Fridley page 78

[St. Charles Cosmos/St. Charles Monitor, April 4, 1941]

Defends Action In Letter To Chairman of House Military Affairs Committee
Says He Was Put Down As Extremely Hard Boiled Individual In St. Charles County

            WASHINGTON, April 4.—R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor, yesterday vehemently denied that his contract for acquisition of the 16,300-acre site for a government-owned TNT plant in St. Charles County “was secured in any surreptitious manner or that there was one whit of graft connected with it.”
            The denial was made in a seven-page letter to Chairman Andrew J. May of the House Military Affairs Committee, which is investigating McDowell’s dealings with the government. McDowell gave copies of the letter to newspapermen.
            McDowell, in his letter, strongly defended himself against criticisms which have arisen in congressional circles over the terms of his contract with the War Department calling for a 5 per cent commission and payment of an additional 1½ per cent fee to the Kansas City Title Insurance Co.
            McDowell stressed the following points:
            1. The government will get “stung $1,000,000 more than my option prices” through acquisition of a major portion of the land through condemnation. Under option contracts negociated by McDowell, land would have cost in excess of $2,600,000 and the War Department canceled 149 unexercised options on grounds the land prices were “grossly excessive.”
            2. He obtained the contract with the War Department through personal visits with officers of the national defense program, including Col. R. D. Valliant, who then was in charge of real estate purchases.
            3. Expenses of more than $200 a day for “weeks and weeks” were necessitated because “legal descriptions and titles were a mess.”
            4. A “disturbance value” was allowed to farmers in the area at suggestion of the Department of Agriculture and national defense officials in an effort to retain their good will.
            5. Payments averaging $200 per acre for bluff land were made, whereas such property in the area was being sold to wealthy St. Louisans for summer homes for $1,000 per acre.
            6. He (McDowell) became “the most despised man in St. Charles County and was put down as an extremely hard-boiled individual” through his efforts to obtain the land for the government at a fair price.
            7. The three appraisers employed by the Justice Department to determine land values in the area shortly before the War Department canceled unexercised options “were about as qualified to do the job as I am to judge guinea pigs.”
            8. The Missouri Highway Department, through condemnation proceedings a few years ago, paid $177 per acre for five parcels of land in the same area. Average price under the McDowell options were $114 per acre for agricultural land and $159 per acre for the entire tract, including business houses, homes, churches and school.

[no source, no date]

Congressman Cannon Says He Is Doing All Possible To Change Attitude.

            Circuit Clerk Earl R. Sutton, a member of the unpaid TNT area landowners committee, today received a letter from Congressman Clarence Cannon stating that the War Department seems to be determined to repudiate its agreements.
            The letter follows:
Earl R. Sutton
St. Charles, Mo.
Dear Mr. Sutton
            On receipt of your telegram I called up the Department and am advised that your information is correct. The contracts for land at Wilmington were paid in full, although Mr. O’Brien had said in his testimony that the prices were excessive. I asked them why they were discriminating against Weldon Springs when they were paying elsewhere and they told me that the prices at Wilmington were only ten or fifteen percent out of line whereas the prices at Weldon Springs were from one hundred to one hundred fifty percent out of line.
            There surely must be some other reason back of it.
            Am making a hard fight here and have been before the Committee on Military Affairs two days and I am going again Thursday. The landowners ought to have their money and ought to have all of it promptly and I am doing all I can for them, although, the War Department seems to be determined to repudiate its agreements.
            With appreciation of your telegram and with best wishes.