The FTC’s Gangs

In 1967, with regional offices in large population centers such as Boston, New York City, Houston, and Atlanta, why would the FTC create a new office in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (population 28,000)?

The Nader Report in 1969 critiqued the FTC’s cronyism, particularly with political forces from Tennessee. The Yale and Harvard students on the Nader team highlighted that applicants from the “mediocre” University of Tennessee were being hired at greater rates than law students from elite eastern universities. Commissioner Philip Elman saw too much political cronyism, rewarding individuals from the South: “There was a Tennessee gang in the commission, a Texas gang, a North Carolina gang…”[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][1]

The Oak Ridge office was a political favor from then Chairman Paul Rand Dixon to the leader of the House committee that made appropriations for the FTC, also a Tennessean. This allowed a local county judge to double his salary and stay close to home. The Nader students called the office over a dozen times, but could not get anyone to answer.

An award winning investigative journalist for the Wall Street Journal, Jerry Landauer, wrote:

The so-called Tennessee gang dominates the FTC today no less than in the heyday of Tennessee Democrat Kenneth McKellar, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee who constantly pestered President Franklin Roosevelt for jobs. FDR obligingly let the Senator install friends at the FTC, presumably because the damage would be minimal. After Estes Kefauver succeeded Mr. McKellar in the Senate, Tennessee’s hold hardened; the big favor Tennessean Kefauver wrangled form President Kennedy was Tennessean Dixon’s appointment as FTC Chairman.

The Oak Ridge office was closed by 1976.

[1] Norman I. Silber, With All Deliberate Speed, The Life of Philip Elman (2004).[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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