Gordon Tullock

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Professor Gordon Tullock was one of the four gurus of the Public Choice economic ideology. This was an ultra-libertarian economic school of thought which boosted free-markets to the pinnacle of man's achievement, and regarded any government involvement in the provision of services or goods or infrastructure as an incipient form of socialism. Tullock worked with James M Buchanan who was another guru at Virginia Polytechnic and later at George Mason University. It was as much a quasi-political movement as it was a center for economics theory.

(The other two Public Choice gurus were G. Warren Nutter, and Leland Yeager -- who don't seem to figure in the tobacco documents).[2] However:
  • Buchanan and Nutter, organized the Thomas Jefferson Center for Studies in Political Economy at Virginia Poly.
  • G Warren Nutter, a close friend of Sen. Strom Thurmond, was appointed as Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs in March 1969.
  • Leland Yeager at the University of Virginia wrote "International Monetary Relations" and worked with the Reason Foundation

Tullock and Buchanan had disciples in Robert D Tollison, Dwight R Lee, William F Shughart and Robert B Ekelund. Under Tollison's leadership, they set up the Public Choice Society, then the Center for Study of Public Choice, and eventually the Cash for Comments Economists Network. They recruited libertarian economists in other states (generally the lowly paid economists at State Universities) and provide many years of service to the tobacco industry by an organised network of lobbying under direction of the Tobacco Institute.



The Cash-for-Comments Economists' Network was run by Savarese through a partnership with Professor Robert D Tollison who used the staff and facilities of the Center for Study of Public Choice at George Mason University to prove cut-out and organisation services. They developed and maintained a network of Economics Professors with at least one on tap in virtually every US state. As one Professor transferred or dropped out (there was a regular turn-over) a new one would be recruited in that State. In all, about 130 university professors were involved in the period 1985-1995, and costs ran to $3 million/year at a time when professor's salaries were in the $30-40,000 pa range. 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, who were essentially public relations experts. Here they were 'improved' and refined; then sent to the Institute's outside lawyers for vetting. Modified articles then returned to the professor, who would then send them to a designated State newspaper as if they were his 'independent expert opinion'. The professors received a base amount for writing and bonuses for successfully planting the article on the newspaper. Some, but not all, received a small (eg.$1000) annual retainer.[3]]

  Published papers would also be copied by the professor and sent to his local Federal Representative and Senator (for a further bonus). Sometimes there were special commissions, but generally the work was writing op-eds and LTE's where they were paid just on results (varied from about $700 to $3000 over the years). 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 almost double his salary with these activities and with some further appearances, for instance, speaking on the importance of cigarettes in economic terms at major economic conferences, etc.
      Cash for Comments Economists Network   &   Robert Tollison   &   James Savarese   &   Network Document Index


Buchanan, as the head guru this area of economic specialisation (known in some circles as the "Virginia School") tended to stay above the sordid money-grubbing actions of his followers, but Tullock obviously turned his hand to writing for money. Tullock was also the editor of the Public Choice journal.

The Cash for Comment Economists Network eventually split up and most of the members transferred over to work for the tobacco industry under the cover of the Independent Institute with William F Shughart taking a leading role. Savarese and Tollison then appeared to have formalised their partnership, with Tollison and his wife becoming part of James Savarese & Associates. Tullock was, at this time with Arizona State University, and he went with the new network group functioning out of the Independent Institute.

Documents & Timeline

1962 The publication of "The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy" by James M Buchanan and Gordon Tullock which kick-started the Public Choice economic cult and (much later) the George Mason University Center for Study of Public Choice which partly dedicated itself to the support of the tobacco industry.

1967 Tullock published his theory of rent-seeking (essentially - that everyone was entirely motivated by self-interest). This is the foundation of Public Choice theory; it is the idea that there are no altruistic motives and no sense of collective benefit -- the only basis for economc action is laissez faire and the concept that "Greed is Good".

1984 Apr /ETullock and Buchanan relocated their Center for Study of Public Choice and their students and staff from Virginia Polytechnic to the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges which was in the process of becoming George Mason University.

[From the Apr 9 1986 Center for Study of Public Choice Annual Report].

