The National Committee for an Effective Congress

Report Political Process

The National Committee for an Effective Congress

April 19, 1978 40 min read Download Report
William Poole
Senior Editor
William is a Senior Editor at The Heritage Foundation.

(Archived document, may contain errors)


April 1978


(Executive Summary)

The National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC) was or- ganized as a political committee under the laws of the State of New York in September 1948. An avowedly liberal organization, NCEC has grown considerably in the intervening years in both financing and in- fluence. According to the authoritative Congressional Quarterly, for example, "Of the seven liberal fund-raising groups ... surveyed for 1972, the National Committee for an Effective Congress was the largest fund- raiser and contributor to candidates," while an article carried-in the National Observer in November 1976 stated that NCEC is "perhaps the single most powerful political force in this country in the last few years...." NCEC has been endorsed by numerous prominent American liberals, especially those in political life, such as Andrew Young, Walter Mondale, and Frank Church, and its effectiveness has been recog- nized by such men as Robert Dole and Barry Goldwater.

NCEC exists specifically to bring about the election of what it regards as qualified liberals to the U.S. Senate and House of Repre- sentatives. To this end, it makes the usual monetary contributions and supplies a variety of in-kind services such as polling, computerized precinct targeting, and media expertise. In 1974, according to NCEC literature, these services resulted in "5 primary winners out of 5 candidates assisted 100%;" "35 general election victories out of 49 candidates assisted 71%," '123 incumbents defeated -- the largest number of defeats since 1966." NCEC claims that these successes "made the difference in toppling the seniority system and reforming the House rules." Among those candidates who have been the beneficiaries of NCEC's money and political acumen is Representative Gladys Spellman of Maryland, who is quoted by NCEC as saying that "It would be folly

and absolutely ludicrous of me to think that your organization was not largely responsible for my victory."

That NCEC possesses a definable point of view against which it evaluates candidates and issues is indicated by a letter disseminated during the winter of 1968. This letter speaks of freeing the "inde- pendent candidate" from "the need to conform with stagnant party machines" and describes.NCEC "as more than a channel for campaign sup- port." Rather, it "has fostered the development of a group of Con- gressmen with growing unity of philosophy and action, able to move into the vacuum created by sterile party leadership."

NCEC literature emphasizes the so-called "radical right" as a prime concern. Candidates supported by the committee are "progressive," "forward-looking," and "constructive" and work to give the American people "responsive, humane" government, while those it opposes are "right-wing," "reactionary," and "obstructionist." Perusal of NCEC material indicates that the organization sees-American political life as a conflict between "responsible," "courageous," and "able and prin- cipled legislators" on one side and their opponents, invariably charac- terized as "arch-conservative" and "lack-luster" "extremists." At the same time, NCEC has given its support to organizations and causes regarded by some as leftist in character, including the Ralph Nader Congress Project and a "lobby to cut off funds for the &ietnam/ war effort."

NCEC's leadership has fluctuated through the years, although the chairmanship of the committee has, since 1956, been in the hands of Sidney H. Scheuer, a New York-based international trade executive. Other NCEC members include several people with ties to major tax-exempt charitable foundations such as the Russell Sage Foundation and the Twentieth Century Fund, as well as prominent academic and other pro- fessional people, including several with distinguished records of .government service. Recently, certain NCEC-affiliated people have moved into the administration of President Carter. Mark Gersh, for- merly NCEC Washington Director, is an auditor with the Federal Elec- tion Commission; Barbara Blum, a member of NCEC's Finance/Advisory Committee, serves as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental ' Protec- tion Agency; and former NCEC Washington Director Susan B. King has recently become a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, having earlier served'as a special assistant to the chairman ofthe FEC.

Legislative matters have been prominent among NCEC's concerns, as shown by extensive documentation quoted in this study. The or- ganization was actively involved in Congressional attempts to cut off funds for American military efforts in Southeast Asia during the Viet- nam war, and the reduction of "disproportionate military influence". figures prominently in NCEC promotional material. The conmittee claims a "central role" in creation of the liberal Democratic Study



of the many political action organizations currently functioning in the United States, one of the most influential, among those of the aggressively liberal category, is the National Committee for an Effec- tive Congress, which, according to NCEC promotional literature cir- culated during the latter part of 1977, has been praised by Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States, as having "an unmatched record of political skill and good judgment in aiding progressive candidates for the House and Senate." That this assessment of NCEC's effectiveness is not confined solely to liberals, who are the bene- ficiaries of NCEC's money and political acumen, is indicated by a statement attributed by the organization to Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona:

Whether we like to admit it or not, the Committee for an Effective Congress is a most effective tool ... to elect a so-called liberal Congress. I do not dispute their right to do so. I only warn the conservative element.

In a similar vein, NCEC quotes Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as saying that "Some of the techniques the GOP must try are the sophis- ticated polling and concentrated personal campaigning of organizations such as the National Committee for an Effective Congress."

As a committee which, by design, exists to advance the political fortunes of liberal-candidates for the Congress of the United States, NCEC has received high praise from such prominent liberal figures as Andrew Young, formerly a member of Congress and currently United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and Senator Frank Church of Idaho. Young, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia irn 1972, was quoted as follows-in an NCEC leaflet attached to one of the organization's solicitatiQn letters dated April 1974:

During my brief tenure, I have seen encouraging changes in such important areas as-Congressional reform and the cut- off of funds for bombing in Cambodia and Laos. Without the NCEC's support, many of the outstanding freshman Members would not have been there to cast the decisive votes.

According to the same source, as well as more recent NCEC mater- ial, Senator Church has been even more effusive: "The work of NCEC constitutes one of the finest expressions of democratic principles in our public life today."

When one considers the predominantly liberal composition of Con- gress in recent times, as well as the significant impact that liberal Congressmen and Senators have had on the formation and implementation of public policy, including especially this nation's foreign policy, the following assessment from the November 27, 1976, edition of the National Observer assumes particular interest:

Group in the House of Representatives, in addition to which a sub- stantial number of NCEC-supported members of both the House and Senate belong to Members of Congress for Peace Through Law, a liberal apparatus which works to influence national defense-relatea policies. NCEC has also been deeply involved in passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act, defeat of the oil depletion allowance, delay in funding of the B-1 Bomber, and de- feat of efforts to deregulate the price of natural gas.

