Mary Pottorff

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Mary Ousler Pottorff, who suffered the nickname "Mopsy" (after March 1985 [1]), was a business manager for a hospital laboratory who's director was the tobacco scientist Sheldon Charles Sommers. She ran the Smokeless Tobacco Council for a while, and then became a Philip Morris operators for Worldwide Regulatory Affairs.

(Note: She married Domenic DeGaetano, and may use the name Mary DeGaetano also)

At Philip Morris, she quickly rose to the trusted position of deputy to Andrew Whist in PM's Corporate Affairs unit, and ran many programs in Europe and Asia (from NY), under the direction of Steve Parrish and Whist. She also played the administrative role with the notorious Boca Raton Action Plan which was the Geoff Bible-inspired global attack on UN agencies. These projects were run by PM International's Corporate Affairs office out of New York, but they involved using PR and science-corruption resources in Europe and Asia.


Pottorff first established herself in the tobacco industry as an administrative assistant to Dr Sheldon "Charlie" Sommers who was then (in 1971-81) the part-time Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) for the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR). [2]

Sommers was also the Director of Laboratories at the Lennox Hill Hospital, New York, and she was both his laboratory manager and assistant. [3] [4] The CTR paid her an honorarium of $2100 per annum for her work (Full-time administrative salaries were $20-40,000 pa. at this time), and he went on to a lucrative career working for the tobacco industry, so she had the right connections.

She must have been good at the job, because, in 1980, a head-hunting firm interviewed her for a newly created CTR position of Vice President, Administration. [5] The job involved:

[He/she will] assist in preparation of the annual administrative budget and administration of Council financial matters, and consult on salaried personnel matters. He will also assist in Executive Secretarial functions for the Scientific Advisory Board, and will be responsible for carrying out actions and programs approved by the Board.

Alan W. Katzenstein, a statistician, got the job (he ran a consulting business), but Pottoroff was found a position with the Smokeless Tobacco Council as its Executive Vice President, which was: [6]

headquartered in New York, and has a one-woman office, staffed by Mary Pottorff, formerly "Girl Friday" to Charlie Sommers at Lenox Hill.

In this position she seems to have had considerable authority on handling research grants, and she dealt on a day-to-day basis with both the Tobacco Institute and the CTR.

She may have played a role in bringing the chewing tobacco manufacturers into the same lobbying projects as the cigarette manufacturers [7], but the cigarette companies were buying up the chewing tobacco and snuff companies. So it made sense for them to share funding of tobacco research grants [8] and the Tobacco Institute, under Samuel D. Chilcote, Jr., began to enlist her support in their propaganda efforts. [9]

Phillip Morris

By 1983 she had learned to play the tobacco industry's games and was in the process of moving full-time into the global tobacco corruption business. In October 1983 Andrew Whist [10] was keeping her up-to-date with the activities of Bryan C. Simpson, John Dollisson and others at an INFOTAB meeting, but he clearly doesn't know or trust her enough to admit that Glen Smith was an old Aussie friend who worked for Simpson in Europe.

Pottorff transfered to Philip Morris International's New York office in mid-year 1984, and began dealing with the major science corruption accounts (like the IAQ-ventillation consultants Healthy Buildings International who were paid to manipulate the readings [11]). As the unit manager, she was also dealing with the information systems, and receiving and distributing reports on the US Congress and International political actions.

She seems to have been given both the European and Asian-regional science as her special watch, and she was clearly in a decision-making role, only one step below Whist. Some documents show that she was dealing on a day-to-day basis with to top executives in the company like Hugh Cullman, Hamish Maxwell. [12] and Bill Murray [13] .

Deputy to Whist

By 1986 she had become the trusted deputy of Andrew Whist with the title Manager, Corporate Affairs, and was dealing both with the operational side of the division (establishing electronic databases and information distribution systems), and also with the day-to-day scientific corruption activities. Arts sponsorships also came under this division, [14] and she handled the fine arts, while Whist concentrated on popular music and jazz.

One of her main contributions to Philip Morris's lobbying efforts, was in straightening out the consultant's payment system. Some of the hired scientific consultants had been double-and-triple dipping; providing the same services through different divisions of Philip Morris. And since the divisions of the company ran covert operations on a "need-to-know" basis, the smart consultant could get paid twice for the same work. [15]

Pottorff was also corresponding with covert science-consultants like Dr. Carl Seltzer, one of the most notorious of the tobacco industries denial scientists (based at the Harvard School of Public Health), and Geoffrey Myddelton, a doctor who was on the Advisory Council of FOREST, the UK smokers-rights organization. [16] So she was now a fully-fledge member of the corruption team working alongside Andrew Whist and the Shook, Hardy and Bacon lawyer Donald K. Hoel.


