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Senate resolution of February 22, 1897, directing the Secretary of Agriculture
to furnish information regarding the dismissal of certain persons from the
C'ESTIMONY TAKEN BY A SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE AND RETRENCHMENT OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN RELATION TO THE DISMISSAL OF CERTAIN EMPLOYEES OF THE BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY AT SOUTH OMAHA, NEBR.
Omaha, Nebr., October 21, 1897. The subcommittee met at 10 o'clock a. m. The CHAIRMAN (Senator PRITCHARD). This inquiry is to be pur. sued by direction of a resolution adopted by the Senate March 23, 1897, vhich is as follows:
"Resolved, That the Committee on Civil Service and Retrenchment be, and they are hereby, directed to examine and report to the Senate f Dr. W. S. White, William Holmes, John Zeller, Mary A. Dalton, and Mary Flynn, or any of them, were dismissed from their positions as nicroscopists in the Bureau of Animal Industry at South Omaha, in the State of Nebraska, and if so, for what reason or reasons; and if for a political reason or reasons, whether the dismissal was justified under he law governing the civil service, and what authority or jurisdiction he Civil Service Commissioners have to correct such an abuse of power, ind if they have taken any steps to do so, and whether they have the necessary force and means at their disposal to make a thorough and prompt investigation.
" And, further, to examine the operation of the law creating the Civil service Commission, and report whether the same should be continued, imended, or repealed."
Subsequently, on the 5th of April, 1897, the following resolution was igreed to by the Senate:
" Resolved, That in considering Senate Resolution No. 28 the Commitee on Civil Service and Retrenchment shall have power to send for versons and papers, to administer oaths, and to examine witnesses, inder oath, touching the matters which they are hereby empowered to nvestigate, and may employ a stenographer for said committee; and he necessary and proper expenses incurred in the execution of this order shall be paid out of the contingent fund of the Senate, upon rouchers approved by the chairman of said committee, and said comnittee may sit by subcommittee, or otherwise, during the sessions and iny recess of the Senate, and at such times and places as they may leem expedient." February 17, 1897, the Senate adopted the following resolution: “Resolved, That the United States Civil Service Commissioners be, ind they are hereby, directed to inform the Senate if Mary A. Dalton, William Holmes, Mary Flynn, John Zeller, and Dr. M. Š. White, or iny of them, have been discharged from the Bureau of Animal Indus
try at South Omaha, in the State of Nebaska, from positions held under the classified service of the Governinent, and if so, when and for what reasons; and if they, or any of them have asked or petitioned the Civil Service Commissioners for an investigation of the charges made against them, and if said request or petition has been denied by the Civil Service (ommissioners, and if so, for what reason or reasons the same has been denied; and that the said Civil Service Commissioners be, and they are hereby, directed to accompany their answer to this resolution with full and complete copies of all affidavits, letters, statements, testimony, depositions, reports of examiners, and all other papers or documents in their possession, and in any manner bearing on the subject matter of this resolution."
Under date of February 18, 1897, the Civil Service Commission replied as follows:
UNITED STATES OIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION,
Washington, D. O., February 18, 1897. SIR: In compliance with Senate resolution of February 17, 1897, directing the United States Civil Service Commission “to inform the Senate if Mary A. Dalton, William Holmes, Mary Flynn, John Zeller, and Dr. M. 8. White, or any of them, have been discharged from the Bureau of Animal Industry at South Omaha, in the State of Nebraska, from positions held under the classified service of the Government and if so, when and for what reasons; and if they or any of them have asked or petitioned the Civil Service Commissioners for an investiga tion of the charges made against them; and if said request or petition has been denied by the Civil Service Commissioners, and if so, for what reason or reasons the same has been denied; and that the said Civil Service Commissioners be, and they are hereby, directed to accompany their answer to this resolution with full and complete copies of all afidavits, letters, statements, testimony, depositions, reports of examiners and all other papers and documents in their possession and in any manner bearing on the subject-matter of this resolution," the Commission has the honor to present the following statement:
Paragraph 4 of section 2 of the act of January 16, 1883, provides:
“Said Commission may make investigations concerning the facts, and may report upon all matters touching the enforcement and effects of said rules and regulations, etc. (Referring to rules and regulations for the execution of the civil-service act.)”