When James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, the fathers of the public-choice, or populist free-market, school of economics, grew restless at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, they sensed that the new aggressiveness at George Mason [University] was a perfect opening for them as well. Two years ago, they relocated their study center on the Fairfax campus. "I like to be at a place that has some dynamic to it," says Mr. Buchanan, who is now paid $102,820 a year at George Mason. "This place has some leadership. It's going someplace." [4]

They were able to pay such salaries because the big American corporations saw George Mason University as a training ground for libertarian executives, and funded it generously. In return it made its services (and its location) available for corporate think-tanks and lobby groups.
[NOTE: The Fairfax location also housed the Atlas Group network's key organisations, the Atlas Economic Research Foundtion and the Center for the Study of Human Needs. It also had S. Fred Singer's climate denier organisation, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, etc.]

1985 Feb 27 Philip Morris Executives vote to support Baruch College, George C Marshall Research Foundation, and other sponsorships

RESOLVED, That the proper officers of the Company and the Corporate Contributions Committee be, and they hereby are, authorized to contribute:

  • $275,000, payable over 2 years, to Baruch College of the City University of New York to sponsor "The Philip Morris Incorporated Distinguished Visiting Professor in Business and Society" and "The Philip Morris Incorporated Lectures on Business and Society" in honor of George Weissman;
  • $150,000, payable over 3 years, to the George C Marshall Research Foundation;
  • $156,000 to the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (This eventually became George Mason University);
  • $250,000 in support of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial [5]
They supported Jean J Boddewyn at Baruch College for many years and he worked diligently for the tobacco industry in return.]

1985 May 23-25 Gordon Tullock and a raft of his associates at the Center for Study of Public Choice are associated with numerous "Liberty Fund" conferences (run by the Reason Foundation). This is the Tobacco Institute's list of these tobacco-friendly free-market promoters and their speaking engagements.
Gordon Tullock; Karen L Vaughn, W Mark Crain, William F Shughart, Viktor Vanberg, David M Levy (?), and Jennifer Roback.

  • Gordon Tullock -- Liberty Fund Conference, Fairfax, Virginia, June/July 1985.
  • Karen Vaughn -- Liberty Fund Conference on 'The Limits of Homo Economicus," Louisville, Kentucky, October 3-6,1985.
  • Karen Vaughn (Director) -- Liberty Fund Conference on "Libertarianism, Constitutionalism and Freedom " at George Mason University, June 25 - July 2, 1985.
  • Karen Vaughn (Co-director) Liberty Fund Conference on "Historical Precedents of Unintended Orders," Alexandria, Virginia. November 21-23, 1985.
  • Victor Vanberg (Co-organizer) Liberty Fund Conference on "Freedom in Education" in Baden, Germany, 6-9 May 1985.
  • Victor Vaughn -- "Liberty, Efficiency and Agreement: The Normative Element in Libertarian and Contractarian Social Philosophy," Liberty Fund Conference on "Contractarianism," Tucson, Arizona, 23-25 May 1985.
  • Victor Vaughn (Main Speaker) Liberty Fund/Public Choice Conference, Fairfax, June 25-July 2, 1985. [6]

[They are all associated with the GMU Center for Study of Public Choice, although some only peripherally with the tobacco industry operations being run by Robert Tollison through the Center.]

1985 Nov 6 Ken Arnold of Ogilvy & Mather is reporting to Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Institute. He is handling two projects:

Fred, here is a summary of the Economist Op-ed and Economic News Service (ENS) projects.

  • With regard to the Economist Op-ed project, we have submitted a total of 34 op-ed articles, and 18 of them have been published. Recent articles appeared in the Huntsville Times on September 11 by Robert Ekelund and in the Providence Journal on October 25, by Arthur Mead (see attachments). Enclosed is a revised op-ed chart, indicating House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committee Members impacted to date and the circulation of each newspaper publishing the articles. In most cases, the papers are the largest in the targeted district.

  • Concerning the Economic News Service, enclosed is a separate chart detailing the placement information and members of Congress impacted As I indicated in my memo of October 7, placement of the series has been completed.


