It begins to look as if the Washington Administration has decided to tone down what has been criticised as a virtual campaign to discredit Charles A. Levine, a despatch from Washington to the New York World states.
When the thirty-year-old self-made millionaire, who hopped into his Bellanca plane unexpectedly and made the flight to Berlin with Clarence Chamberlin, returns to the United States the Department of Justice’s threatened actions against him are to be settled peacefully out of court, according to present signs.
Ever since Levine underbid former Assistant Postmaster General Paul Henderson’s company for the New York-Chicago air mail route and was denied the contract, Administration officials have circulated rumors and reports castings the most serious reflections upon Levine.
Postmaster General New, under whom Henderson served, denied favoritism had been shown Henderson, who is the son-in-law of Representative Martin B. Madden, prominent Administration Republican and Chair man of the House Appropriations Committee. Mr. New impugned Levine’s integrity, and referred to him as having been “mixed up” in war contracts which the Department of Justice was investigating with a view to prosecution.
It now appears after rumors of impending indictments, that what the Department of Justice had under review was a post war contract which Levine made with the War Department to buy shell casings, ammunition and other salvaged materials.
The department contends that Levine obtained more material than his contract called for. Levine’s attorneys insist, on the contrary, that he failed to receive as much as was due him. The department claims run up to approximately half a million. Apparently the only ground for action would be a civil suit to have the courts determine which side is right.
Mr. New made the implied unreliability of Levine the reason for failing to recognize him as the lowest bidder on the air mail contract.
The National Air Transport, Henderson’s company, was thereby declared the winner and received the award. The Postmaster General’s next conflict with Levine was launched within a few hours after the Bellanca had landed.
Mr. New gave notice that Levine had improperly carried air mail bearing stamps cancelled by the Hempstead L. I., Postmaster, on the trans-Atlantic flight. An investigation was threatened, and there were vague intimations of prosecution against Levine for alleged violation of the Postal Laws. Post Office inspectors were said to be trailing the matter down.
For some unexplained reason, after this flurry of reproach, the matter was suddenly dropped. The Post Office Department indicated that Postmaster Fred M. Sealy of Hempstead, had been censured and that was all.
It was noted that President Coolidge in cabling congratulations upon the success of the Bellanea’s flight made no mention of Levine, but addressed his message only to Chamberlin, this exception was not made by New York officials, or by various others in public life who sent congratulations.
The next evidence of what appeared to be Washington prejudice against Levine was the Administration’s series of mysterious conferences with Col. Lindbergh, who was summoned here from St. Louis to go into session with officials of the Henderson concern.
The interpretation placed upon these meetings was that the National Air Transport, aided by Administration officials, sought to sign up Col. Lindbergh for an ambitious commercial aviation venture which would get a head start on the one Levine had announced he intended to form upon his return.
Levine has been a fairly steady target. So much so that it was beginning to have political implications, for some of his friends have sensed more of racial prejudice than of impartial dealing in the treatment accorded him at Washington.