Her interests at this time appear to be slanted towards the economic -- the social costs and benefits question. [17] and she also focussing on the activities of the IOCU (International Organization of Consumer Unions) in pesticide use [18] and passive smoking claims. [19]

As the divisional manager, she also initiated a process of systematically culling files [20] [21], and a system of requesting sensitive documents be returned to the source, uncopied. [22] There also appears to have been a well-developed plan to transfer stored document archives to Donna Wood (apparently recruited from R.J. Reynolds) to cull Philip Morris's domestic files. [23] [24]

Her personal memo distribution lists at this time show clearly that she supervised, organized, and assisted the lawyers and in-house lobbyists most closely involved with scientific corruption [25], and that she directly managed science-for-sale operators like Larry Holcomb [26], and Gray Robertson's Healthy Buildings International. [27]

Two major projects that spread over a number of years was to counter the threat of air-line smoking bans [28] and to develop the scam of having a paid-consultant analysising office building air quality --as per Healthy Buildings International (HBI)). [29] [30]

Her work on the airlines involved getting on-side with the stewardess's union [31], talking to airline management, supervising the design and standardisation of portable air-sampling devices that would give them the results they desired, then persuading airline management to carry these during flights. The airlines were not too keen on having outsiders testing the environment inside their aircraft - even though they new the tobacco companies had a vested interest in finding no problems with the air quality.


  • 1944 Jan 2: Born [32]
  • 1965: Bachelor of Arts degree English/Psychology, University of Arkansas.
  • 1965-69: Research Assistant, Uni of Arkansas Medical Centre.
  • 1967-68: Airline flight attendant, American Airlines
  • 1968-69: Bureau of Laboratories, NYC Department of Health
  • 1969: Working with Sheldon Sommers at Lennox Hill Hospital as the Laboratory Business Manager. He was a member of the Science Advisory Board (SAB) of the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), and in this role she was his administrative assistant. [33]
  • 1971-81: As above but also his administrative assistant when he was Chairman of the SAB of the CTR
  • 1980 Mar: Being recruited for a more demanding position by the CTR. [34] Ended up with the Smokeless Tobacco Council. In this year she also graduated with an MBA in management from Pace University.
  • 1981-83: Executive VP at Smokeless Tobacco Council
  • 1984 mid-year: Manager, Corporate Affairs, Philip Morris International, repofting to Andrew Whist.
  • 1985 Mar: She had been nicknamed Mopsy [35] and she has the title of Manager of [[Philip Morris Corporate Affairs|Corporate Affairs]. During this year she was also in Europe visiting the Fabriques Tabac Reunies laboratories in Neuchatel [36] before the annual meeting of INFOTAB which focussed on the development of computerised databases [37] .
as manager, she is also in charge of distributing Smoking & Health counter-propaganda material to the various national subsidiaries of PM. [38]
  • 1986: Her responsibility at this time covered advertising codes, Smoking & Health issues, and international coordination with other countries, such as the Japanese Tobacco Institute [39]. She was directly involved in trying to block the World Health Organization [40] , and countering aactivities of the anti-smoking organisations and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. [41]
  • 1987-88: Involved with Indoor Air Quality monitoring and the development of a device which would give them 'satisfactory' results. In 1999 she was running the European airline testing/smoking policy program. [42]
  • 1990 late: Long visit to Australia and New Zealand

[More work needed]

Possible confusions

  • Mary Pottorff's name was often mis-spelled in a variety of ways, and in the tobacco archives she is often simply refered to as "Mopsy". Her initials were MOP. [43] She signed herself "Mopsy" on internal memos from about mid-1985.
  • There was another person with the same surname, "Jo Ann Pottorff", who worked in the Kansas state office of the Tobacco Institute and stood as a Republican candidate for the State House of Representatives. [44]
  • Since Mary Pottorff worked with Philip Morris and had files handed down to her (and which included her own earlier letters from the CTR and Smokeless Tobacco Council day), some of the dates as they have been indexed (often estimated) may be incorrect -- they may date from an earlier or later period.

Group Memberships

She was a member of:

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