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it should be made easy for the candidates for the House or the Senate to organize with full knowledge and not be under these limitations that we talk about. In the first place, the amounts that are talked about, the limits on the Members of the House, are ridiculous.
The CHAIRMAN. Restrictive.
Mr. MITCHELL. Simply ridiculous, and why put people in that uncomfortable position of turning their eyes from facts that exist ? Many of the districts have a tremendous number of people in them, and it takes a lot of travel. I think, if I may say so, you have mistreated yourselves in many respects, both as to salary and expenses and as to the right to campaign and face the facts. I certainly urge you to do it. I think the people will support you if you do, regardless of what some opponent in a campaign may say. It is an honorable estate to be a Member of Congress and a Member of the Senate. It calls for great sacrifice in many ways, and I think the people should pay their servants well and permit them to present their cases before the public.
Mr. KEATING. Back in 1820, I think, the Members of the Congress were being paid $6 a day and no salary, and in that year they voted to pay themselves $1,500 a year in lieu of salary, and they were all defeated in the next election.
Mr. MITCHELL. Some of the governors of the States are paid such low salaries that they have to seek better opportunities in employment, one of which you may have read about lately.
The CHAIRMAN. We appreciate your coming. You have been very helpful. We will now hear from Mr. David Whatley of Bethesda, Md.
STATEMENT OF DAVID WHATLEY, BETHESDA, MD. Mr. WHATLEY. I am not an expert, either legally or politically, on this broad and complex question. Therefore, I will be brief.
I shall seek to present a few views that have not been presented by other witnesses, to my knowledge.
I should like to urge upon the committee a further exploration or study of the manner of selecting the President and the Vice President, particularly with reference to the procedure and manner of holding conventions, the method of voting therein, and so forth.
A most important aspect of this question has not been given adequate attention by the best legal minds of the country, and this is the manner in which the Vice-Presidential nominees of the major parties are selected, rather casually and arbitrarily, usually by two or three political leaders in the party, or by the nominee for the Presidency himself. I do not know the answer to it. Perhaps an approach might be to nominate the Vice President before the President is nominated so that there would be no trading, or seeking of an advantage for a particular State, or the selection of a Vice-Presidential nominee for purely geographical reasons. I would hope that there would be an act of Congress detailing regulations as to the holding of Presidential primaries preceding conventions, and the manner of holding conventions themselves.
I find nothing in the Constitution in derogation of that authority of the Congress. I think that the Congress might further mitigate the evil effects of arbitrary and capricious selection of a Vice-Presidential nominee, who perhaps eventually will be the President, since in our history on, one out of six occasions the Vice President has succeeded to the Presidency by the death of the President in office.
Mr. KEATING. I would be willing to be corrected by counsel, but I do not believe that our committee has any jurisdiction over changing the method of selecting the Presidential or the Vice-Presidential candidate in a political convention.
Mr. WHATLEY. That subject was not covered in your staff memorandum, so I will pass on to the next subject, if I may.
I recommend very strongly that the total contributions by any one individual in the aggregate to any campaign be reduced, say, to $1,000 for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates' campaign and $1,000 to be expended nationally for congressional offices, and a smaller amount, say $100, to be expended for any particular congressional race.
I propose that all contributions in either primary, as well as general elections, by any person having any business with the Federal Government in matters of claims or contracts, and so forth, or their agents or attorneys in any such claims or contracts, be prohibited. I propose that contributions be made only by bona fide citizens of the United States, and qualified electors of the various States, thereby eliminating miners that have been referred to previously.
I would propose the manner of making loans to committees and parties, such as were made by Mr. John L. Lewis without the authority of his union some years ago, or by Mr. Raskob to the Democratic Party in 1932, be regulated in some manner in view of the fact that there is a possibility of there bing flagrant abuses and circumvention of the present law restricting contributions by corporations as well as labor unions.
