tv Cities Tour- Controversial U.S. Politicians CSPAN November 25, 2021 6:31pm-8:02pm EST
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♪ >> many politicians' time passes and all this without notice, these are colorful stories of those finding notoriety holding public office. we begin with joseph mccarthy, whose name became synonymous with the senate investigation of suspected communists in the 1950's. >> requested that the information be given once we know anyone who might be performing work for the communist party. >> mccarthyism entered the lexicon of american history, starting right here in wheeling on the spot. today, we are in the mcclure hotel at 12th and market street
in wheeling west virginia, which , is important because of the association with senator joseph mccarthy. joseph mccarthy was only 40 in 1950 when he came to wheeling. he was not a well-regarded senator at that time. he had a penchant for calling his fellow senators names. he was always a rather rumpled, had an edge to him. he was at the height of his power. in a sense. he had a photographic memory. he was a very bright man. unfortunately he also tended to lie about a lot of things. he made up his own resume, a lot of which was not true. he had been elected to the senate in 1946. he was coming up for reelection in 1952. this was 1950 and a lot of people felt he hadn't done a lot and he was getting concerned.
so he got a group together in -- so he got a group of his advisors together in the colony in d.c., one of which was a jesuit priest from georgetown. and he said, what can i run on? i need an issue. the priest pushed anti-communism. that was kind of the basis for his hitting theme for his reelection campaign. but you have to understand at , that time in american history, it was different than today. >> recognizing a communist, physical appearance accounts for nothing. if he openly declares himself to be a communist, we take his word for it. >> it was called "the age of anxiety and a time of great fear.
and in the fall of 1949, americans had decided that communism had taken over china. the gop came out with their platform and the basis of their platform was they went after truman and the democrats. they were soft on communism, socialists, worried about the -- they were bringing about the downfall of america. people were hearing this and reading this. they were very upset about what was going on. and so that was the background for mccarthy coming to wheeling. it was at the time of the lincoln day dinner. all across the country, republicans were fanning out speakers to speak at the lincoln day dinners. mccarthy was assigned to wheeling. we had 59,000 people.
it was their state, for, 1950. the dinner was held at the mcclure hotel colonnade room. it was to start at 6:30. it was the ohio county republican women's club. and it was in the papers for days before. it was a big deal for wheeling. he was introduced by william callahan, the regional republican bigwig. they describe the talk he gave as intimate, humorous, folksy. he had an irish wit about him. he could be very ingratiating when he wanted to, a beautiful, big grin. and he pretty much talked about the republican platform as it was laid out. he didn't say too much -- he talked about the war between good and evil, between communism -- between atheistic communism and the christian democratic society. he talked about the alger hiss trial.
alger hiss had just been convicted some weeks before of perjury but actually was being convicted as a spy. that was a very big deal, so he went on about that. toward the end of the talk, he made what was the key to the talk and what started him on the road to what became known as mccarthyism. i want to read exactly the words from the newspaper. and what he said was, while i cannot take the time to name all the men in the state department who have been named as members of the communist party and members of a spy ring, i have here in my hand a list of 205, and he waved a piece of paper to the people, that were known to the secretary of state as being members of the communist party, who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy
in the state department. now, anybody who has a sense to hear, this was a terrific charge, because he was saying there were card-carrying communists in the state department working as members of the american government and the secretary of state knew this and they were still there. well then he went on and , of course, he continued his talk. at the end, he said it is a moral battle between good and evil. the chips are down. the chips are truly down. he kind of ended with that. there were questions and answers and he invited the audience to talk to him. wwba the local radio station had , carried his talk. one of the reporters from the
wheeling intelligencer, the next day had reported verbatim a lot of what he had said. when mccarthy was to go back to the airport, he was shown the paper in the headline was, mccarthy charges the reds hold u.s. jobs. they said he was tickled with it. he was set up for a series of talks. he flew to salt lake city and after that he was going to reno, nevada. he made the same statement in salt lake city except he changed the number from 205 to i think 58. then it went to 81. he was always changing the numbers, because it was all a -- because, he had no list he had no names it was all a big , lie. several weeks later in march, the great cartoonist for the
washington post did a cartoon, and he had cans of tar and the largest can of tar he had put across it mccarthyism, and he is the one that actually coined the phrase mccarthyism and that , is you are tarring people and usually for no good reason. in the last two years of truman's time, 6000 people left government. i mean there were all kinds of , questionnaires and security checks on people in government, to an nth degree, and we lost experts in the state department because of this crusade. 1952 there was a republican victory, eisenhower and the senate went republican which meant mccarthy got the chair position of two important
committees along with the investigatory committee for government, and he took off. >> the average american can do very little in terms of taking communists out of our government. they must depend upon those of us they send down here to man the watchtowers of the nation. >> that is where he started the bullying tactics, calling everybody under the sun to come in and that is where he really got to the story. -- that is where he really got to destroy people's lives. people would resign before coming to his committee. people feared joseph mccarthy, because if you took him on in the senate you could often end up without a job. he had power, subpoena power, he had all kinds of power. the farther he went, he took on general george marshall, the hero of world war ii.
he just went after marshall and they thought surely eisenhower would come out and take him on, but he didn't. that wasn't eisenhower's way. when he took on marshall, that was pretty bad, and then he went after the army and communists in the army. he didn't take on the army too easily, and so the army had a lawyer, mr. welsh. >> a commission in the army. i don't know the slightest thing about the application. >> senator mccarthy, i don't know the slightest thing about the application he filled out. mr. jenkins, you don't know one thing about that? senator mccarthy, i never saw it. senator, i have the application that he filled out, and i can show you. >> don't tell me i notarized it. >> no, you merely signed it. [laughter]
>> there were 36 days of hearings in 1954, and television came into the picture, and people began to see -- and i must say, mccarthy was a heavy drinker, and he was constantly starting to go too far. he would interrupt people terribly, point of order, point of order. >> i don't know what it is, but it is a point of something. >> my point of order is that mr. jenkins yesterday was imposed upon and so was the secretary of the army by having a doctored or altered photograph produced in this courtroom as if it were honest. >> it was a committee rule.
