community Services director, Green Lewis. He also met with the AFGE about indoor air quality issues

1994 Apr The Tobacco Institute passed checks through the Labor Management Committee for Bob Wolper (PA). Budget for this year was $30,000 April check $ 2,650 (includes expenses)

1994 Apr 1 Bob Wolper to Jim Savarese -- March 1994 Monthly Report

I met this month with AFSCME, Building Trades, Carpenters, UFCW, SEIU, IBEW, Sheetmetal, IAM and Firefighters, among others, in Pittsburgh, There were no expenses to the LMC in these meetings as I was able to conduct them as an adjunct to other political work I was doing in the area

There is an awareness that the current high profile campaign against tobacco is definitely fueling a growing public perception problem for the industry and that this problem could eventually have serious consequences in the collective bargaining arena. I also had a meeting with Tom Kelly of the Sheetmetal Workers Local 19 in Philadelphia where we discussed the IAQ issue and the relationship between health care reform and IAQ. Kelly is very supportive of the concept of working to improve air quality as a job generator for his members as well as a way to lend a more balanced perspective to the anti-smoking crusade. He believes, as I do, that when the issues of health care reform and how to pay for it becomes a State issue it will be imperative for the Sheetmetal Workers and other members of the LMC to take an active role in the public debate.

That is why he is very involved in the race for Governor and Lieutenant Governor in Pennsylvania right now, as are many other Unions. Two days later he reported:

The May 1994 Primary Election was held on May 10, 1994, the Democrats nominated Lt. Gov. Mark Singel for Governor and former secretary of Labor Tom Foley for Lt. Governor. My wife lost her bid for Lt. Governor and will be serving out her term as a legislator for the rest of this year.

1994 May The Labor Management Committee's annual budget for Bob Wolper (in Pennsylvania) in the year 1994 was $30,000 plus expenses.

1994 Dec 31 The Tobacco Institute's Statement of Disbursements for the LMC for the 1993-94 year show that Robert Wolper/Wolper & Assocaites received regular payments of thousands of dollars from this source alone:

1995 Nov 13-20 The Labor Management Committee's annual conference & golf week. The rooming list includes Bob Wolper and Karen Ritter -- neither were golfers. The conference agenda lists all the main conspirators preaching to each other. Bill Adams at the Tobacco Institute sends Scott Wilson a brief summary and outline of all the labor people who will be participating.

Bob Wolper
LMC consultant in Pennsylvania
Wife lost run for Lieutenant Governor
Very close to State Fed President
No golf

"Bob Wolper ran Paul McHale's successful congressional campaigns in 1992 and 1994. His wife, Karen Ritter, was a popular state representative from Allentown. They're both in the consulting biz now, and even helped Sam Bennett in her unsuccessful mayoral campaigns." [2007 Online quote]

1995 Nov 13-20 The Labor Management Committee's annual conference & golf week. The rooming list includes Bob Wolper & Karen Ritter -- neiher were golfers.

1996 May Karen Ritter has been soundly defeated by Republican Joe Conti.

1996 Jun 14 Tobacco Institute staff meeting notes on Planning of the LMC Confererence

Staff to work at the conference will include Jackie Hampel and Leslie Dawson from LMC and Marie Terova from TI.
[Jackie and Leslie were employees of Jim Savarese]

The letters of invitation will be handled by LMC and should be mailed by mid-July. Jackie will provide a draft of the invitation for Walter [Woodson of TI] to review. Letters to Members will either be signed by Jim Savarese or Bobby Curtis and will also be mailed in July. LMC members should only be staying for three nights and should be leaving on Tuesday afternoon. Rental cars cannot be charged to the master account. Spa services will be available to those that do not wish to participate in golf or tennis and Marie will contact the Phoenician re developing certificates for two spa services, with the understanding that TI will only pay for services actually used. Any services used in the beauty salon will be charged to the personal accounts. The Saturday night reception/dinner will be a Mexican fiesta with small mariachi band. It was agreed that there was too much food last year and it will be cut back and also the wine prices will be more carefully monitored. Expensive decorations are not needed.

Jim Savarese will have a hospitality suite in the Ambassador Suite.

