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The CHAIRMAN. Now, this is off the record, but if anyone thinks that the genetleman from Michigan is not intelligent
Mr. HOFFMAN. I do not know why you want that off the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, it may be on the record. But anyone who has ever dealt with the gentleman from Michigan recognizes that he is one of the most intelligent Members of Congress, and certainly one that has never let his sense of humor desert him.
As a matter of fact, the placing of the editorial sent to him is a recognition of his keen sense of humor and of the respect from the members of this party, as evidenced by his putting the statement in the record so everybody could read it.
Mr. HOFFMAN. What the editor from whom I quoted does is to criticize me for exercising the right of free speech, while claiming that right for himself. But that is somewhat characteristic of all
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is a way to equalize it.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Here is my point, if I may restate it once more: If a corporation is prohibited from giving a dollar to a campaign, then the purpose of the law should not be evaded by permitting the corporation to use editorial space to an unlimited extent in a paper which it owns and thus do the very thing which the financial contribution might have accomplished.
A corporation cannot contribute a dollar's worth of space to a political campaign, but, under present law, it can purchase a newspaper and contribute a million dollars' worth of editorial space to the same end. Is that logical or realistic?
My statement applies only to the publication of editorials dealing with the election of candidates to Federal office.
I have made no statement about editorial comments on any other subject, nor except where the Congress has attempted, and successfully, to limit financial contributions.
Mr. KARSTEN. I think we can limit financial contributions, but would be in serious trouble in trying to limit the press in matters of this kind.
Mr. HOFFMAN. In other words, you permit the editor to do by indirection that he would be prohibited from doing by limiting the financial contribution.
The CHAIRMAN. Again we get back to the constitutional prohibition. I think the only way you could accomplish this would be by offering an amendment to the Constitution.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Which I would not think of doing.
The CHAIRMAN. The Editor and Publisher generally speaks for the publishers and editors of the country, and it has this to say:
Other commitments prevent my accepting the invitation to appear voluntarily before your committee.
This is contained in a letter from Mr. Robert U. Brown, editor of Editor and Publisher:
This statement, therefore, is in response to your request for my views on certain aspects of the problem before you—with particular reference to publication of some campaign material.
It is probable within the prerogatives of Congress, there being no court decision to the contrary, to limit the amount of money spent by political parties in an election campaign. On the other hand, I do not think it is within the power of Congress to restrict, limit or otherwise dictate what an individual may say or publish on behalf of, or in opposition to, a candidate or party.
When the Bill of Rights was written and adopted, there were no newspapers as we know them today. "Freedom of the press,” guaranteed in the first amendment to the Constitution, meant simply that the right to use a press—the implement, not the product-was guaranteed to the people. The people, therefore, were promised the freedom to own, borrow, hire, or use a printing press to publish their views.
The courts have never upset that interpretation in 150 years in spite of the fact that limitations of libel and decency have been superimposed.
As a matter of fact, in a campaign in the State of Louisiana about 15 years ago, where the State legislature had sought by a tax device to limit expression of the press, that case came to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Supreme Court unanimously decided the State enactment unconstitutional.
Continuing with the quotation: Our large newspapers and magazines today are possible because of high speed composing machines and high speed presses. But the constitutional guaranty still applies to the press—the right of the people to use the device. And I don't think that right can be limited even under the guise of controlling campaign expenditures, no matter how desirable that might appear.
Representative Clare Hoffman has said that editorial comment in newspapers on behalf of a candidate should be limited the same as an individual is limited in the size of his campaign contributions. To do so would be a direct violation of the constitutional guaranty. The power to limit editorial comment or content contains also the power to prohibit such comment or content and, certainly, you will concede that Congress has no such authority.
It has been suggested that labor unions and other groups should be limited in the political paniphlets they prepare and distribute for a candidate or party
I believe that for Congress to dictate to the CIO, or AFL, or an individual union-or the NAM, chamber of commerce, or any individual or corporation-how little, if any, they can spend for publication of their political views also would be a direct violation of the constitutional guaranty.
For example, if Congress claims the privilege of telling an organization what quantity of material it can publish doesn't it naturally follow that Congress might attempt to dictate the quality of the material published? If Congress believes it has the authority to limit the volume of comment and opinion published by a unio nin pamphlet form, doesn't that imply that Congress believes it can impose the same limitations on all union-owned publications? And if it can limit debate in pamphlets and union publications, cannot Congress also limit debate in all publications including newspapers and magazines of general circulation ?
I believe that your committee and Congress will be treading on dangerous ground if it attempts to limit the publication of opinions on any subject.
I doubt that it would be sustained by the courts, but, if it were, it would open the doors to further restrictions on the quantity and quality of published material and ultimately would mean the end of a free press, as we know it.
We have a highly literate and intelligent population in the United States. It is my opinion that your committee should do everything in its power to foster debate and the expression of opinion rather than try to find ways to limit them.
