Jimi Hendrix Clara McCarty Captain Robert Gray Anna Louise StrongAnna Louise Strong Bailey Gatzert Home WWII Women Pilots
Search Encyclopedia
Facebook
Advanced Search
Donate Now! Book Store Featured Eassy Sponsor of the Week
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
6805 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donate Subscribe

Shortcuts

Libraries
Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search

Features

Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Everett
Olympia
Seattle
Spokane
Tacoma
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

"Why pick on Vic?" complains Washington Secretary of State Victor Meyers in a Seattle Times probe published on September 10, 1959.

HistoryLink.org Essay 9948 : Printer-Friendly Format

On September 10, 1959, The Seattle Daily Times publishes five articles that result from a probe of expenditures and hiring practices of the secretary of state's office, which since 1957 has been occupied by the vibrant Victor "Vic" Meyers Sr. (1897-1991).  Meyers explains the expenditures as a necessary part of the job and repeatedly asks the Times, "Why pick on Vic?"  The articles generate some pointed questions and a spark or two of indignation, but Meyers sails through it with his usual aplomb.

A Fun-Loving Pol  

"State Pays Dearly for Meyers, Probe Shows," reads a headline on the front page of The Seattle Daily Times on September 10, 1959, with a smaller caption above: "Why Pick On Vic?"  Secretary of State Vic Meyers, a former bandleader and state lieutenant governor (1933-1953), was a colorful character who had become known during his tenure as lieutenant governor for having a zest for travel on the state dime. This zest continued while he was secretary of state.    

The Times investigation found that in the 32 months Meyers had been in office there had been a number of months that he was in Olympia for only three or four days during  the month, and that he had been reimbursed for lodging and meals claimed as business expenses on Christmas Day and the Fourth of July.  The fun-loving pol said the trips were a necessary part of his job investigating out-of-state corporations doing business in Washington state who failed to purchase a state license as required. He explained that the road trips were a "real sleuthing job" ("State Pays Dearly") designed to bring in money for the state from recalcitrant out-of-state corporations.

Four Days in Forty 

One trip drew special attention. In September 1957 Meyers attended a four-day national convention of secretaries of state in Boston.  His drive to Boston and back (in a state-owned car) took 40 days, and he took along his daughter, Mary Louise -- whom he had hired early in the year as his secretary.  One reporter estimated the entire trip, including salaries for the two, cost the state about $2,500 ($20,000 in 2011 dollars). The return trip included stops in Miami, New Orleans, Tucson, and Las Vegas, among other cities.  Meyers said that he was following up with various secretaries of states he had met in Boston -- he could not recall who -- to see how they did business, though none of the cities listed above were state capitals. He later called the Times to clarify that he had suffered from poor health during the trip and had to stop frequently for rest and treatment.

In addition to employing his daughter for years, Meyers also hired his son, Victor Jr., as a corporation field examiner. Two months later, Meyers Jr. formed a partnership in Portland known as D&M Tire and Equipment Company that subsequently sold thousands of dollars worth of tires and wire rope to the state. But this wasn't illegal, as Assistant State Auditor Clem Yelle was quick to affirm, saying that the only law broken by young Meyers "might be a moral one" ("Tire Sales…").  

"Why Pick on Vic?"

Another article in the Times focused on numerous phone calls made to and from locations all over the country and charged to the elder Meyers's office.  "The list of long-distance phone calls charged to the taxpayers by the secretary of state's office reads like a page from the National Geographic magazine," revealed the Times ("Meyers' Phone-Call List…").  Responded Meyers, "Sure, I make a few social calls. But why pick on Vic? They all do it" ("State Pays Dearly ...").  

Times reporter Don Duncan observed that Meyers was operating the most costly secretary of state's office in Washington state's history. Meyers contended that his office was implementing a new card filing system that would eventually save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Duncan asked Meyers why his office's budget was increasing if savings were being made. Meyers retorted, "I don’t draw up the budget."  

And added, "Why pick on Vic?"  

The Brouhaha Blows Over  

Governor Albert Rosellini (1910-2011) was in Honolulu on a goodwill tour (Hawaii had been admitted to the Union just three weeks before) with dozens of other Washington state business and civic leaders when he was contacted by UPI about the brouhaha.  Rosselini replied: "Vic is a great man. Anything that he does is completely under his jurisdiction" ("Attorney Gen. Not ...").

The brouhaha soon blew over. The state attorney general's office announced there would be no investigation, and the story largely vanished from the papers. There were scattered calls for young Meyers's resignation as a corporation field examiner, and he did indeed resign -- nearly a year later, to run for re-election to the legislature. (He won.)  Likewise, Vic Meyers Sr. was re-elected in 1960 by a margin of more than 6 percent. He would not fare as well when he ran again in 1964, a year after more than 80,000 petitions were stolen from his office in a scandalous caper known as "The Great Petition Robbery." But that’s another story. 

Sources:
"Vic Meyers’ Trips And Calls Bring Queries," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 11, 1959, p. 9;  "Attorney Gen. Not Planning Meyers Quiz," Ibid., September 12, 1959, p. 13; Don Duncan, "State Pays Dearly For Meyers, Probe Shows," The Seattle Daily Times, September 10, 1959, p. 1; "Love of Travel Nothing New To Meyers," Ibid., September 10, 1959, p. 9; "Meyers' Phone-Call List Reads Like Geography," Ibid., September 10, 1959, p. 9;  Don Duncan, "Son, Daughter High In Father's Department," Ibid., September 10, 1959, p. 9; "Tire Sales By Meyers, Jr. Called Legal," Ibid., September 10, 1959, p. 9; "Resignation of Meyers, Jr., From State Job Demanded," Ibid., September 17, 1959, p. 17; "Meyers' Opponent Charges Nepotism," Ibid., September 5, 1960, p. 6;  HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Meyers, Victor A. (1897-1991)" (by Michael Hood) and  "'Shorty' and 'Fiddleface' steal anti-gambling petitions from Secretary of State Victor Meyers's office on June 21, 1963" (by Phil Dougherty), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed September 16, 2011); "1960 Secretary of State General Election Results -- Washington," Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections website accessed September 9, 2011 (http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/state.php?year=1960&off=7&elect=0&fips=53&f=0). 


Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Government & Politics |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You




Vic Meyers (1897-1991)
Courtesy Office of the Lieutenant Governor


 
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org