[The Guestrooms at the Phoenician cost the Tobacco Institute $250 per night, while the Ambassador Suite cost $1,150. Pcnnsylvania LMC Counsel Bob Wolper and Karen Ritter were on the list of attendees.

1997 Jan 16 Walter Woodson to Roger Mozingo outlining the TI's Labor Management Committee and its state consultant group . They are registered as lobbyists with the LMC, not with the Tobacco Institute.

  • Harry Kaiser: Harry is from Ohio and acts as the LMC's Midwest regional coordinator. For example, Harry organizes efforts with the Strategy Group and others to generate labor support in states where we have no official LMC presence. He also works regularly on federal matters, [Earns $184,000 pa]
  • Bob Wolper: Pennsylvania [Earns $32,000 pa]
  • Frank Ortis: Florida [Earns $30,000 pa]
  • Doug Weiland: Michigan [Earns $30,000 pa]
  • Art Carter : California [Earns $90,000 pa]
  • Lowell Junkins: Iowa [Earns $18,000 pa]
  • Jim Featherstonhaugh: New York [Earns $45,000 pa]
  • David Roe: Minnesota [Earns $30,000 pa]
  • Tommy Donahue: New England. We are looking for an on-the-ground consultant for the LMC.[Earns $120,000 pa]
  • Sam Dawson; Sam lives in Austin, TX, but handles state LMC work throughout the southwest, including Arizona, Utah and other states. He has worked extensively with Randy Mortis and is beginning to work more and more with [TI Regional Director] Gary Anderson. Sam, the political director of the steelworkers for 25 years, also works on many federal issues.[Earns $80,000 pa from the TI]
  • Bill Holayter: Primarily a federal LMC worker, Bill also coordinates LMC work in the northwest. He has many contacts in the states which he developed over the years as a high official with the machinists.
  • We hope to have our LMC consultant situation in Washington state worked out within a matter of days.


1997 May 15 Jim Savarese writes to Walter Woodson confirming decisions made during their meeting over a $300,000 increase in Tobacco Institute budget for the LMC to come from the cigarette companies (and an equal reallocation of funds from the Tobacco Institute).

Their verbal agreement to change the budget was due to the need to combat the "daily political and social pressures to protect the industry" .

However, this ongoing pressure and events of the past six months at the federal and state levels -- including massive sums of money made available by anti-smoking groups -- have led Committee members to realize that the severe cutbacks in the Committee budget that took place more than three years ago are now impeding the Committee's opportunity for maximum effectiveness. The cutbacks are being felt most acutely in two specific areas: federal grassroots lobbying and state issues, particularly excise taxes. In order to strengthen the LMC's capabilities in these areas, we are recommending the following programmatic actions and corresponding budgetary increases for the remainder of calendar year 1997.