NCEC depends on contributions for its financing, and several of the larger contributions have been made over the years by the commit- tee's own members. Among these member-contributors during 1977 were such people as Stewart R. Mott and Cynthia Harris, who gave $5,000 apiece, and others who donated from $500 to $1,000 each. Other con- tributors have included corporation executives, clergymen, academics, and other professional people, along with housewives and entertainers (including the well-known comedian, Steve Allen). Documents filed by NCEC with the Federal Election Commission for the four quarterly re- porting periods of 1977 reflect inccme totaling $408,,862.27, of which $382,308.20 was from "Contributions and other Income." Expenditures for the same year amounted to a total of $40.5,,899.71,, of which $396,399.71 was for "Operating Expenditures." By contrast, it has been reported that the committee, during its first year of operation in 1948, raised some $12,000 for its initial six Senate candidates. NCEC? -'That stands for the National Committee for an Ef f ec- tive Congress, perhaps the single most powerful political force in this country in the last few years ... in 1974 it hit upon a new idea: Instead of giving cash to the candidates of its choice, it would supply them with in-kind services -- polls, computerized precinct targeting, television and radio commercials and other media materials, even campaign supervi- sion.

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that decision has changed the course of American political history.

Long-time observers of Congress say ... the NCEC supported candidates are ... the smartest, the toughest, hardest-working congressmen they have ever seen.

It is noted that the foregoing statements, including those by Goldwater and Dole, both of whom would view NCEC from an adversary standpoint, have one thing in common: a view of NCEC as an effective political force, whatever the speakers' disagreements with the organi- zation on the issues might be. It is this shared recognition that NCEC, by virtue of its demonstrated record of success in supporting some of the key liberal activist's in the House and Senate, is an or- ganization possessed of the ability to influence the formation of na- tional public policy which makes it desirable that therebe serious examination of the committee's origin, leadership, finances, and activities.


The National Committee for an Effective Congress was organized as a political committee in New York State on September 23, 1948. It was active during the 1948 election campaign, in a special election campaign in 1949, and during the campaign of 1950 and has maintained offices in New York City continuously since May 1952, according to a statement submitted by NCEC-chairman Sidney H. Scheuer in 1956 to the Special Senate Committee To Investigate Political Activities, Lobbying, and Campaign Contributions. Scheuer's-statement reflects that NCEC "went through various changes and established an advisory board in October of 1949" and that he became a member of the organization's executive board in January 1954, becoming acting chairman during the same month and rising to chairman of the organization on May 1, 1956. He has remained chairman ever since.

Further light on NCEC's origins is shed by an article which ap- peared in Congressional Quarterly in its issue'for the "Week ending March 6, 1953." Characterizrn-gNCEC as "an organization said to have been formed to elect and support 'men of caliber whose general outlook is liberal,"' the article related that The Committee for an Effective Congress got its start in 1948 through the efforts of Sen. Harley M. Kilgore (D W.Va.), James Roosevelt and /former Wisconsin-newspaperman Maurice/ Rosenblatt-. These-men, according to Rosenblatt, were so -3r-m- pressed with the work of Henry J. Kaiser's League for Franchise Education in educating citizens to vote that they decided to attempt to provide a "channel of action for people already politically sophisticated."

During the 1948 election -- and again, in 1949, 1950 and 1952 -- the Committee raised campaign funds, pinpointing these funds on contests involving men who met the group's "three- point test:"

Is he a self-starting, independent liberal? Does he need money? Can he get elected?

After the 1948 election, six winning Senators who had received financial aid from the Committee, wrote an open letter, stating in part: "We are personally grateful for the splendid assistance '(in) our campaign efforta ... It is of the utmost importance that the Committee be continued ... To win elections is but the beginning of the important job of develop- ing and passing progressive legislation for our people."

This letter was signed by Democratic Senators Paul H. Douglas (Ill.), Guy M. Gillette (Iowa), Hubert H. Humphrey (Minn.). Estes Kefauver (Tenn.), James E. Murray (Mont.), and Matthew M. Neely (W.Va.). /Emphasis in original./


As indicated above, the National Committee for an Effective Con- gress was organized in 1948 as a political committee with an avowedly liberal orientation. NCEC exists for the explicit purpose of elect- ing liberal candidates to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, as well as to influence thereby the formation and im- plementation of national public policy along liberal lines. In his pfdpared testimony before the Senate Special Committee in 1956, NCEC chairman Sidney Scheuer averred that NCEC "is non-partisan, and repre- sents no special interests." He elaborated on this statement at a later point in his statement, as follows:

We believe our success to date has been based on the fact that the National Committee for an Effective Congress does not represent any section of the country, any interest or any special group; and that the criteria upon which we determine which candidates to support are shared by the great majority of Americans.

Our criteria cannot be encompassed with a simple formula. They will vary according to changing national and international circumstances, and according to the attitudes of our members from campaign to campaign. In general, however, I can say that we have been particularly concerned with foreign policy and with protection of our rights and freedoms at home. We have supported only candidates of whose agreement with the broad lines of American foreign policy since World War II we have felt assured, and whom we believed to be genuinely con- cerned to preserve and advance the liberties and rights of all Americans. If you examine a list of the candidates who have been supported by /NCEC/, you will see that we have in- terpreted these criteria broadly. We do not feel expert enough or that it is our responsibility to make fine judgments between candidates who seem generally agreed in these matters.

That NCEC possesses a definable point of view against which it evaluates candidates and policies is indicated by the language of a "Dear Friend" letter mailed during the winter of 1968 over the signa- tures of liberal historians Barbara W. Tuchman and Henry Steele Commager. The letter states that response to a previous mailing has "freed" the "independent candidate" from "the need to conform with stagnant party machines" and proceeds to describe NCEC "as more than a channel for campaign support." Rather, it "has fostered the devel- opment of a group of Congressmen with growing unity of philosophy and action, able to move into the vacuum created by sterile party leadership."

