Little Worry Over Leftwing Education of Arkansas Governor

Westbrook Pegler

Shreveport Times/January 5, 1955

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Jan 4—The next governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, who will take office on Jan. 10, has been vague about his activities as an undergraduate at Commonwealth College, at Mena, Ark., in 1935. But he has been nailed down to admissions that he received a scholarship in the mail from sources unknown to him and that he was elected president of the student body.

The length of his stay is not stated either by Faubus or by any of the records of Commonwealth, which was put out of business as a subversive institution by the decision of a rural Justice of the Peace in 1941.

Commonwealth was condemned as a Communist enterprise by the House Committee on un-American Activities; by Tom Clark when he was attorney general; and by a joint committee of the Arkansas legislature, which expressed its decision before Faubus matriculated in April, 1935.

The controversy has brought to his defense the Arkansas Gazette, a property with both political and financial power, owned by a family of normal American capitalist tradition. Its editor, Harry S. Ashmore, has befriended him and has produced a book under the financial patronage of the Ford Foundation.

The Gazette took the editorial position that the Communist college issue was “a shabby device, essentially spurious on its face.” The Gazette seems to take no very serious view of inconsistencies which come down to fundamental issues of truth or falsehood as to the new governor’s previous activities and his political philosophy. There were irregularities in the voting by which Faubus defeated Francis Cherry in the Democratic intra-party showdown which suffices for the electoral process in the one-party states of the Southern tier.

However, these irregularities, though probably provable, will not be brought to trial and I believe there is little editorial or popular indignation over them. Of course, some journalists in Arkansas oppose Faubus and deplore his success. But the case does seem to be a lost cause.

One campaigner who continues to hammer away is John F. Wells, publisher of a political weekly called the Arkansas Recorder, in Little Rock. He has an ally of proven courage and uncompromising integrity named Charles Emery, formerly special agent in charge of the Little Rock unit of the income tax department.

Emery was thwarted and forced to retire after 26 years when he persisted in examining the income and taxes of Sid McMath, who served two terms as governor from 1940 through 1952. McMath and Faubus are a team in politics.

McMath had strong connections with the Truman administration, whose stronghold in Kansas City remains a regional political capital of this democratic area.

Emery’s most famous success was the Brown-Bioff movie racket in Hollywood. He prepared the income tax data which sent these two union racketeers to prison for brief, pleasant sojourns and which was the basis for other successful prosecutions.

Some of the worst criminals of the batch, common underworld rodents from Chicago, did business with Democratic politicians and got out of prison prematurely, but of course nothing ever was done about that.

In the McMath case, Emery was called to Washington and given two hours to decide whether he would accept a transfer to Chicago. This would take the McMath case out of his hands. It also was a painful prospect for a family man with his own home who had put his roots down in Little Rock. So Emery retired on his pension and returned to Little Rock to practice as an expert consultant in income and estate taxes.

One thing taken with another, Emery was very offensive to the Democratic administrations, both federal and state. The day he entered private practice in Little Rock he sent his professional card to McMath. This, of course, was only a gesture because the law forbade him to represent McMath in any negotiations with internal revenue about a tax problem in which Emery had represented the government.

Mr. Wells has published a paper-bound book entitled “Zero Hour for Arkansas” containing reproductions of documents of Commonwealth College, citations from editorials from the Arkansas Gazette and other papers which supported Faubus or achieved the same effect by belittling his opponent and the significance of his experience at Commonwealth.

Wells also prepared intricate tables of registration and election returns showing that the ballots cast in some jurisdictions far outnumbered the registration. He is now engaged in enlarging his text with astonishing material further proving the weird commingling of the power of tax-exempt foundations, stately, old-line newspapers and politicians who range all the way from Communists to blatherskite adventurers.



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