Political Reform and Federal Patronage
The first year of the Roosevelt, administration was marked by an increase in the number of federal employees unprecedented since the period of the World War. Most of the thousands of positions in the agencies created to carry out the New Deal were filled without regard to the civil service laws, giving rise to repeated assertions that they were being distributed on a spoils basis. In contrast to such criticism was the unusual attention given by the administration during the last six months to matters of political reform, notably an effort to bring about a separation of party and governmental affairs. The disposition of the President and other administration leaders to undertake a political housecleaning in the dominant party met. a sympathetic response from individual members of Congress, while the Senate as a whole made several gestures of approval during the recent session. The House of Representatives, on the other hand, gave no similar support, and the Senate itself adopted the customary political viewpoint so far as patronage was concerned.
Extension of Reform Efforts by Morgenthau Order
Starting in mid-January with a statement by the President disapproving the practice of law in Washington by members of the Democratic National Committee, the administration's campaign against potential political abuses was climaxed on June 21 by an order of Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau directing bureau chiefs in his department to request all officers and employees under their jurisdiction who held any political party office to resign either from that office or from the government service not later than September 1, 1934. In a letter including this order the Secretary said:
I have come to the firm conviction that no officer or employee of the Treasury Department ought to continue to hold any political party office. It seems to me that the holding of any such political party office is not compatible with the public interest and will hamper the officer or employee in the effective discharge of his governmental duties.