I also propose that in any campaign for any Federal office that permission of the candidate be required before he is placed upon the ballot in any State. I have particular reference to the situation where General MacArthur was placed upon the ballot in several States without his permission. Such a situation could be abused in a manner which would defeat the will of the people. If the Democrats had sought to play dirty politics in this last election they could have channeled a great many contributions to the campaign in behalf of General MacArthur and thereby taken most of these Republican votes away from General Eisenhower, and if the election had been a close one the loss of these Republican votes in a few key States, could have lost those States to Eisenhower against the wishes of MacArthur.
I should like to refer to the previous testimony briefly on section 315 of the Communications Act. I hope that this committee will recommend in its report that paragraph (a) of that section be amended so that stations will be granted some power of censorship with regard to scandalous and libelous material. It seems to me that the stations should be protected on two grounds; first, if the material is libelous, they may be subjected to expensive litigation even though they eventually win the case. Second, if they permit the uncensored broadcasting of material of this nature by some crackpot, or subversive, it certainly is in derogation to their own good public relations that might militate strongly against public acceptance by the listening audience of that particular station and network, in spite of the fact
that they are required to do so by law, since many listeners might not be made aware of the law.
The present law, in my opinion, merely grants a broad license to any crackpot or hatemonger or subversive to spread his poisonous propaganda on the airways. All that is required is that he become a legally qualified candidate for public office. The qualifications are so loose in so many States that almost anyone can become a candidate for President, no matter what his qualifications or responsibilities or reputation may be. Under section 315 he is given an absolute license to say almost anything in derogation of our principles of government, or against certain racial or religious groups that would be offended and become disposed against the station or network. So, I urge that your committee consider that in your report. Finally, may I urge, in connection with point 8 of your staff memo
I randum, that any joint commission that might be set up be judicial in nature and be composed of members who have not been obviously active in any particular party and cannot be identified in the public mind with any party. Possibly the commission should be in the nature of a court and hold office for life. They would also be granted jurisdiction over findings and investigations as to the qualifications of the membership of the House and the Senate, which findings they would report to the House and Senate for their consideration of possible removal of such Members. I think it has been historically the fact that any committee of the House or the Senate is reluctant to take any action. Any committee of the Congress necessarily has a majority of one party and is usually considered to be not an impartial body which the judicial body suggested might possibly be.
The CHAIRMAN. We thank you very much, Mr. Whatley.
(Whereupon, at 3:45 p. m., the committee adjourned to meet the following day at 10 a. m.)
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1952
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Hale Boggs (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. We are very pleased to have as our first witness this morning Mr. Sinclair Weeks, chairman of the finance committee of the Republican National Committee, and our new Secretary of Commerce.
Mr. WEEKS. Thank you, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Weeks, we have been conducting these hearings throughout this week for the purpose of obtaining information, in an effort to present to the new Congress recommendations for amendments to the existing Federal election laws. The laws have been subjected to considerable criticism. Most of them were drafted prior to the development of the new media of communication, such as television. We have found that all parties are using a variety of committees and groups and that there is a tendency to decentralize because of the unrealistic limitations in the laws.
We would appreciate very much if you would be good enough, in the light of your recent position as finance chairman of one of the great parties of our country, to give us the benefit of any suggestions you may have. If you have a prepared statement, we would like very much for you to present it to the committee.
Mr. WEEKS. I do not, Mr. Chairman, have a prepared statement. I think it should be noted that although I have ideas about legislation, in a general way, I have not considered any possible legislation in any detail, but in a general way, I have some ideas.
I think it should be noted that my function was to raise the money, which I did to the best of my ability. As far as the expenditure of it, I did not concern myself with that phase of the operation in any way, shape, or manner, and except in a most general way, did not know anything about it, because of the fact that I kept my eyes on the money-raising policies and tried to provide what was necessary.
I am not quite clear as to whether your committee, sir, would not do better by asking me questions, rather than me giving a statement. I assume you do not want me to discuss how much money was raised, or where it went or anything like that?
The CHAIRMAN. No. As a matter of fact, I think that is all a matter of public record and I think most of the reports have already been filed.