197 F.2d 166 (D.C. Cir. 1952), 11066, Rumely v. United States

Docket Nº:11066.
Citation:197 F.2d 166
Party Name:RUMELY v. UNITED STATES.
Case Date:April 29, 1952
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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197 F.2d 166 (D.C. Cir. 1952)

RUMELY

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 11066.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

April 29, 1952

Argued Dec. 5, 1951.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Donald R. Richberg, Washington, D.C., with whom Alfons Landa and Delmar W. Holloman, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for appellant.

William Hitz, Asst. U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C., with whom Charles M. Irelan, U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C., at the time the brief was filed, was on the brief, for appellee.

George Morris Fay, U.S. Atty. at the time the record was filed, and Joseph M. Howard, Asst. U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C., also entered appearances for appellee.

Before PRETTYMAN, PROCTOR and BAZELON, Circuit Judges.

PRETTYMAN, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of conviction upon three counts of an indictment. The three counts read, in pertinent part, as follows:

Count One

'Defendant Edward A. Rumely, by subpoena served upon him on May 26, 1950, was summoned as a witness by the authority of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, through its Select Committee on Lobbying Activities, to produce before the said Committee records upon the matter under inquiry before the said Committee, that is, to produce the records of the Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc., showing (1) the name and address of each person from whom a total of $1,000 or more has been received by the Committee during the period, January 1, 1947, to May 1, 1950, for any purpose, including, but not limited to (a) receipts from the sale of books, pamphlets, and other literature, (b) contributions, (c) loans; (2) as to each such person the amount, date, and purpose of each payment which formed a part of the total of $1,000 or more. Defendant Rumely appeared before the said Committee on June 6, 1950, in the District of Columbia, but failed and refused to produce the said records, and thereby wilfully did make default.'

Count Six

'Defendant Edward A. Rumely, by subpoena served upon him on August 21, 1950, was summoned as a witness by the authority of the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, through its Select Committee on Lobbying Activities, to produce before the said Committee records upon the matter under inquiry before the said Committee, that is, to produce the records of the Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc., showing (a) the name and address of each person from whom a total of $500 or more has been received by the said Committee during the period from January 1, 1947, to August 1, 1950, for any purpose, and (b) as to each such person, the amount, date and purpose of each

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payment which formed a part of the total of $500 or more, and all correspondence relating to each such payment. Defendant Rumely appeared before the said Committee on August 25, 1950, in the District of Columbia, but failed and refused to produce the said records and thereby wilfully did make default.'

Count Seven

'Defendant Edward A. Rumely appeared as a witness before the said Committee at the place and on the date above stated and refused to answer a question put to him by the Committee, namely, who was the woman from Toledo who gave him $2000 for distribution of 'The Road Ahead,' which question was a question pertinent to the question under inquiry.'

The offenses thus charged were alleged to be violations of the statute which reads as follows:

'Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.' 1

The Select Committee on Lobbying Activities, generally known as the Select Committee or the Buchanan Committee, was created on August 12, 1949, by the House of Representatives of the United States by a Resolution 2 which, in pertinent part, reads as follows:

'The committee is authorized and directed to conduct a study and investigation of (1) all lobbying activities intended to influence, encourage, promote, or retard legislation; and (2) all activities of agencies of the Federal Government intended to influence, encourage, promote, or retard legislation.'

Appellant is the Executive Secretary of an organization known as the Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc., incorporated in 1941 as a successor to an unincorporated Committee formed in 1937. Under instructions of the Committee's trustees he filed in 1946 with the Clerk of the House of Representatives a report, pursuant to the Regulation of Lobbying Act, 3 accompanied by a letter, and thereafter until early 1951 he filed similar reports and letters. One of these letters, in language like that of the others, read in part:

'I am not employed to support or oppose any legislation whatsoever. For this reason and the reasons set forth in my letters to you under previous dates, I protest that I am not under any legal obligation to file reports under said Act, and again request ruling on this question for future guidance.'

The Committee for Constitutional Government, Inc., publishes and distributes books and pamphlets, usually pertaining to national affairs and issues. The Report of the Buchanan Committee to the House 4 indicates that the concern distributed, among other things, some 750,000 copies of 'The Road Ahead', a book by John T. Flynn, 250,000 copies of 'Labor Monopolies and Freedom', a book by John W. Scoville, 130,000 copies of 'Compulsory Medical Care and the Welfare State' by Melchior Palyi, about 600,000 copies of the 'Constitution of the United States' by Thomas

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James Norton, thousands of 'Why the Taft-Hartley Law' by Irving G. McCann, and millions of engrossed copies of the Bill of Rights to schools and colleges. Rumely testified before the Committee that about 85 per cent of the books were sold in lots of from one to twenty copies and the remainder in bulk sales. Bulk sales took three forms: (1) The purchaser brought the books and distributed them; (2) the purchaser furnished a list of people to whom he wished the books sent, and Rumely's office made the distribution; (3) the purchaser designated in general terms the distributees, such, for example, as 15,000 libraries or 15,000 editors, and Rumely's office made the distribution to a list of names in that category in its files.

Rumely testified, according to the Report of the Committee, that he and his associates do not come down to Congress, that 'Our lobbying consists of going out with a viewpoint to the country, and informing people and letting the people talk to their Members of the Congress.' Upon occasion copies of a book or pamphlet are distributed to all members of Congress. For example, Rumely said that a purchaser of 'Labor Monopolies or Freedom' directed distribution to 'every newspaperman' in the United States and also to all Congressmen. The record before us contains no contradiction of that testimony or any different description of the activities of the organization.

In the course of its investigations the Buchanan Committee served upon appellant two subpoenas, one on May 26, 1950, and the other on August 21, 1950. The nature and extend of the subpoenas are indicated in the first and sixth counts of the indictment, quoted in pertinent part above. Sometime in May investigators for the Buchanan Committee appeared at Rumely's office and submitted to him a list of material, in twenty-six items, concerning which the Buchanan Committee desired information. The twenty-sixth item called for the names of all purchasers of books or pamphlets. After some discussion Rumely gave the investigators access to all records, etc., for all purposes except the twenty-sixth item. Pursuant to the first subpoena Rumely appeared before the Committee on June 6, 27, 28 and 29, 1950. On June 28th Rumely told the Committee, 'I am perfectly willing to give everything except one thing. I haven't withheld anything, except the names of the buyers of our books. Those, you can't have.' He repeated many times in the course of those hearings that he declined to give any names of people who bought books from his company. On June 29th he told the Committee:

'I certainly refuse to disclose those names- not contemptuously, but respectfully, because I feel it is my duty to uphold the fundamental principles of the Bill of Rights. I think that there is no power to require of a publisher the names of the people who buy his products, and that you are exceeding your right.'

The August 21st subpoena, reflected in Count Six of the indictment, called for more material than did the May 26th one, and it required Rumely to appear on August 25th. He appeared and stated that he had brought the material 'As far as it was physically possible.' He insisted that full compliance was 'an impossible thing.' He stated, for example, that the investigator had asked for each of the returned checks drawn on the National City Bank in 37 months, that he had put four men to work on that item, and that in 43 1/2 hours they had been able to assemble the checks for only one month. On this appearance Rumely repeated his refusal to give the names of the purchasers of books.

Concerning the transaction which was the basis...

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