The winter 1968 mailing also included a promotional leaflet which quoted Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt as having said that NCEC "combines an unusual degree of creativity and practicality as a liberal vehicle for affecting national policy," a sentiment echoed in the same source by former Senator Ralph W. Yarborough of Texas, who was quoted as saying that "Tangible expressions of concern by independent citizens ac'ting in concert through the NCEC often have made the difference between victory and defeat for liberal candidates in the South." Actually, however, NCEC rhetoric is generally couched in far more vivid terms than "liberal" and "conservative." The group prefers to characterize those it supports as "progressive," "forward-looking," and "constructive," as people whose efforts are geared toward giving the American people "responsive, humane" government, as opposed to those who are "right-wing," "reactionary," and "obstructionist." NCEC literature is replete with evocations of the purported conflict between "responsible," "courageous," and "able and principled legislators" on one side and their opponents, invariably depicted as "arch-conserva- tive" and "lack-luster" "extremists." In NCEC's appeals for support, the spectres of what it calls the "radical right and special interests" loom large indeed.

The following extract from a "Fall, 197711 letter over the signa- ture of Jane Hart, widow of the late liberal Senator Philip Hart of Michigan, and included in an NCEC mailing circulated in late 1977 is illustrative of the organization's rhetorical style and of its position in the ideological spectrum: The Congress now stands at one of the most critical junctions in its history. The current Congress and its suc- cessor will determine how we readjust our priorities to solve our country's continuing domestic problems. They will make the decisions that will determine the long-term direction of our nation on the issues of welfare reform, national health care and nuclear arms limitation. They will have to steer us through a labyrinth of special interests to sound policies of energy development and conservativer consumer protection and tax reform.

Unfortunately at this critical period, the Congress has experienced an intense campaign from the extreme right wing. It is a campaign that is fueled by the. massive war chest the right wing is building to defeat progressive Representatives and Senators in 1978 and its threat hangs over Congress every day of its deliberations.

Those of us who support progressive and effective legis- lation must provide the resources that will counter this re- actionary effort.

The best way I know to do this is by contributing to the NCEC. NCEC must have our help to plan and help implement the the re-election campaigns of those important new Representa- tives who have provided the leadership in reforming Congress. It must have our-help to defeat those obstructionist members of Congress who lead and orchestrate the right wing lobby.

As previously noted, NCEC claims that its aims are non-partisan and unencumbered by ties to any special interests. It is true that NCEC's support, as demonstrated by lists carried in the organization's own literature, has tended to go primarily to Democrats over the years; but it should also be observed that this does not necessarily mean NCEC favoring of Democrats merely as Democrats, since it is equally true that political liberals, especially liberals of-whait is often thought of as the New Deal variety, are far more prominently identified with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party. It is-certainly fair to state, for example, that a Jacob Javits is far more conspicuous in the ranks of the GOP than is a Frank Church among the Democrats. Thus, while it might appear from a superficial glance at the record that NCEC is a politically partisan apparatus, the evidence, examined more closely, actually indicates a much deeper philosophical partisanship. LEADERSHIP AND MEMBERSHIP THROUGH 1976

NCEC's leadership and membership have fluctuated through the years since 1948, although the chairmanship has remained relatively constant. An article published in the July 1, 1967, issue of Human Events states that former Democratic Representative James Roosevelt of California "was the first national chairman of the NCEC." An un- dated leaflet circulated as part of an NCEC "Win-ter, 1968n mailing contained a reference to the organization's "Over 19 years under the Chairmanship of the late Robert E. Sherwood and his successor Sidney H. Scheuer...." As shown by the Congressional Quarterly item quoted earlier, it appears that Roosevelt played a key role in the founding of the organization.

NCEC's earlier membership included several liberal Americans of considerable prominence in their respective fields, in addition to Roosevelt. The following paragraphs taken from the March 6, 1953, Congressional Quarterly article constitute the earliest available partial roster used in the preparation of this study:

chairman of the group is Robert E. Sherwood, the play- wright. Among 35 prominent names on its board of trustees are Frederick Lewis Allen, former editor of Harper's; ex- attorney General /sic/ Thurman Arnold; Evans Clark, director of the 20th CentuFy fund; Sumner Welles, former Secretary of State; Gen. Telford Taylor, U.S. prosecutor at -Ehe Nuremburg Trials; Robert R. Nathan, economist; songwriter Oscar Hammer- stein II; and Sidney H. Scheuer, New York businessman and head of the Ethical Culture Society, a "human relations group."

The legislative and operational staff consists of two campaign directors, Maurice Rosenblatt, former Wisconsin news- paperman, and George E.. Agree,, a former film script writer.

A "Dear Friend" letter on the organization's letterhead dated December 1, 1955f provides a-complete list of NCEC's 35-member Board of Advisors as of that date and also carries the names of Rosenblatt and Agree as, respectively, Campaign Director and Executive Secretary. The members of the Board of Advisors are listed as follows:

Paul H. Appleby Marshall MacDuffie George Backer Robert R. Nathan Stringfellow Barr George E. Outland Laird Bell Charles Rose George Biddle Robert W. Ruhl Henry Seidel Canby Thibaut de Saint Phalle George Hamilton Combs Sidney H. Scheuer Morris L. Cooke Arthur M. Schlesinger Thomas H. Eliot Harry Louis Selden Tom Fizdale Marshall K. Skadden Alan Green Edward S. Skillin Oscar Hammerstein II Michael Straight Alvin H. Hansen Nathan Straus Mark deWolfe Howe Telford Taylor Gardner Jackson Gerhard P. Van Arkel Donald Jenks Walter Walker Susan M. Lee Sumner Welles Isidore Lipschutz

A somewhat revised list was inserted into the January 17, 1966, edition of the Congressional Record by Eugene McCarthy, then Senator from Minnesota, in conjunction Wil-t-h NCEC's "annual report on domestic and international issues and problems," originally issued on December 28, 1965. The complete roster of "members of the NCEC" as inserted by Senator McCarthy was as follows:

Sidney H. Scheuer, Chairman, Executive Committee George R.- Donahue, Vice Chairman Susan M. Lee, Secretary Charles Rose, Treasurer Maurice Rosenblatt, Chairman, Board of Advisers George E. Agree, Executive Director

Hannah Arendt John Nuveen George Backer George E. Outland George Biddle Duncan Phillips George Combs James A. Pike Stephen R. Currier George D. Pratt, Jr. Tom Fizdale Robert W. Ruhl Alan Green Thibaut de Saint Phalle Alvin H. Hansen Francis B. Sayre, Jr. Mark deWolfe Howe' David E. Scoll S. Jay Levy Edward S. Skillin .Isidore Lipschutz Michael Straight Marshall MacDuffie Telford Taylor Archibald MacLeish Gerhard P. Van Arkel Hans J. Morgenthau

NCEC's "Winter, 1968" mailing included a leaflet which listed the organization's officers and members as of that time. This list reflected a number of changes, including the addition of John Nuveen as a second vice chairman, S. Jay Levy as secretary, and Thibaut de Saint Phalle as treasurer. George E. Agree was no longer carried as executive direc- tor, having been replaced by Russell D. Hemenway as national director. Hemenway has been extremely prominent in NCEC's operation ever since and still serves as NCEC National Director. The list of members in- cluded several carried in previous lists: Backer, Biddle, Combs, Green, Hansen, Lipschutz, Morgenthau, Outland, Pratt, Rose, Rosenblatt, Ruhl, Sayre, Scoll, Skillint Straight, Taylor, and van Arkel, along with the following additions: Harry Ashmore, Stimson Bullitt, Henry Steele Commager, Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr., Paul Foley, Francis P. Miller, and Laughlin Phillips.

With reference to Agree's departure as Executive Director, an article published in the May 24, 1966, Washington Daily News referred to "Serious internal troubles in the National Committee for an Effec- tive Congress" which had "raised a new re-election peril for harassed Democratic liberals in Congress and a handful of GOP moderates who depend heavily on this group for campaign funds. It was further stated that the most adversely affected might be "75 or more House liberals, members of the so-called Democratic Study Group who got most of the $500,000 in campaign funds raised by NCEC in 1964."

The "internal troubles" to which the article referred had report- edly "led to the departure" of both Agree and Rosenblatt as "the Committee's only two professional staff members." Agree, characterized as "NCEC's chief fund-raiser," had resigned as Executive Director over what he reportedly called "unresolved policy differences." He had also resigned his membership in NCEC. According to the article, Rosenblatt's "long service as NCEC's Washington representative" had ended some weeks previously with the abolition of his post as Chairman of NCEC's Advisory Committee, although he planned "to continue writing and performing re- search for the group." As noted above,, he was still listed as a member of NCEC aa of the Winter 1968 mailing.

The article stated that Rosenblatt "said his work as a Washington publicist and lobbyist forced him to devote less time" to the organiza- tion, in the light of which the concluding paragraphs of the piece are of particular interest:

Some of NCEC's troubles apparently stem from Mr. Rosenblatt's lobbying activities last year against a so-called "bread tax" bill pushed by the Johnson Administration. Mr. Rosenblatt repre- sented a groupofmillers bakers /sic/ and others who opposed the measure.

Several members of the Democratic Study Group privately criticized Mr. Rosenblatt for lobbying against an Administra- tion bill.

Mr. /Sidney H./ Scheuer conceded that this criticism of Mr. Rosen7blatt was one factor in NCEC's troubles, but insisted he saw "no conflict of interest" in Mr. Rosenblatt's activities.

Mr. Agree refused to confirm or deny reports that one ground he cited in his letter of resignation was NCEC's failure to curb lobbying activities by one of its officials.

That the loss of Agree was.caused by the same problem as was the loss of several other members of NCEC whose names were missing from the Winter 1968 roster is indicated by the following passage taken from a letter written by George Agree and published in the January/ February 1978 issue of Working Papers, a publication of the Cambridge, 3- 1 Institute for Policy Studiesr Massachusetts, affiliate of the radica in answer to an article in the Summer 1976 issue of the magazine which apparently cast him in an unflattering light:

* * * Indeed, it is well understood there /on Capitol Hill/ that I resigned from the NCEC in 1966 precisely because I did not want to be implicated even indirectly in profit-making use of entree gained as-a result of public contributions -- a fact that was reported in the national press. (Hannah Arendt, Stephen Currier, Mark de Wolfe Howe, Archibald MacLeish, and Bishop James Pike resigned at the same time for the same reason.)

NCEC letterheads dated June 1972, August 1973,, and April 1974 continued to list Scheuer as Chairman, Commager and Donahue as Vice Chairmen, and Levy as Secretary, along with Hemenway as National Director. As ofJune 1972, de Saint Phalle was still carried as Treasurer, but as of August 1973 and April 1974, the treasurer was Eileen Kazmierski. On the 1973 and 1974 letterheads, Susan B. King was listed as Washington Director; however, a leaflet attached to the 1974 letter does not carry King's name, listing instead one V. Marie Bass as Washington Assistant. (It is noted that the March 1978 issue of The Washington Mo thly lists Susan B. King as a recent ap- pointment to membership on the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the Carter Administration. 'According to this source, King, prior to her appointment to the CPSC, "was the special assistant to the chair- man of the Federal Election Commission" and had also served as "vice president of the Center for Public Financing of-Elections and Washing- ton director of" NCEC.)

