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law as to the civil-service requirements under which postmasters are presently selected.
3. Much has been said about this plan and the companion bills taking politics out of postmaster appointments. It is well, I think, that we examine the only existing statute that I know of on this point. I refer to 5 United States Code 642, which reads as follows:
Recommendations by Senators or Representatives: No recommendation of any person who shall apply for offices or places under the provisions of sections 632, 633, 637, 638, 640, 641 of this title which may be given by any Senator or Member of the House of Representatives, except as to the character or residence of the applicant, shall be received or considered by any person concerned in making any examination or appointment under said sections.
If I am correct that there is no other law on the subject, then any extension of advising with Members of Congress by the Postmaster General is not based on enacted legislation. This much is quite clear that no part of above-quoted statute, which deals with all applicants for civil-service positions, not just postmasters, is modified or repealed by this plan. I am quite familiar with the plan and the existence of advisers to the Post Office Department and that generally such advisers are Members of the House and not the Senate. My colleague, the senior Senator from South Carolina, and myself, are content to leave to the six Representatives from my State the functions permitted under this law although it gives the same privilege to Senators as to Representatives. Mr. Chairman, I cannot let this opportunity pass without saying that I know of no one who is in better position to express an opinion on the qualifications of an applicant for postmaster than the duly elected and accredited Representatives of a given State. It has been said that to remove Senate review of such nominations will take out politics. Certainly those who make such absurd statements have overlooked the fact that the Senate and my committee are restricted to the one person nominated. Whatever politics that have been exercised, and I would be very much surprised if there are not some in certain cases, have been on the level of the original selection from the eligible register of three highest.
4. It is significant that one of the recommendations of the Hoover Commission included in pending legislation and which has been stressed so much by them is not contained in any of the President's reorganization plans. I refer to recommendation 3 that the postal service be decentralized into 15 regions. In his illuminating testimony opposing this recommendation, the Postmaster General emphasized that in a strict sense each of the 21,618 Presidential post offices represent a decentralized service. In this, I agree. A postmaster is a very important public official. Of late, there has been a tendency to downgrade the importance of this most frequent top Federal official in a given community. It is rather loosely said at times that he makes no policy, inferring that he is somewhat of a rubber stamp to carry out instructions from Washington. Of course, there must be standards in all business set at the top and the Post Office Department is our biggest business.
To illustrate the importance of a local postmaster take the New York City office from which originates nearly 10 percent of all of our postal revenues. This now approaches $200 million annually, considerably more than the total annual revenue of the entire Canadian postal service. While it is true that many of our Presidential offices are much smaller than New York or Chicago but to these communities the prestige of the postmaster is just as important. I don't want to overemphasize, Mr. Chairman, this matter, for I realize that you don't cure incompetence with a Presidential commission but, by the same token, you don't change a man's morals just by putting him under civil service, although I am in thorough accord with the present law that all postmasters are now in the classified service and should continue under civil service and this can be accomplished without a new plan or a new law.
5. Personally I think the best place to start in having competent, honest, and upright postmasters is in the original appointment. No one has argued that we don't get such officials under the present plan. No convincing argument has been made before your committee, Mr. Chairman, or before my committee, that to change the appointing officer will insure better officials. I do want to say this, that the United States Civil Service Commission, where the prime responsibility rests as to character and qualification of a potential postmaster, does a fine job of investigation. They should have the necessary funds to make a personal investigation in connection with all size offices and not the larger as is the present case. I recall a case in a rather small, second-class office in a Midwest State where one of the Senators, a very high class man no longer in the Senate, rather reluctantly raised the question as to the applicant's honesty. Both the Commission and the Post Office Department had given the green light as to the man's fitness but these rumors persisted. The Congress was not in session but I directed the appropriate staff member to make an investigation in person. This was done quietly and it developed that the very persons who had given a clean bill of health in writing to the Commission told our representative an entirely different story that this man was a confirmed kleptomaniac. Our representative confirmed this by talking to the former employer of the nominee. When the information secured by the committee was submitted to the proper persons, this nomination was never resubmitted.
The members of this committee are quite familiar with the recent Mississippi scandals, involving civil-service employees.
The CHAIRMAN. That, again, is a case where they were ignoring the elected representatives of the people. Senator JOHNSTON. That is right. .
The CHAIRMAN. And getting their information from extraneous sources.
Senator JOHNSTON. That is entirely correct.
According to my information, 12 persons were indicted for con. spiracy to sell Federal jobs. Two pleaded guilty. Five persons were indicted for perjury. Four persons were indicted for selling Federal
Of the 99 cases investigated by the Post Office Department, 29 were removed from office; 4 were removed but removal orders were revoked; 2 cases are still pending on appeal after removal orders; 2 cases now involve men who will face charges on separation from military service.
Mr. Chairman, all 99 cases were civil-service appointees but none of the 99 had been appointed by the President or confirmed by the Senate.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think there would have been any scandal in Mississippi, of the proportions discovered, if the Post Office Department had followed the usual procedure in recognizing Members of Congress in making these appointments ?
Senator JOHNSTON. In my humble opinion, I think there is where the administration got into trouble, by not following the usual procedure in making the appointments.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, you know the reason why they departed from the usual procedure in that State was simply for political reprisals. How much easier would it be to resort to political reprisals if you take away Senate consultation and consultation with the elected representatives of the people.
Senator DWORSHAK. Was Mr. Donaldson involved in that sale of postal jobs in any way? I do not mean was he personally culpable, but did he approve it?
Senator JOHNSTON. He must have given approval to the appointments.
The CHAIRMAN. Now they have to consult the Representatives or Senators, at least for confirmation, and it is proposed to remove that last check.
