Payoffs in the Cloakroom

Payoffs in the Cloakroom: The Greening of the Michigan Legislature, 1938-1946

Bruce A. Rubenstein
Lawrence E. Ziewacz
Copyright Date: 1995
DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8
Pages: 279
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8
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  • Book Info
    Payoffs in the Cloakroom
    Book Description:

    Payoffs in the Cloakroomis a spellbinding follow-up to Rubenstein and Ziewacz's critically acclaimedThree Bullets Sealed His Lips.Three Bulletsbrought to life new evidence on the 1945 murder of Michigan Senator Warren Hooper.Payoffsin the Cloakroom takes up whereThree Bulletsleft off, unraveling a complex web of political corruption and dirty state politics. In the process, the authors demonstrate that Senator Hooper was murdered to prevent his grand jury testimony against republican boss Frank McKay, who was facing bribery charges.Making use of actual court proceeding, personal interviews, and newspaper accounts, and even a re-evaluation of police evidence, Rubenstein and Ziewacz tell a story that contains all the ingredients of first-class detective fiction-only in this instance, the story is based on fact. With chapter titles such as "Charlie and His Little Black Book," "I Never Dreamed Murder," and "Them Bones, Them Bones," the authors have, once again, provided a stimulating and absorbing account of one of the darker chapters of Michigan's political history.

    eISBN: 978-0-87013-950-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.2
  3. CAST OF CHARACTERS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.3
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-6)
    Bruce A. Rubenstein and Lawrence E. Ziewacz
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.4

    Since the publication ofThree Bullets Sealed His Lipsin 1987, which resolved the more than four decade old question of who murdered State Senator Warren G. Hooper four days before he was scheduled to testify against Republican kingpin Frank D. McKay regarding graft in the Michigan legislature, many exciting events have occurred. Scores of people have contacted us regarding their recollections of the Purple Gang, individuals highlighted in the book, especially Ingham County Grand Jury Special Prosecutor Kim Sigler who was the star of the probe, reminiscences regarding the times, or simply requesting information as to our detective methodology....

  5. CHAPTER ONE THE DEN OF CORRUPTION
    (pp. 7-34)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.5

    I the corruption that tainted the Michigan legislature in the late 1930s and early 1940s had its origins in the waning days of the unparalleled prosperity of the “Roaring Twenties.” During the post-World War I decade, Michigan’s booming automobile industry was the core of economic expansion which seemed destined to bequeath permanent wealth to the nation. Unfortunately, many of the state’s lawmakers did not view their $3 per working day stipend as an accurate reflection of their worth in this decade of prosperity, and gossip of bribe-taking ran rampant throughout the Capitol City of Lansing. A favorite story of Booth...

  6. CHAPTER TWO CHARLIE AND HIS LITTLE BLACK BOOK
    (pp. 35-74)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.6

    I the new special prosecutor’s mettle was soon tested, as on January 22, 1944, just nine days before the opening of the special legislative session called by Governor Harry F. Kelly, Judge Carr ordered State Police troopers to serve arrest warrants on twenty members of the 1939 legislature and six finance company executives for their purported roles in the largest payoff scandal in Michigan’s political history. The alleged bribes, which Sigler stated exceeded $25,000, were in connection with Senate Bills 85 and 166, which tightened regulations on automobile finance companies in an effort to afford car buyers greater protection. Upon...

  7. CHAPTER THREE “I NEVER DREAMED OF MURDER”
    (pp. 75-92)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.7

    I following the finance company trial, Carr and Sigler lapsed into another period of apparent inactivity throughout September, October, and November. Only when William Henry Gallagher, who was a key member of Frank McKay’s coterie of high-priced barristers, argued successfully before the State Supreme Court to have overturned Carr’s sixty day contempt of court sentence against Francis Slattery for refusing to testify, was the grand jury involved in anything deemed newsworthy.¹ Because of this, rumors again surfaced that Wayne County Democrats in the legislature, in a desperate gamble to save themselves from further humiliation, would try to curtail funding in...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR “FITZ” TAKES THE FALL
    (pp. 93-104)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.8

    I For Floyd Fitzsimmons, the brutal slaying of Warren Hooper merely meant that his already bad luck had taken a tum for the worse. Following the murder, Fitzsimmons’ chief defense attorney, Fred R. Walker of Detroit, spent the rest of January in a futile attempt to postpone his client’s trial on the grounds that newspaper coverage of the Hooper murder had prejudiced the case against Fitzsimmons. This claim rested on Sigler’s repeated statements to the press that Hooper was to have been the state’s star witness in the other horse racing trial.

