The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin on July 18, 1965 · Page 50
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The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin · Page 50

Racine, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 18, 1965
Page 50
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By BILL SURFACE S ENATOR John J. Williams of Delaware laid a legal-size Manila folder on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield and asked for authority to question Robert G. (Bobby) Baker, majority secretary. Baker had been sued for allegedly accepting, then reneging on, a conflict-of- interest payoff. But he virtually ignored the charge. Williams, however, had made his own investigation. Now, would Baker face him? Instead, Baker quit. The Senator introduced a resolution asking for a full investigation, exploding the "Bobby Baker Case" that October day in 1963. Contending the probe was "whitewashed," Williams disclosed new information that became a Presidential campaign issue. Evidence. he presented later reopened the inquiry. As exemplified by the Baker Case, Williams is perhaps the most amazing man in Congress. He never has been associated with a Senate investigating committee, never has been given one dollar, one professional investigator, or even a special room to interview informants. He has no subpoena powers. But the Senator has exposed more corruption than any other legislator now on Capitol Hill. Williams stages no show. "Here's the proof," he says to the appropriate authorities. "Now it's your duty to correct the situation." Williams, 61, is a six-foot, ruddy-complexioned man who physically resembles Calvin Coolidge. He speaks amiably and so softly that he is called "Whispering Willie." He is folksy but foxy, relentlessly fighting any semblance of political malpractice. "We can't allow stories to circulate about any Government official taking boxes full of $100 bills without investigating," Williams told me. "If a case stinks, let it stink. But clean it up fast." The Senator himself works fast. Moments after presenting his initial Baker testimony, he disclosed the resignation of a deputy assistant secretary of state: "He didn't file income-tax returns for eight years, and when this was discovered. he was allowed to file retroactively and submit... an honorable resignation. What would have happened had this been an ordinary laborer or farmer without proper political connections?" Williams watches Government agencies just as closely. He has long fought the "secret" classification for all our National Stockpile (.storage of strategic goods). No wonder! A later investigation showed that the Government now owns materials valued at $8.8 billion, more than half of which are items we cannot use. In some cases, participants made profits up to 1,000 percent. In 1963 Williams simultaneously revealed that 24 million bushels of surplus grain given as foreign aid to Austria had been illegally diverted and sold; and that the Government's Commodity Credit Corporation had bought 500 million pounds of soy-bean oil to uphold the market although prices were above the support pjice. The oil was unfit and had been purchased from corporations barred from C.C.C. programs. A deeper inquiry disclosed that millions of dollars had been paid for salad oil —but the oil tanks were empty. Williams even finds chicanery in routine Government booklets. "We spend millions on reports hardly anybody reads," Williams said. Once, after examing a report, he told the Senate: "If the books of the Commodity Credit Corporation were examined, we would find millions of dollars are unaccounted for." An investigation produced evidence of "embezzlement or criminal conversion" by 131 warehousemen totaling almost $10 million. Williams doesn't pick targets: "I neither gun for nor exclude anybody. You do that, and a bigger rascal sneaks by." This impartiality was best illustrated during the Truman Administration. Willams' probe led to the resignation of Bill Boyle, Democratic National Committee chairman, for allegedly helping a private client obtain a Government loan previously rejected three times. Then the Senator revealed comparable charges against Guy Gabrielson, Republican chairman, and Gabrielson quit. Williams' inquiry also helped convict T. Lamar Caudle, a key income-tax offi- Folksy but foxy Senator John J. Williams—the man who exploded the Bobby Baker Case- exposes corruption wherever he finds it SLEUTH SENATE OF THE 14 FuviUy Wcvklu, -/nil/ IK, 1!>05

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