Senator JOHNSTON. As I see it, you are placing in the hands of one man the appointing power over approximately 42,000 postmasters, You are building up one of the biggest political powers in America. If we fall for this reorganization plan, I do not hesitate to predict that this man will be the chairman of the party.
I have no reflection on whatever party it might be. And when he becomes the chairman of the party, then, with this large appointive power throughout the United States, touching every nook and corner, you have done something to the public that will be seriously injurious in the future. It will not give us the class of men that we want as postmasters but will give power to the richest, most powerful politicians in the various localities.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that not likely to result in a situation where if an individual contributes he will get consideration, and if he does not, maybe he will get none?
Senator JOHNSTON. I think the chairman is probably right, I am sorry to say
Mr. Chairman, let's look at the picture with regard to postmasters nominated by the President. During both sessions of the Eightyfirst Congress and the first session of this Congress, 16 such nominations were submitted to the Senate.
Of these 16 nominations, only 4 were finally confirmed, and that not until both Mississippi Senators had satisfied themselves that they had no connection with the postal scandals, and sent their approval to the committee. Of the remaining 12, 5 nominations were withdrawn by the President, and because of lack of Senate confirmation on the remaining 7, it was necessary to eventually submit to the Senate new nominations for these.
That finishes my statement, but I would be glad to try to answer any questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Dworshak.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Johnston, the chairman has no particular questions to ask you. I think you have rendered a service by coming before this committee and giving your views as chairman of the legislative committee having jurisdiction over the subject matter.
I think this plan is far more serious and dangerous than many people realize at the moment. It gives the opportunity; I cannot predict what will happen. I do not know. But it does give the opportunity for more politics, and unwholesome politics, to influence the appointment of, as you say, important public servants in every community in this Nation.
Now, to what extent that power would be abused, I cannot say. It might not be abused for a long time. But the time will come, in all probablity, when a tremendous abuse of that power might occur.
And my position is that it is the responsibility of the Congress not to provide the opportunity for such abuses as could occur if this plan went into effect. We have the initial responsibility not to so legislate, by reorganization plan or otherwise. We have the responsibility as elected representatives of the people, when we delegate power to the Executive or pass laws for the Executive to enforce, to place the necessary legal safeguards therein so as to prevent abuses, to protect the public interest, and to undertake to insure the efficienct execution of the laws that we pass.
Senator JOHNSTON. I would like to make this statement to the committee, too, in reference to Mississippi.
When my committee began getting complaints about what was going on in Mississippi, we held all appointments in the committee, and no postmasters were appointed in Mississippi during the Eighty-first Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. That is, until after you had a clean-up. You did not report them out favorably until the thing was cleaned up.
But you have no jurisdiction over the carriers and the clerks. You do not recommend confirmation of those groups. The Senate only confirms the postmasters now. But many appointments down there were made of clerks and of carriers, and the Senate had no jurisdiction over that.
Senator JOHNSTON. That is true.
Senator DWORSHAK. Without the right of confirmation with respect to any of those jobs involved in that Mississippi scandal, the Postmaster General might have made the appointments, and the appointees could have served without requiring confirmation?
Senator JOHNSTON. That is entirely correct, just as he can now in the fourth-class post offices. They do not come to us for confirmation.
Senator DWORSHAK. That is all.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Senator Johnston. We appreciate your testimony.
I may say for the record-it is in the record already—that Staff Memorandum No. 82–2–29, an excellent memorandum I think, has been placed in the hearings. It contains a discussion of the statute you cited, concerning the legality of the present practice whereby the Postmaster General requests the views of congressional advisers.
It seems that Mr. Murphy, then the Attorney General, made a ruling on the validity of that statute and the way it was operating, and held that it was proper under the statute to submit the names to Members of Congress for their recommendation.
I thank you very much, Senator.
The CHAIRMAN. Is Mr. Riley present? Will you come forward, please?
Mr. Riley, I see you have a prepared statement.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE D. RILEY, MEMBER, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR
REORGANIZATION PLAN Nos. 2, 3, AND 4 OF 1952 Mr. RILEY. A brief prepared statement, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. All right. We are glad to have you. Mr. RILEY. Thank you very much.
My name is George D. Riley. I am a member of the national legislative committee of the American Federation of Labor.
I am directed to appear in opposition to Reorganization Plan No. 2, a plan to shift authority for selection of postmasters completely into the hands of the Postmaster General.
Our position is taken in conformity with the action of all postal unions affiliated to the American Federation of Labor. The action of these unions is in opposition to the plan.
The reasons for our opposition are as follows:
1. The plan is vague and offers no improvement over the present system.
2. The Ramspeck-O'Mahoney Act of 1938 purportedly put postmasters under civil service. If it did there is no need for further legislation effecting the same purpose.
3. The practice of the Post Office Department is to put former postal inspectors all practically exclusively in high executive and administrative jobs.
4. There is no assurance that career operating postal employees will have recognition under this plan. This plane will clear the way further for the Postmaster General to pursue this practice in filling all postmasterships. At least senatorial confirmation has served as a brake for this policy.
5. Plan No. 2 is submitted at a time when it is almost impossible for the House to muster a constitutional majority on this proposal. The proponents apparently are taking their chances that the Senate likewise will be handicapped.
The CHAIRMAN. I will say that up until now the Senate is handicapped in considering these plans, because, this being an election year, so many are away and have to be away that it is not easy even to get a quorum at times in the Senate.
Mr. RILEY. Certainly the proponents of the plan have taken a post position on this; at least, they have the inside track or appear to have.
6. The Bureau of the Budget, the Hoover Commission and the Postmaster General have said that a reorganization plan is an impracticable method for accomplishing what the Department through the White House now is attempting.
This, of course, has been brought out by your able staff, and I would like to add my own accolade and kudo to the remarks that have been stated on that work.