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nevertheless, as a general rule, the postmaster or collector of customs or head of a bureau in Washington is a person of education, intelligence and good moral character. To such a class of people indictment and conviction, even if only followed by a fine and removal from office, is a severe punishment, and it takes but few instances of this kind to put a stop to gross and open violations of the civil service law. A case like that of Mr. Leib, in Pennsylvania, or of U. S. Marshal Fagan, in Ohio, to refer to two cases which have occurred within the last twelve months, has an effect far beyond the ordinary administration of the criminal law, and serves for a time to put an entire end in the neighborhood of the place of the offense and punishment to violations of the law. It is far different from the case of ordinary criminal law, where you have to deal with professional criminals, or from the case of liquor laws, where you have to deal with a large number of persons who have a great pecuniary interest in the continued violation of law, and who often are of a character such that fine or even imprisonment has no great terrors for them.
Moreover, offenses in the way of soliciting funds for political purposes are unpopular, both in the general public and in the service, and no official who desires reputation and popularity will be likely to repeatedly or systeinatically violate these provisions of the law.
An official of sufficient firmness of character and good judgment will, if he desires a successful and quiet administration, rigorously enforce as well the other provisions of the civil service law as that which is under discussion, and practical experience has made a large majority of such officials friends of the law.
The great cause undoubtedly of the improvement in the matter of political asessments has been the general spread of the merit system. A man appointed by means of a competitive examination is not generally a politician. He does not feel that he owes his appointment in any way to any political leader, Congressman, Senator, or through or to any party. When an office is filled with men appointed through competitive examinations, the standard of opinion of the office becomes unfavorable to the
political activity of its members. Then, no one has a right or a supposed right to call on persons in such position to make contributions for political purposes. Under the spoils system, an official owed a debt of gratitude to the political leader who had given him his position. Furthermore, he realized that without a continuance in power of the party through whose organization he had received his appointment, his place would be lost, and hence he had the strongest motives both of gratitude and of that variety of gratitude which has been defined as “a lively sense of favors yet to come” to make contributions to the party treasury. Then again, his promotion depended upon the amount of assistance he could give his party, and often the only assistance he could give was to give money, and that was frequently the most effective assistance he could give. But with the man appointed under the Merit System, who owes his position to no leader and to nothing but to his own brains and determination, who knows that his position is safe, no matter what change may take place in the party in power, and who knows that no matter how much he may ingratiate himself with his superiors he has no prospect of rising except by his own merit-with an office filled with men who justly feel thus, it is useless to make any appeal for political assessments, or for contributions.
One of the distinguished representatives of a State bordering on the District of Columbia which has always been prolific in civil service reformers of an aggravated type, and also in the most rabid varieties of spoilsmen, said that he was opposed to an extension of the Rural Free Delivery service, because "persons in the Rural Free Delivery service have no gratitude, while fourth-class postmasters were plentifuly endowed with that virtue." This remark illustrates that most effective method of fighting the collection of assessments or pernicious political activity of any kind, sort or description. Let the examinations be free from all suspicion, fair and practical; and let all the branches of the service be put under the civil service rules; and the collection of assessments will disappear entirely; and that it has disappeared as far as it has is due more than anything else to the enormous
extensions which have been made to the classified service.
More charges have been investigated by the Commission of the collection of political assessments during the last two years in the small non-competitive service, than in the large competitive class. The deputy collectors have now been placed under the civil service, and I am not making a hazardous prophesy when I say that in two or three years from now-barring such a raid on the Internal Revenue service as was made by spoilsmen during the first adminstration of President McKinley—the collection of political assesments will be as uncommon in that class as it is now in the rest of the field service.