Section 3 of civil-service rule 2 provides:
“No person in the executive civil service shall dismiss, or cause to be dismissed, or make any attempt to procure the dismissal of, or in any manner change the official rank or compensation of, any
other per. son therein because of his political or religious opinions or affiliations."
Section 6 of this rule provides:
“In making removals or reductions, or in imposing punishment for delinquency or misconduct, penalties like in character shall be imposed for like offenses; and action thereupon shall be taken irrespective of the political or religious opinions or affiliations of the offenders."
Under the authority of the section of the civil-service act abore referred to, it appears to be the duty of the Commission to investigate any violations of any of the provisions of the civil-service act or of the civil-service rules based upon that act, notably sections 3 and 6 of rule 2 above quoted.
November 16 a representative of the Commission called the Commission's attention to a clipping from the Omaha World-Herald of Sunday. November 15, and suggested an investigation of the statements that
Dr. White, Mr. John Zeller, Miss Dalton, and Miss Flynn had been removed from service in the Bureau of Animal Industry for political reasons. November 27, 1896, a communication was received from Mr. Ed. P. Smith, inclosing two complaints for attention. The complaints were from Miss Mary A. Dalton and Mr. John Zeller, stating that they were removed for “alleged neglect of duty,” and it was their belief that they were discharged for political reasons. An investigation was also requested. November 30 the Commission thanked its representative for the communication received and stated that an inquiry was being made into the facts. On the same date the Commission acknowledged the receipt on November 28 of a letter from Miss Mary Flynn, complaining that she had been discharged for “alleged neglect of duty,” and that she believed her discharge was for political reasons; and she was informed that the matter would have the immediate attention of the Commission. On the same date the newspaper clipping was forwarded to the Secretary of Agriculture for his information, with the request that he return it with any statement which he desired to make. He was also advised that complaints had been received from some persons removed, charging that their removal was solely because they failed to support certain candidates favored by the Secretary of Agriculture at the last election. On the same date Mr. Edward P. Smith was advised that the complaints forwarded by him would have the attention of the Commission. On December 2 the Secretary of Agriculture acknowledged the receipt of the Commissioner's letter of November 30, and in reply informed the Commissioner that he would be very glad to aid in the exposure and punishment of any violation of the civil-service law, and indicated his readiness to afford the Commission every facility for investigating his Department. Upon receipt of this letter Commissioner Procter made a personal call upon the Secretary of Agriculture, who then promised that he would furnish the Commission with a statement and affidavits, showing that the persons referred to were not removed for political reasons. December 7 the Commission received a communication from Mr. 0. G. Eckstein, attorney for H. C. Keeling, in which he advised the Commission that Mr. Keeling had been notified by “eircular letter” of November 5, 1896, of his discharge from the Bureau of Animal Industry, dating from November 15; “reason, service not required.” Without alleging political reasons, Mr. Eckstein demanded an investigation. With this letter was inclosed copy of a letter from Dr. D. E. Salmon, Chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry, which is a part of the Department of Agriculture, in response to the request of Mr. Keeling for charges preferred against him, which stated that his services were no longer required by the Department. December 17 the Commission received a letter from Senator Allen, reciting the circumstances of the removal at South Omaha of the persons already named, and stating that he was informed by those familiar with the facts that the removals were made for political reasons, and asking that prompt steps be taken in the matter. Through oversight this letter was not promptly acknowledged. A full reply was delayed until the Commission could forward to the Senator some substantial result of its investigation of the case. December 19 a letter was received by the Commission from Herdman & Herdman, South Omaha, stating that they had heard nothing further from the Commission in the matter of their protest previously filed,