1985 Dec/E Annual Report of the Center for Study of Public Choice (GMU) is a celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Tullock/Buchanan book which kick-started the Public Choice movement. It lists cash-for-comment economists associated with Tullock, as active in the center:

and some fellow-travellers who supported the tobacco industry

1985 June/1986 March-July The Cash for Comments Economists Network was commissioned by the Tobacco Institute to write economic opinion pieces opposing excise taxes on cigarettes in mid-year-1985. This propaganda requirment resurfaced as a major project for the economist in the peak of the Tobacco Industry's PR campaign against the Packwood tax plan (although the threat was obviously still a possibility until the end of 1986r).

The Tobacco institute (much later) put together a package of commissioned economics reports (see front section of document), followed by about thirty op-eds and composite pieces which were generated by the Tollison/Savarese Cash for Comments Economists Network in this 1985-86 time frame. It illustrates the propaganda value of this network -- and shows what it can accomplish in a very short time for just a few thousand dollars in academic bribes.

These op-eds attacking the Packwood tax plan were all published in local newspaper across the USA. (Copies needed to be sent in for payment to be made.) A few are from July 1985 and the rest appeared in local newspapers during March-July 1986. These spontaneous independent expressions of expert opinion all miraculously come from Professors of Economics attached to the Center for Study of Public Choice ...

Joseph M Jadlow, Oklahoma State Uni. (He had two op-eds in different papers.);   William C Mitchell Uni of Oregon, Eugene;   Lee G Anderson, Uni of Delaware;   John S Howe Uni of Kansas, Lawrence;   D. Allen Dalton, Boise State University;   Thomas F Pogue, Uni of Iowa, Iowa City (He had two.);   Scott Atkinson, Uni of Wyoming. (He had two in different papers.);   S. Charles Maurice, Texas A&M Uni;   Todd Sandler, Uni of Wyoming;   Michael A Crew, Rutgers Uni, Newark;   Robert B Ekelund Jr., Auburn Uni (He had two.) ;   Ann Harper-Fender, Gettysburg College;   Lee Alston, Williams College;   Paul L Menchik, Michigan State Uni;   Henry N Butler, Texas A&M Uni;   Burton A Abrams, Uni of Delaware;   Ryan C Amacher, Clemson Uni (He had two.);   Dominick T Armentano, Uni of Hartford;   Fred McChesney, Emory Uni;   and a think-tanker David Wilhelm (Citizens for Tax Justice);

Also short extract pieces and letters-to-the-editor from A James Heins, Uni of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana;   William J Hunter, Marquette Uni, Milwaukee;   Dennis E Logue, Dartmouth College;   William F Shughart, George Mason Uni;   Harold Hochman, Baruch College, City Uni of New York;

Also uncredited overviews in the Newport Daily News, the Times-Review in Texas, Herald PA, etc. which expresses the encapsulated wisdom of most of the above with the addition of Thomas Borcherding (Claremont Graduate School, Calif);   K. Celeste Gaspari, Uni of Vermont, Birmingham;   David N Laband, Uni of Maryland;   Dean Tipps (Service Employees Intl. Union);   Allen M Parkman, Uni of New Mexico, Alburquerque, NM;   Richard K Vedder, Ohio Uni, Athens;   Roger L Faith, Arizona State Uni, Tempe;   Lee Alston, Williams College Mass;   and William J Hunter, Marquette Uni, Wisc.; (Some sections were published in multiple papers). [8]
This was a massive amount of propaganda coverage for a payment of less than $1000 each to these Professors at that time.


1986 May 1 Gordon Tullock appears to have been available to the tobacco industry as a byline-renter for articles they might want to plant on prestige journals, but perhaps he is now charged too much. James Savarese has advised Fred Panzer that a Tollison outline of a paper has been written to attack the Treasury and the Packwood tax plan, but that it didn't justify the money needed to get Tullock's byline on it as a co-author.

Attached is a fairly detailed outline of the paper which attacks Treasury's argments in favor of excise taxes. From this we can generate a 40-50 page analysis that is both readable and comprehensive.

In order to avoid the enormous aggravation and expense associated with getting an academic like Gordon Tullock to cosign this with Bob Tollison, I recommend that Bob's authorship is strong enough for dealing with Treasury.