NCEC's membership as of June 1972 included the following, in addition to the officers already cited:

Harry Ashmore Isidore Lipschutz George Backer Joseph P. McMurray George Biddle James Michener Stimson Bullitt Francis P. Miller Robert B. Choate Hans J. Morgenthau Joan K. Davidson Stewart R. Mott Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr. George E. Outland Paul W. Douglas Laughlin Phillips Joan Pyle Dufault George D. Pratt, Jr. Ruth P. Field Francis B. Sayre, Jr. Thomas K. Finletter David E. Scoll Paul Foley Telford Taylor Robert B. Gimbel David B. Truman Alan Green Barbara Tuchman Alvin H. Hansen Gerhard P. Van Arkel Orin Lehman George Wald

Of those listed as members of NCEC as of June 1972, the following represented additions made since the Winter 1968 listing: Choate, Davidson, Douglas, Dufault, Field, Finletter, Gimbel, Lehman, McMurray, Michener, Mott, Truman,, Tuchman,, and Wald. The 1973 and 1974 letter- heads ref lect the same membership with only minor exceptions. With the addition of Kazmierski as Treasurer, de Saint Phalle was listed in the member category only; also, the names of Susan M. Lee (carried in 1973 as "Susan B. Lee") and Eugene Meyer III were added, while those of Dickinson and Biddle were dropped as of August 1973 and April 1974, respectively.


A "Winter, 1976" NCEC mailing signed jointly by Senator Walter F. Mondale and historian Barbara W. Tuchman reflected further changes in the organization's membership, along with basic continuity in its lead- ership. Scheuer, Commager, Donahue, Levy, and Hemenway were still listed, respectively, as Chai=anr Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Na- tional Director; and V. Marie Bass, previously listed as Washington Assistant, was now carried as Washington Director. Eileen Kazmierski was not listed as Treasurer; however, the individual so designated, Eileen K. Fischer, is the same person, a fact demonstrated in a letter dated May 17, 1977, on the NCEC letterhead, written to the Staff Director of the Federal Election Commission and signed by "Eileen M. Kazmierski (Fischer) Treasurer."

NCEC members listed in this mailing includ ed many carried on the letterhead of April 1974: Ashmore, Bull.itt, Choate, Davidson, de Saint Phalle, Dufault, Field, Finletter, Foley, Gimbel, Lee, Lehmant Meyer, Michener, Miller, Morgenthau, Mott, Outland, Phillips, Pratt, Sayre, Scoll, Taylor, Truman, Tuchman, Van Arkel, and Wald. Those whose names were no longer listed included Backer, Douglas, Green, Hansen, Lipschutz, and McMurray. There were but two additions: Dominick Etcheverry and Cynthia Harris.


The most recent NCEC mailing used in preparation of this study was disseminated by the organization during 1977. The document is undated except for a letter dated "Fall, 1977" and signed by Mrs. Jane Hart, wife of-the late Senator Philip Hart of Michigan, described by Mrs. Hart as "an ardent supporter of the National Committee for an Effec- tive Congress" during the 18 years he served in the U.S. Senate. Again, certain changes were evident. V. Marie Bass was no longer designated Washington Director, having been succeeded by Mark Gersh; and George D. Pratt, Jr., and David E. Scoll were no longer included in the list of members. of the 35 people listed as members of NCEC, eight had not been listed previously. The complete roster of officers and members of NCEC as carried on this document follows:

Sidney H. Scheuer, Chairman Henry Steele Commager, Vice Chairman George R. Donahue, Vice Chairman S. Jay Levy, Secretary Eileen K..Fischer, Treasurer Russell D. Hemenwayp National Director Mark Gershr Washington Director

Harry Ashmore Eugene Meyer III Erni S. Berkley James Michener Stimson Bullitt Francis P. Miller Robert B. Choate Hans J. Morgenthau Joan K. Davidson Stewart R. Mott Thibaut de Saint Phalle George E. Outland Joan Pyle Dufault Laughlin Phillips

Dominick Etcheverry Jane Pratt Ruth P. Field Gary Ratner Thomas K. Finletter Fr-a-incis- -B.._-Sayre, Jr. Paul Foley Thomas Scheuer Robert B. Gimbel John J. B. Shea Cynthia Harris Telford Taylor Jane Hart David B. Truman Carol W. Haussamen Barbara Tuchman Dennis Heffernan Gerhard P. Van Arkel Susan M. Lee George Wald Orin Lehman

Of those listed, Berkley, Hart, Haussamen, Heffernan, Jane Pratt, Ratner, Thomas Scheuer, and Shea had been added since the Winter 1976 listing cited earlier. Also, certain additional NCEC staff personnel have been listed in documents filed by the organization with the Fed- eral Election Commission during the latter part of 1977 and early in 1978. For example, an October 31, 1977, NCEC letterhead addressed to Jon W. Plebani, Administrative Assistant to Representative Allen E. Ertel of Pennsylvania, a copy of which is inFEC files, lists Robert Beckel as NCEC National Program Director and Irvin Larner as Chairman of the organization's Finance/Advisory Committee, while NCEC's itemized expenditures-statement for the fourth quarter of 1977 as filed with the FEC and dated January 27, 1978, includes-sums of money paid to Mark Gersh as NCEC Comptroller and James E. Byron as Research Direc- tor.


NCEC's "Statement of Organization For a Political Committee,," dated November 17, 1977, signed and dated by Eileen K. Fischer as NCEC Treasurer on December 7, 1977, and stamped "Received" by the Federal Election Commission on December 12, 1977, also lists addi- tional staff personnel not named in documents already cited in this study. Along with Hemenway and Fischer, who are listed as National Director and Treasurer, respectively, Marvin Kislak and Michael A. Fernandez are designated Assistant Treasurers. The addresses given are those of offices maintained by NCEC in New York City and Washing- ton, D.C. Attached to this form is a list, presumably complete, of NCEC's "FINANCE/ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS," as follows:

Irvin Larner Peter Kontos Atlantis, Florida Atlanta, Georgia

Barbara Blum Stewart Mott Atlanta, Georgia New York, New York

John Chrystal Gary P. Ratner Coons Rapids, Iowa Couzens Distribution Systems Hodgkins, Illinois Mark B. Dayton Minneapolis,. Minnesota Theodore Roosevelt IV Brooklyn.Heights, New York


Christopher Dewey Mr. & Mrs. Stanley Salett Old Wick, New Jersey Columbia, Maryland


