Opening Move is Made in Smear-Pegler Effort

Westbrook Pegler

Rome News-Tribune/March 3, 1954

On Dec. 29, 1950, Sumner Gerard, treasurer of the Committee for Constitutional Government, warned me that I ran a risk of an organized smear in exposing personal espionage and other treachery by the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League of New York, some of whose agents are, by their own confessions, professional liars, sneaks and thieves.

That smear has begun to develop under a covering pretext which I shall deal with in the near future.

Sumner Gerard is a brother of the late James W. Gerard, who was Woodrow Wilson’s ambassador to Germany until the break in 1917.

Jimmy was one of the founders of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League but got out early in the American phase of World War II, because he thought it had turned into a spying service, promoting boycotts against loyal American business firms as punishment for the exercise of freedom of the press. At that stage, one Isadore Lipschutz, a refugee diamond merchant living in New York, was the dominating person in the league, as he still is today.

Rumely Persecution

One of the feats of which the Anti-Nazi league is proudest is the persecution of Dr. Edward J. Rumely, who was twice tried on criminal charges fomented by its agents and was vindicated both times. The first time a jury acquitted him. The second time the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed a conviction and the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals in a “landmark” decision upholding freedom of the press.

In the first case he was charged with illegal political expenditures in circulating the Bill of Rights to public schools. In the second case he was charged with contempt of the Buchanan committee on “lobbying.” Whose chairman was a cheap swindler indicted three times for frauds in automobile trades. All indictments were “settled” by restitution of the stolen money.

I personally called on Buchanan and thrust photostats of the true-bills at him, daring him to read them. He refused. I demanded that he explain why he refused to summon Lipschutz, James H. Sheldon, the “administrative chairman” of the league, and their books and papers, and treat them in the same peremptory, hostile way that he had dealt with Rumely.

Cat’s Paw

I charged Buchanan with acting as the cat’s paw for Lipschutz, Sheldon and the League.

About two years after Buchanan died and the committee had dissolved, a typical New Deal propagandist turned out a book extolling Buchanan, the congressional committee and its “work.” This was a mediocre pot-boiler which dodged the flagrant issues of freedom of speech and press, but the New York left-wing book sections gave it a big ballyhoo, ignoring as the author had the part that the Anti-Nazi League had played in the case.

Frank Gannet, an old-line constitutional Republican newspaper publisher, was the original chairman of the Committee for Constitutional Government. He put up $100,000 then and has, I believe, provided more money since to defend the Constitution against insidious attacks by legislation and propaganda.

Mario Bussi, an abandoned scamp who freely admits that he is such a liar that he can’t believe himself, was one of the league’s agents for some years. He has personally confessed a number of larcenous exploits and provocations to me. He was, or pretended to be, bitter against Lipschutz, Sheldon and the league because he said they had cast him off when he came down of paralysis from a cerebral stroke.

He further explained his condition as the consequence of a clout on the head with a club during some gum-shoe work in Atlanta but could offer no police record nor any claim for workmen’s compensation in support of that version. Anyway, he was badly paralyzed.

Kept Papers

I am not given to alarms over the stealth of such vermin but I have carefully kept a collection of papers acquired in my pursuit of this concern, including Sumner Gerard’s letter of Dec. 29, 1950, reviewing the sinister doings which resulted in the conviction, later reversed, of Doctor Rumely. His crime was that he refused to tell the Buchanan committee which American citizens had bought from his committee copies of John T. Flynn’s political warning against Fabian socialism, entitled “The Road Ahead.”

I am not alone in regarding this as a great political document. The league through the Buchanan committee tried to punish Rumely for sounding this alarm.

Rumely and Gerard had hired a retired FBI agent to help them in their earlier problem. In that job, Clinton Anderson, a New Deal congressman, now a senator, from New Mexico, tried to “get” Rumely for circulating the Bill of Rights among schools.

Through the FBI man’s expert work Rumely and Gerard soon had proof that a trusted woman employee was actually an agent of the Anti-Nazi League and was delivering confidential correspondence of Rumely and Gerard to the league’s office. So they set a trap consisting of a letter worded to suggest that they were engaged in illegal work.

Anderson admitted to me last inauguration day in his office that he had received a number of documents from James H. Sheldon including this plant arranged by Rumely and Gerard.

Buszi told me of a number of instances in which agents of the league were planted in the employ of unsuspecting persons, whose virtue does not concern us except that they are not, as far as any record shows, criminal. He also told me that one agent had been planted in the office of a small publication in New Jersey.

Recently, I was asked whether I had ever had any relations with this publication. I had never had anything to do with it and so answered.

Then I was asked how often I had received copies of it. I could not answer because it is one of the many fly-by-night propaganda sheets which come in the routine mail.

But a few days later I found at my private address a copy of the paper in question which I believe to have been planted for the purpose, as Mr. Gerard foresaw, of smearing me. It was sent first-class in a plain envelope and I divine that the agent planted in the publication office is at the bottom of it.

Significant Mail

I peg this piece of mail as remarkably significant. Mr. Gerard probably was prophetic but I believe that eventually I will expose a dangerous honeycomb of conspiracy against persons who fight for the Constitution. At this moment they include Dr. Clarence Manion, former dean of Notre Dame Law School, who was fired from an important position having to do with constitutional limitations on the government by decision of Sherman Adams, the political captain of the White House guard.

The Rumely-Gerard-Gannett committee for constitutional government has published a four page pamphlet setting forth some of Dean Manion’s arguments in favor of the Constitution. That is a risky defiance of the Messrs. Lipschuts and Sheldon and the Anti-Nazi League.

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