Legislative Branch

Guide to House Records: Chapter 22: 1947-1968 Campaign Expenditures

Chapter 22. Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives

Table of Contents

Records of the Select Committees of the House of Representatives (1789-1988) from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States, 1789-1988

Committee records described in this chapter:

Special Committees to Investigate Campaign Expenditures

Special Committees to:VolumeCongress (dates)
Investigate Campaign Expenditures81 feet70th, 79th-88th (1928, 1944-64)

22.203 On May 29, 1928, the House established the Special Committee to Investigate Campaign Expenditures to consider election disputes and charges of electoral fraud and excess campaign expenditures that might arise from the upcoming Presidential and congressional campaigns (70A-F33.1). Similar select committees became regular features of each election year beginning in 1944 (78A-F41.1, 80A-F19.1, 83A- F19.1, 84A-F18.1, 85A-F18.1, 86A-F18.1, 87A-F17.1, 88 ICE). The committees were authorized to investigate campaign contributions and expenditures in both the primary and general election contests, violations of Federal election laws, and other matters that might aid the House in drafting any necessary remedial legislation or in deciding contests regarding the right to a seat in the House of Representatives.

22.204 The committees furnished candidates with information on Federal election laws. They collected campaign finance information, either directly from candidates, political parties, congressional campaign committees, and others by means of questionnaires and circular letters, or from reports and statements submitted by political organizations and candidates to the House Clerk or State officials. The committees also received complaints regarding allegations of unfair campaign practices, fraudulent vote counting, or other election misdeeds and investigated those with sufficient facts to establish prima facie cases. The committees sent representatives to the congressional districts involved in the dispute to conduct interviews, examine evidence, and collect information. On occasion, the special committees held public hearings on the disputes in Washington or in the districts involved. The special committees also undertook studies of Federal, State, and local statutes regulating elections.

22.205 For the 1928 committee, there are hearings transcripts, exhibits, correspondence, and newspaper clippings. There are no records of the special committees established to deal with the elections between 1930 and 1942.

22.206 Records exist for each of the campaign expenditure committees from 1944 to 1964 and include correspondence with candidates, political groups, governmental officials, and the public. There are election complaints, memorandums, minutes, investigative files regarding complaints, transcripts of testimony, exhibits, affidavits of interviewees, completed questionnaires, notes, statistical worksheets, and drafts of committee reports. Among the materials received by the committees are correspondence obtained from files of organizations, information submitted by candidates, reports to the Clerks of the House and Senate from the Democratic National Committee, campaign literature, tally sheets and recount documents, and certain records of the Police Department of New York City. Administrative records include press releases, subpoenas, stenographer's notebooks, personnel records, and vouchers. There are various published materials, including copies of committee publications, printed compilations of elections laws, newspaper clippings, and other materials collected for informational purposes.

22.207 The records pertain to election laws, specific electoral contests, and other matters such as the Anti-Nazi League and the use of the franking privilege for mailing campaign literature.

22.208 There are finding aids available regarding records of the committees that dealt with the elections of 1944, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1958, 1960, and 1962.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-245). By Charles E. Schamel, Mary Rephlo, Rodney Ross, David Kepley, Robert W. Coren, and James Gregory Bradsher. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.