Robert Dubinsky John C. Sawhill Washington, D.C. President, New York University New York, New York Sophie Engelhard Boston, Massachusetts Herbert Simon Indianapolis, Indiana George Fonyo St. Louis, Missouri Ms. Babs Sirak Columbus, Ohio Douglas Goldman San Francisco, California Ted Thomte Thomte & Co., Inc. William P. Graham Boston, Massachusetts Washington Professional Group Washington, D.C. Earl P. Willens Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Dennis B. Heffernan Savitch Washington, D.C. California

Burton Joseph Executive Director Playboy Foundation Chicago, Illinois


As one might expect, the membership of the National Committee for an Effective Congress interlocks with that of other organizations of a similar bent. Also, NCEC-affiliated people have moved on to government positions, as in 1965 when NCEC member Harry Louis Selden resigned from the organization to assume a position with the United States Office of Education. The employment of former NCEC Washington Director Susan B. King by both the Federal Election Commission and, more recently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has already been noted. NCEC Finance/Advisory Committee member Barbara Blum, reportedly a confidante of President Carter, currently serves as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and in November 1977, it was reported that Mark Gersh, NCEC's most recent Washington Director, was joining the Federal Election Commission as an auditor.

NCEC's members over the years have been drawn from a fairly wide spectrum of professional life. Several have had histories of respon- sible government service, a number have been prominent executives, and still others have been people of standing in the academic com- munity. As is so often true of such liberal groups, NCEC has also enjoyed the support of a number of men and women with ties to several of the nation's great tax-exempt charitable foundations. A brief glance at several of NCEC's current members and officials is perhaps illustrative at this point.

NCEC member Harry Ashmore, for example, has a long history of achievement as an editor and as a foundation executive. For many years the executive editor of the Little Rock, Arkansas, Gazette Ashmore worked in the 1955-1956 Presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson. From 1960 through 1963, he served as editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Since 1959, he has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study 'of Democratic Institutions, one of the nation's premier left-liberal intellectual centers; And since 1954, he has been on the Board of Directors of the Fund for the Republic. Both the Center and the Fund are creatures of the Ford Foundation. Ashmore, since 1970, has also been Vice Chairman of the Advisory Coun- cil of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Robert B. Choate, described in the 39th edition of Who's Who in America as "civic worker, publisher," is a professional civil engineer who has also been a publisher and an officer in a real estate invest- ment firm. He has been a consultant to President Kennedy's National Service Corporation (1962); the Citizens' Crusade Against Poverty (1967-1968); the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1969); and the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare (1970). In 1969, he served on the administrative staff of the White House Con- ference on Food, Nutrition, and Health. He also served during 1963 as a member of the President's Committee on Juvenile Delinquency. In '1973, Choate was a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's pres- tigious Wharton School of Finance. Who's Who lists him as having been a "bd. mem." of NCEC since 1966, although NCEC's literature as dissemi- nated in the Winter 1968 mailing failed to name Choate as either mem- ber or official of the organization.

Thomas K. Finletter, a member of NCEC since at least 1972, is an attorney and former ambassador, in addition to being the author of several books on such subjects as foreign policy and corporate reor- ganization. His government service included a position as Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (1941-1944); consultant to the United States delegation to the United Nations Conference on Interna- tional Organization, San Francisco, California (May 1945); chairman of. the President's Air Policy Commission (1947-1948); Minister in Charge, Economic Cooperation Administration Mission to the United .Kingdom (1948-1949); Secretary of the Air Force (1950-1953); and U.S. -i- th"' Ambass dor- -t'o-' -the N'-o-r--- Atlantic Treaty Organization (1961-1965). Like many other members of the nation's liberal foreign policy com- munity, Finletter is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Francis P. Miller, kike Thomas ' -K.- F'inl-etter, ha.s..Also -been . affiliated with both the National Committee for an Effective Congress and the Council on Foreign Relations. During 1934 and 1935, he served as a field secretary for the Foreign Policy Association, another or- ganization that, like the CFR, has figured prominently in the foreign policy establishment. Miller served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State from 1950 through 1952 and as a Special Assis- tant for Educational and Cultural Affairs from 1961 through 1965. A member of the board of Freedom House since 1958, he has also been a member of the board of the Southern Regional Council since 1959. From 1938 through 1941, he served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates;.he also ran for elective office in 1949 and 1952. Presently lis@ed in Who's Who as a retired government official, Miller has served also as President of the Virginia Council of Churches (1957-1959) and as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (1954-1961).

Telford Taylor, a member of NCEC at least since March 1953, is a writer and lawyer who, like other NCEC members cited, has seen con- siderable government service. During 1933 and 1934, for example, he worked as Assistant Solicitor-in the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also served as a senior attorney with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1934-1935); Associate Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce (1935-1939); Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the United States (1939-1940); General Counsel, Federal Communications Commission (1940-1942); and as a prosecutor at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials following World War II. He is the author of several books, including Grand Inquest, regarded as an attack on Congressional investigations--o-f -subversive activity.

NCEC member David B. Truman, president of Mount Holyoke College since 1969, served with the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1942 through 1944; in 1945 and 1946, he was on the staff of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in the Pacific. The author of several volumes on the governmental process, he served from 1959 through 1971 as a member of the Board of Directors of the Social Science Research Council. Like fellow NCEC members Finletter, Miller, and Morgenthau, Truman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; he is also a past president of the American Political Science Association and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sidney H. Scheuer, one of the most influential of all NCEC members since the organization's inception (he is characterized in Who's Who as "founder Nat. Com. For Effective Congress, 1948"), is an rn-ternational trade executive. A senior partner in Scheuer and Company in New York City since 1930, he is also involved in Textures International, Scheuer Associates, Scheuer Consultants, and other firms. He has been a speaker and discussion leader for seminars on international relations and East-West trade at such institutions as Johns Hopkins, New York University, and Columbia University. In 1963, he served as a delegate to the White House Conference on Export Ex- pansion. Scheuer is prominently identified with both the Ethical Culture Society of New York, for which he has been both a trustee and past president, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, of which he has been the treasurer.


