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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Early 20th Century, 1901-1961 >> Dwight D. Eisenhower's Administration, 1953-1961

The Sherman Adams Affair

On June 17, 1958, presidential aide Sherman Adams denied before a U.S. House investigating committee that he had interceded with federal agencies on behalf of Boston industrialist Bernard Goldfine.

The first direct charge against Adams was made on February 11 by Bernard Schwartz, then chief counsel of the Special House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight. Schwartz named Adams as one of the "White House clique ... controlling decisions" of various independent federal agencies, including the Civil Aeronautics Board and the Federal Communications Commission.

In a June 12 letter to committee chairman Oren Harris, Adams admitted that his close friend Bernard Goldfine, a Boston textile manufacturer, had paid $2,000 in hotel bills for him and that he, Adams, had contacted the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission on cases involving Goldfine. Adams denied, however, that his activities had led to favorable treatment for Goldfine by either agency. Disclosure of the letter brought demands from both Democrats and Republicans that Adams resign. Adams responded to those demands by asking to testify in person before the committee.

On June 17, Adams admitted to the committee that he had received a vicuņa coat, hotel rooms and meals, and an Oriental rug from Goldfine, but that his inquiries of the two agencies were similar to inquiries he had made on behalf of many other people. Adams' explanations failed to satisfy the committee, but President Eisenhower stood behind one of his most trusted aides.

Sherman Adams being sworn prior to his testimony
Sherman Adams being sworn prior to his testimony

On July 2 Goldfine acknowledged to the committe that favors to Adams were listed as tax-deductible business expenses on his income tax returns. Goldfine was excused as a witness by the House Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight on July 17 after eight days of testimony.

Bernard Goldfine
Bernard Goldfine

Adams resigned as assistant to the President on September 22. He was replaced on September 27 by Wilton Burton Persons.

Persons being sworn in
Persons being sworn in

On December 19, in Boston, Massachusetts, Bernard Goldfine was convicted of contempt of court by Judge Charles E. Wyzanski Jr. for not obeying a court order to produce records of one of his textile milles in a tax investigation. He was sentenced to three months in jail.

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Early 20th Century, 1901-1961 >> Dwight D. Eisenhower's Administration, 1953-1961

This page was last updated on June 01, 2017.