As a matter of course, the strictness of the observance of the sections of the law which have formed the subject of this paper varies in different branches of the service. In the departments at Washington I really believe that for the past twelve years there has hardly been an instance where a cent was paid except with the clear and unbiased volition of the party paying it, and consequently very little has been paid.' Government salaries, while large in some instances for the class of work done, are not, considering the education and character of the people holding Government offices, so large as to encourage voluntary donations to any benevolent purpose, either to Chinese missions or to the success of the Republican party. In the field service, it is hard to make statements with any aproach to accuracy from a lack of knowledge, but the paucity of charges and a somewhat extensive investigation made by me into the Internal Revenue service in 1905, make me think that there is not much violation of law in the field service. Opportunities for collecting the assessments, of course, exist without violation of the law, and these are quite freely made use of in some parts of the country, while in others scarcely anything is done of this kind.
Can anything be done to strengthen the law as it now exists? From a theoretical standpoint, I think that Congress would be justified in entirely prohibiting the payment of money for political purposes by anyone in the Federal civil service. If a salary is large enough for a man to afford to give away a considerable proportion of
it for political purposes, it could be reduced with benefit to the taxpayer. There is no reason why the publicDemocrats and Republicans alike-should be taxed to raise money to be turned over to employees in such amounts that they can be able to devote the money of Democrats to the success of the Republican party, or vice versa. If salaries are not large enough to allow their use for political purposes, such use should not be permitted. Nor do I see any constitutional objection which could be made to such a statute.
Again, a less severe measure, the passage of which was at one time actually contemplated, would be a general law forbidding anyone to solicit contributions for political purposes from Federal officials. Solicitations of this kind are not made from the general public as a rule, or at any rate if there is no idea that the general public will respond to an extent large enough to pay for the cost of printing the circulars. There does not seem to be any reason why the Federal civil service should be picked out as a body which ought to contribute to political purposes. Members of the classified service owe their positions to no political aid, and as above stated, the fact that they get their money out of the pockets of the entire community is no reason why they, at any rate, should be regarded as peculiarly liable to devote what they get from the whole community to advance the opinions of any fraction thereof.
Hence, there would seem to be no injustice in the absolute prohibition of the solicitation of assessments from any Federal official.
A measure which is of a still milder character than any which have been mentioned, and which might be practicable, even in the present disposition of Congress, would be a law prohibiting the use of the mails for the purpose of solicitation of assessments. Another measure, to carry which into effect a bill has been recently introduced in the New York Legislature, would be a publicity law, requiring a statement to be published by all political committees of the amounts collected from employees, and by all employees of the amounts paid by them. This would put the collection of assessments under the re
stricting influence of public opinion. The objection to it is that, as has been shown in the case of the various "corrupt practices acts" in the different States, that the terms would, unless the law was drawn with greater skill than has been exhibited heretofore in such cases, be utterly unreliable.
There is really, however, little prospect of further legislation in the present frame of mind of Congress in support of the civil service law. If we can escape unfavorable action in the shape of riders on appropriation bills, taking certain classes out from under the civil service until their membership is filled, and then blanketing them in, we will have done all that can be hoped for at present. Nor is it true in my opinion that legislation is very much needed. An energetic effort on the part of the Civil Service Commission to enforce the law and the rules sustained as are at present by the whole power and trend of thought of the Administration, the extension of the competitive system to all classes of the civil service, and the appointment to presidential offices of men who will be as zealous to enforce the civil service law as they will to prevent dishonesty on the part of their subordinates these things will in the future, as in the past, be the surest preventatives of the making of political assessments. The political assessment and the spoils system are inseparable allies, the former being the product of the latter, and the destruction of the parent evil will soon be followed by the disappearance of its offspring.
An extension of the powers of the Civil Service Conmission is to be desired, so that it may investigate cases of pernicious political activity, as well as violations of the law. Less progress has been made in the suppression of pernicious political activity than in any other branch of civil service reform, and the progress in that direction can be much accelerated by bestowing upon the Commission the power of investigation and criticism,
The departments have made a large practical advance in recent years in holding that it is a violation of the spirit, if not of the letter, of this law for an official in the presidential class to hold a position upon a committee which is charged with the duty of collecting political