"I would say I wrote to all of them - every member of Congress," said Andrew J. Susce, 74, an IRS agent who lost his job in the mid'40s when he blew the whistle - as he would call it - on his superiors. "I wrote hundreds of letters, to congressmen, to presidents. Every president from Franklin Delano Roosevelt on knows about this and every attorney general since then knows about this."
Susce wrote to everybody about how he lost his job after complaining to the IRS commissioner in the 1940s that Susce's superiors were squelching his report on the tax evasion case of an organized crime figure in southwestern Pennyslvania.
Most wrote back no satisfactory answer, Susce claims, including Rep. Robert Drinan (D-Mass.), who came to the reception for Susce last night given by the Government Accountability Project. The occassion was the book, just out, by John P. Hayes on the Susce case.
When Drinan, a Catholic priest, cheerfully approached Susce with a big smile, Susce's eyes widened. "You know all about this (from my letter), Father," Susce said to Drinan, jabbling his finger at a surprised Drinan and pushing the book and other materials at him. "It's all here, Father."
Drinan recoiled a bit, wandered onto the patio at the Northeast office building where the party was held, and left about five minutes later.
Susce's report, saying that organized crime figure John Sebastian La Rocca owned $180 million in taxes, was found and resurrected in 1953 by Sen. John J. Williams. But Susce wants more.
"Jimmy Carter knows all about this," Susce said, referring to his case and his dismissal. "It's up to Jimmy Carter to exonerate me. Now, here's the bombshell," he said, leaning close and using his favorite expression. "An executive order clearing me was initiated, but never signed (by a previous administration). I want what that president failed to do. I want all my pension rights restored, back pay, and punitive damages."
John P. Hayes, 29, the author of the book, stood patiently next to Susce the whole night.
"Andy has visions of grandeur," said Hayes, smiling benevolently. "He's lived with this for 35 years. I've known him for six or seven years and he drives me crazy with this talk about Cuba. (Susce claims that had his report been revealed earlier, Fulgencio Batista "would not have been milked by organized crime bosses and run out of Cuba."
"The other stuff too," Hayes said. "It took me about two years to feel I could document some of what he says. I only put in what I could back up."
Hayes feels Susce should be exonerated. "Here was an honest civil servant, and America has let him down," said Hayes. "At this point in his life what would be wrong with honoring him?"
The guests included a few well-known whistle-blowers, such as virologist Tony Morris, now lecturing at the University of Maryland, who claimed the swine flu vaccine program was inefficient and dangerous when it was first started in 1976.
At the time, Morris worked for the Food and Drug Administration.
Also there was Bob Tucker, who reported potential fraud in GAS contracts in Boston in 1975. He was fired, but last August was reinstated. He now works at the regional GSA office here.
"We're here not only to honor a man who spoke out 35 years ago, but also who's now fighting back," said GAP director Louis Clark to the party guests who were charged admission on a scale - $10 for a single person, $15 for a couple, and $5 for "low-income." "We trust," said one person taking admission charges when asked how he could tell.
"I'd do it all over again for the love of my country and the love of my government," said a smiling Susce in his remarks at the reception. CAPTION: Picture, John Hayes, left, and Andrew Susce; by Ken Feil - The Washington Post