Fred L. Smith, Jr.

Fred L. Smith, Jr.


  • Bachelor’s of Science in Theoretical Mathematics and Political Science from Tulane University. [1]


Fred L. Smith is the founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). He served as CEI‘s President from 1984 until 2013, later working as the Director of CEI‘s Center for Advancing Capitalism. [1]

Smith’s former positions include Director of Government Relations for the Council for a Competitive Economy, senior economist for the Association of American Railroads, and Senior Policy Analyst at the EPA. He is a Board member at CEI as well as the American Conservative Union (ACU), and the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). He is a member of the Foundation for Economic Education’s Faculty Network. [1]

Smith is a self-described “knee-jerk-liberal”-turned-free-market-conservative. Smith founded the Competitive Enterprise Institute to hit “the proper targets—The hearts and minds of Americans,” in the words of a 1995 National Journal article. The article listed CEI alongside organizations such as Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), the Institute for Justice, the Progress & Freedom Foundation, and the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, “unabashedly conservative or libertarian” think tanks that often receive contributions from business interests with a stake in the issues they are researching. [21]

While the CEI doesn’t reveal its funding sources, the Washington Post looked at a sample of donors at CEI‘s annual dinner which included energy companies Marathon Petroleum, Koch Industries, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Google and Facebook were also major sponsors. [2]

Public tax documents also show that ExxonMobil has contributed over $1.5 million to CEI. More than $5 million comes from the secretive DonorsTrust (DT) and $1 million from its sister organization, Donors Capital Fund (DCF). Together, DT and DCF have been described as the “dark money ATM of the Conservative movement. [3], [4]

Fred L. Smith & Tobacco

Fred L. Smith and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have a history of fighting against tobacco regulation. For example, at the 2004  American Conservative Union (ACU) annual conference, Smith said on a panel regarding tobacco regulation that one should consider the “threats these regulations pose to individual liberty.” He described smoking itself as a “symbol of freedom.” [10]

Smith has regularly requested financial aid from tobacco companies like Philip Morris and The Tobacco Institute, according to records from the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents archive. For example, in a October 2000 memo, Fred L. Smith thanked Ms. Maura Payne of RJ Reynolds Tobacco for “RJR‘s continued support”, adding “your personal involvement has meant a lot to our battles over the last 16 years.” The letter concludes, “I know you have contributed between $20,000 to $50,000 over the years.” [22]

In an October 1994 memo, Smith thanked Philip Morris for a contribution of $150,000. “Philip Morris’s contribution will enable CEI to expand our efforts in well-established areas as our Human Cost of Regulation program and other regulatory reform projects,” the memo read. [23]

In September 1995, Smith requested an additional $200,000 contribution from Phillip Morris. “I believe our past accomplishments and plans for the future merit such a substantial contribution,” Smith wrote in his letter to Thomas J. Borelli. [24]

Stance on Climate Change

February 2007

In testimony regarding the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group of individuals and businesses proposing government actions to reduce greenhouse emissions, Smith described carbon use as a “theoretical threat,” and pointed to “alarmist views” on global warming: [5]

“There are major costs, we’ve heard, of rationing energy. Yet there are no obvious gains, even if one accepts the alarmist views of global warming. No one is proposing any carbon use curtailment that would do anything meaningful to reduce the theoretical threat of carbon use. The current proposals are all pain, no gain,” said Smith. [5]

Key Quotes

July 2010

In a discussion on “greed,” as proposed by Michael Douglas’ character Gordon Gekko on Wall Street who said “greed is good,” Smith said: [6]

“Greed is just a pejorative term for the human condition of self-interest. And it’s the only thing that drives mankind to make the world better for all,” said Smith. [6]

February 11, 2006

Smith spoke at a meeting of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in Henderson NV on February 11, 2006. His talk at CNP was titled “Ego-Paganism – Eco- Socialism Severe Threats to Americas Future” [7]

“Environmentalism poses a real and present danger to America’s future,” Smith declared in his remarks. “[…] The environmental problem is not that there is too much private property, but rather that there is too little.” He concluded that “Conservatives must reject, not compromise with, the eco-pagan and eco-socialist biases proffered by the environmental establishment.” [7]

January 2004

Speaking at the 2004 The American Conservative Union (ACU) annual conference, Smith spoke of research on the risks of secondhand smoke:

“[T]he risk associated with secondhand smoke were in the noise. Were trivial,” he said. [10]

Key Deeds

February, 2007

Fred L. Smith was one of several witnesses to testify on the findings of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership report, which would call for reductions in greenhouse gases. [5]

During his testimony, Smith said on behalf of CEI that “we believe that the risk of global warming must be set off against the risk of global warming policies.” [5]

