Fridley page 35

[St. Louis Star-Times, Jan. 18, 1941]

Senator Clark Wants War Department to Explain Payment of Fat Fees to Kansas City Man
Can’t Understand Why the Govt. Went Across State When Local Realty Men Were Available

            WASHINGTON, Jan. 18—Senator Bennett Champ Clark announced today he plans to ask the War Department to explain why a Kansas City contractor and title company were granted “fat fees” in connection with acquisition of the 18,000-acre site at Weldon Spring, St. Charles County, for a TNT plant.
            The Missouri senator assailed as “outrageous” the award by the War Department of contracts to R. Newton McDowell and the Kansas City Title Insurance Co., and also criticized McDowell’s conduct of the land acquisition program. Clark said he has received numerous complaints from farmers and other landowners within the boundaries of the plant site.
            “The War Department’s methods of procurement, as illustrated in the Weldon Spring case, merit scrutiny,” Clark said, “particularly when the cost-plus negotiated contracts were the worst scandal in the last war.
            “There is a committee at the War Department now (Clark did not identify the committee by name) which is entering contracts on what terms it pleases. They have issued warnings that bringing of political pressure will do more harm than good. I was pleased that they took this action, but they’re playing politics themselves.
            “Why should the department go clear across the state of Missouri to Kansas City to get McDowell to negotiate for the purchase of the land under contracts requiring the landowners to pay him commissions of 5 per cent?
            “Why should it also go to Kansas City and get a title company to which the government has paid commissions of 1½ per cent?
            “I want to find out whether the government also agreed to pay McDowell a commission, in addition to that he received from the landowners. Of course that commission actually goes into the cost of the project to the government because it actually has to pay the 5 per cent commission in the added costs of the land.”
Want Money’s Worth
            “I shall also seek to find out how McDowell and the Kansas City Title Insurance Co. were chosen for the job, and shall inquire how widespread practices such as these have been over the country in connection with the defense program. Most all of us are willing to spend whatever amount is necessary for building our defenses, but we want to get our money’s worth, too.
            “I’m curious as to why an outsider has been commissioned to acquire the land when government employes could have done the job at much less expense. And if they couldn’t, there were real estate agencies in St. Louis or St. Charles that would have done the work on a 2 per cent commission basis and made better trades than were made.
            “There is something wrong on the face of this situation and I’m asking the department for a full explanation.” —Star-Times.