Ethics in Government

December 5, 1951

Report Outline
Unethical Practices and Corrective Action
Safeguards Against Bribery and Gift-Taking
Conflicts of Interest and Official Rectitude
Political Activities and Governmental Ethics

Unethical Practices and Corrective Action

Disclosures in 1950-51 Congressional Inquiries

The level of morality in the federal establishment, at Washington and elsewhere throughout the country, has become a subject of grave public concern as practices which range from the questionable to the criminal have been disclosed in a series of congressional investigations. Opponents of the party in control of the national government have seized upon scandals in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Justice and other federal agencies as offering a leading issue for the 1952 campaign.”

Concern over low ethical standards extends beyond the Executive Branch to Congress itself, and to the national party organizations. The Elections subcommittee of the Senate, in a unanimous report, Aug. 3, condemned “despicable back-street” tactics used in the Maryland senatorial campaign of 1950 and referred some of the evidence it had obtained to the Department of Justice. One senator has charged another with “fraud, deceit, and perjury” in Senate speeches, also acceptance of “influence money,” and has called for his expulsion. Four members of the House of Representatives have been convicted on criminal charges since 1945, and another is under indictment.

Disclosures in Congressional Investigations

The current series of investigations involving official laxity and worse began in August 1949 with hearings on Washington “five percenters” before the Hoey (D., N. C.) Investigations subcommittee of the Senate Executive Expenditures Committee. In the summer of 1950 a subcommittee of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee under Fulbright (D., Ark.) opened a long series of hearings on lending policies of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation which brought a reorganization of that agency. Later the Hoey Senate subcommittee investigated use of political and other influence in connection with R.F.C. loans to the American Lithofold Co. and sale of postmasterships in Mississippi.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in Government
Jan. 31, 2014  Whistleblowers
Feb. 18, 2011  Lies and Politics
Apr. 30, 2010  Gridlock in Washington
Jun. 22, 2007  Prosecutors and Politics
Jun. 16, 2006  Pork Barrel Politics
May 07, 1999  Independent Counsels Re-Examined
Feb. 21, 1997  Independent Counsels
May 27, 1994  Political Scandals
Apr. 06, 1979  Assassinations Investigation
Dec. 05, 1973  Presidential Impeachment
May 16, 1973  Ethics in Government
May 10, 1961  Secret Societies and Political Action
Jun. 29, 1960  Conflicts of Interest
Oct. 26, 1955  Businessmen in Government
Apr. 07, 1954  Fair Investigations
Apr. 25, 1952  Congressional Immunity
Dec. 05, 1951  Ethics in Government
Jan. 28, 1948  Individual Rights and Congressional Investigations
Jul. 02, 1934  Political Reform and Federal Patronage
Mar. 07, 1924  Congressional Extravagance and the Budget
Nov. 12, 1923  Issues Developed in the Teapot Dome Inquiry
Congress Actions
Investigations and Discipline