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Is it also not true that under the arrangement, the amount of money remaining after deducting from the profits the drawing accounts, is to be distributed 90 percent to Mr. Strobel and 10 percent to Mr. Salzman?

Mr. STROBEL. That is correct.

Mr. FINE. Mr. Chairman, before you ask any further questions I want to clarify something you have just stated in your opening remarks. I would like very much to have you, Mr. Robb, if you will, provide this committee with your contentions as to this alleged violation of section 283 of title 18 of the United States Code, insofar as it relates to that claim which was prosecuted before the Corps of Engineers. I am not too sure I agree with the chairman there was a violation of the section.

The CHAIRMAN. I said there may be.
Mr. FINE. Yes, you said there may be.
Mr. KEATING. The chairman said it was not in his opinion-
The CHAIRMAN. This was a matter before the Corps of Engineers.

Mr. ROBB. I should be glad to do that. I haven't given it much study up to now. If the statutes were construed to prohibit what Mr. Strobel did, I take it it would mean that if a partner in a firm had a claim for back income taxes or for an income-tax refund and he then took a Government job, he could not make a claim for that income tax refund after he came to Washington, which I think would be a rather peculiar result. I think the statute has been construed, sir, to mean that a person may not prosecute a claim as an agent or attorney for some other individual or entity not for himself. In this case this claim was Mr. Strobel's own claim, his partnership claim.

The CHAIRMAN. I think your interpretation may be sound, but many minds may differ on that. Let's not get into legal arguments. We would be very glad to get your version of this, Mr. Robb. I think it might be very enligtening to the committee. We will be glad to have it. (The following letter was received from Mr. Robb:)

WASHINGTON, D. C., November 9, 1955. Hon. EMANUEL CELLER, Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary,

Old House Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. CELLER: Pursuant to the request of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, I submit herewith my opinion with respect to the possible application of section 283 of title 18 United States Code Annotated to the case of Hon. Peter A. Strobel.

Section 283 of title 18, United States Code Annotated provides as follows:

"Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or of the Senate or House of Representatives, acts as an agent or attorney for prosecuting any claim against the United States, or aids or assists in the prosecution or support of any such claim otherwise than in the proper discharge of his official duties, or receives any gratuity, or any share of or interest in any such claim in consideration of assistance in the prosecution of such claim, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

After his employment by the Government, Mr. Strobel presented to the Corps of Engineers, on behalf of the partnership of Strobel & Salzman, a claim arising from the performance of a contract between the firm and the Corps of Engineers. This contract had been completely performed before Mr. Strobel took office. Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the presentation of this claim by Mr. Strobel violated section 283 of title 18, United States Code Annotated. I do not agree.

It must be conceded that if the claim had been made on behalf of Mr. Strobel alone his action in presenting it would have been entirely legal. Thus, it has been held that there is in the statutes no general provision forbidding an officer of the executive branch of the Government to contract directly with the Government as a principal, in matters separate from his office and in no way connected with his official duties (14 Op. Atty. Gen. 483). This is also the opinion of the Acting Comptroller General of the United States who on September 27, 1955, advised you (tr. 614, 615):

“There are, of course, a number of prohibitory statutes dealing with Government officials and Government contracts which are designed to prevent influence peddling and conflicts between the self-interest of the employee and the interests of the Government. Section 99, title 5, of the United States Code prohibits employees of the Government from acting as agents for or aiding in the prosecution of claims against the Government. Sections 281 and 283, title 18, United States Code, also prohibit such activities under penalty of fine and imprisonment. These statutes, however, are directed against influence peddling or the improper use of knowledge gained in an official capacity. They do not prohibit dealings between the Government and its employees as principals in their own behalf, provided, of course, there is no conflict of interest between the employee's position as contractor and his official position.” [Emphasis added.]

In short, it seems plain that section 283 was intended only to prevent a Gov. ernment official from representing some other individual as an attorney or agent in the prosecution of a claim before a Government agency. The presentation of a claim on behalf of an officer himself is not condemned.

I do not believe that Mr. Strobel's situation was changed by the fact that his partner had an interest in the claim presented, for in any event Mr. Strobel in presenting the claim acted as a principal and not as a agent. In other words, Mr. Strobel as a principal in the engineering firm was making a claim as much for himself as for his partner Mr. Salzman. The situation of course might have been different had the firm of Strobel and Salzman been a corporation, for Mr. Strobel then would have been acting as an agent of the corporation, an entity separate and distinct from himself.