>> it was just rude and unruly. they said people started to joke about point of order on the streets of america. when tv showed for 36 days running the kind of guy he was he lost a lot of public support. , then he tried to name this young lawyer and whenever you -- whenever he named somebody it , was like tar on them. it was bad. he named this young lawyer in -- and the older man, welsh, just went after mccarthy. >> give this man's records, and i want to say mr. welsh, it was labeled long before he became a member, as early as 1944. >> we know he is a member of the lawyers guild. let us not assassinate this lad
further. you've done enough. have you know sense of decency? at long last. have you no sense of decency? >> mr. mccarthy, i will not discuss this further with you. you have sat within six feet of may and you could have asked me about fred fisher. you have seen fit to bring it up and if there is a god in heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. i will not discuss it further. i will not ask any more witnesses. you, mr. chairman, may if you will call the next witness. >> the republicans lost the senate in 1954. so the senate then decided to censure joseph mccarthy. and they did by a vote of 67 to 22, and that was the end of him.
-- and all the people that voted for him were republicans and that was the end of him. at the end of the trail there was never anybody in the government that they could prove was a card-carrying communist, never. mccarthy had lost his base, and he kind of faded away. this was a man that needed constant attention. when he walked into the room, he wanted to be noticed and be the center of attention, and without that, he lost something of himself. he began to drink more heavily. he was dead within seven years of wheeling. he was 48 years of age. he died of cirrhosis of the liver, his body shut down because of the heavy drinking. as a historian, i look on it and think i wish it hadn't started here, because that is one of the things we are known for, the mccarthy speech and mccarthyism started here in the city. it was not a good impact on the
country. >> our look at controversial politicians continues. with providence rhode island's longest serving mayor, buddy cianci. >> this is the story of buddy cianci. one of our longest-serving mayors. he was part huey long and part tony soprano. he was a lovable rogue that helped restore the city of providence to a city that was rated one of the most livable by a number of publications. he also presided over a breathtaking array of corruption over three decades that ultimately landed him in federal prison. he is a very colorful character. i call him america's longest running lounge act. because he would be squires about the city in a chauffeured
limousine with a police officer by his side and he would have a cup of vodka in one hand and a cigarette in the other hand and the keys to the city and with -- and jars of his own marinara sauce in the trunk of the car. he was, to me, when i set out to write the book, he was the embodiment of american politics, the good and the bad. he reflected providence as one of the oldest cities and to meet it embodies the american political story. buddy grew up in a neighborhood -- in a privileged background, italian american, in a neighborhood of providence, an old italian enclave. he went to moses brown, a private school near brown university. he became a lawyer, a prosecutor, prosecuted mobsters. he became a republican in a
democratic irish city, and then he ran for mayor in the 1970's, 1974, and he upset providence democratic machine, and he became an italian american republican mayor in the 1970's and he attracted the attention of the white house when gerald ford was president. gerald ford was taken by him. but he had a future role of speaking at the 1976 republican national convention. he was a guy that was seen as potentially going places. he was glib, articulate, a champion for cities and urban renewal. some people audaciously said he could be a potential vice presidential candidate or go to the senate, where he could have a long and successful career. but then some problems ensued. gerald ford lost the election, and he went on to become mayor
and get ensnared in some corruption. there was an investigation in the early 1980's. he had characters like flapjack and bobo running around the city in the public works department stealing manhole covers, city asphalt, cutting cooking deals selling city trucks to private owners. and that sort of thing. and then there was massive corruption and several people in buddy's administration went to prison. they never got buddy because his top aide never ratted him he went -- ratted him out. he went to prison instead. buddy was wrapped in a mayoral pursuit and went through a divorce, and basically suspected a businessman and a friend of his of sleeping with his wife. he invited him to the house and with his city police bodyguard, held the man and tortured him
with a lit cigarette and threw an ashtray at him at one point and ultimately was charged with assault in that episode. that forced his resignation in 1984. that seemed like it was the end of a once promising political career, but that was only the first act. he spent the next six years on talk radio and was a popular host. in 1990, he ran for mayor again. with a slogan -- he never stopped caring and the wall street journal called his political comeback the envy of richard nixon. in 1990, he was elected in a three-way race by a few hundred votes and he came back and this was when providence was undergoing this remarkable renaissance. rivers were being moved. concrete that smothered them was being ripped up. now you see the water fire display and the beauty of the architecture and buddy was an -- and buddy was the champion of that. just as he was celebrating and
becoming the longest-serving mayor in providence history the , corruption reared its head again and the fbi found a local businessman agreed to go undercover into city hall and wore a wire in city hall and a hidden camera in the handles of his briefcase and he taped them taking bribes and other favors. this became known as a federal fbi case known as operation plundrdome. it was ran by a man by the name of dennis aiken. originally from mississippi. after an epic two-month trial in a city where people said you'll never get people to convict buddy cianci and in a city where he went to prison with 67% of the voters still thinking he did a good job even though they thought he was guilty.
