WASHINGTON, Feb. 20.Dr. F. E. Townsend and the man who will head the
House investigation of his old-age pension movement agreed today on one
pointthe Californian will have a major rôle in the inquiry on his plan
to pay $200 a month to the aged. |
A spokesman wired a request that the investigation be delayed for two
weeks so that Dr. Townsend, who is ill, could be on hand.
Representative Bell, Democrat of Missouri, who will be chairman of the
committee of eight which Speaker Byrns plans to appoint tomorrow, issued a
statement saying that the committee will want to "interrogate Dr. Townsend,
characterized by his followers as one of the three great men in American
history." The other two, Mr. Bell added, were "George Washington and Abraham
Speaker Byrns said he was consulting Representative Snell, Republican
leader of the House, on members from that party for the bipartisan investigating
committee. The Speaker said the list should be ready tomorrow.
Informed that officials of the Townsend organization today had "welcomed"
the investigation as "wonderful publicity for us," Mr. Bell smiled and said:
"You wouldn't expect them to say they feared the investigation, would
The Missourian introduced the resolution to look into the Townsend and
similar movements. It was adopted yesterday by a standing vote of 240 to 4.
Mr. Bell today received a telegram from Gomer Smith, sent from Los
Angeles, which said Mr. Smith was the personal attorney for Dr. Townsend. The
telegram explained that Dr. Townsend is recovering from influenza and that
neither he nor Smith could be in Washington before two weeks.
"We both desire to be present at the beginning of this investigation and
will appreciate your deferring commencement for two weeks," the telegram
continued. "We desire to offer your committee every assistance."
Mr. Bell identified Mr. Smith as
[continued on Page
Two] a former Kansas City attorney now practicing in Oklahoma City who
has announced his candidacy on a Townsend platform for the senate in opposition
to Senator Gore.
The Representative telegraphed to Mr. Smith that Speaker Byrns has not
appointed the committee, "so no one is yet authorized to take any action or make
any promises, but am sure this committee will want to interrogate Dr. Townsend."
Asked whether the investigation would be delayed two weeks, Mr. Bell said
no plans would be made until the committee is named, but he believed Dr. Townsend
would be among the first, if not the first witness called.
At Townsend headquarters here Robert E. Clements, secretary and co-founder
of the plan for a 2 per cent transaction tax to finance the $200 a month grants,
issued a statement in which he characterized the investigation as "pure and
unadulterated political persecution."
"The monkeys have played right into our hands," he said. "They are giving
us the biggest piece of publicity we ever could have hoped to get. We shall be
exonerated and our pension plan forced to a vote."
He charged that the investigation was a "desperate attempt to discredit us
in the hope of escaping retaliation at the polls." |
"The political enemy is both jealous and afraid of us," he added. "We have
the biggest organization in the United States. They couldn't built it for
$10,000,000 by politics, but we did it for less than $700,000."
Representative Bell and other opponents of the movement have questioned
the receipts of the organization, which the secretary set at "less than
$700,000." It was indicated that both receipts and expenditures will receive
prime attention from the committee.
Townsend Rejects National Ticket.
LOS ANGELES, Feb 20 (AP).Dr. Francis E. Townsend said
his old-age pension organization neither will sponsor a third party nor join
movements in any State that would involve a conflict in the presidential
preferential primary of either major party.
He referred particularly to the recently announced plan of the
organization, "California democracy," to enter a Townsend plan delegation slate
on the May 5 primary ballot, nominally pledged to Representative John Steven
McGroarty of California for President.
Dr. Townsend said reports of this plan have been so phrased "as to create
the impression that Mr. McGroarty is the official
candidate of the Townsend organization."
"We have no inclination," he said, "to antagonize any favorite son
candidate either in California or elsewhere. But we cannot escape the conclusion
that if Mr. McGroarty runs as a favorite son Townsend
candidate in California,
somebody in every State, following his example, will do likewise."
"Such a program could only bring defeat and discredit to the Townsend
The organization's power, he said, "should be lined up behind candidates
for Congress and for the United States Senate who are definitely committed to
support the Townsend plan."
"I have every confidence we can elect upward of 150 representatives to the
congress in the elections of 1936," he said.
In declaring against a third party, he stated that a survey of election
laws convinced him it would be impossible to get a Townsend ticket on the ballot
in nineteen States.
McGroarty sees Misunderstanding.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (AP).Representative McGroarty said here today
that, "I don't believe Dr. Townsend understands what we have in mind."
"All we want to do," he declared, "is to send a delegation to the
Democratic national convention pledged to an effort to secure adoption of a plank
in the national platform endorsing the Townsend old age pension plan.
"I know that the Townsend people in California would favor that movement
whether Dr. Townsend does or not. He is not a Democrat himself, and I don't see
why he should interfere with it at all.
"Whether he does or not, we're going ahead with it."