Monday, January 16, 2012

Free Speech and Dita Beard

1972 was an amazing year.

For those of us who lived in Portlandia, thiis was the year that Mayor Schrunk beat Ivancie. This was a time when I was involved in politics in Oregon, but only as an organizer. It would be later that I became a vocal advocate for politics, and the problem is, by the time I became aware, the landscape had changed.

What had occurred has been a quantum shift in politics. And, the defining moment had to do with Dita Beard. There aren't any moments that can be defined with names. We do have several names. Names like Burr. Aldrich Ames. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Not many. But, who would want to be a traitor to this country?

 And, in 1972, Dita Beard's name was added to the list of enemies. Not Mayor Schrunk. For a white boy, living in the 'burbs, the idea that the mob could control politics in the city was silly. The people I knew, as a young, white boy, looking at the city, corruption was the last thing I'd ever think of. Corruption belonged in big cities, like Chicago. There never has been an anti-corruption movement in Oregon. The closest we came to anti-corruption occurred when Governor Goldschmidt was found to have been a child molester. And, there are names of other Democrats who also abused children, and the fight to bring them to justice hasn't ended. Just because you publish a newspaper in Oregon, doesn't mean that folks aren't willing to bring you to justice.

Oregon.

My Oregon.

I worked on the Governor's re-election campaign. Tom McCall. One-ball. Etc. And, I was there, when the Governor and Democrat Rat and Union Boss L.B. Day revealed the proposed bill, Senate Bill 100.

"In the 1973 legislature, essential help came from Senator Ted Hallock of Portland, Representative Nancie Fadeley of Eugene, and L.B. Day, a Teamster's Union official representing Willamette Valley cannery workers and a former director of the state Department of Environmental Quality. Hallock and Fadeley chaired the Senate and House committees on Environment and Land Use. Day was the dominant influence among a task force of lobbyists whom Hallock called together to hammer out necessary compromises." (http://oep.research.pdx.edu/entry/view/senate_bill_100/)

How did all this become acceptable, within months of President Nixon's re-election?

If you weren't there, you wouldn't know. Within weeks of the discovery of the Dita Beard memos, the world changed. The fact that the Democrat Party was a corrupt organization was trumped by revelations that a private company used its influence to achieve an outcome that was beneficial to that corporation.


"Syndicated columnist Jack Anderson receives a memo written by International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT) lobbyist Dita Beard; the memo goes a long way towards proving that in return for hefty campaign contributions to the GOP, the Justice Department dropped its antitrust suit against the corporation (see 1969 and July 31, 1971). The memo, written on June 25, 1971 by Beard to ITT vice president Bill Merriam, is entitled “Subject: San Diego Convention.” Beard indicated her distress at the possibility of someone leaking the fact that ITT had quietly contributed $400,000 to the GOP for its 1972 convention in San Diego.


"Two of the few who know of the contribution, Beard wrote, were President Nixon and Attorney General John Mitchell. She asked whether the $400,000 should be donated in cash or in services, then wrote: “I am convinced because of several conversations with Louie re Mitchell that our noble commitment has gone a long way toward our negotiations on the mergers eventually coming out as Hal wanted them. Certainly the president has told Mitchell to see that things are working out fairly. It is still only McLaren’s mickey-mouse that we are suffering.”

"Anderson doesn’t know who “Louie” is, but he is sure “Hal” is Harold Geneen, ITT’s president. ITT had announced a $100,000 contribution, but the real amount is four times that. One of Anderson’s aides, Brit Hume, interviews Beard, and during a night of heavy drinking and Beard’s emotional outbursts, finds out that in May 1971, Beard had gone to a party hosted by Kentucky governor Louie Nunn, the “Louie” of the memo. Mitchell was at the party, and Beard was there to prime Mitchell as to what exactly ITT wants in return for its contribution and its assurance that it can secure San Diego as the GOP’s convention site.

"According to Beard, the deal was hatched between herself and Mitchell at Nunn’s party.

"Anderson quickly publishes a column based on the memo that causes a tremendous stir in Washington and the press. [Anderson, 1999, pp. 194-200] (In his book The Secret Man, Bob Woodward will give the date for Anderson’s column revealing the Beard memo as February 19. This is apparently a typographical error.) [Woodward, 2005, pp. 37] The White House will successfully pressure Beard to disavow the memo (see Mid-Late March, 1972).

Entity Tags: Jack Anderson, Dita Beard, Brit Hume, Bob Woodward, Bill Merriam, Federal Bureau of Investigation, International Telephone and Telegraph, Richard M. Nixon, Harold Geneen, John Mitchell, Louie B. Nunn

I'm not trying to hide anything here. When this broke, and remember, Jack Anderson had just about every newspaper in America, these were damning comments. 

The Nunn in these comments is Sam Nunn, Democrat. What we learned was, Republicans who exploited corporate interests in order to gain an advantage with campaign fund-raising was wrong. Democrats who exploited corporate interests in order to gain an advantage with campaign fund-raising was blessed. And most of what has passed as campaign reform has followed this pattern. Large companies have no right to have their corporate interests expressed. Small companies have no right to have their corporate interests expressed. Why? Corruption. And yet we know that Democrats have more corporate ties, more corrupt corporate ties, than any other political party. Why?

Don't know. This should be a no-brainer.

Fortunately, we don't remember shit. Having a memory that exceeds twenty minutes is a diagnosis of brain failure.

Corruption, and the roots of corruption, have been there, for all of us to see, for decades, if not centuries or epochs. We fight the corruption, since that is what keeps us growing. Dita Beard was both an icon and emblematic of something else. What that something else may be, depends upon you.

2 comments:

MAX Redline said...

Anderson, though respected and nationally syndicated, periodically went out into looneyville himself. Of course, that was before the entire mainstream media abandoned any pretense of impartiality, so his quirks in this regard were more noticeable.

Hallock, Fadeley, Day...ah, the memories.

I grew up mostly in Illinois, so I was used to the Daley machine. Its influence was statewide - much as is the case in Portland/Oregon today, under the Goldschmidt machine.

T. D. said...

Yep. A little history explains a lot. Thanks for posting this.