when he was sentenced by the judge, he talked about how he was really two people, dr. jekyll and mr. hyde. and buddy, in his own way said privately to a friend, how come i didn't get two paychecks. what buddy was convicted of was racketeering. he was known for not being physically involved in the underlying acts and buddy framed it as, what did i do? i was convicted of being a mayor. some of the jurors felt otherwise, that he was a guy who knew how to keep himself insulated, kind of like a mob boss that he had once prosecuted, ironically, and that he was able to stay out of the direct line, but he knew everything that was going on. he was the kind of guy who knew how many rolls of toilet paper there were in city hall. later it was said that was part of his myth and his aura, that
he conveyed fear and that he knew everything but he really didn't. that was his defense but it did not play out with the jury and appeal and he went to prison. and relinquished his famous toupee, what he called his "dead squirrel." he did his time and he came out and went out on talk radio, where he was on a local radio station. but it is interesting providence , has changed a lot. he went from being a relevant political figure to be more like the quaint uncle who you have around at holidays. most of the people in providence who lived here when he got out of prison didn't live here when he went into prison, which says something about the transformation of the city. there are a lot of latino voters, young voters and we have a strong gay population. the city has really changed. the success of the mayor that followed him was the first openly gay mayor of a large american city, a man who is now
-- and the man who followed him is the city's first hispanic mayor. buddy cianci, i compare him to huey long in the sense that they were both incredibly charismatic figures, they were both politicians who were beloved in spite of their flaws and corruption in their administrations. who had a real populist evangelical fervor around them. that spoke to their ability to be successful on a larger stage. huey long was seen as a potential presidential candidate. buddy, as audacious as it seems, was seen as a person that could be a national figure in washington. and in one of the pivotal moments in his career, it is first term of mayor there was a u.s. senate seat that opened in rhode island and he thought about whether he should run or not and he wound up being outmaneuvered by john chafee,
who went on to a senate career. a lot of people felt that it was a real turning point for buddy, because he would have run out of the place that had dragged him down. not to excuse his culpability. and gone to washington where you can be a showman and be on the national stage. he spoke at the republican national convention in 1976 and again in 1980. he actually went out -- it was funny before the 1980 election, , he went now and met with ronald reagan and pitched himself as a potential running mate for ronald reagan. he went to palm springs and visited gerald ford and when he was there he got invited to have dinner at frank sinatra's house, and so he was having dinner at frank sinatra's house and as he tells the story, he sees a picture of raymond patriarch on
the bar and he says how is raymond doing? it was a bizarre cross current in his life and the people he would encounter. buddy and i had an interesting relationship as i wrote this book. the one thing about buddy -- the two things that really matter to him were power and control, and of course money. he didn't have the control over this book and he didn't get the money and he couldn't control his legacy and he didn't like some of the negative things i found about him, but i tried to be fair. because there are two sides of the coin and that is what makes it so compelling. but buddy always wanted to write his own book and he later did a few years ago called "politics and pasta." he would kid me and say, i'm going to write my own memoirs and i'm not going to talk about things. he called me into his office a month before he went to prison.
he had been convicted and was awaiting sentencing. it was his final days in office, it was a summer afternoon, quiet. we are sitting in his office and he starts to say, hey, how about you rip up your contract with random house and we write a book together? i will get you an immediate six-figure advance, how much are you getting? i said i'm not getting that much but i'm getting enough to make it fair. and it is about more than money to me, it is about doing a good, you know telling a good story. buddy looked at me and said why isn't it just about money, how could you sell yourself so cheap? at that point a thunderstorm started to play out over city hall there's a large clap of thunder. buddy said, writing this book without me and my inside stories is like the thunder without the lightning. this book, i think, it american politics is a blood sport. that it is very entertaining. buddy cianci had a saying, when
he was first elected mayor, he was the republican candidate, championed by the uppercrust liberal set that lived on the east side of providence around brown university. they were the elites, the people who did not need things from city hall. they were not looking for patronage or contracts. they were looking for good government. and buddy had a cynical saying, even though he was their champion good government will , only get you good government. when you come down from college hill and deal cross the providence river, you have to cut deals and do things like that to get things done. and when he came in as mayor the first time, remember, he was a republican in a city that had not elected a republican since the great depression. he was the first italian american mayor, in a city that had been ruled by irish democrats for decades. and he had a city council that was committed to his destruction, like republican congress was committed to barack obama's downfall in his first term.
he had to work with them and the had, he outlasted them. he outmaneuvered them. they refused to confirm any of his appointments and there was the famous massacre they called it where the city council had a meeting and they did not have a quorum because there were three members who had been arrested or indicted or convicted of various crimes such as insurance fraud and fixing races at a local track. but he used that to engineer a coup in which he took over the city council and the l.a. times came to town a did a -- to town and did he said in the general populations, the instance of felons is one in 10000 and on the providence city council is one in eight the genius of bloody was he could connect with people at he had charm and charisma. he could walk into a room and if there were 100 people and 99 loved him, he would go to the
one who hated him and try to win the person over and he could. they said he would go to the opening of an envelope. i remember being a young reporter. i was at another reporters backyard cookout. we were sitting around drinking beer. but he up in his limousine as the mayor -- but he pulls up as the bear. he was there for hours could he was a champion of the city of providence. the city was a drown -- a downtrodden city. he would go on the don imus show when it was really popular. he would sing the city's praises. at least he helped put providence back on the map.
>> while voters elect them to office, some of history's biggest names had to go through powerful and colorful party bosses to get on the ballot. tom pendergast was the boss of kansas city's democratic political machine in the 1920's and 1930's. his influence helped launch the political career of president harry truman. >> tom pendergast was the political machine boss of kansas city from 1925 to 1939 in control. the political machine got its start from tom's older mother, jim pendergast -- older brother, jim pendergast two came to kansas city in the 1880's and got started, establishing this machine in the first word of kansas city, in the industrial left bottoms by the river. an irish community,
african-american community. at was very diverse. a lot of working-class people. jim pendergast had saloons and basically precinct to precinct went building this machine built on favors. helping people get jobs in exchange for votes. helping people through giving them loans you did not have to get a formal bank loan and he would loan the money settling gambling debts, skimming money off the top of illegal activity such as gambling and prostitution and so forth. when jim pendergast, he was getting older, his health was failing. his younger brother, tom pendergast, got started in the machine around the 1900s, he was elected city alderman and was in
charge of streets for a few years i the 1900s. tom pendergast really was in a position to take over the machine by the time that jim died in 1911. >> the legacy of tom pendergast and the pendergast family has been beat up and twisted and turned so many times over the years i think today's kansas city does not understand who he a -- who he was and what he did. the family cam here in the 1870's. what a lot of people do not realize is tom and his brother jim and seven other siblings were sons and daughters of immigrants from ireland. they came here as working-class young men looking for jobs in kansas city. when jim pendergast through popularity won the state -- won a seat as alderman of the first ward, which was influential a
lot of immigrants from all over the world. they grew up in poverty themselves so they empathized with the working people. tom followed his brother into politics. became a deputy constable for the city courts and eventually became -- took on other positions within the city. and then took over in the -- in 1910 as a city councilman just like his brother had been. when you follow the trajectory of kansas city and the economy and its growth with the burgeoning and we can groups coming in, people looking for work, tom built his kingdom, his political kingdom on serving those underserved people. he knew that unlike today when politicians make these
intangible promises, they are going to save the world. they're going to make the country prosperous for everyone. tom through the years delivered tangible things for people who needed them. whether it was medicine, cold, food. he learned early on the way to a person's heart is through his dignity and with a job comes dignity. especially when we got into the depression when semi people were out of work trying to raise families, he knew the best thing he could do for anyone is to get that person a job. two and a political machine is -- i started to describe it with the act of doing favors in exchange for votes. when you boil it down to its basic elements, that is what it amounted to.
