Rene A. Wormser

Rene Wormser is a Californian by birth and a New Yorker by education and training. Estate planning is one of the fields is which he has specialized during his thirty-eight years of law practice. He is [was] the senior member of the law firm of Myles, Wormser, & Koch

Foundations: Their Power and Influence, 1958, 412 pages. soft bound, $20

This is a searching analysis of some of America's most powerful tax-exempt foundation, their actions as opposed to their stated purposes, the interlocking groups of men who run them, their influence on the country at large.

The author, as counsel to the Reece Committee which investigated foundation for the last Republican Congress, gained a unique insight into the inner workings of the various Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford-created giants. He also witnessed the intense and powerful opposition to any investigation of these multibillion-dollar public trusts. The Reece investigation was virtually hamstrung from the start to its early demise--which was aided and abetted by leading newspapers of the country.

"It is difficult for the public to understand," writes Mr. Wormser, "that some of the great foundations which have done so much for us in some fields have acted tragically against the public interest in others, but the facts are there for the unprejudiced to recognize.

"The power of the individual foundation giant is enormous. When there is likemindedness among a group of these giants, which apparently is due to the existence of a closely knit group of professional administrators in the social science field, the power is magnified hugely. When such foundation do good, they justify the tax-exempt status which the people grant them. When they do harm, it can be immense harm--there is virtually no counterforce to oppose them."

An interview with Norman Dodd, Directer of Research, "Reece" Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations.

Now did you or any member of your staff ever have the opportunity of going through the records of any of the great foundations?

Mr. Dodd: "We had one remarkable instance of that kind by, again, by invitation. This invitation came from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and was in response to a letter which I had written to the Endowment asking certain questions, seeking certain information. And this invitation was issued to me over the telephone to come to their office in New York when I was next there. This I did. And on arrival found myself in the presence of Dr. Joseph Johnson, the president, two vice presidents, and their own counsel, a partner of Sells & Cromwell. And after amenities, Dr. Johnson said "Mr Dodd, we received your letter, and we can answer all these questions but that it would be a great deal of trouble because with the approval of, by the Senate, ratification of the United Nations treaty, we felt our job was done. So we took all our records, from the beginning of this endowment, up to 1945, and sent them to the warehouse, and then we concentrated on just using our funds to build this new building across the street from the United Nations, which would provide the various organizations that would follow the United Nations activities with a place to meet.

"But, he said, we have a counter suggestion, and that is, Mr. Dodd, if you can spare a member of your staff for two weeks and send them to New York, we will provide that member with a room in the library, our library. And the minute books of this endowment, since its inception. And we think what ever you want to find out you can find out through that source.

"Well, my first reaction was, these men have lost their minds, because I had a pretty good idea what those minute books might show up. But as I thought about it, I realized that most of them were new in their position, and my guess was that none of them had ever read the minutes themselves, which would be, of course, quite a task to cover fifty years of minutes. You know reading.

"After this invitation, and selected a member of my staff, a Miss Kathryn Casey, who was a practicing Washington lawyer, but who was on my staff to see to it that the conduct, work of staff did not break any official rules in Washington. Kathryn was also unsympathetic to the investigation. Her attitude was: what could be possibly wrong with foundations: they do so much good.

"Well, I went out of my way not to prejudice her, but I did say "Kathryn, when you get to New York you'll find that you can't possibly cover fifty years of minutes in two weeks. So you'll have to do what you we call spot reading. And I blocked out certain periods for her to concentrate on. And when she returned to Washington. Her eyes were, figuratively, as big around as saucers, and she brought back to me the following on Dictaphone belts.

"We're back in nineteen hundred and eight, and the trustees meet, and they raise this question among themselves: Namely, is there any means besides war, known to man, more capable, assuming you wish to alter the life of entire people."

Question: Now these are the trustees of the Carnegie Foundation?

"Mr. Dodd: "That's right, and they discuss this question in a very learned fashion for approximately a year, and come up with a conclusion that: War is the most effective means known to man assuming you wish to alter the life of an entire people.

"So then they bring up a second question namely: How do we involve the United States in a war? And I doubt in nineteen hundred and nine there was any subject more removed from the minds of us as a people, than our involvement in a war. There were shows going on in the Balkans and most of the people of this country hardly knew the Balkans were. And they conclude that: They must control the diplomatic machinery of the United States.

"And that raises question number 3, namely how do we secure that control? and the answer comes out we must control the State Department. And, from that time on, their activities were centered on: securring control of the State Department. Now as a means to that end, the Endowment founded and instrumentality called the Council for Learned Society. And that Council was assigned the task of passing on every high official appointment of the State Department before the appointment was confirmed. At that point this finding linked up with what we had already suspected. But nevertheless here was confirmation of it.

"Well this happened, and, pretty soon the country was in a war which became to be known, of course, as World War I. And this group of trustees at one point congratulated themselves on the wisdom of the original decision. Because, as they put it, war has demonstrated a power to alter the life of the people of this country already.

"And then their interest went on seeing to it we as a people did not revert to our customs and our practices which prevailed prior to the outbreak of World War I. And they decided after the war was over that that meant we had to control education of the United States.

"And so they realized this was a very prodigious task. So they approached the Rockefeller Foundation and made the suggestion that the Rockefeller Foundation take on half the problem, and they retained the other half. They divided it between those subjects which were domestic in their significance and those which were international.

"And they, together, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment, decided that the crux of the matter lay in their ability to alter the teaching of American History in this country. So they approached the then three of the most prominent historians, with that suggestion and they were turned down flat. So then they decided they would have to build their own stable of historians. And so they then approached the Guggenheim Foundation which specialized in awarding fellowships, and said figuratively, 'When we find a likely young man who's headed to become a teacher of American history, and will you grant him on our say so a fellowship?' And the answer was, yes we will. So they gradually assembled twenty. And they took these twenty to England, London. And there they briefed them to what was expected of them. And that became the nucleus of the American Historical Association. To which ultimately the Endowment made a grant of four hundred thousand dollars for a study to be made, which would conclude what the future of this country was to be.

"And at the end of 1932 this study comes out in seven volumes, the last volume of which was a summary of the other six. And it ended on the note that the future of this country belongs to collectivism administered with characteristic American Efficiency. And that became the, I'm using today's language, that became the guidelines for higher education in this country. and then coincidentally with that, then books began to appear, all of which were detrimental to our vision of our own patriots who had signed the Declaration of Independence, and they were downgrading these men...."

Interview with Norman Dodd, 1980( a few years before his death), tape recording is available from Radio Liberty, P.O. Box 13, Santa Cruz, Calif, 95063