Political Reform and Federal Patronage

July 2, 1934

Report Outline
Political Reform and Federal Patronage
Party Reform Under the Roosevelt Administration
President Roosevelt and the Civil Service
Attitude of Congress on Politics and Patronage

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.

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
Civil Service