  • AFL-CIO and Key International Unions
    Because of the changes within the leadership of the AFL-CIO and the emergence of the public sector and health care unions within the federation, it is critical that the Committee take a proactive approach in building a stronger relationship with the federation and its leadership. We are recommending that resources be made available to support appropriate initiatives that would serve the interests of the AFL-CIO and the LMC.
          As an example, major unions are interested in a study analyzing the structure and options for funding government. They are considering working with the Economic Policy Institute on this project, an organization the Committee has supported in the past. It is possible that the LMC could provide a grant to EPI to assist with this project.
    Suggested: $150,000 to $175,000.
  • Citizens for Tax Justice
    The most effective resource available to the Committee on federal and state tax issues is Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), which remains the preeminent tax research and advocacy group in Washington. Since the Committee began its relationship with CTJ, the organization has been invaluable in promoting the fair tax, anti-excise tax message.
          With federal issues such as funding child health care and state issues such as financing public education continuing to grow in importance, the Committee will be calling upon CTJ more and more to do the type of work it did in Maryland and Texas most recently.
          CTJ has a very small staff and limited budget. We recommend an increase in the grant the Committee provides CTJ.
    They wanted an additional $75,000
    [Handwritten note says "NO"... but they eventually gave it twice this amount later]
  • National Council of Senior Citizens
    Over the years, the Committee has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the National Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), which has become one of the most effective federal and state grassroots action organizations associated with the labor movement. Because of the political importance of the senior community, the industry's vulnerability with it and the potency of NCSC, we are recommending that the Committee's grant to the organization be increased. This grant should be targeted to those states which will provide maximum leverage of seniors to the LMC's federal grassroots activity.
    They wanted $50,000
    [Handnote says "$40,000 if given better xxxxx]"
  • Leslie Dawson
    With the implementation of the grassroots lobbying program and expansion of outreach to national labor support groups (LCLAA, CLUW, APRI, NCSC) and progressive state organizations (to be addressed below), effective coordination of activity with all parts of the Committee will be essential. We recommend the Committee retain Leslie Dawson. She has worked with the Committee for more than 10 years and has been involved in every major program and initiative the Committee has undertaken during this time. Her institutional knowledge will be extremely valuable to the Committee. The expansion in all levels of grassroots activity will require additional administrative and organizing help for the LMC to be effective.
    Budget- $14,000   [ticked agreement]
  • Progressive Organizations [State]
    Over the years, the Committee had built relationships with potent, labor-supported progressive organizations in a number of states. These relationships have been extraordinarily helpful in the Committee's efforts on specific issues, primarily excise taxes. Organizations such as the state affiliates of CTJ and Citizen Action have provided a highly credible voice and tremendous grassroots capability on these issues.
          And it must be remembered that the attitudes of union members regarding tobacco issues have changed along with those of the public at large. Thus, the effort to gain support from organized labor has become much harder, just as it has in Congress or the business community.
          In order to get back in the ball game and reestablish these relationships, we recommend undertaking a major outreach program, which includes significant grants to progressive organizations in targeted states.
    Budgeted: $150,000 + $50,000 for research .

Also payments of another $500 a month to existing consultants and the hiring of new ones.

1998 Jan 14 The Steering Committee of the LMC has had a final fling with a conference at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach Florida, mid-winter. Savarese has organized it and billed the Tobacco Institute $21,490.58 for expenses.
The Committee appoints Chris Scott, Tom McNutt, George Gould and Jack Otero as Federal lobbyists.

They also decide on a "pick-a-figure" budget for the coming year. It totals $2.659 million.

RESOLVED, that the Committee appoints James Savarese as Executive Director of the Committee; Harry Kaiser as Associate Executive Director of the Committee; John Jarvis and Jack Flynn as federal legislative consultants to the Committee; Tom Donahue, Bill Holayter and Sam Dawson as national consultants to the Committee; Bob Wolper, Joe Daniels, Doug Weiland, Art Carter, Lowell Junkins, Jim Featherstonhaugh, Frank Ortis and Dave Roe to be state consultants to the Committee and Tricom Associates and the Strategy Group to be public relations counsel to the Committee for calendar year 1998.

With a payment of $13,750 Dewey Parker was also appointed as lobbyist for Kentucky.

1998 Jan 21 Bob Wolper is now capitalizing on the legislative contacts of his ex-Representative wife Karen Ritter. They have formed Wolper & Ritter Associates which is billing the LMC $2,750 for some unspecified expense.

1998 Jun The Tobacco Institute paid out between $150,000 and $220,000 monthly to Labor Management Committee companies and lobbyists from January to June of this year. See detailed list of payments.

1999 Apr New Jersey union health funds (led by Carpenters Health Fund) sued Philip Morris and other members of the Tobacco Institute for the LMC deception:

The Allegations and Proof of Specific Representations To and Misconduct Directed Towards Unions and the Funds
Proffered also are the particularized allegations of misconduct by the defendants to surreptitiously and falsely attribute the lndustry's positions to organized labor, and to use current and former union officials and representatives (many of whom covertly received Industry payments as "consulting fees" or "grants" ) to:

  1. affirmatively discredit, in statements to other unions and union membcrs, the health warnings and information by legitimate health advocates; and
  2. blunt employer initiatives, including smoking cessation programs and workplace smoking restrictions, to reduce the medical costs paid by the Funds.

