Our Tax Dollars At Work - The Howard Hughes Senate Investigation Of 1947

Excerpts from testimony given by Howard Hughes during the investigation of allegations he accepted $40 million in Government contracts and didn't deliver anything. August 1947

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It would seem a rash of Senate Subcommittee Hearings broke out shortly after the war. One such investigation centered around the elusive Howard Hughes and contracts he was supposedly awarded but never delivered on from 1942 onwards to the tune of some $40 million. With the allegations came charges and counter-charges and a circus-like atmosphere ensued.

Howard Hughes: “ Sometime previously I had heard that this investigation was brewing. I also heard that Pan-American was behind it. And I thought, rather than wait until I was subpoenaed and embarrassed, that I would offer voluntarily to testify.

Senator Ferguson: “And it was in relation to the two contracts that you were speaking about testifying before his committee, that is the War Investigating Committee?”

Hughes: “In relation to this very matter under discussion here.”

The person making the allegations was Senator Owen Brewster (R-Maine) who chaired the War Investigating Committee. While Hughes accused Brewster of improprieties, Brewster countered with a few allegations of his own.

Senator Owen Brewster: “I proceeded as promptly as I could to take the action that seemed to be clearly indicated, since there seemed to be an attempt to suggest that if I should continue further with this matter I would have personal occasion for regret. That I, and my associations were to be challenged and placed in possible disrepute if I dared to proceed with this matter.”

Hughes was adamant that the entire investigation had something to do with Juan Trippe, a competitor of Hughes who founded Pan-American Airways and that this was something of a personal feud that wound up involving the government.

And the end result was, yes it did. The investigation was dropped when it was discovered Juan Trippe had lobbied heavily for investigating Hughes through his old friend, Senator Owen Brewster.

All that sound and fury . . .

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