[1936 Fe 23, 2:4]

Byrns Picks 4 Democrats and
4 Republicans for House
Townsend Investigation
McGroarty Calls Him 'Biased'
—Defends Salaries Paid Lead-
ers of the Old-Age Plan.

  WASHINGTON, Feb. 22.—Speaker Byrns today appointed a special committee of eight members, four Democrats and four Republicans, to investigate the methods and financing of the Townsend old-age pension plan and all other pension plans for the aged. Of the eight committee members, two are known to be advocates of the Townsend scheme.
  The appointees included Representative Bell of Missouri, author of the investigating resolution, as chairman, and Representative Lucas of Illinois, Gavagan of New York, Tolan of California, Hollister of Ohio, Ditter of Pennsylvania, Collins of California, and Hoffman of Michigan. Messrs. Bell, Lucas, Gavagan and Tolan are Democrats, the other being Republicans.
  The Speaker evidently appointed the committee without previously consulting Mr. bell, who, however, after today's session, described it as "a good committee." He said that the first meeting would probably be held on Monday and that the committee would then decide on procedure, the amount of the appropriation to be sought and whether it would sit in Washington or travel about the country.
  Representative McGroarty, Democrat, of California, one of the principal Townsend lieutenants in Congress, predicted that the projected inquiry would "strengthen the determination of those in the movement and draw countless thousands more."
  Mr. McGroarty estimated the enrolled membership of the movement at present at 8,000,000 to 10,000,000, and said there would be twice as many by election day next November.
  "This probe is a dirty political trick," he said. "The country is fed up on investigations."
  Of the members of the investigating committee, Mr. McGroarty said:
  "Tolan and Collins are all right. They are very able lawyers and are members of the movement. I guess they could not help appointing Bell, as he introduced the resolution, but he has disqualified himself if this is supposed to be a non-partisan body.
  "Hoffman will be an opponent, because when he made his last speech on the Townsend plan I had to caution him that he might burst a blood vessel. Gavagan is an unbiased man. I don't know about Lucas, but he is not listed in our bloc.
  "I welcome Hollister. I have the greatest respect for his ability and his eminent fairness. If I were to ask for a judge to try me on the bench, I could ask for a fairer man. His selection was extremely fortunate.
  "All in all, it is a satisfactory committee. Mr. Bell is biased, but that's all right. It is very apparent that the speaker did everything in how power to appoint a fair committee."
  Asked if he would seek to testify before the committee, Mr. McGroarty said:
  "I would make a very poor witness. I have never been connected with the management and I have never received a penny from the organization, although I have made hundreds of speeches."
  He said that recent published criticisms of the salaries of $100 a week paid to Dr. F. E. Townsend, originator of the plan, and to Robert E. Clements, executive head of the movement, were unjustified. He said the Townsend plan was the largest political organization the world had ever seen, and that Mr. Clements was responsible for building it up.
  The salaries of the officials were much smaller than those paid to head of "smaller organizations," as Mr. McGroarty described the American Federation of Labor and the United Mine Workers.
  "Members of the Congress who used to tell me they didn't have to worry," he said, "now come to me with bad cases of the jitters."
Clements Discusses Salaries.
By The Associated Press.
  WASHINGTON, Feb. 22.—Beating House investigators to a punch, R. E. Clements, co-founder of the Townsend old-age pension movement, revealed today that he and Dr. F. E. Townsend each received salaries totaling $150 a week plus traveling expenses.
  The former Long Beach (Calif.) real estate broker talked with reporters in the Townsend suite at an office building.   Mr. Clements explained that he and Dr. Townsend own the weekly, which he said sells for 5 cents a copy retail and has a circulation estimated at 250,000.
  :What is being done with the income from the paper?" he was asked.
  "It is being put into a reserve fund."
  "How much is in the reserve fund now?"
  "I do not think that is a matter of public interest."
Would Bar Dual-Party System.
By The Associated Press.
  GLENDALE, Calif., Feb. 22.—Dr. Francis E. Townsend offered his old-age pension clubs today as the basis of a system of "town-meeting" government which he proposed to replace the American two-party system.
  "Dual party government is not democracy and never was," he said in an interview.
  Dr. Townsend announced two days ago that his organization would neither sponsor a third party nor participate in any rift-making Presidential campaign activities of either major party.
  He asserted that whether or not his old-age pension plan were adopted, the Townsend clubs in the United States would be used in an attack on the present party system.
  Dr. Townsend said that there were "more than 7,000 Townsend clubs in existence now and others are being formed at the rate of 1,000 a week," mostly in the East and South.
  Definite plans for a campaign to put the "town meeting" proposal in effect already have been made, he said.
  "The people do need guidance and it would be very easy for the best minds in the country to impress their thought on American citizens through this method," Dr. Townsend said.
  "More frequent elections would be an advantage of this plan. Clubs throughout the nation could be polled within a week on any expression of public opinion."