Richard K Vedder

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

Richard Kent Vedder was a well-known cash-for-comments academic economist from Ohio University who also worked for many years -- and in secret -- for the tobacco industry. However he was free with his favours and he worked for a wide range of other ultra-free-market libertarian organisations and some of their supporting industries.

Vedder was a member of the Tobacco Institute's clandestine Cash for Comments Economists' Network -- a group of academics that the tobacco industry recruited who worked behind the scenes to fight proposed tax increases on cigarettes and the declining acceptability of public and workplace smoking by generating favorable research for publication, presenting favorable papers at academic conferences and symposia, and being ready to challenge the "social costs" economic arguments employed by anti-smoking activist at public and legislative forums.

Members of the Institute's Economists Network also assisted by writing letters-to-the-editor and lecturing to journalists on behalf of the industry.[1][2][3]



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.[2]]

  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


Vedder remains listed on 2011 with the Independent Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and the "scholar" at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[4] In 2008, he won ALEC's Adam Smith Free Enterprise Award.[5]

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

ALEC, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, The Independent Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and the National Taxpayers Union have all received money from Koch foundations.


Documents & Timeline

1965 * B.A. in Economics, Northwestern University in 1962 and a Ph.D. in Economics, University of Illinois in 1965

1985 Dec 12 At the annual meeting of the Tobacco Institute the PR Report included a paragraph which noted the contribution to retaining smoking by Vedder:

Professor Richard Vedder (Ohio University) wrote an op-ed article on tax reform that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer in April (newspaper in home district of Ways & Means Member Gradison). Copies were sent to Gradison and Ways & Means Member Pease.[3]

1993: Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway did a study for the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution (AdTI) about the impact of immigration on the American economy.[6] In March 1994, AdTI published the report "Immigration and Unemployment: New Evidence" written by Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway and Stephen Moore, who is also affiliated with ALEC.[7][8]

1993 late, Vedder served as "peer-reviewer" for a pro-tobacco junk science report titled Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination, also published by AdTI. There are many documents in the Tobacco Institute documents online mentioning Richard Vedder. Many of them are confidental reports listing allied economists and academics who were willing to provide expert testimony for tobacco companies.

1994 Aug A Alexis de Tocqueville report "The EPA and the Science of ETS" has been funded by the Tobacco Institute. The author was Adjunct Scholar Kent Jeffreys, and the senior reviewer was S. Fred Singer, a Professor of Environmental Science (on leave from the University of Virginia) and a Senior Fellow at the Institute. The final report was scheduled to be complete mid-June and it would be entitled "Science and Environmentalism".

A confidential memo by the president of the Tobacco Institute, Samuel D. Chilcote, Jr., described how this secret tobacco-funded report was being used in legislative lobbying:

This morning Reps. Peter Geren (D-TX) and John Mica (R-FL) held a press conference announcing the release of a study by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution that evaluates the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) scientific principles used to justify policy decisions. Geren and Mica were joined by Cesar Conda, executive director of the de Tocqueville Institution and coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Kent Jeffreys." [4]

"Press coverage included States News Service, Stephens Publishing and Cable Congress. Several congressional staffers also attended, copies of the Geren/Mica "Dear Colleague" letter, press release and the study are enclosed."


This report is part of a larger coordinated effort to blindside the EPA. A "panel of experts" was assembled to "peer-review" the report. Naturally the majority were people with identified links to tobacco-funded institutes and think tanks, and some who share the same small set of funders.

Academic Advisory Board:

Senior Staff and Contributing Associates
Rachael Applegate,   Bruce Bartlett,   Merrick Carey,   Cesar Conda,   Gregory Fossedal,   Dave Juday,   Felix Rouse,   Aaron Stevens

Ten of the 19 names of the Academic Advisory Board are members of the Cash for Comments Economists Network. At this time S. Fred Singer was a Senior Fellow at the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, but they chose not to credit him with such close links.

These attempt to link the tobacco industry's problems to arguments about climate change were part funded by the Olin Foundation, Koch Family Foundations and Scaife Foundations.

  • 20 page Draft document sent to the Tobacco Institute [6]
  • The release about the final report (August 11 1994) It is now an attack on "environmental regulation" -- ETS, radon, pesticides and agricultural regulation, and the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program ... and based, supposedly, on the quality of the science used by the EPA. [7]
  • The final report was called Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination.' It had the approval of the Cash for Comments Economists Network. [8]

1996 Nov 22 Richard Vedder also worked with Dwight R. Lee on general economics articles:

2011 Richard Kent Vedder was still listed as an economics professor at Ohio University.[9] He is listed as a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute [10] and the American Enterprise Institute[11]

He has also worked with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy on such issues as spending on public schools.[12] He has written about immigration and labor for the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution. He has also written articles about taxation and tobacco and other issues related to taxes. He is on the board of the National Taxpayers Union.[13]

Vedder previously served as an economist with the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, with which, according to the ALEC Annual Meeting Program, "he maintains a consulting relationship." He also has previously served as the John M. Olin Visiting Professor of Labor Economics and Public Policy at the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis.[14]


Related SourceWatch Resources

Related Links


  1. James Savarese Memorandum to Fred Panzer, Jeff Ross and Susan Stuntz, Tobacco Institute documents collection, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, January 6, 1987, Bates No. TI18230621 at page -0626
  2. Tobacco Institute Taxes/Witnesses, Confidential list, January, 1986, 13 pp, Bates No. TIFL0507522/7534
  3. Tobacco Institute PR Division Public Relations Resource Catalog, Tobacco Institute confidential list, 132 pp. Bates No.TIMN0272132/226 at (TIMN272146) or Page 15, January 1986
  4. American Legislative Exchange Council Board of Scholars, organizational web page, accessed July 9, 2011
  5. Independent Institute About Us/Awards, organizational website, accessed July 9, 2011
  6. Ohio University Curriculum Vita, Lowell E. Galloway, organizational website, staff biosketch, accessed July 9, 2011
  7. Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and Stephen Moore, Immigration and Unemployment: New Evidence, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Arlington, Virginia (March 1994)
  8. American Legislative Exchange Council Board of Scholars, organizational web page, accessed July 9, 2011
  9. Mackinac Center for Public Policy Dr. Richard Vedder, organizational biography, accessed June 6, 2011
  10. The Independent Institute Richard K. Vedder, organizational biography, accessed June 6, 2011
  11. American Enterprise Institute Richard Vedder, organizational biography, accessed June 6, 2011
  12. Mackinac Center for Public Policy Dr. Richard Vedder, organizational biography, accessed June 6, 2011
  13. National Taxpayers Union NTU's Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed June 6, 2011
  14. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Program -- Board of Scholars, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011
  • Tony Caporale, Dwight R. Lee, Richard K. Vedder, "Slowing Monetary Growth since 1984: A Public Choice Explanation", Public Choice, 1997 [9]

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