Scheuer and Truman are also illustrative of another pattern which exists to a certain extent among NCEC's members: an interlocking relationship with several components of the nation's tax-exempt founda- tion complex. Scheuer, for example, is listed in the most recent edition of the authoritative Foundation Directory as President and Treasurer of the Scheuer Family -Foundation, Inc., in New York City. This foundation, according to the Directory, had assets of $5,552,986 for the-year ended November 30, 1975. Truman, on the other hand, serves as a trustee for two foundations, the Russell Sage Foundation and the Twentieth Century Fund, Inc., both in New York City. The Russell Sage Foundation reported assets of $36,125,285 for the year ended September 30, 1975, while the Twentieth Century Fund reported, for the year ended June 30, 1976, assets of $28,000.000.

Similarly, Stimson Bullitt serves as Secretary-Treasurer of the Bullitt Foundation in Seattle, Washington (assets amounting to $1,038,974 for the year ended November 30, 1975). while Joan K. Davidson is Vice President of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, Inc., of New York (assets totaling $23,043,956 for the year ended November 30, 1975). Ruth P. Field serves as Chairman and as a director of the Field Foundation, Inc.., also located in New York City; this founda- tion reported assets of $16,675,362 for the year ended September 30, 1975. Another NCEC member, Eugene Meyer III, is a director of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, which maintains offices in Washington, D.C., and which claimed assets for the year ended'Decem- ber 31, 1975, amounting t6 $18,257,903.


The primary focus of NCEC's activities since its inception in 1948 has been the election of what it regards as qualified liberal candidates for the U.S. Congress. This has involved the raising and allocation of money and a number of other, related services such as assistance with media publicity and research. The March 6, 1953, Congressional Quarterly articler for exampler included the following summary of NCEC activities as of that time:

The Committee has supported "a bipartisan slate of can- didates", including such Republicans as George Marshall (when he ran against Democratic Sen. Pat McCarran in Nevada), Sens. Charles W. Tob2Z (N.H.), Ralph E. Flanders (Vt.), John Sherman Cooper (Ky-), and Frederick G. Payne (Maine). On the Democratic side, it has backed former Sens. William Benton (Conn.), Joseph C. O'Mahoney (Wyo.)fI.Blair Mo2g2 (Wir"ch.) and others.

Althogether, Committee officials say, it has helped elect 14 Democrats and eight Republicans.

The Committee has also been active along other lines. In 1949 it sponsored two broadcasts by Harold Ickes in New York, which reportedly were said by ex-President Truman to have been responsible for Sen. Herbert H. Lehman's (D) victory over John Foster Dulles in the Senatorial race. In 1952 the group underwrote the Harvard Civil Liberties Appeal, signed by three Harvard professors (Mark De Howe /sic/, Archibald MacLeish and Arthur M. Schlesinger) on behalf oF tHe candidacies of Benton, Gov. Henry F. Schricker (Ind.) and Thomas E. Fairchild (Wis.). /Emphasis in original./

The same article stated that "officials of the organization are working to 'encourage new realism in dealing with Congress on liberal issues I" and quoted an unnamed NCEC "official" as saying that "Where foreign lobbies have tried to manipulate Congress, the Committee has alerted certain Congressmen and given them specific material as ammu- nition." In addition, according to the.CQ article,

The Committee says it has had a role in "instigating and following through on" such Congressional action as pub- lication of the record of the Nuremburg trials, and that it stimulated the 1951 China Lobby debate. (CQ Almanac, Vol. VII, p. 251.)

While NCEC. does not regard itself as a lobbying group, it did devote considerable energy during 1954 to the controversy surrounding the Senate vote to censure the late Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin. Scheuer Is statement to the Senate Special Committee in 1956 included the following passage on this facet of the organization's efforts: We do not consider ourselves a lobby. The only item of legislation before either House in connection with which we have ever been active, was the resolution of censure of Senator McCarthy. At that time we received numerous requests from Members of Congress and the press to provide such background and information as we might have. We were also asked to com- pile material and organize research data in such a way that it could be readily understood. To this end we retained both volunteer and paid counsel and provided such material as was requested. At that time we also indicated in one issue of our newsletter, Congressional Reporte that mail to members of the Senate might be desirable, and we provided facilities in connection with a telegram to the Members of the Senate by 23 prominent Americans.

The telegram about which Scheuer spoke had been sent to every member of the Senate on July 23, 1954, and was characterized in the July 1, 1967, Human Events article as "asking for support of measures which would stifle congressional investigations of communism." The telegram, according to the July 30, 1954, issue of the Congressional Record, was signed by the following people:

Douglas M. Black Fred Lazarus, Jr. Cass Canfield J. P. Marquand Will Clayton Ralph McGill John Cowles Reinhold Niebuhr L. W. Douglas J. R. Parten Samuel Goldwyn Erwin N. Griswold Frederick D. Patterson Albert J. Hayes Howard C. Paterson Paul Helms Walter Reuther Paul Hoffman Spyros P. Skouras Palmer Hoyt Henry M. Wriston Chester J. Laroche J. D. Zellerbach

It is noted that Hoffman, in addition to signing the above-cited telegram, reportedly contributed approximately $1,000 to NCEC to help pay the legal fees in conjunction with the preparation of the specifi- cations included in the resolution of censure introduced by Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont. While Scheuer claimed during his 1956 testimony before the Senate Special Committee that NCEC had not origi- nated the censure idea, NCEC obviously devoted a considerable amount of both time and money to the effort. The Human Events account stated that Chicago Tribune columnist Willard Edwards esUIR-ated "that NCEC spent more than $57',_000 in" this campaign, but, according to an arti- cle published in Our Sunday Visitor on December 16, 1958, and report- edly based on a report filed by NCEC under requirements of the Cor- rupt Practices Act, NCEC actually "contributed a total of $73,372 to the censure of the late Senator McCarthy." At all events, NCEC clearly claims a major share of the credit for bringing the censure resolu- tion to fruition, as shown by the following passage taken from the organization's Winter 1976 mailing:

The year is 1952: The radical right is in its heyday. Senator Joseph McCarthy and his anti-communist crusade is /sic/ in high gear. NCEC decides something-must be-done. WorkiNg Uehind the scenes with NCEC-backed- Senators, the Committee for an Effec- tive Congress helped engineer his censure. on December 2, 1954, the Senate votes 67-22 to censure McCarthy.