To hold that the presentation of this claim constituted a violation of section 283 of title 18 United States Code Annotated would require a loose interpretation of a criminal statute and would result in anomalous consequences. For example, such an interpretation would mean that a Government employee could not present to the Internal Revenue Service a claim for a refund of taxes overpaid by his law firm prior to his entry into Government service. Such a result could not have been intended by the Congress. I respectfully request that this letter be made a part of the record. Very sincerely,

ROGER ROBB. Mr. FINE. I want to clarify something that was bothering me, Mr. Chairman. In the first paragraph of your opening statement you used the words—you were referring to the propriety of Mr. Strobel's "official conduct in recommending to your subordinate that he award an architectural contract to a very active client of your firm, namely, Serge Petroff.” If I understood the record of the last hearing, Mr. Strobel recommended Mr. Petroff only because there was the need for rush in the fixing up of the building on Columbus Avenue, and that Mr. Petroff, like all other architects, would be doing the Government a favor and not that it was a gain to Mr. Petroff personally.

The CHAIRMAN. There is nothing in the record to show that Mr. Petroff was doing the Government a favor.

Mr. FINE. I asked the question of Mr. Strobel, and Mr. Strobel answered in the affirmative.

Mr. ROBB. That is correct.

Mr. STROBEL. I answered it this way. It would not be a favor to me, it would be a favor to the United States Government, assuring that we got out of a very tough situation.

Mr. KEATING. I would like to ask a question or two at this point, Mr. Chairman. The Washington Post has written an editorial this morn

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ing based upon the evidence to date and before the hearings are closed in which they refer to three incidents recently in the news which they say indicate official laxness or immorality. I think they may have a good deal to their point as to 2 of the 3. I am referring now to the matter before us. I want to be sure that I have this testimony correctly to date which is the basis upon which this editorial was written. It refers to the remarkable obtuseness of Public Buildings Commissioner Peter A. Strobel in failing to see any conflict of interest between his Federal duties and his continued 90-percent interest in the New York consulting firm bearing his name.

In the last administration, as the chairman knows, there was no one more vociferous about corruption, about conflict of interest, about matters that were not only illegal, but matters which bore on the question of morality, which were unethical, and my position is just exactly the same in this administration. However, in individual cases, when a particular person is charged, it certainly is the duty of this committee, which I know the chairman shares, to be sure that any person is fairly dealt with and that no conclusions are drawn which are unwarranted. In discussing Mr. Strobel's testimony this statement is made:

Mr. Strobel has testified that he did work for the New York firm and helped several of its clients to obtain contracts after he took his Federal post.

That is the basis of their claim of lack of morality.

Now, am I in error that the only case where there is even any evidence that you, Mr. Strobel, helped any client to obtain contracts was in the Petroff case?

Mr. STROBEL. That is correct.

Mr. KEATING. The other case of an architect, some Evans, Chapman firm was something that you didn't even know was going on. You had no hand in that whatever and the contract was let by a subordinate.

Mr. STROBEL. That is correct.

Mr. KEATING. In other words, the use of "several” is erroneous in the statement I read.

Mr. STROBEL. That is right.

Mr. KEATING. There is only one instance, that of Mr. Petroff, and that is subject to the explanation which you have given here.

Mr. STROBEL. That is right.
Mr. KEATING. In that case you did not in any way direct

your subordinate, as he has testified, to employ Mr. Petroff. You simply made the suggestion of his name as one who in your opinion, from experience, would do a satisfactory job in a very limited time.

Mr. STROBEL. That is correct.

Mr. KEATING. In your judgment, it was an unusual situation; am I correct?

Mr. STROBEL. That is correct.

Mr. KEATING. It says that you continued your private activities despite the clear provisions in the standards of conduct of the parent General Services Administration, and then it quotes the statement in that so-called code of ethics or something of the General Services Administration. It says:

Mr. Strobel's insistence that he made his outside connections known to his superiors constitutes an indictment of laxity in General Services Administration and the Department of Justice for permitting the activities to continue.


Now, as regards you personally, when you signed this document, you put down at the bottom this statement to the effect that you were going to retain, that it was understood that you were to retain your other connections, and that you made known to Mr. Mansure, the Administrator of GSA; is that correct?

Mr. STROBEL. That is right.
The CHAIRMAN. When did you sign that document, Mr. Strobel?

Mr. STROBEL. The document referred to must be the one I signed December 27, 1954.

The CHAIRMAN. Was that 1 year after your appointment?
Mr. STROBEL. No, that would be 5 months after.