    Appearing before Judge Carr on January 17, Walker...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE AN AYE FOR A TOOTH
    (pp. 105-118)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.9

    I Following the conviction of Fitzsimmons, Sigler was eager to pounce upon more small-time grafters. His opportunity was not long in coming, as on February 10, 1945 Judge Carr swore out warrants charging that seven men, including four former members of the Michigan legislature, “did unlawfully and wickedly agree, combine, conspire, confederate, and engage, with and among themselves, to willfully and corruptly influence” the vote on House Bill 199 to regulate the practice of dentistry and dental surgery.¹

    Having arranged a press conference to coincide with Carr’s action, Sigler promised his eager listeners that he would prove that in 1939...

  10. CHAPTER SIX “THEM BONES, THEM BONES”
    (pp. 119-138)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.10

    I December 6, 1944 dawned as just another typical dreary, cold mid-Michigan late autumn day, but by early afternoon the temperature had soared in Lansing, at least figuratively, with the announcement that the Carr-Sigler grand jury had issued yet another warrant. Within minutes the news spread from the City Hall across the street to the State Capitol. Anxious lawmakers grabbed their comrades, whispered a few words, and consoled each other in hushed voices.

    The cause of this near-panic in cloistered corridors and cloakrooms was the naming of Republican State Senators Chester M. Howell of Saginaw County and Carl F. DeLano...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.11
  12. CHAPTER SEVEN “WON’T SOMEBODY BET ON THE BAY?”
    (pp. 139-146)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.12

    I Late April and early May 1945 found Sigler preoccupied with the pre-trial examination of four Purple Gang members—Harry Fleisher, Mike Selik, Pete Mahoney, and Sam Fleisher—who were charged with conspiracy to murder State Senator Warren Hooper. After the hearing ended on May 15 and the defendants were ordered bound over for trial, the Special Prosecutor resumed his pursuit of grafters in the legislature, this time taking aim at two State Senators, Republican Jerry T. Logie of Bay City and Democrat Charles C. Diggs of Detroit, who were accused of taking bribes of $800 and $150 respectively from...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT STRIKE THREE—MCKAY’S NOT OUT
    (pp. 147-182)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.13

    I As Michigan’s snows melted and balmy breezes turned spring buds into summer’s burst of colorful blossoms, one name kept echoing in the ears of the state’s citizenry: Frank D. McKay. Scarcely a day passed without reference to the embattled financier by the Carr-Sigler investigative squad, who continuously linked McKay, by innuendo more than fact, to virtually every evil in the state’s recent legislative history. Indeed, not even illness could bring a temporary cessation in the attack. On June 20, 1945, ten days after being served with a warrant charging him and several others with attempts to corrupt the state’s...

  14. CHAPTER NINE . . . BUT SIGLER IS
    (pp. 183-198)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.14

    I Upon learning of the resolution to create a three-man subcommittee, vested with subpoena power and composed of Republican Senators Ivan A. Johnston of Mt. Clemens and Harold D. Tripp of Allegan and Democrat Robert J. McDonald of Flint, for the purpose of looking into “the manner, method, and object” of expenditures made from the $442,000 grant for the grand jury, Sigler outwardly was nonplussed.¹ “The one man grand jury investigating bribery and other illegal acts in recent state administrations is not through by any means. I will keep driving away until I complete the job. It is natural at...

  15. CHAPTER TEN CHARLIE TAKES THE FIFTH
    (pp. 199-226)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.15

    I On July 21, 1946 theDetroit Timesreported that the Joint Congressional Pearl Harbor Investigating Committee had concluded that the blame for the lack of preparedness of that naval base on December 7, 1941 rested with Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and General Walter C. Short, and that committee member Senator Homer Ferguson of Michigan placed the burden of guilt squarely on the shoulders of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Although shocking to the nation as a whole, this revelation was relegated to a secondary position on the front page of theTimes, as its banner headlines blared the news Michiganians...

  16. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 227-232)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.16

    VICTOR C. ANDERSON, a graduate of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan Law School, served as Ingham County Prosecutor from 1942 to 1947, at which time he became Governor Kim Sigler’s chief legal advisor. Following Sigler’s defeat in 1948, Anderson joined with the former Governor and Leland Carr Jr. to form the Lansing law firm of Sigler, Anderson, and Carr. Three months before his death on September 27, 1981 at the age of seventy-seven, Anderson granted an interview to the authors. In his conversation, he asserted that, despite being part of the grand jury staff, he had not...

  17. End Notes
    (pp. 233-264)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.17
  18. BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTE
    (pp. 265-268)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.18
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 269-279)
    DOI: 10.14321/j.ctt7zt8d8.19