Private Enrichment At Public Expense – August 20, 1951

Sen. McCarthy - let he without guilt cast the first stone, they giggled.

Sen. McCarthy – “let he without guilt cast the first stone”, they giggled.

Edward R. Murrow News with Don Hollenbeck – August 20, 1951 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

News for this day had an eerie ring of familiarity to it. The subject of influencing policy based on previous employers, the subject of Private enrichment at Public expense, and the “glass houses – throwing stones” analogy was rampant on Capitol Hill, this August 20th 64 years ago.

With subcommittee hearings going on over influence peddling at the highest levels of government by some members of the Democratic party, and counter charges of equally shameful goings-on within the ranks of the Republican Party had many thinking Capitol Hill was a cesspool of corruption.

At issue was the investigation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and it’s connection with politics, with two reports issued as to the findings. At the front of the scandal-in-progress was Senator Homer Capehart of Indiana, who leveled a blast at the Truman Administration; saying in effect that corruption was rife within the ranks of the Democrats, as many of them had previous employment with the companies they were alleged to be overseeing. But likewise, it was disclosed by members of the Democratic Majority that the Republicans were no puritans when it came to private enrichment. Senator J. William Fulbright reminded his colleagues on both sides of the aisle that it was Senator Joseph McCarthy who had been paid $10,000 by the Lustron Corporation, an RFC borrower, to write a pamphlet extolling the virtues of prefabricated housing. Fulbright added that very little was made of this revelation, yet his own colleagues were grilled at length over their accusations.

And if that wasn’t enough, an investigation was underway of the Securities and Exchange Commission over how former personnel of the SEC got to be high officials of United Corporation, a utilities holding company. It was pointed out that there were many such cases where Agency workers left jobs to take private employment and subsequently their new employers obtained favors from their old government agencies. In the case of United Corporation, the investigation was trying to find out how the President, vice-President, Senior counsel and assistant to the President of United Corporation were all former employees of the SEC. A bill was pending which would forbid an employee from taking a job for two years with any firm that the employee or his agency had previously dealt with.

The scandals go ’round in circles.

And more hearings were taking place – this time the subject was Subversive Activities and Un-American activities. Seems all of Capitol Hill was wrapped up in one form of scandal or another.

All that – and Korean ceasefire negotiations were continuing. Starting the week on an upbeat note, ending the week on a sour note as violence was marring the goings-on and the good-feelings.

A lot going on, this August 20, 1951 – as presented by Edward R. Murrow and the News with Don Hollenbeck, substituting.

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