George H. Bender
George Harrison Bender (September 29, 1896 June 18, 1961) was a Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 politician from Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

. He served in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 from 1939 to 1947 and 1951 to 1954, and also in the U.S. Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 from 1954 to 1957.

Early life

The son of Joseph Bender, an employee at General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

, and Anna Sir, Bender attended West Commerce High School, graduating in 1914. With an early interest in politics, he at age fifteen collected 10,000 signatures on a petition encouraging former president Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 to run for the presidency in 1912
United States presidential election, 1912
The United States presidential election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called...

. Bender presented the petition to Roosevelt personally and was rewarded when Roosevelt wrote him with news of his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination shortly before it was publicly announced. In 1916 Bender served as a delegate to the abortive Progressive party convention, which voted to dissolve rather than nominate its own presidential candidate. During the November election, Bender campaigned for Republican party candidates. His shifting party orientation reflected the internal divisions between "progressive" and "Old Guard" Republicans of the period from 1912 to 1916.

Entry into politics

In 1920 he married Edna Eckhardt; they had two daughters. During his life and political career, Bender held a series of jobs and began a number of business ventures to support his family. His business career included stints as a department store advertising manager, manager of the Cleveland Stadium, and proprietor of a start-up business, the Bender Insurance Company. However, politics remained his only genuine interest. In 1920, as a Republican, he became the youngest person to win a seat in the Ohio Senate
Ohio Senate
The Ohio State Senate is the upper house of the Ohio General Assembly, the legislative body for the U.S. state of Ohio. There are 33 State Senators. The state legislature meets in the state capital, Columbus. The President of the Senate presides over the body when in session, and is currently Tom...

 to that time. Serving until 1930, he had limited influence. He pushed unsuccessfully for the introduction of teacher tenure. Initially a strong supporter of Prohibition
Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the...

, his attitude changed when the police received an anonymous tip and raided his house in search of liquor. They found nothing, but Bender thereafter vehemently opposed the alcohol ban. In 1934 he founded the National Republican and the Ohio Republican magazines, which he also edited and published. After losing four bids for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1930, 1932, 1934, and 1936, he at last won in 1938. He was reelected until 1948, a Democratic electoral year. He won the seat back in 1950 and retained it for four more years.

U.S. Congressman

Strongly opposed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

's foreign and domestic policies, Bender articulated his criticism in the polemical The Challenge of 1940 (1940). The only aspects of Roosevelt's agenda that escaped Bender's censure were certain humanitarian New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 programs, notably the Works Progress Administration, which he accepted only as a temporary measure. With the onset of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 after 1945, Bender opposed the Marshall Plan
Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan was the large-scale American program to aid Europe where the United States gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948...

 and the Truman Doctrine
Truman Doctrine
The Truman Doctrine was a policy set forth by U.S. President Harry S Truman in a speech on March 12, 1947 stating that the U.S. would support Greece and Turkey with economic and military aid to prevent their falling into the Soviet sphere...

. He did not question the necessity of helping European countries devastated by the war, but he disagreed with the idea that the U.S. government should take a direct role in channeling the relief aid. He argued that assistance for European recovery should come either through the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 or private relief organizations. He also fervently opposed aid to Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, where British influence had been strong, on the premise that U.S. involvement in the region only accommodated the "needs of a collapsing British empire" without benefiting the United States.

His reputation for strong party loyalty brought Bender the job of organizer for Ohio Senator Robert Taft
Robert Taft
Robert Alphonso Taft , of the Taft political family of Cincinnati, was a Republican United States Senator and a prominent conservative statesman...

's candidancy for the presidential nomination at the 1948 and 1952 Republican National Conventions. His public role included arranging musical entertainment, conducting singing, leading demonstrations, and ringing cowbells. His often comic antics led to many unfairly dismissive jokes, as his opponents quickly dubbed him the "Clown Prince." This mockery did not diminish the fact that he remained a serious and influential political figure.

Bender is seen in a famous 1952 newsreel addressing a gathering of over 15,000 people in the Cleveland Public Auditorium
Public Auditorium
Public Auditorium is located in the central business district of downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Since it was opened in 1922, it has served as a concert hall, sports arena and convention center. Although it was planned and funded prior to World War I, construction did not begin until 1920. Designed by...

 immediately after Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 had given his wildly successful Fund Speech
Checkers speech
The Checkers speech or Fund speech was an address made by Richard Nixon, the Republican vice presidential candidate and junior United States Senator from California, on television and radio on September 23, 1952. Senator Nixon had been accused of improprieties relating to a fund established by his...

 on television. Bender asks the crowd to show if they are for Nixon and he is greated with a thunderous ovation of support.

U.S. Senator

After Taft's death in 1953, Bender ran for and narrowly won the vacant Senate seat and served the remaining two years of its term. An avowed supporter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, Bender consistently endorsed both Republican party and presidential initiatives. His earlier isolationist views softened considerably, and he now approved of more direct U.S. involvement abroad, including aid to countries of the former British empire. In 1956 he lost his Senate seat to Governor Frank J. Lausche
Frank J. Lausche
Frank John Lausche was a Democratic politician from Ohio. He served as the 47th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, as the 55th and 57th Governor of Ohio, and as a United States Senator from Ohio for two terms .-Biography:His family originates from Slovenia. After serving in the U.S...

, a popular Democrat. Bender then worked as special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

 from June 1957 to May 1958, during which time he campaigned for the incorporation of Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 as the forty-ninth state.

Teamsters Union

In 1958, Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa
James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa was an American labor union leader....

 hired Bender to chair a commission investigating racketeering in the Teamsters Union. After being appointed as the three-man commission's chairman. Bender proceeded independently to send a form letter to every Teamster local in the country. The letter asked the local officials to supply information on "any racketeering or gangster alliances" of which they might be aware within their respective Teamster subunits. In December 1958, with his research into the locals completed, Bender reported preliminarily to Hoffa that he had found the International Brotherhood of Teamsters "free of corruption." The ex-Senator's two colleagues on the commission almost immediately disclaimed any responsibility for this finding. Bender continued his "investigation" with the same degree of intensity until early May 1959, charging the Teamsters a formidable $58,636.07 in salary and expenses for his efforts.

Bender's political career eventually became clouded by allegations of corruption in his ties to the Teamsters' Union. He was accused of curtailing a 1956 investigation into the organization after receiving a $40,000 campaign contribution. The Senate Select Committee on Improper Practices in the Labor or Management Field looked into the accusations in autumn 1958 but recommended no actions. In his testimony during the hearings with Senator Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

, Bender defended his behavior, saying: "When you run for office, you have to have the votes of the washed and the unwashed as well. If cats and dogs could vote I'd shake hands with them." He subsequently lost both a 1960 bid to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention and a 1961 campaign for the post of Republican Precinct Committeeman
Precinct committeeman
A Precinct Committeemen, or PC, is the name for a office and the name of the official that organizes a voting precinct for a political party.There are state, ward and township party organizations, but the basic unit of U.S...

. He retreated to a self-imposed retirement and died in Chagrin Falls, a suburb of Cleveland.

External links

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