it is being tied into organized crime and other illicit activities. taking bribes and kickbacks. and using influence to make sure that your preferred candidates are elected. once you control the city government, by 1925, the machine had full control over the city. they had five out of nine city council members henpecked i tom pendergast -- hand-picked by tom pendergast. through the city council, they appointed henry mcelroy. the city manager position was more powerful than any other position in kansas city at the time. whenever they did city construction projects, mcelroy would make sure these contracts went to companies that were owned by tom pendergast.
and pendergast, he owned mostly construction companies. there was basically everything from quarries to cement, -- there was a ready mix cement company. he had insurance companies. which at least officially they changed to beverage companies during prohibition at the time. so all the city contracts went through mcelroy back to pendergast and he gets the money. there is this circle of money and pendergast is always getting his cut. people affiliated with the machine would get their cut. in exchange, he gets lots of votes. >> i am not trying to justify
the boss tom pendergast's legacy of vote fraud and government control. i do want to balance it with the fact that kansas city would not be the city it is today in the many good ways if it had not been for tom pendergast. helped funnel money in from the depression from the new deal. he used tax dollars in kansas city to put people to work. building a lot of these major structures of city hall. the courthouse, the municipal auditorium should all those things became public works projects, she helped control. he even split jobs during the depression so one guy would work half a day and another guy would work half a day so there were two jobs instead of one. he guided us through this -- through the depression through his control. there is a saying he had the
city government and county government in one pocket and the underworld in the other pocket. but he used those influences to do a lot of good things. and of course he lined his pockets at the same time. >> by 1932, the power actually went statewide. when he got guy parks elected. they had influence for the state of missouri, representation at the democratic national convention. in the 1930's, pendergast eventually selected truman to be senator for missouri. he was elected in the statewide vote, but at this point, through pendergast's -- i believe the number he could produce was about 70,000 fraudulent or ghost votes in any given election at this time.
so with that, the sheer number of votes he could produce out of kansas city that would be tallied and they were official whether they were real or not. he had the power to do this. >> at a time of extreme prejudice any the 1920's and 1930's, for instance, the ku klux klan was in kansas city in 1922 for a convention should 10,000 klansmen did a parade down main street, grand avenue. while in the convention, one of their chance was goodbye tom, goodbye joe. your cooking gang has got to go. what they were referring to was tom pendergast and joe shannon who was sometimes his ally and sometimes his competitor. one of the reasons the ku klux
klan targeted tom pendergast was he was later described as a man of equal opportunity craft. he treated african-americans as voters first and foremost. he helped any group that needed it as long as they were registered to vote. i think that is another side of the pendergast machine that maybe was not copied, was not replicated in other cities. he reached out and worked with all the different communities, black, white when it came to election day because everybody's vote was the same. >> eventually, the late 1930's, 1937, 1938, he got involved in an insurance kickback scheme should actually, the scheme is not clear whether he broke the law with the scheme itself. i'm not a lawyer so i cannot explain that.
where it ran into trouble is he did not report the income to the irs for income tax. on his tax returns. so just like al capone, it was the irs that finally caught up with tom pendergast. he was indicted in 1939. and he went to jail in leavenworth federal penitentiary. pendergast was nothing by this point by 1945. and pendergast died of natural causes. truman came to his funeral. i mean, truman who just became vice president came to the funeral of tom pendergast during wartime. on a military plane, a big controversy. and a week later, roosevelt died
and truman was president of the united states. truman could never completely distance himself from his background with the machine. and he owned it. he said pendergast always kept his word and he was not going to abandon his friend. and so what we are trying to do is complicate that history. and i have done a little bit of the in this interview but we are building a website that will include -- currently we have about 9500 scans of original documents. we have photographs, letters people have written to one another back then. i mentioned the court cases that unveiled voter fraud and other crime should it is an interactive website that will
combine this original document with new scholarship should so -- with new scholarship. we reached out in 2015 to 18 different professors or other museum professionals or historians who have produced full-length articles. they would go in book. there are some new ideas or topics that have not been explored in any kind of depth before this. we are taking website versions of those that are a little bit shorter, geared to public audiences. those will go on the website. everything is going to be linked together so when you are reading the essay, you can click and see the documents that support the research. you can go read the court case
that put pendergast in jail. it is not as dry as a typical court case might sound when you think about everything that was going on at the time. but the scope is focusing on pendergast and the machine. and then exploring all of the implications of machine rule in kansas city especially in the 1920's and 30's when they were at their peak. >> did he manipulate votes? yes, probably. did he employee may be heavy-handed guys to come out to convince you to vote the right way at the polls? yes, he did. did he vote dead people? yes, he did. but at the same time, he was like a patriarch, father figure kid i think he considered himself almost like a robin hood sort of figure appeared he used the cash he made to put people
to work and to provide services. i interviewed a guy who remembered growing up in the 1930's and he had a younger sibling who died at the age of maybe three. he said we were poor. dad was out of work. we had the funeral and the casket and all of this and we buried our little brother. he went to the mortuary to pay for it. they said mr. pendergast has already taken care of that kid it was those kind of things that aren't a people's lifelong loyalty. when times are tough when people are poor, they don't care about the politics so much. they don't care who is the officeholder. what they care is, how my going to eat today? how my going to feed my family? how can i find a job? they did that through boss tom pendergast. >> we continue our look at controversial politicians with a visit to springfield, illinois.