Smith said that “the proposal to create a carbon cartel advanced by the Climate Action Partnership is one of those policy risks, a serious one I believe.” He adds, “America normally puts people in jail who create anti-consumer cartels.” [5]

“The Climate Action Partnership, an alliance of environmental and business groups, has been promoted as an example of responsible leaders seeking to protect our planet. Perhaps. But when businessmen seek, politically, to achieve what they cannot achieve in the marketplace, we should all be a bit skeptical,” he said. [5]

Smith cites the Climate Action Partnership as an example of “economic interest groups cloaking their search for monopoly profits under some convenient moral cause.” [5]

“There are major costs, we’ve heard, of rationing energy. Yet there are no obvious gains, even if one accepts the alarmist views of global warming. No one is proposing any carbon use curtailment that would do anything meaningful to reduce the theoretical threat of carbon use. The current proposals are all pain, no gain,” said Smith. [5]

February 2006

In a 2006 CEI document, Smith speaks of a “New Environmental Gospel” that “preaches that property rights are evil and that the power of the state is benevolent.” [8]

According to the footnotes, Smith initially presented portions of his paper at a meeting of the Council for National Policy (CNP) in Henderson NV on February 11, 2006. His talk at CNP was titled “Ego-Paganism – Eco- Socialism Severe Threats to Americas Future.” [7]

In his remarks, Smith said conservatives should engage in the environmental debate and that “while we have a deep and important moral responsibility to care for God’s creation, that this responsibility should be by extending the conservative institutions of liberty (private property, the rule of law, private action) – not by joining the collectivist environmental parade.” [7]

He clarifies the terms “Eco Paganism” and “Eco-Socialism”: [7]

  • “Eco-Paganism? Most environmentalists do not, of course, see themselves as pagans. Yet, many do espouse a watered down form of pantheism which elevates nature to near deity. They have confused the biblical truth that the earth is the Lord’s with the fashionable environmental slogan that the Earth is the Lord! Moreover, the environmental establishment demands a status for the Cathedrals of Nature that they deny vigorously for the Cathedrals of God.” [7]
  • “Eco-Socialism? Again, most would reject the socialist label, insisting that they wish only to “correct market failures” (which they seem to find everywhere). But, their “free market” would be rigidly controlled by environmental rules, with “market-mechanisms” rhetoric used to justify pervasive regulatory taxes and quotas to micro-manage the economy. That was the system put forward by communist theorists in the 1930s as market socialism. It failed; eco-socialism is now failing in the global warming sector. In their world: EPA will steer; you and I are allowed only to row! In their world, as in that of their socialist precursors, there is little role for private conservation or private property. “ [7]

Smith added, “Today, we’re becoming increasingly aware that the Endangered Species Act endangers species, that Superfund enriches lawyers while cleansing only taxpayer’s wallets. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts restrict growth and control land use but do little to make America more healthful, that EPA increasingly alarms rather than informs the American citizenry. And these problems are becoming increasingly evident.” [7]

“Environmentalism poses a real and present danger to America’s future,” Smith declared.  [7]

 January 24, 2004

The American Conservative Union (ACU) held its annual conference, which included two panels that looked at the issues of the FDA‘s regulation of tobacco and global climate change, reported C-SPAN video. [9]

John Calfee, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute declared that it would be “an absolutely terrible idea to pass legislation supported by Phillip Morris and others to put the FDA in charge of the tobacco market.” He introduces Smith, saying he will be talking about “myths that need debunking.”  (Smith’s presentation starts shortly after 18:40. [10]

“Should the nanny state regulate tobacco? No. Of course not,” Smith declared. He then went on to list out the supposed “threats these regulations pose to individual liberty,” while portraying smoking itself as a “symbol of freedom.” He also admits that “the hazards of smoking, we all know are real and they’re there.” [10]

“Children’s defense fund strategies are immoral,” Smith added. “The youth of America want to live in a free world. […] the nanny regulators should not regulate smoking, or anything else really. […] We should not be regulating advertising for these products.” [10]

In the Q&A session, responding to a question on alcohol and regulation in comparison with tobacco, Smith said: “While one should discuss the negative aspects of one’s products—the facts that alcohol can be damaging to some individuals—one should also be allowed to put in the positive effects; that moderate consumption of alcohol […] is healthy. It’s health-enhancing. There’s a pro-con, risk-risk analysis.” [28:10] [10]

Citing a study by an “emeritus epidemiological professor at Harvard,” Smith says that “the risk associated with secondhand smoke were in the noise. Were trivial.” [34:50] [10]

Talking about “sound science,” pointing to groups like Steve Milloy’s JunkScience, as well as work by AEI[10]

Following the discussion on tobacco regulation was a panel on climate change, featuring S. Fred Singer, Bonner Cohen, and Myron Ebell[10]