This country has thrived on freedom of speech and of the press—freedom of expression by voice or in print-and we should not try to alter such a basic process of a free people.
That is from Robert U. Brown, editor of Editor and Publisher.
Mr. HOFFMAN. A very good and fine statement. But it still ignores the proposition that the Congress has already limited free speech and the free press by imposing, through legislation, the amount of money that the individual can spend for that purpose. It has denied the right of a corporation which is but the creature and spokesman of many individuals—the right to present its views on campaigns except as it speaks editorially,
I am not concerned especially about the legislation. I just wanted to point out the inconsistency and the loopholes in the law.
Mr. KARSTEN. Yet, Mr. Hoffman, you cannot buy editorials.
Mr. HOFFMAN. The Michigan statute prohibits an editor from accepting money, but an ardent partisan certainly can make his views effective through an editorial just as well as he can through paid advertisement if he writes editorially.
Mr. KARSTEN. I do not see, and I do not believe any other members of the committee feel that freedom of speech is limited by the size of the expenditure.
Mr. HOFFMAN. The limitation on financial contributions and expenditures of necessity limits both free speech and a free press, for neither can be exercised to any great extent without an expenditure of money. You can only spend a named amount. My argument is that, limiting expenditures, you limit speech, and, if you permit unlimited editorial comment, you are discriminating.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to make this comment off the record. (Discussion off the record.)
Mr. HOFFMAN. You will recall when PM was purchased by Marshall Field II. That was done for the purpose of advocating a list of candidates, and he spent, I do not know how much money, certainly more than the limit, in an attempt to defeat Congressmen, a thing which he could not do at all under the law by paid advertisement. But he evaded that provision by buying a periodical and writing editorials.
Personally, I would rather have editorials in my district in my support than any amount paid for advertisements.
Mr. KARTSTEN. What would you think of the proposition to require a newspaper to carry a counterstory to the editorial in equal volume, patterned along the Florida law?
Mr. HOFFMAN. I would not attempt to limit the publication of any news story at all.
Mr. KARSTEN. This does not limit the publication of any stories, but one which would require the newspaper to give a fair share to the other side, there being no limit?
Mr. HOFFMAN. To give equal space to the other side?
Mr. HOFFMAN. You would get into the same field, for all practical purposes, that I understand we have with radio.
Mr. KARSTEN. Yes.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I think it would be impractical. We have had long arguments about it. No Member of Congress, so far as I know, has had more to say about the freedom of the press than I, both on the Buchanan committee and the Anderson committee.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much for your statement, Mr. Hoffman.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I want to thank the committee for being so kind and patient and exhibiting its concern by not refusing or denying me the privilege of free speech.
The CHAIRMAN. We would not think of doing so.
The CHAIRMAN. I would like to place in the record a statement by Mr. Norman Thomas, the letter to Robert U. Brown, editor of Editor and Publisher; a statement by Jack Kroll, director, CIO-PAC; and
a supplemental statement by James L. McDevitt, director, Labor's League for Political Education.
POSTWAR WORLD COUNCIL,
New York, N. Y., December 4, 1952. GILLIS W. LONG, General Counsel, Special Committee To Investigate Campaign Expenditures,
1952, House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. LONG: Thank you for your interest in my application to be heard by the Special Committee on Election Expenditures. I regret that your committee is adjourning Friday evening but I accept your invitation to file a statement which I enclose herewith. I am giving out a release on this statement for Saturday morning's papers but I do not imagine that it will get much attention. I have been pleased by what has been carried concerning the hearings. At least you are giving some good publicity to the facts.
POSTWAR WORLD COUNCIL,
New York, N. Y., December 4, 1952. HALE BOGGS,
Chairman, Special Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures,
1952, House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. Boggs: You are performing a public service by your inquiry in a difficult and important field. We shall not get far in rooting out corruption and improper practices in government if we cannot find a way more effectively to control campaign expenditures. I hasten to add that I do not think that in Presidential campaigns money is used in outright bribery or something equivalent to it. There is almost no limit to legitimate expenditures. These expenditures cannot be financed without some large gifts and there is no assurance that large gifts are made with no ulterior motive. It is unreasonable to believe that parties and candidates will not feel some obligation to very generous givers. Unconsciously, at least, they are bound to be somewhat influenced. It is certain under this system that points of view congenial to large givers will be advocated by the recipients of their bounty out of all proportion to other points of view.
So many (and partially conflicting) are the considerations applicable to legis. lative action on campaign expenditures that I do not think you can evolve a perfect program. I do not believe that any program will be valuable which does not contain at least these elements: First, a drastic shortening of the campaign and hence a lessening of the expense and wear and tear on candidates; second, a centralization of responsibility for the raising and spending of money that is now scattered among innumerable committees; third, a recognition that it is a public duty for government to provide a minimum of information about parties on the ballot to all registered voters.