this capital city has seen its share of corrupt politicians including four of the state's last 12 governors who served time in prison. you're more about the charges against them and the unique political culture. >> thank you for joining me and we are here to talk about illinois politics. >> ok. >> how would you describe illinois politics? >> i have lived my whole life, during my lifespan, there has been a culture of corruption in illinois politics, starting in the 1940's. we had a republican governor, dwight green, and he had a very powerful machine. and at that time gambling was illegal throughout illinois, unlike now. he turned his, he would not allow the antigambling law to be enforced, because the gambling interests flooded him with contributions. and his machine with donations, and so on.
also, it was disclosed in the 1940's that the st. louis post dispatch and chicago daily news shared jointly a pulitzer prize for disclosing that more than 15 -- more than 50 illinois newspaper editors, publishers and other employees were on the state payroll when governor greene was governor. in terms of ethics in every thing else, that is a big no-no. and then in the 1960's and i know bernie will echo this, over the next 11 governors and that is not including our newly inaugurated governor here but of the next 11 governors, five were indicted. one was acquitted of the charges and four were convicted and ended up in prison. i have lived with this whole atmosphere both as a reporter and in other professions throughout my adult life in illinois.
it is great for reporting and the media and so on but i'm not sure it has been great in all cases for the state. the first was under the 1950's. he was governor for most of the 50's. three years after he left the governorship, he was indicted on charges of income tax evasion. it related to political contributions he received and still held appeared there was a long expensive trial held in federal court in chicago. he was acquitted by a jury. i was one of the five indicted that he was found not guilty. then we get to the 1960's in illinois and we have a popular democratic governor for most of the 1960's. everybody was shocked in 1971 when he was indicted by federal authorities in chicago. this was three years after he had left the governorship and was then a sitting federal
appellate judge in chicago. he was indicted on tax evasion and conspiracy and mail fraud charges relating to the fact in his second term of governor he had accepted under the table stock in one of the racing organizations that governs one of the racing tracks in illinois. it is a big industry in a low noise. he got the stock at a bargain price and was allowed to resell it. this was all done covertly. it was repurchased at a high price. he made a lot of money on it. that is where the tax evasion charges emanated as well as the conspiracy charges. he was tried in 1973 in federal court in chicago and found guilty. in 1974, he was sentenced to prison and sent to the federal prison facility in lexington, kentucky, which was more of a country club to be honest. he served from july of 1973 --
1974 until may of 1975 when he was released because he had syria's lung cancer. he did die a year later in 1976. >> he gets indicted. what is the reaction of the public? >> it was astounding. he was so highly respected. he served two terms. he was easily reelected in 1964 to a second term. he was popular throughout the state although he was from chicago. people downstate really loved him should this went across party lines. because of all this, that is why it was such a shock when he was indicted in 1971. >> for more than 40 years, the newspaper i work for had an annual first citizen. he was one of those. part of the reason was there is
a big landmark in downtown springfield. but if the building in front of which barack obama announced his campaign for the presidency and then came back to announce jode biden would be his running mate. that building became the county courthouse. when he was governor, he was conveying to -- he was convinced that one along with the idea to dismantle the entire building, take all of the beautiful sandstone bricks and blocks to the state fairgrounds correctly numbered. they rebuilt the building and it is now a landmark. a lot of stuff happens there. he was the one who got that done should he had is marked on springfield and a physical way as well. >> he engendered respect wherever he went. it was an incredible shock to everybody when he was indicted in 1971. >> his children think he was targeted. there was a a kerner day at the
abraham lincoln residential museum library in springfield. there was tape of richard nixon talking to his attorney general saying we have got to get this guy. he has a democrat in illinois. the children think being convicted for honest services grounds is touchy. you know much more about this but we should let it be known that his family was happy it came out that president nixon seemed to have a vendetta. but jim thompson said kerner was guilty. jim thompson got there by prosecuting kerner. he was the u.s. attorney in illinois. he turned out to be a great politician who could put on cowboy boots and deal with the state fair. >> the next one that was indicted ironically was not
endorsed by the democratic machine but he was a rebel democrat named dan walker. walker was elected in 1972. he was a terrific campaigner. perko he was known as bandana dan. -- >> he was named -- he was known as bandana dan said he put on a red bandana. he went to the southern tip of the state. he walked the length of the state in zigzag getting press coverage everywhere he went. it was this amazing outpouring of media coverage saying i am going to take on springfield and he got known for that. >> he was running as a counterpoint as a rebel against the ruling democratic hierarchy run by mayor daley in chicago. all sorts of regular democrats and counties and communities he was walking through would refuse to talk to him or would not be
pictured with him should he spent the whole -- be pictured with him. he spent the whole time who had not been involved i the political process. he brought in a lot of young people who had no interest in politics. he slept in different homes every night but very seldom where they politically connected. the biggest political story i ever covered in lynn noise was in -- covered in illinois was in 1972 when walker upset paul simon. everybody thought paul simon would easily defeat this guy who had come out of nowhere. it was quite incredible. his governorship was a mixed bag because he engaged constantly in confrontation with virtually everybody. not just republicans but a lot of other democrats. he never made up with that then powerful -- the first mayor richard daley in chicago.
