COMMITTEE NAMED |
ON PENSION INQUIRY
Byrns Picks 4 Democrats and
4 Republicans for House
BELL IS HIT AS CHAIRMAN
McGroarty Calls Him 'Biased'
Defends Salaries Paid Lead-
ers of the Old-Age Plan.
special to THE NEW YORK TIMES
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
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
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
"This probe is a dirty political trick," he said. "The country is fed up
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
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
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
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
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
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