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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Four years before the Case Committee began its investigation, Robert Ambry of Jersey City, a Republican candidate for Congress, charged that Mayor Hague had a huge income on which he was not paying sufficient income tax, that he had received `one item alone of $1000 a week' and `another bulk item of $500,000 or more that went into the Mayor's office.' The Mayor said that Ambry was `irresponsible,' that as a candidate for Congress `he is probably using this means to get his name in the newspapers.... Of course I have complied with the law' (New York Times, October 29, 1924.)

James J. Burkitt, Mayor Hague's most persistent opponent, sent a letter to President Hoover on May 6, 1929, citing the $390,000 in cash payments the Case Committee had shown the Mayor to have made for his Deal property, the Duncan Apartment property, the bank stock, and so forth. He asserted in his letter, though he gave no proof, that the Mayor had accumulated forty million dollars, and demanded that the Government investigate his income-tax payments. Edward I. Edwards, defeated for re-election to the Senate in 1928, broke with Hague and asserted that the Mayor had acquired `great wealth.' The Treasury Department did investigate, and a report was published in February, 1930, that he was going to have to pay $1,800,000 in delinquent taxes, interest, and penalties. He took cognizance of the rumors and from Palm Beach issued a statement in which he said: `I don't know where they got their figures from. They are ridiculous and nonsensical. They flatter me.'

The settlement was made late in August, 1930, when Theodore Brandle, labor and building `czar' of northern New Jersey, paid the taxes, arrears, and penalties by his check for $60,000. Brandle and Hague were in those days friends and allies. They later had a bitter disagreement, a story which is told elsewhere, and Hague deposed Brandle, calling him, among other things, ` a labor racketeer.' When he had lost both his position in organized labor and the fortune he had accumulated, on July 1, 1926, Brandle filed a suit for the $60,000 in the Supreme Court in Trenton. The Mayor had sailed on a North Cape cruise, but John Milton issued a statement which he said Hague had left with him in anticipation of the suit: `The lawsuit is nothing but a shakedown. It is prompted by my refusal to aid Brandle to reinstate himself in the labor movement. In 1929 I had difficulty with the Government in the adjustment of my income tax. I borrowed the money from Brandle in his bank. But I settled with the Government and paid Brandle back everything that was owed.' The suit was finally settled out of court, but why a man who was able to pay cash for $390,000 worth of real estate and securities should have borrowed $60,000 from a labor leader was never made clear.

In 1938, he got in trouble again with the Bureau of Internal Revenue. According to the Newark Evening News, of February 7, the bureau disallowed deductions of $80,000 on his income for 1934, 1935, and 1936. According to this newspaper account, he had to pay $10,000 additional taxes. No penalty was assessed.


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