in retrospect, walker wished he had made up with him because he might have gone further in public life. maybe running for the presidency. but in 1983, seven years after he left governorship, he was defeated in his reelection in 1976. his downfall began when he and his wife purchased a small savings-and-loan in benton, illinois called the first american savings and loan association and they quickly opened a branch up in the tony chicago suburb of oak brook. and they named that they headquarters. in 1986, federal authorities took over the savings-and-loan saying it was insolvent. the following year, walker was indicted on perjury and other charges relating to the operation of the savings and loan. it was determined or charged,
which was true, he profited personally from funds connected to the savings-and-loan. he pled guilty to three charges and was sentenced in 1987 to seven years in federal prison but a federal district court judge in chicago. he only served a year and a half because he was rudely that he was relieved that he was released -- he was released for health and other reasons. he was in real penitentiary. toco we brought this up a couple of times talking about the political machine that walker had gone against. can we talk about what is the political machine and where they based out of? >> mayor richard j daley who was
mayor of chicago for 26 years -- maybe it was 21. if there is a book by famed chicago newspaper columnist mike lico called boss, it has been used in schools across the country to teach how to build a political machine. the chicago democratic party, which mayor daley became mayor of chicago and controlled the people running the cook county board and city hall. ended up controlling the legislature and some governors. it was a building block by block, having block captains who had to get out the vote. if you got out the vote, your garbage up picked up and your snow got plowed. if you did not, you got fired. there is something -- there is a lawyer who eventually took on the machine saying people should not be hired or fired for political purposes. in the early days of the machine
starting in the late 1950's or 1960's, you performed for the party or you did not get jobs. it is funny. the newspapers in chicago have done a good job over the years slating sessions. you go before the party organization to be slated as a judge. people talk about how they walked precincts to become a judge. if the party is for you, there were so many judges on the ballot in cook county particularly before they split it into districts. nobody knows who those people are but a few on the ballot, you win. >> how did the power of this machine make its way to springfield? >> if you're in chicago and you are a state legislature, nobody knows who you are. if you are an alderman, you have real power. there are 50 of them and they control their word. sometimes it was more important in chicago to be a member of the city council then a member of
congress. because the population of chicago is so large compared to the rest of the state. 4/5 of the population. as the stories about paul powell and others who were corrupt down stators, it was not limited to down stators. -- who were down stators, it was not limited to chicago. we'll talk about george ryan, a republican or there was a machine there as well the republican brand where if you work for the state mental health facility that was there, you probably should buy your cadillac i am told, from the state senator's cadillac dealership. these are stories i don't know exactly if they are true. chicago is such a population center. the studies -- the city still has -- it dipped below 3 million people. they elected a lot of legislators and a lot would come down and they would wait for mayor daley's people to tell
them how to vote. >> you mentioned george ryan. what was his background? and him as a republican, how did he end up eating the democratic machine? >> gorge ryan was not out of office one year when in 2003 he was indicted. >> when was he elected? >> he was elected in 1998. >> he had been -- he was speaker of the house before that. he was a powerful legislator in his own right. for part of those years, he was speaker of the house. he had been elected back in kankakee county. i know he ran the county politically. he was called a master of old-line patronage politics. in many ways, he did not offer politically anything different from his predecessors. things caught up with ryan and
within a year after he left the governorship, a one term governor, he was indicted and on a whole variety of charges related to so-called corrupt activities during his years of public service. after a lengthy trial, i think it was a seven-month trial, he was convicted on 18 counts of corrupt activity. he was sentenced to prison. he was sentenced to six and a half years. his defenders always said when he was indicted for a lot of things he did, he was not doing nothing a lot of his predecessors republicans and democrats had done in office. not just the governorship at all of it -- all other levels of government in one there was a little truth to that. apparently the powers that be decided to make a stand on the stuff and he was indicted. a lot of the charges involved
went back to during his years in the secretary of state's office. >> he was elected to secretary of state -- i think he served 1991 to 1999. the problem in the signatory of states office, he had a very aggressive fundraising operation. it was not necessarily run directly by him. our member going to the state fairgrounds when he had fundraisers. there were giant lines of people who are paid at the time, $50 or whatever and would shake his hand. a full building full of people. the problem was, and there was a chief of staff who also went to prison six and half years, scott. they were, putting pressure on their people and drivers license facilities around the state to raise money. you could move up in the eyes of the boss if you raised a lot of money. it ended up there were things going on where particularly trucking companies were praying -- were paying bribes to get
drivers truck driving licenses. this got to a head and started to develop because there was this horrible accident near milwaukee in 1994. he was a preacher. they had six children, six of their nine children in a van. there was a truck driver who turned out -- could hardly speak english. had gotten his license through bribery somebody paid for him. a piece of metal fell off his truck. the van ran over the piece of metal. the car started on fire and six children died. it was people in some of the offices where these bribes or licenses, transactions were taking place that some people had kept notes and went to investigators and ultimately, this led to a lot of investigation into what george ryan was doing and his people. while there was no motor charge
or anything like that, this horrible situation led to investigation and there were many people who were indicted and convicted. that is the corruption part. and yet, people look at him in the legislature as someone you could work with who could get things done when the chicago bears almost move out of soldier field. george ryan helped push through a plan to build this modern space saucer inside the old columns so the bears stayed in downtown chicago. 500 million dollars more and they got it done because he was a dealmaker and people trust his word because he was of the legislature and he was a good speaker of the house. >> we cannot leave without talking about the last opener. rod blagojevich shared -- the last governor. rod blagojevich. >> he is a boyish looking
individual. in my encounters with them, i thought he looked like he was 25 years old. but anyway, in 2008, he was arrested by the fbi and charged with basically trying to implement pay to play systems. systems in illinois to get an appointment, you got to pay and so on. in early 2009 as bernie said, he was impeached and he was convicted in the general assembly process and removed from office. he was out good later that year, he was indicted by the feds again mainly on charges of trying to pursue this pay to play scheme. but specifically, the big item was the one that caught everybody's attention was that he had sought to profit from the
sale of barack obama's senate seat should broke obama was a u.s. senator from illinois when he got elected to the presidency of course and that left the senate seat vacant. the governor appoints the person to fill that seat. rod blagojevich was overheard soliciting money and wondering how much it could get and what it was worth to individuals to pay. those are all on tape-recorded conversations. talk i don't know if it was directed as give me a million dollars. maybe you can give my wife a job or i could get a job running your association. darkly it was clear and that is what got him in hot water. and then he went to trial in 2010 and there was a mistrial. then there was a retrial and he was found guilty again basically on selling barack obama as
senate seat -- broke obama's senate seat. in 2011, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison. in 2012, he started serving the 14 year sentence at a facility on the edge of denver. >> a lawyer in chicago. he was an assistant state attorney. i am not sure the sequence but he met the daughter of a powerful chicago alderman and married her and kind of moved up the political chain. he was interested in running for things and he ended up going to congress. he was in the house. he was the kind of guy who would play around and i remember him throwing spit balls at another guy he was kind of a backbencher. but then went to see came open in chicago, he got to congress.