The mailing then goes on to quote a statement by the Senator him- self that "The NCEC masterminded the censure of Joe McCarthy." The intensity with which the NCEC viewed the whole McCarthy controversy may perhaps best be gauged by reading the following quotation attri- buted to NCEC National Director Russell Hemenway in an article pub- lished in the March 24, 1971, editions of the Washington Post:

* * * We put the genie back in the bottle. We fought him and everything he stood for and we won. How we were cowed by this man who was obviously psychopathic, and al- most destroyed by him.

NCEC has summarized its other accomplishments through the years in several of its mailings, as, for example, in this extract from a leaflet disseminated as part of the organization's Winter 1968 mailing:

NCEC's accomplishments are visible in its election record, the most successful of any organized campaign committee in American politics; in the long struggle against McCarthyism; in helping to found and develop the Democratic Study Group, the influential group of liberal Democrats who ended the bottleneck of vital legislation in the House Rules Committee; in its role as liaison between members of both parties who authored the Civil Rights Act; and in the research facilities it has provided to Congress.

NCEC concerned itself actively with opposition to the war in Vietnam and supported candidates who shared this opposition. In the Winter 1968 letter, for example, Tuchman and Commager wrote of "the peril of the expanding military venture in Vietnam" and warned of what they called "the Right Wing and War Hawk elements of both parties." In the June 1972 letter, they wrote of "ill-conceived, wasteful, dan- gerous ventures" and stated that "Congress offers our only hope for cutting off funds for the war machine." A leaflet circulated with the same letter spoke again of "the Committee's central role" in, for example, "founding the liberal House Democratic Study Group" and "in the continuing fight to reduce disproportionate military influence."

NCEC's Winter 1976 mailing sheds further light on the specifics of the organization's involvement in opposition to the war in Vietnam and to those political leaders identified with it:

The year is 1968: The nation is torn asunder by the war in Vietnam. The NCEC says it must stop. NCEC leaders meet with Eugene McCarthy to urge him to challenge President I@Lyndon B./ Johnson for the Democratic nomination. The NCEC withdraws i@_ts support sadly and reluctantly from liberals who still support the war, and throws its weight behind anti-war candidates. Then, it follows by joining a lobby to cut off funds for the war effort.

According tothe leaflet circulated with the June 1972 letter, NCEC also "initiated legislation-to reduce campaign broadcast spend- ing" and, when it was vetoed by President Nixon in 1970, "became the prime mover for committed bipartisan reform action in 1971-72." The leaflet continued by saying that in "January we saw our goal realized with the passage of" the Federal Elections Campaign Act, described as "the first election reform bill in half a century."

NCEC's August 1973 and April 1974 mailings spoke urgently of the Watergate and Nixon impeachment issues. The 1974 letter spoke ap- provingly of how "more and more individual Congressmen are talking openly about grasping the nettle of impeachment." The 1973 letter also spoke of "White House obstruction" of Congress through the veto power and stated that "We must reelect the /Alan/ Cranstons, /Richard/ Schweikers, /Adlai/ Stevensons, /Charles/ b9thii7ses, and /FraRk/ Churches" to creaEe a "real progressive majority to defea-t Whi:Ee House obstruction." NCEC was, according to the April 1974 letter, "encour- aging individual representatives to resolve the impeachment impasse." In its Winter 1976 mailing, NCEC later spoke of 1974 as follows:

* * * Richard Nixon clings determinedly to power. The NCEC believes his impeachment is necessary for the health of the nation. The people must decide. The NCEC develops a new campaign technique, a consortium of political consultants to help any candidate who needs and wants such help. In six special elections before Nixon's impeachment hearings, NCEC-backed candidates win.. In 49 general election con- tests after the hearings, 35 NCEC-supported candidates are voted into Congress.

As a result of the 1974 elections, according to the Winter 1976 Mondale-Tuchman letter, more than "70 progressive new members of Con- gress" were elected, "resolved to act in the national interest." The national interest, in their view, meant that

Congress blocked reentry into Vietnam, halted American inter- vention in Angola, cancelled the oil depletion allowance, stopped the geometric expansion of the military budget, and brought about many long overdue reforms in the Congress. * * * *

NCEC's Winter 1976 mailing included a tabulation of votes taken by Congress from 1954 through 1977 which are viewed by the committee as indicia of progress. This tabulation is instructivep both from the standpoint of its indication of NCEC's ideological perspective and from the standpoint of the organization's impact on the formation of public policy by the nation's elected.representatives. So that the reader may gain the fullest appreciation of these issues, the NCEC accounting, as it appears in the committee's own literature, is set forth at this point in its entirety:


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4) -5 Ln Ln Ln %a kD %o E-i r- r- r- r- r- r.- a% a% ON 0% (A ON M a) r-f r-I r-I .0 E-1 The foregoing summaries of NCEC positions on certain key legisla- tive questions are cited to illustrate what is clearly one of NCEC's principal activities: the influencing, through the election of liberal Congressional candidates, of the formation of national public policy. While NCEC does not describe itself as a lobbying organiza- tion as that term is generally construed, it is nevertheless true that its support for key candidates for the House and Senate, along with its other related activities, has resulted in a degree of success that would probably be the envy of many of those who do operate on a full-time basis as declared lobbyists.


It has already been demonstrated that NCEC professes great con- cern over the activities of those it regards as "extremists" (or, as NCEC memberJaneHart expressed it in her Fall 1977 letter, "the right wing lobby"). NCEC's Winter 1976 mailing was devoted in large measure to an attack on the conservative Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, while its mailing in the Fall of 1977 stressed a presumed threat from a number of conservative political action organizations, most notably Governor Ronald Reagan's Citizens for the Republic. This emphasis has been a fairly consistent one throughout NCEC's existence. To cite an ea


William Poole
William Poole

Senior Editor