Sunday, December 02, 2001

State defends process for anti-smoking push

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — The state attorney general said the method of determining who will run Ohio's $50 million anti-smoking campaign is designed to avoid possible allegations of secrecy and conflicts of interest.

        “You will find this is one of the most pristine processes that this large of a contract could go through,” Attorney General Betty Montgomery said Friday after a meeting of the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation's executive committee.

        One of 12 companies competing for the four-year advertising deal will be selected this coming Friday by the foundation's 20-member board.

        The foundation is one of seven trust funds created after a 1998 national settlement with the tobacco industry, in which Ohio was promised as much as $10 billion over 26 years.

        Earlier, competing advertisers questioned the role of Charles Wolfe in the selection process. Wolfe, of Gainesville, Fla., was hired in August as the foundation's technical adviser.

        The questions concerned how Mr. Wolfe could compete against subcontractors in other states and remain neutral about the same companies in Ohio.

        Mr. Wolfe disclosed that he was paid as an anti-tobacco consultant or speaker in 10 other states and Canada. But he said he never has been hired by any company bidding on Ohio's project.

        “He knows the players in the anti-tobacco world,” Ms. Montgomery said.

        “We kept him out of the (bid selection) process to avoid any complaints,” she said. “Absent an immaculate conception, I don't see how you can make this process any cleaner.”


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- State defends process for anti-smoking push
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