i remember being at the democratic national convention covering the delegation in 2000 in california. he shows up and says i'm going to be governor. and he was a great campaigner. i remember his father-in-law came to talk to the democratic county chairman in springfield when rod blagojevich was in congress and running for the nomination for governor. and mel said, this guys the best campaigner you will ever see. if he goes to a bully alley, he will not leave before he shakes everyone's hand. and dick mel said, he is a jacksonian democrat, not jesse jackson, but andrew jackson, to the victor go the spoils. you elect rod, and we will get you some jobs, basically, that kind of thing. and the downstaters went strongly for him.
he ended up winning the primary. our member seeing him campaigning at our state fair one day at an open covered area. it was on a weekend and there were a few hundred people. when he finished talking about his father who came from europe who worked at a steel company in chicago and his mother who took nickels and dimes at the public transit in chicago so they could get their kids through college and get them a good education, when he finished this, there was a line about a block long mostly women waiting to meet him and have them sign their sweatshirts. he had charisma. then he got to be governor. it turned out he didn't want to do much. he stayed in chicago most of the time should there was an eight minute report that ended up a few years later in chicago that he was in his bathrobe coming out of his house at 10:00 in the morning because he was not going into the office for a while. the state still had airplanes, a
fleet allocations could use. that ended under the last governor. there was a three-day veto session in the fall where he flew to -- the state plane would have to pick him up in the morning, take them to springfield and at 4:00 in the afternoon, he would leave to tuck his kids in at night. he did not want to do the work. there were people who asked for clemency petitions. he let thousands pileup because he was not acting on them. by the time he got in this other trouble, which partly -- he ended up having a fight with his father-in-law. he blew the whistle on someone who ran some kind of a dump for materials and he got the epa involved. dick mel told one of the tv stations, what is he doing?
he is telling people if they pay him $25,000, he will reward them something. that started the process. the fbi started bugging phones. then you started to see those tapes. and that is what killed him, because he sounded so self indulged. he did not want the job but he wanted to earn money later. he called barack obama's senate seat the opportunity to appoint the seat, he said it is a golden opportunity i'm not going to give away for nothing. >> we talk about the culture of corruption in illinois. there are certainly a lot of extremely decent and honest people in illinois. that should be pointed out. a lot of them are well-intentioned. they are in both parties. and they don't get the attention these individuals get who have been indicted and so on. i would say right now the future
is in the hands of jb pritzker. we have never had an individual like this in my time at the helm in illinois. i am optimistic he is going to do a good job. i hope you don't -- i hope he does and i'm optimistic he will. he doesn't have to owe anybody. he has his own man. this is a big deal in politics at any level. i don't think he fits any particular mold and that is good. i think we are going to see some innovations. they may even surprise bernie and i. i'm optimistic. things cannot get much worse, ok yucca >> thank you -- ok? >> thank you for joining us and talking about illinois. toco it is what we do. toco thank you, tiffany. -- >> it is what we do. >> thank you, tiffany.
>> our look at controversial and colorful politicians continues with the former u.s. senator albert fall. serving as president warren harding's secretary of the interior, fall was at the center of a scandal involving u.s. navy oil reserves in wyoming. while his interior secretary became the fall guy, harding and -- harding avoided prosecution after his untimely death in office in now, albert fall and 1923. the teapot dome scandal. ♪ >> the teapot dome scandal was probably most significant presidential scandal in residential history in the 20th century. up until watergate, anyway. because it implicated members of the cabinet. it certainly could have implicated president harding, had he lived.
it became a rather notorious event, even today. as they are preparing to sell off the teapot dome naval petroleum reserve. soon after the turn-of-the-century, when the u.s. navy was starting to shift from those very clunky coal burning battleships in the fleet to oil burning ships, it occurred to various officials in the government that we might run out of oil. and what is to happen if suddenly we are in the middle of a war with a fleet powered by petroleum fired ships and suddenly we do not have any oil? the decision was made by the department of the navy to go out and find on public land some known oil reserves that were still on public land, set them aside from exploration and development and in essence, save
them in case of some future need that the navy might have in the event there is a war and we run short on oil. the teapot dome oilfield is not -- is located north of casper in the center of wyoming. a structural map of the salt creek region of wyoming. here is the salt creek field that was an active field at the time of the teapot dome affair. here is teapot dome naval trillium reserve. you see it outlined here in yellow. little teapot creek flows this way and down here is the spot where teapot rock is located. teapot rock of course is how the dome or the anticline got its name. the navy selected that
particular location or the government selected that location because very nearby was a major oilfield. the salt creek oilfield was one of the largest oil-producing fields in the entire united states if not the world in the early part of the 20th century. so when this particular reserve was set aside, there was the belief that underneath this area that was named for this rock that looked like a teapot at one time, nowadays, it looks like a chimney. at one time, it headaches -- it had a handle, a spout and over the years, i think it was in the 1920's that the spout got broken off by a lightning strike. and eventually, the handle disappeared from erosion. so now if you say it is up by
teapot rock, how does that look like a teapot? it doesn't anymore but it once was a teapot. that location before 1920, that location was simply fenced off and left in the public domain and sort of watched over by officials from the department of the navy with the expectation that the commercial developers would steer clear because this is federal land we are talking about. prior to 1921, albert fall was new mexico's first u.s. senator. he had had a career in the southwest as an oil developer, as a miner, more or less
as a minerals prospector. when warren g. harding was elected president november of 1920, he announced albert fall, one of his poker playing buddies from the u.s. senate, would become his secretary of the interior. what is interesting about the story is that albert fall did not have authority over the teapot dome naval petroleum reserve because of course, that was the property of the u.s. navy. that reserve was like two in california, set aside by the navy for their purposes. the navy secretary, also a poker playing buddy of warren harding, a fellow by the name of edwin denby, was somehow coaxed or convinced to transfer the authority over the naval petroleum reserves, the three
