The Pittsburgh Press (July 29, 1944)
72 federal officials accused of being ‘in frequent communication’ with union
Washington (UP) –
Charges of collusion between high-ranking government officials and the CIO in promoting the candidacies of New Deal office seekers were under scrutiny today by the House Un-American Activities Committee.
HUAC Chairman Martin Dies (D-TX) yesterday made public a preliminary report charging 72 federal employees with being “in frequent communication” with CIO Political Action Committee officials in recent campaigns. The report included a statement by the committee’s chief investigator, Robert E. Stripling, who said:
From evidence gathered I am of the opinion that the CIO Political Action Committee is in reality not so much of a labor political committee as it is the political arm of the New Deal administration.
While it is true the top officials of the PAC are identified with labor, yet the people who are actually running the organization seem to have no background with labor, but are fresh out of the government.
Among those listed in this category are C. B. Baldwin (former Farm Security Administrator, now assistant PAC chairman), and C. A. McPeak (former employee of the War Production Board), Raymond S. McKeough (former Illinois Congressman), Charlotte Carr (former War Manpower Commission employee) and George S. Mitchell (former Assistant Federal Security Administrator – all now with the PAC).
The report implicated Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt through alleged telephone calls to her from Mr. Baldwin and PAC Chairman Sidney Hillman, and through alleged communications and White House visits by Verga Barnes, head of the CIO Women’s Division who was charged with “influencing” the recent defeat of Senator D. Worth Clark (D-ID).
Starnes defeat cited
The report also said the PAC might have engineered the defeat of Rep. Joe Starnes (D-AL), Dies Committee vice chairman.
The report said:
Since he was only defeated by a few hundred votes it might well be that the influence and interference of L. S. Morgan, director of the Federal Security Administration, might have been the determining factor.
Mr. Morgan was one of those listed as being in “frequent communication” with the PAC.
Among high-ranking government officials accused in the report are Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, David K. Niles and Jonathan Daniels (administrative assistants to President Roosevelt), Lowell Mellett (a former administrative assistant), Chairman Maury Maverick of the Smaller War Plants Corporation, Samuel Rosenman (special counsel to the President), Price Administrator Chester Bowles and Director Elmer Davis of the Office of War Information.
Phone calls cited
Mr. Stripling’s report was made public by Dies’ Washington office after the committee chairman sent copies together with a 39-page supplement containing names and dates of alleged telephone calls between government employees and PAC officials, to each committee member.
The report did not explain how Mr. Stripling got his information, which caused considerable agitation a few weeks ago when columnist Westbrook Pegler revealed some of the purported details.
Mr. Dies asked the members to study the material and report whether they preferred to turn it over to Attorney General Francis Biddle or to make a fuller investigation themselves.
Rep, J. Parnell Thomas (R-NJ), Fred E. Busbey (R-IL) and Karl E. Mundt (R-SD) replied immediately that there should be an immediate and more thorough investigation.
Rep. Herman P. Eberharter (D-PA) said a meeting should be called as soon as Mr. Dies was able to attend. He added that he didn’t like “remote control” from Mr. Dies’ home in Jasper, Texas.
Mr. Dies, who has been the target for many PAC attacks, did not seek reelection this year because of a throat ailment and will cease to hold office at the close of the present term of Congress. He has been recuperating at his home.
Will study charges
Assistant Attorney General James P. McGranary said his office had received no information from the Dies Committee in regard to the charges, but that “if and when any was turned over, it would be studied carefully.”
We’ll weigh it out carefully and if there appears to be any evidence of Hatch Act violations, we’ll make a thorough investigation.