January 26, 2003

Smith wrote a joint letter with Marlo Lewis to President Bush, discouraging him from supporting the McCain-Lieberman bill as well as opposing mandatory CO2 reductions as part of the Kyoto agreement. [11]

“Clearly, McCain-Lieberman is antithetical both to your National Energy Policy, which seeks to secure affordable energy for the American people, and your growth and jobs policy, which seeks to stimulate the economy via tax cuts,” the letter read.  [11]

February 1998

Fred L. Smith spoke at a program hosted by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF — now the Atlas Network) titled “Poverty and the Environment – Global Lessons, Local Solutions” in Orlando, Florida. According to the AERF description, smith presented a briefing on his experience during the Kyoto Global Warming Summit. He presented the slogan, “A world starved of energy will be a world of starving people.” [12]

Other speakers at the event included Sally Pipes (Pacific Research Institute), Jo Kwong (Atlas director of environmental programs), Terry Anderson (PERC), Bonner Cohen (EPA Watch), Henry Miller (Hoover Institute), and numerous others. [12]

February 5–8, 1998

Smith was a speaker at a conference hosted by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (AERF) on “Poverty and the Environment.” Beisner’s talk was titled “Lessons From Kyoto: Strategic Leadership.” [26]

According to the conference event description, “This Atlas Economic Research Foundation conference will bring together scholars and government officials from the Americas, to discuss the interrelationships between poverty, human health and environmental quality. For two days, speakers, panelists and commentators will examine deep-rooted problems … evaluate how nations have sought to solve them with central planning and governmental mandates … explore market-oriented alternatives to command-and-control approaches … and address the pros and cons of international treaties and protocols that often involve one-size-fits- all ‘solutions’ to narrowly defined environmental problems and concerns.” [26]

The event, hosted in Orlando, Florida, included a tour of Disney World’s waste management facility, followed by speaker discussions on “global treaties and local solutions in the areas of packaging, solid wastes, wastewater treatment, air quality and related issues.” The full list of speakers was as follows: [26]

Alejandro ChafuenAtlas Economic Research FoundationUSA
Hernan BüchiInstituto Libertad y DesarrolloChile
Lynn ScarlettReason FoundationUSA
Sally PipesPacific Research InstituteUSA
Calvin BeisnerCovenant CollegeUSA
Jo KwongAtlas Economic Research Foundation 
Terry AndersonPERCUSA
Harry TeasleyFormer President, Coca Cola Nestle Refreshments CompanyUSA
Roy MecklenburgWalt Disney WorldUSA
Monica Ozores-HamptonUniversity of FloridaUSA
Moderator: Deroy MurdockAtlas Economic Research FoundationUSA
Fred SmithCompetitive Enterprise InstituteUSA
Harvey AlterChamber of CommerceUSA
Henry MillerHoover InstituteUSA
Roger BateInstitute of Economic AffairsUnited Kingdom
Enrique GhersiCITELPeru
Roberto FendtInstituto LiberalRio de Janeiro, Brazil
Patricia VasquezFundacion RepublicaArgentina
Harvey AlterChamber of CommerceUSA
Charles StittFormer Deputy Mayor, City of IndianapolisUSA
Luis DiazCalRecovery, Inc.USA
Doug ReichlanUnited Water ServicesUSA
Maria Isabel Di MareUniversidad Autonoma de Centro AmericaCosta Rica
Fernando Von ZubenCEMPREBrazil
Arturo DavilaProcesaMexico
Ana Maria GarmendiaSUSTENTAMexico
Hon. Armando RibasFormer Member of Congress, ArgentinaArgentina

October 1995

Fred L. Smith flies to the UK with climate science contrarian Patrick Michaels to attend a conference in London organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The conference is thought to be the first event in the UK to actively promote climate science denial.


Smith is co-author with Michael S. Greve of Environmental Politics: Public Costs, Private Rewards (1992). In a September 1992 fundraising letter, Greve petitions The Tobacco Institute for financial support for the Center for Individual Rights. [13]

In the letter, Greve points out to Martin J. Gleason, Director of Issues Management of The Tobacco Institute, that “You may find Chapter 8, which deals in part with the regulation of tobacco exports, of particular interest.” [13]

October 2, 1991

Fred Smith is quoted in a Policy Backgrounder fighting against CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards, as part of an executive report collection in the Truth Tobacco Industry Documents archive. [14]

Smith argues that increases in traffic fatalities can be attributed to fuel economy standards: [14]

“In raising the CAFE standard to 40 mpg by the end of the decade, the Bryan bill would more than double the number of annual CAFE-caused fatalities, leading to thousands of unnecessary auto deaths without any discernible benefit in return,” Smith concludes. [14]