reserves, to the interior department. where very handily, albert fall had a plan. he was later convicted of accepting bribes from a couple of oilmen for allowing them exclusive access to these naval petroleum reserves. it was done under the table and the evidence at albert fall's trial indicated he had received substantial amounts of cash from harry sinclair and from edward o haney in exchange for allowing them this exclusive right to drill in an area that was essentially set aside for drilling. it was not to be drilled on. he was in essence doing with the interior department was specifically banned from doing. that was leasing out these oil fields to anybody. even worse, if they were to be
leased out, they should have been leased out on a competitive basis. there was a man named leslie miller who was an independent oilmen down in cheyenne and leslie miller started hearing all these murmurs from his friends around casper that sinclair oil company trucks were seen going in to the teapot dome naval petroleum reserve. it appeared as though they were going in actually do drilling and do oil expiration. he was very curious about this because he thought, there are a lot of us in the business that would love to have an opportunity to drill in teapot dome. it happened he was visiting with his old friend in sheridan, senator john b mckendrick pit he was a democrat he -- john b kendrick. he was a democrat who
represented wyoming. he mentioned, can you look into this and see what is going on? something is happening at teapot dome. when they would question albert fall as to how this occurred, fall was very foggy about how this particular activity had gone on. in essence, president harding was obtuse about how this had all occurred. as time passed and as the senate starting investigated -- started investigating the activities of albert fall, they discovered albert fall had not issued any formal official opportunity for competitive bidding at teapot dome. suddenly, there was this contract signed between the interior department and these two oilmen on developing the resources on -- in these naval petroleum reserves.
it was an interesting legal aftermath of the conviction of albert fall for accepting bribes from these two oil guys. what happened was sinclair's company, that he organized calling at the mammoth oil company, the mammoth oil company continued to develop the oilfield at teapot dome. and it claimed that he had every right to do it because the contract that had been issued to him by the interior department was still a valid contract. the federal government would have none of it because clearly this contract was obtained through fraud, through bribery and so the federal government brought an action in district court in wyoming. t blake kennedy had a contrarian view of how that contract was
arrived at apparently. because in his memoirs, t blake kennedy claims when that contrary to rescission case came before his court, he took the position that a contract is a contract. and unless there is overwhelming evidence to indicate the contract was somehow obtained through fraud or through bribes, then it should be enforced. what we have here are copies of an unpublished manuscript written by t blake kennedy. it is his autobiography he wrote a late in his judicial career. the last paragraph sums it up where he says i close this chapter with a suggestion of curiosity, which has been continuously operating in my mind involving the query as to
whether or not when naval petroleum reserve number three is eventually opened up, any substantial amount of oil will be found there. while it is largely speculation, i am of the opinion a substantial portion of the oil in the formation especially in the upper sands will be found to have been drained off through the intense operation of the adjoining salt creek field. the circuit court of appeals overturned t blake kennedy's decision because they clearly found that there was bribery involved in obtaining that particular contract. on appeal by sinclair and mammoth oil company to the supreme court of the united states, the supreme court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court of appeals and allowed for the government to rescind the teapot dome oil drilling contract with mammoth oil.
there has always been a question as to how much president harding knew about the teapot dome affair. it is pretty clear albert fall had to get president harding's authority to shift jurisdiction from the department of the navy to the department of the interior. and harding must have known there was something untoward about that kind of a request and making that kind of a switch. as i guess you could say good luck would have it in the case of warren harding, he traveled west the summer after this scandal started -- questions started being asked about the scandal, came through wyoming, went toward alaska. became the first president to visit alaska. came down to san francisco. and then promptly and suddenly died in san francisco. the investigation was just
heating up at that point. there are a lot of people who questioned whether or not warren harding had more direct information about this scandal then he had led on previously because albert fall was so close to him personally and so was edwin denby, the naval secretary. a lot of historians are -- will always remain curious as to how much did the president know and when did he know it? fall became the first cabinet officer to be convicted of a felony while serving in the u.s. cabinet. i don't mean a pond here but his fall from grace was pretty hard and pretty dramatic. he went off to federal prison.
he eventually got out of federal prison and in the early years of world war ii, some 20 years after the teapot dome affair, he died in obscurity and essentially poverty in el paso, texas. what happened at teapot dome was the mammoth oil company, sinclair was told to remove all of their materials, all of their trucks, suspend the drilling and that is the way the teapot dome field set for the next -- field set for the next 80 years. until the federal government started using it for various experimental drilling and various other energy related projects in the 1980's. significantly later than what one would have expected with an oilfield of that scope and located where it was so close to
very good producing oil fields. >> this concludes our look at controversial politicians. to view more programs like this, visit our website, c-span.org/ citiestour. >> here is what is ahead on c-span this thanksgiving day. a couple of former white house talk about what applies. and then senate hearings focused on nutrition in the united states. and then the legacy of clarence thomas, focusing on federalism and the separation of powers. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these television companies and more including on cast. >> do you think this is just a community center? >> comcast is partnering to create wi-fi enabled -- so
students from low income families can get what they need to be ready for anything. >> giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> former white house chiefs of staff jack lew and joshua bolten discuss the challenges of the job and how they approach being the so-called gatekeepers of the presidents they served. this is about an hour. pers of te presidents they served. this is about an hour. >> thanks for having me. i want to welcome everyone to this amazing event. it will be about an hour and we will take your questions at the end. we have secretary lew and joshua bolten. we will be talking about what it is like to be a chief of staff. i guess we will get this started.