The total cost of producing this document will be $17,500 and will take roughly four weeks. [9]

1986 Aug /E Gordon Tullock has sent a rough biography to the Tobacco institute. Details of his commercial consultancies and business interests has been redacted. Reading between the lines, he had been recruited to the CIA or some other State Department organisation before joining George Mason University. [10]

1987 Feb 3 Chris Cory (Manager of Editorial Services at Philip Morris) is distributing information about the company's endowment of a university chair to the company's main disinformation executives (and to Susan Stuntz at the Tobacco Institute).

The first Philip Morris Distinguished Visiting Professor of Business and Society at Baruch will be Gordon Tullock, one of the intellectual fathers of the "public choice" movement in economics.

The leader of that movement, James Buchannan, just won the Nobel Prize, and Tullock has collaborated with Buchannan on several books. Like Buchannan, Tullock is a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Part of his vita is attached (he is prolific, and I've omitted 22 pages listing articles and book reviews). As you know, a number of professors at George Mason wrote articles for the book Smoking and Society: Toward a More Balanced Perspective (Edited by Tollison). [11]

1987 Feb 3 Philip Morris has endowed a Visiting Professorship at Baruch College (CUNY). Gordon Tullock (then at GMU) has been selected as the first. Philip Morris promotes the corporate largesse among staff and to the key disinformation experts at the Tobacco Institute:

As you know, a number of professors at George Mason wrote articles for the book Smoking and Society: Toward a More Balanced Perspective. Starting this week, Tullock is on campus on Mondays and Tuesdays, taking over an existing graduate-level course on public choices. Professors have been asked to recommend the course to advanced undergraduates. He will make visiting appearances in other classes, and will give a public lecture later this spring, topic, date, time, and place to be announced. [12]

[Philip Morris was also a very significant funder of Baruch College.]

About this time Tullock must have transfered from GMU to the University of Arizona.

1988 Hill & Knowlton has been investigating the background of a number of 'Conservative Economists" for Carol Hrycaj at the Tobacco Institute.

Dr Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University did not want to furnish us with any information unless we would reveal the client. We politely declined furnishing that information at this time but will go back again if you would like. Also, after reviewing the material from Dr Gordon Tullock of the University of Arizona, it does not appear he would be helpful on excise taxes.

1995 July: William F Shughart II (U of Mississippi is editing "Taxing Liberty and Other "Sins": Predatory Politics and Taxation" for the Tobacco Institute. It has chapters by:

  • Brenda Yelvington (Professor of Economics, Clemson University)
  • Adam C. Gifford (Professor of Economics, California State University, Northridge)
  • Randall G. Holcombe (Professor of Economics, Florida State University)
  • Dwight R. Lee (Professor of Economics, University of Georgia)
  • Thomas J. DiLorenzo (Professor of Economics, Loyola College in Maryland)
  • Gary M. Anderson (Professor of Economics, California State University, Northridge)
  • Mark Thornton (Professor of Economics, Auburn University)
  • Bruce L. Benson and David W. Rasmussen (Professors of Economics, Florida State U .)
  • Richard E . Wagner (Professor of Economics. George Mason University)
  • Robert B. Ekelund, Jr . and Paula A. Gant (Professors of Economics, Auburn University)
  • Richard K. Vedder (Professor of Economics, Ohio University)
  • Jonathan R Macey (Professor of Law, Cornell University)
  • Bruce Kobayashi (Professor of Law, George Mason University)
  • Donald J. Boudreaux and Adam C. Pritchard (Professors of Law, Clemson University)
  • Gordon Tullock (Professor of Economics and Political Science, Arizona State University)

(The hot-linked names are a roll call of the old Cash for Comments Economists Network)

William Shughart pretends that the book was initiated by the Independent Institute (rather than the tobacco industry):

Hence, when David Theroux of the Independent Institute contacted me to ask whether I might be interested in putting together a volume that would explore the purposes and effects of tax policy in regulating consumption choices, I eagerly accepted. Let me here acknowledge the Independent Institute's financial sponsorship and David Theroux's encouragement along the way.

This draft copy was in Philip Morris files, and it has additions and corrections in handwritten form. For instance "politically incorrect" has been inserted before"products" and "excise" inserted before taxes. "Sin" taxes have been quoted. New chapter titles have been added. [13] [14]