Social Media


Smith’s profile at ACSH notes that he has regularly appeared on television and radio programs to discuss regulation and policy, including CNN‘s Crossfire, PBS s News Hour with Jim Lehrer and Now with Bill Moyers, ABC‘s 20/20 and This Week, NPR‘s Talk of the Nation and The Diane Rehm Show, and The G. Gordon Liddy Show, among others. [19]

His ACSH profile also nots that he has written in a range of newspapers and magazines including The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Economic Affairs, and the Washington Times. [19]

Smith’s books include Field Guide to Effective Communication (2004), Corporate Aftershock: The Public Policy Lessons from the Collapse of Enron and Other Major Corporations (2003), Ecology, Liberty, & Property: A Free Market Environmental Reader (2000), The Future of Financial Privacy: Private Choices versus Political Rules (1999), Environmental Politics: Public Costs, Private Rewards (1992), and Steering The Elephant: How Washington Works (1987). [20]

He was co-editor of Environmental Politics: Public Costs, Private Rewards. He also contributed chapters to several books including: [20]

  • Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths,
  • True State of the Planet,
  • Solutions for an Environment in Peril,
  • Market Liberalism: A Paradigm for the 21st Century, and
  • Assessing the Reagan Years.


  1. Fred L. Smith, Jr.: Founder,” Competitive Enterprise Institute. Archived May 17, 2017. URL:
  2. Juliet Eilperin. “Anatomy of a Washington dinner: Who funds the Competitive Enterprise Institute?” The Washington Post, June 20, 2013. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. URL
  3. Competitive Enterprise Institute,” Conservative Transparency. Data retrieved June 2, 2017.
  4. Andy Kroll. “Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement,” Mother Jones, February 5, 2013. Archived June 6, 2017. URL:
  5. Global Climate Change […]C-SPAN, February 13, 2007. Archived video on file at DeSmog.
  6. Fred L. Smith: Is Greed Good?” YouTube video uploaded by user Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 7, 2010. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  7. “Ego-Paganism – Eco- Socialism Severe Threats to Americas Future,” Council on National Policy. URL:
  8. Fred L. Smith. “Review of Robert Nelson’s Economics as Religion” (PDF), Competitive Enterprise Institute, July 3, 2006.
  9. Tobacco Regulation and Global Climate Change,” C-SPAN, January 24, 2004. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 
  10. Fred Smith speaking at ACU 2004,” C-SOAN User-Created Clip by Mfisher81, May 17, 2017.
  11. CEI‘s Fred Smith and Marlo Lewis Send Coalition Letter To President Bush On The Proposed Greenhouse Gas Registry,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, January 26, 2003. Archived May 17, 2017. URL:
  13. Dear Mr. Gleason:” Center for Individual Rights, September 9, 1992. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents.
  14. Scarlett, Lynn. “FOR RELEASE AT 10 A.M. EDT Monday September 23 1991,” Tobacco Institute Records; RPCI Tobacco Institute and Council for Tobacco Research Records.
  15. FRED L. SMITH,” The Heartland Institute. Archived May 17, 2017. URL:
  16. Our Team,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived May 17, 2017. URL
  17. Fred Smith,” Foundation for Economic Education via Google Cache, March 25, 2017. URL:
  18. “2016 Ratings of New Hampshire” (PDF), The American Conservative Union Foundation. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  19. Fred L. Smith Jr.” American Council on Science and Health. Archived May 17, 2017. URL:
  20. “Fred L. Smith, Jr.’ (PDF), Retrieved from U.S. House of Representatives Document Repository. Document created March 13, 2015.
  21. Louis Jacobson. “Tanks on the Roll,National Journal, 7/8/1995. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Bates No. TI14372110.
  22. Dear Maura,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 16, 2000. Retrieved from Tobacco Industry Documents. Bates Number : 525291068-525291069.
  23. Dear Tom,” Competitive Enterprise Institute, October 11, 1994. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Bates No. 2046558061.
  24. Dear Tom:” Competitive Enterprise Institute, September 21, 1995. Retrieved from Truth Tobacco Industry Documents. Bates No. 2046557755-2046557762.
  25. “Fred L. Smith Jr.,” American Council on Science and Health. Archived June 6, 2017. URL:
  26. Poverty and the Environment: Global Lessons – Local Solutions,” Archived February 4, 1998. URL:

Other Resources

Profile image screencapture from C-SPAN video, Tobacco Regulation and Global Climate Change, January 24, 2004.

Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.” [1], [2] According to its agency profile at O'Dwyers, “APCO Worldwide is a...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology. [1] Background Hugh W. Ellsaesser, born in 1920, is a meteorologist by training and retired “guest scientist” at the Lawren...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974). [1]B.A. University of Minnesota-Twin (1965). [1] Background Alfred (Al) Pekarek is a former ass...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. [1], [2] Background Benny Peiser is a sports ...