The director of the federal employes charity drive was accused yesterday by Rep. Particial Chroeder (D.Colo.) of trying to pressure her into postponing an investigation into its fund raising practices until its current charity campaign ends.
Schroeder, chariwoman of the House subcommittee on Civil Service, angrily denounced Willam A. Schaeffler during his testimony before the committee yesterday, accusing him of "despicable" actions, including enlisting the aid of Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D-Md.) and Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) in an attempt to postpone the oversight hearings.
Schaeffler, shaken by the uncharacteristic outburst from the congresswoman, said he was only concerned about the timing of the hearings, fearing that any publicity resulting from it could harm the campaign.
The hearings, which continue next Thursday and Friday, are looking into complaints that some federal employes have been coerced into giving to the campaign and that some charitable organizations, particularly new ones and those operated by minorities, have been denied a chance to participate at all.
Both Barnes and Fauntroy signed a telegram to the congresswoman that had been composed by Schaeffler. The telegram warned that the "prime media coverage" such hearings would attract "will create uncertainty about the methods, policies and perhaps the value" of the campaign "and provide a seemingly good excuse for federal employes, feeling the pressure of inflation, to forego support" this year.
It went on the say that "to deliberately schedule this hearing" at the height of the campaign could hurt the "minorities, disadvantaged, elderly and troubled young" who are its major beneficiaries. Public confidence in such fund drives "takes years to build, but only minutes to shatter," the telegram said.
Copies of the telegram were sent to House Speaker Thomas . (Tip) O'Neill Jr., Majority Leader Jim Wright, Minority Leader James Rhodes and Post Office and Civil Srvice Committee Chairman James M. Hanley.
Schroeder told Schaeffler it took her 30 minutes to explain to each of the House leaders that "your inflammatory telegram, which indicates 'this woman has gone crasy,'" wasn't correct. She said that, after she explained the situation, they agreed that Schaeffler is the one who is "off the wall."
Schroeder told the fund chairman, "I've never delt with anybody who's been that devious."
Schaeffler answered that he was worried that whatever came out of the hearings would hurt the campaign, which has raised $2.7 million from 49,750 federal employes in the Washington area since it began Sept. 26. The drive has a goal of collecting $12.8 million by Nov. 26.
The congresswoman said, "If we delayed, it would look even worse" for the campaign. She said she could not understand how "everything is perfect and wonderful, but you can't talk about it now or it will destroy the campaign."
She said the committee "has a right to find out why some groups that want (to participate in the proceeds of the campaign) can't get in (to do so), and to look at how the funds are distributed."
Schroeder said she didn't want to delay the hearing because, if any changes are to be made in next year's campaign, recommendations from here committee must be given to the Office of Personnel Management by the end of the year.
A spokesman for Fauntroy said the District's delegate signed the telegram because "this has been the hardest year to raise money" and that Fauntroy's constituents are "those who are affected by the campaign." He added that Fauntroy "believes there are problems, and they should be aired, but the timing was wrong."
Barnes also said his major concern was the timing of the investigation.