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Scuttlebutt and Power: The Meanest Man in Congress

Written by Gary North on January 2, 2015

I am always interested in how bureaucracies work. I am also always interested in how information is handled.

I reprinted an article that I wrote in 1977, “Confessions of a Washington Reject.” This led to a question on one of the GaryNorth.com forums regarding the ways in which administrative assistants handle hiring staffs.

I responded

AA’s know what their bosses want.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanne_Foxe


I want to elaborate on the Wayne Hays incident. But first, an extract from the Washington Post‘s account (May 23, 1976).

Note: $14,000 in 1976 was $58,000 in today’s money.

Closed Session Romance on the Hill Rep. Wayne Hays’ $14,000-a-Year Clerk Says She’s His Mistress

For nearly two years, Rep. Wayne L. Hays (D-Ohio), powerful chairman of the House Administration Committee, has kept a woman on his staff who says she is paid $14,000 a year in public money to serve as his mistress. Hays denies this, saying “Hell’s fire! I’m a very happily married man.”

“I can’t type, I can’t file, I can’t even answer the phone,” says Elizabeth Ray, 27, who began working for Hays in April 1974 as a clerk. Since then, Ray says she has not been asked to do any Congress-related work and appears at her Capitol Hill office once or twice a week for a few hours.

Currently, she is closeted in a luxuriously appointed office in the Longworth House Office Building behind a blank door. “Supposedly,” she says, “I’m on the oversight committee. But I call it the Out-of-Sight Committee.” According to Ray, the 64-year-old congressman usually has visited her for sexual relations once or twice a week in their long-standing relationship.

Hays divorced his first wife of over 25 years last year. Five weeks ago he married his veteran Ohio office secretary, Pat Peak, who continues to live in Ohio.

As chairman of the Administration Committee, Hays quietly exercises enormous power over such Hill activities as congressional travel, payroll, staffing, parking and police. He also serves on the House International Relations Committee.

Last year Hays, who was first elected to Congress in 1948, survived a challenge from House freshmen to replace him as committee chairman.

This ended Hays’ career.

Wikipedia reports:

Wayne Levere Hays (May 13, 1911, Bannock, Ohio — February 10, 1989, Wheeling, West Virginia) was an American politician whose strong rule of the House Administration Committee extended to even the smallest items. In the mid-1970s, lawmakers avoided crossing Hays for fear that he would shut off the air conditioning in their offices.

While his colleagues might have argued over whether he, as chairman of the House Administrative Committee and the Democratic Campaign Committee, was the second or third most powerful member of Congress, few disagreed that he stood in a class by himself as the meanest man in the House.

I arrived on Capitol Hill in the second week of June, 1976. The Hays scandal was about two weeks old.


Hays was in charge of hiring and firing the elevator operators. In those days, and I suppose today, the elevators were not automatic. Getting a job as an elevator operator was a big deal. It was guaranteed work. It did not take much intelligence to do it.

There was a rule that was in existence at the time that I arrived. It was an unwritten rule, but I saw it every day. The elevator operators were not allowed to sit down. It seemed like a stupid rule, but that was the rule. It was enforced by Wayne Hays.

Within a few days of my arrival, the elevator operators were sitting on stools. I was told by others on Ron Paul’s staff that one of the elevator operators had initially brought in a seat that was on top of an extended pole. It was not a stool, but it enabled him to recline slightly as he did his job. It took a load off his feet. I cannot say that I ever saw this, but I suspect the story is true.

(For the rest of my article, click the link.)

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