Before I discuss these basic requirements I should like briefly to state the particular point of view from which I offer testimony and the experience behind it. I should also like briefly to set the problem of campaign expenditures in the general picture of the way we elect a President.
As you are probably aware, I was six times, from 1928 to 1948 inclusive, the Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party. In each of these 'campaigns, I was very active. In 1928 and 1932, I was on the road longer than either of the major party candidates in their marathon of endurance in 1952. It was my business to read very closely the speeches of major party candidates and to follow their campaigns. I was made grimly aware of the expense of any effective campaign as you will recognize when I tell you that, so far as I know, from all possible sources, we never had more than $150,000 in a presidential year with which to conduct our campaign.
Some of the points which I shall try to make are, of course, influenced by my concern for the rights of minority parties. But I think I should make them all even if there were only two parties.
Parenthetically, may I say that I believe in the value of a two-party system in America and that what I have sought is a political realinement. In order to bring about any political realinement and in the interest both of democracy and justice, new parties or minor parties have a right to be heard under fair conditions. It is better, I agree, to make certain compromises within major parties before an election than to try to set up a coalition cabinet composed of numerous small parties after an election, as happens in France and other countries. My deep objection to our system is the fact that there is not a guiding principle of division between the two major parties or major coalitions. It is bad for America and democracy that the difference within each party are demonstrably greater than the average differences between them. The best democracy requires responsible party government and that we do not have in America. If we had it, the business of enlightening the electorate would be less difficult and less expensive.
My principal effort as a minor party candidate was not to establish a permanent third party but to bring about a realinement which would give us two responsible parties with a major principle of division between them. I do not want to see the expense of campaigns so great that other men cannot even attempt with more success that at which I failed. In justice to myself and even more my party, may I add that I do not think our failure was complete. Those social gains which, after some fashion were endorsed even in the Republican platform, and which General Eisenhower asserted were overwhelmingly endorsed by the American people, were emphatically not to be found in the Democratic or Republican platforms of 1928 or 1932, but in mine.
What needs investigation in America is not merely campaign expenditures: They are only part of the whole problem. What we ought to do is examine the way we elect a President and correct it. It is, in part, a tribute to the underlying good sense of our people and our parties, and, in part, it is a gift of heaven that we have fared as well as we have with our present machinery.
We spend millions telling the people that they elect a President of the United States, but they do this only indirectly. We have no uniform standards of qualifications for voting for the one man who leads us all. There is a dangerously unfair relation between the popular vote and the vote in the electoral college. Even this year, the electoral college figures will give no true figure of the relative strength of the parties, of the candidates, or of its geographical distribution. In 1948, a shift of less than 30,000 votes in the right States would have elected Governor Dewey, who would have been more than 2,000,000 votes behind President Truman. The provision that the winning candidate must have a majority of the electoral college or else the election will go to the House of Representatives where each State, New York or Nevada, has one vote, is an unfair handicap on any new or minor party.
Further to complicate matters, we elect a Vice President, who has nothing to do-except to wait for an emergency-which could not be better done otherwise. Usually the Vice President is nominated as an afterthought to please some faction of the party or some region not too well satisfied with the Presidential nomination. Imagine what might have happened in history if Roosevelt had died in one of his first three terms. We should be much better off if, in the event of the death or incapacity of the President, the Speaker of the Ilouse should succeed him until the next election. In this age of speedy communication and speedy travel, the situation is vastly different than it was in the horse-and-buggy age when our constitutional provisions were adopted. If there were no Vice Presidential candidates, there would be less expense in the Presidential campaigns.
Under our system the lag between the popular vote and the inauguration of a President is dangerous. Great credit is due Messrs. Truman and Eisenhower for what they are doing to obviate difficulties and to effectuate a smooth transfer of government. But obviously we suffer in leadership and foreign affairs and domestic hy by the delay. President Truman, with some force, has expressly, stated that he was evading the issue of effective price and wage controls in the coal industry by approving the full wage increase arrived at by collective bargaining so as not unduly to embarrass his successor, I am not arguing the merits of his decision when I say that the principal reason he gives for it ought not to exist. There is no other democracy in the world where there is a similar. hiatus between the people's decision at the polls and the beginning of the admins istration to which they have given a mandate.
Taking into account the preconvention campaign, we Americans spend about 1 year out of every 4 in intense politicking to the hurt of effective governmental action. Before our political conventions, an Asian diplomat said to me, “I like you Americans, and on the whole, your policies, but 1 year in every 4, you make us so nervous. All sorts of politicians say all sorts of things, and we don't know what's going to happen."
I am well aware that you are not concerned with possible constitutional amendments, but only with election laws governing expenditures, but I think you ought, to point out the importance of considering the whole method by which we elect our President.
You are, I am sure, in a position to urge that by law or by agreement, the length of the campaign proper for the Presidency should be confined to the