previous sub-section
Continued Erosion of the Health Education Account: 1990-1994
next sub-section

The Governor Kills the Research Account

In 1989 the Research Account had been authorized by separate legislation, SB 1613, which did not expire until December 31, 1993. The governor had made several proposals to reduce funding for tobacco-related research in his budgets, but the Research Account did not surface in the battle over AB 99, which dealt only with the Health Education Account and the medical services accounts. In 1992 and 1993, Wilson tried to cut the Research Account but withdrew the proposals when it became clear that they lacked support in the Legislature.

As SB 1613 stipulated, the University of California managed the Research Account using a peer review process modeled on the National Institutes of Health. Applicants from qualifying public and nonprofit institutions (not just the University of California) submitted proposals for research projects that were judged and graded by committees of outof-state experts. The university funded the projects in order according to their grades.

The university chose to define “tobacco-related research” broadly. As a result, most of the money went to traditional biomedical research with little or no direct connection to tobacco.[83] The university's failure to concentrate more directly on tobacco angered tobacco control advocates, who wanted a more tobacco-specific program. Some of the research was very closely tied to tobacco, however, and became the target of attacks by the tobacco industry, its front groups, and their allies.

In particular, Glantz had won a grant in the first year of the program to study the tobacco industry's response to the tobacco control movement. This research had evolved into a detailed analysis of how the tobacco industry was working to influence the Legislature as well as how Proposition 99 was being implemented. With funding from this grant, Glantz and his coworkers published a series of monographs detailing campaign contributions to members of the Legislature and other politicians as well as documenting the erosion of Proposition 99 funding for anti-tobacco education.[3-4][81][84-85] The monographs highlighted the diversions of Health Education Account funds to medical services and the long-term implications of Section 43.

These reports infuriated the tobacco industry, the Legislature, and


208
the CMA. The industry and its allies vigorously attacked Glantz and his work as well as the University of California for funding the studies. They claimed that this work was “politics” rather than “research,” despite the politics that controlled passage of Proposition 99's implementing legislation. The reports that regularly documented the accelerating campaign contributions to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown particularly enraged Brown (who by 1993 had received $474,217 in campaign contributions from the industry, more than any other state or federal legislator). At one point Brown found himself in an elevator with the director of UCSF's Institute for Health Policy Studies (which was located in the same San Francisco office building as Brown's district office), and Brown demanded that something be done to silence Glantz. In a meeting with the university's vice president for health affairs, Cornelius Hopper, Brown again attacked Glantz. A journalist who was writing a profile of Brown observed, “One morning in a sudden burst of temper, Brown pitilessly dressed down top executives of the University of California because a researcher at UCSF had written a report that Brown didn't like about the political influence of tobacco companies. The university officials had come to see him on an unrelated matter, but the Speaker used the opportunity to launch his attack anyway. `You're going to have trouble with me on every single appropriation!' Brown said, jabbing an index finger. `If that guy gets one more cent of state money, you'll have trouble with me!'” (emphasis in original).[86] Hopper responded that the university believed in academic freedom and would not interfere with Glantz's work or the peer review process.

The process of reauthorizing the Research Account proceeded without much public controversy during 1993. There was some sparring between health advocates and university officials in an attempt to force the university to focus more specifically on scientific and policy issues that were directly related to tobacco, but the university successfully opposed this effort. Before SB 1613 expired on December 31, 1993, the Legislature had unanimously passed SB 1088 to continue the program until 1997. The governor surprised everyone when he vetoed the bill, stating, “This program should not be extended for four years when expenditure authority for all other Proposition 99 funded programs pertaining to health and research will be reviewed during the 1994 legislative session. This program should be reviewed and re-evaluated in the context of all Proposition 99 funded programs and activities to insure the most effective use of those funds.”[87]


209

Wilson's veto effectively shut down the research program. Many were suspicious that Wilson's action was making good on Brown's earlier threat to punish the university if it did not quiet Glantz. Ironically, by the time Wilson killed the Research program, Glantz was being funded by the National Cancer Institute, not Proposition 99.

The governor's veto also meant that the funds allocated for research in the first six months of 1994—$21 million—suddenly became available for other programs. The Research Account money was soon put into play in a manner that would make it easier during the next legislative fight over Proposition 99 authorization to divert the funds into medical services.


previous sub-section
Continued Erosion of the Health Education Account: 1990-1994
next sub-section