They had discovered new evidence. This :

... first began to be revealed when documents were produced on January 28, 1999 in response to a subpoena issued by defendants to a non-party national union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (the "Carpenters Union" )

With the identification from these records of the Tobacco Industry's public relations firm official, James Savarese of Savarese & Associates, who served as the "Executive Director" of the Tobacco Industry Labor Management Committee (the "TILMC" ), plaintiffs were able ro subpoena and obtain additional documents disclosing the "how" and "who" within the organized labor movement that the Tobacco Industry had manipulated and/or paid to actively frustrate initiatives to reduce smoking among union members. This new information also assisted the Funds in identifying new relevant documents from the approximately 30 million records deposited to the "Minnesota repository" in connection with litigation brought against the Tobacco industry by the Attorney General of Minnesota.

Finally, on or about March 30, 1999 plaintiffs received videotapes of Tobacco Institute media events shown, inter alia, in New Jersey, as a result of hard fought discovery motions in Fund litigation in Kentucky.

Re: the new documentary exhibits (including Exs. 24, 27, 29, 31 and 32 produced by Savarese and Associates)

These exhibits show that. contrary to the arguments by defendants to the Third Circuit, the Funds and their union and employer trustees, were not merely passive recipients of health misinformation distributed generally to the public.

Organized labor and union officials were actively recruited as soldiers in defendants' battle to insulate their products from legitimate health information and health advocates, and were manipulated to undercut the actual, on-going efforts of employers to reduce the Funds' medical costs attributable to smoking.

As the Tobacco Institute, the principal public spokesman for the major tobacco manufacturers, described:

    "Organized labor plays a significant role in almost every Institute program underway or proposed" (Ex. 12)

. The Institute used the unions enlisted into the TILMC to frustrate workplace smoking restrictions by. (inter alia)

    "Discouraging liberal and labor coalitions from taking anti-tobacco positions," and "Building support for Industry positions through the labor movement." (Ex. 14)

It accomplished these ends by

  • using the TILMC unions to publicly and selectively discredit the Surgeon General reports on the dangers of passive smoke at the workplace;
  • to widely circulate among other unions collective bargaining "kits" that were secretly developed by the Tobacco Industry,
  • [circulate kits] that undercut the Surgeon General's warnings
  • exhorted unions to adhere to AFL-CIO pro-smoking position statements (also written by the Tobacco Industry and its agents) to oppose employer initiatives to reduce smoking;
  • to organize union-boycotts of legitimate health seminars on smoking. (Exs. 14, 19 and 20)

The allegations ln Ex. 5, and the documents attached as Exs. 6 through 32 graphically demonstrate that defendants in this case singled out, made particularized misstatements to, exploited and created conflicts of interest among, organized labor and union officials and their representatives, to actively defeat the interests of and injure the Funds.

They show the defendants actively driving a wedge between the two groups of Trustees serving the Funds -- the Unions and Employers -- with Unions being exhorted to frustrate, through collective bargaining, Employer efforts to reduce Funds' costs attributable to smoking.

Re: Those 'consultants' and helpers of the LMC:

The Fund trustees selected by the Unions "are often the Union's elected officers" -- ie, the same groups of persons to whom the AFL-CIO statements and collective bargaining "kits" , secretly drafted by the Tobacco Industry, and other misrepresentations and misconduct described above, were directed.

2013 Strategic Communications Consultants in Penn. promote;

Karen Ritter is the President of Strategic Communications and is our media specialist. She handles all of our media buying services and produces television and radio ads, rich media interactive communications, informational videos, billboards, PowerPoint presentations, direct mail, brochures, newsletters and more.

Karen was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1986 to 1994, and is widely known and respected for her strong leadership and experience in the Pennsylvania House. She was a leading advocate for working families and earned an AFL-CIO COPE cumulative rating of 91% on union issues during her legislative tenure. In addition to her work with Strategic Communications Consultants, Karen was the host and producer of a one-hour weekly radio talk show with a progressive and pro-union perspective. The show, called Working Family Matters, aired on as many as 25 radio stations, including stations in New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., and included former Vice President Al Gore as a guest. Karen's experience includes strategic planning, legislative and public policy strategy, and communications consulting for non-profits, unions and other organizations. In addition, Karen's insight into the inner workings of government and the political process that controls the legislative process makes her a valuable consultant to, and representative of, any client with public policy interests. Her experiences as a candidate and elected official also give her a unique perspective as a communications consultant.

Bob Wolper, Vice President
Joe Wolper, Account Executive