Election 1944: Kelly accused in removal of ballot official (11-1-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 1, 1944)


Kelly accused in removal of ballot official

Cabinet aide denies pressure in ouster

Washington (UP) –
Under Secretary of Navy Ralph A. Bard said today that a former Republican businessman who was to have directed distribution of war ballots in the Pacific was removed because he had once been “an active partisan political worker,” and not because of any pressure from Democratic leaders.

Mr. Bard specifically denied charges by Senator Homer Ferguson (R-MI) that the war ballot officer – identified as LtCdr. Edward McGinnis – was replaced because of pressure brought by Mayor Edward J. Kelly of Chicago.

Mr. Bard, a Republican, said Cdr. McGinnis was removed only in the interests of nonpartisanship when it was found that prior to joining the Navy he had been “an active partisan political worker in Chicago.”

Mr. Bard said in a statement:

Nothing was ever said to me by Senator Lucas about votes for Mr. Roosevelt. At no time did I talk to Mayor Kelly on this subject. The action taken was highly proper, was thoroughly approved by Capt. William D. Puleston, who was in charge of the ballot distribution, and I have no apologies whatever to offer in connection therewith.

Wrote to Green

He said that he wrote a letter explaining the incident to Senator Theodore F. Green (D-RI), chairman of the Senate Campaign Committee of which Senator Ferguson is a member. “As I have had no reply or comment,” he said, “I judge the explanation was satisfactory to the committee as a whole.”

Senator Ferguson, detailing his charges at a press conference, said that he decided to make the matter public after Democratic committee members blocked his proposal that the group investigate.

He said:

Certainly, the public is entitled to know what a political boss can do in Washington. Mayor Kelly was interested in the reelection of Mr. Roosevelt and Senator Lucas was just slightly interested – he’s up for reelection.

Had not talked to Bard

He said that he had not talked with Mr. Bard, although he has requested an interview. “Mr. Bard is the man who should appear before the committee,” he added.

Senator Green said that the committee had made a preliminary inquiry but had decided not to conduct a formal investigation. Senator Ferguson and Senator Joseph H. Ball (R-MN) voted for the inquiry but Senator Green and Senator Tom Stewart (D-TN), the latter voting by proxy, opposed the move.