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Dies Body Asks Perjury Indictment of Silver Shirt Agent; Sabotage Effort Charged

August 24, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Dies Committee today recommended indictment for perjury of Fraser Gardner, Washington “legislative research expert,” who applied to the committee for a job as investigator while allegedly having connections with William Dudley Pelley, head of the Silver Shirts.

Chairman Martin Dies, announcing that the United States District Attorney for the District of Columbia would be asked to act, said that this morning’s session of the committee had revealed “a clear case that the Silver Shirts have undertaken to secure information in advance and to sabotage this investigation.”

Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, New Jersey, said: “I am in favor of going the limit and making an example of him. There has been too much of this going on.” Rep. Voorhis declared: “It is perfectly plain that he is in very close contact with Pelley. His statements are pure subterfuge and merely a dodge. He intended to benefit Pelley and others associated with him.”

Pelley will be called before the committee if he can be found, it was stated.

In February, 1938, Gardner sought a job as investigator. Today he was called before the committee in executive session. A stenographic record of the hearing was later read to an open session of the committee.

In executive session Gardner was asked by Committee Counsel Rhea Whitley if he still wanted the job. He replied affirmatively. He was asked if he had any connection which would prevent him from doing “full duty” and render “impartial service.” He was also asked whether he was connected with any group under investigation, such as the Bund, Pelley’s organization, etc. He declared he was not.

But at the open hearing, after Whitley confronted him with telegrams signed “W.D.” and “W.D.P.” which asked Gardner to render various services he admitted that “they might be from Pelley.” He said he had half a dozen telephone conversations with Pelley this year regarding the Wagner-Rogers refugee bill. He admitted being on the payroll of the Skyland Press, publisher of Pelley’s periodical, Liberation, and confessed having been director of the American Protective League, an anti-Semitic organization.

Gardner, it was disclosed, was recommended to the committee for appointment by high-ranking officials in the Government and by several democratic senators, including Millard E. Tydings of Maryland.

George E. Sullivan, Washington lawyer, told the committee that Gardner came to his office and offered to sell him or any of his clients inside information on the Dies Committee. Gardner, called back to the witness stand, said he had gone to Sullivan, who is an anti-Communist, not to sell information but to work with him in order to get information to be given gratis to the committee. The committee was obviously skeptical of this explanation.

When informed by the committee that he had perjured himself, Gardner told the committee: “As God is my witness and may I never leave this seat if I am not telling the truth. I never was paid by William Dudley Pelley. Mr. Pelley never knew of my seeking a job with the committee.”

The examination of Henry D. Allen, California anti-Semite, will be resumed tomorrow.

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