The CHAIRMAN. Did you get written approval from anybody to engage in these outside activities?

Mr. STROBEL. No. I testified there was no written document pointing out that situation.

Mr. KEATING. It refers to the Department of Justice, indicating by inference that there is an allegation on the part of someone that you have committed a criminal act, because that is the only time that the Department of Justice would come into play here. The chairman has stated publicly that in his opinion this did not constitute a violation of the conflict of interest statute and certainly I agree with that. I think in fairness to you, those things should be brought out. It raises a much bigger question, whether anyone coming into Government employ should give up completely ail outside business connections and interests, dispose of his holdings and get out. That can be done sometimes with regard to a person who only has stock holdings in a company, when it cannot be done by a person situated like you are, being the sparkplug of a business which you hope sometime to return to. Perhaps that is what we must come to in Government in order to divorce Government people entirely from any possible temptation to further their own outside interests as against the interests of the Government. If we do come to that, of course, it is going to result in some deterioration in the caliber of the people working for the Government.

It is going to mean that the only people that will work for the Government are people who are looking for jobs instead of the job seeking the man.

If we are going to do that, obviously the same rule should apply to Members of Congress because the situation is just the same.

We are servants of the Government. There are relatively few Members of Congress who have given up all their law practice, all their cotton, tobacco, and peanut farms, and all their stock in any companies in order to serve as Members of Congress. Perhaps that is what we must come to, because certainly the purity and singleness of interest of anyone serving the Government, whether it be in the executive branch or the legislative branch, must be beyond any question.

I do think those observations are pertinent at this point in the light of the editorial which I refer to.

The CHAIRMAN. As to the Department of Justice, do you know, Mr. Strobel, that on October 4, 1955, this entire matter was referred to the FBI?

Mr. STROBEL. No; that is news to me.
Mr. KEATING. What date?

The CHAIRMAN. October 4, 1955. That is why very likely the Washington Post mentioned the Department of Justice.

Mr. KEATING. Does the Washington Post, like the chairman, have a pipeline to the FBI!

The CHAIRMAN. I don't know. I have no pipeline to the FBI, but I know this was referred.

I think it would be advisable for the gentleman from New York with reference to characterization of the activities of Mr. Strobel to be a little patient and wait until the entire evidence is unfolded.

Mr. FINE. Which gentleman from New York?

The CHAIRMAN. There will be additional evidence this morning concerning more clients.

Mr. KEATING. That is exactly why I brought it out at this point. If the Washington Post was writing editorials based on confidential information given to them by someone else, that is one thing. My mind is completely open. I am not in any way claiming or contending that this witness before us is free from all fault-I don't know what the evidence that the chairman has is going to be. I am basing it upon the evidence to date which is by inference the basis of the editorial which is written here.

Of course, if the Washington Post knows a lot of things that I do not know, that is not in evidence, that is a different story entirely.

The CHAIRMAN. We are not putting the Washington Post on trial.

Mr. KEATING. No. I often agree with their editorials. I am just bringing this out because this is a lead editorial in this morning's paper and I just wondered where they got their statement that he had helped several clients to obtain contracts because the evidence to date doesn't bear that out. It says that he testified he worked for the firm and helped several clients. That is not his testimony to date, and the entire editorial is based upon a misunderstanding of the testimony up to this point. If there are a lot of other cases, that is something entirely different.

Mr. Rodino. Mr. Chairman, may I ask a very pertinent question? The CHAIRMAN. Yes. You have been very patient.

Mr. Rodino. Mr. Strobel, at any time after you added the reservation clause to this code of standards form, were you questioned by your superior as to the propriety of this?

Mr. STROBEL. The question was asked by counsel the other day if I had been requested to furnish around that time a list of the firms, clients, and I think I answered to the best of my recollection that I couldn't remember, but I was asked later, in further answer to your question, I was asked by Mr. Mansure, I would say about some time in late July or early August

Mr. MALETZ. What year, Mr. Strobel ?

Mr. STROBEL. Of 1955—to get the list of clients in, and I did furnish that as fast as I could after that time.

Mr. RODINO. When did you furnish that list ?
Mr. STROBEL. It is dated August 30, 1955.
Mr. RODINO. When did you sign this reservation?
Mr. STROBEL. I signed that December 27, 1954.

Mr. Rodino. Did Mr. Mansure at any time suggest to you that the reservation was not in keeping with the code of ethics?

Mr. STROBEL. No, sir.

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