ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW:
MARY GARDINER JONES
Date Recorded: October 9 and 24, 2003
Edited transcript: This interview was recorded and subsequently transcribed from tapes by For the Record, of Waldorf, Md. The transcript was edited by Ms. Jones and FTC staff.
Interview of Mary Gardiner Jones
October 9, 2003
CHRISTIAN S. WHITE: Mary Gardiner Jones is the one who brought me to the FTC some 32 years ago. To my immediate left is Marc Winerman, an attorney in the General Counsel's Office. Marc is an avid historian and we are here really in the first step of the Commission's oral history project. So, we're really excited to begin with you, Mary. We'd like to cover a little bit of background and there's some fascinating things we know about you that we would like to capture. But primarily what we want to do is talk a little about the process by which you became a Commissioner, your experiences as a Commissioner and how that may have developed over time. And then, finally, we also want to get in the record, if you will, the many things that you've done after your tenure as a Commissioner.
So, Marc is going to be the principal interviewer and with that, we'd just like to say how pleased we are that you're here. We appreciate that you're the one upon whom we begin this process and we hope it will stretch out in the future and provide an interesting resource for those who care about the Commission as we do.
MARY GARDINER JONES: Well, I need to also say to you, Chris, I am so delighted you're doing this. I think you are the attorney assistant that I am proudest of because you stayed in public service and devoted your life to what I really care about - public service. I think that's wonderful.
MR. WHITE: Thank you.
MS. JONES: It was great having you on my staff and its even greater still having you at the Commission.
MR. WHITE: Thank you very much.
MARC WINERMAN: Thank you, and I'd also like to thank you for accommodating us by coming to the Commission. It simplifies the mechanics of this project immensely and gives us a chance to do video as well as audio. So, we're very grateful.
MS. JONES: I'm glad to come here. It's just the environment one needs.
MR. WINERMAN: Great, thank you. I'd like to start out a bit with your background and what you brought to the Commission, and perhaps we'll go one step further at the outset, if you could talk a little bit about your family background.
MS. JONES: All right. My family on both sides goes back to the 17th century, specifically 1640 when Major Thomas Jones settled on the southern shore of Long Island. I've been doing some reading of the history of that period of Long Island and of New York, which is where I grew up. I discovered my family was active in public service even in those days, which is interesting. Mostly my mother's side of the family who came from Holland. My father's side of the family came from England. They were mostly landed gentry and property owners. But they did their stint of being whalers, chancellors and that kind of thing. So, I come from that kind of a historical background, which is really kind of interesting to read about.
More recently, I had an aunt who was the first woman lawyer in D.C. to pass the bar, Rosalie Jones. She was an active suffragette. She was known as General Jones because she led the March of the women on Washington back in the early 1900s. But she got a little eccentric after a while. She was a Senator's wife and she came to Washington in '32 with President Roosevelt. She was President of the Congressional Wives Club; she made a lot of speeches. In a family that didn't believe in work, no Jones worked. They sat and looked at property. And here she was a suffragette and a lawyer. I think the success of her life was too much for her and she really got very eccentric in her old age.
But she still continued to practice law. Her famous law case in Long Island was when - she raised goats to experiment with multiple births - her goats ate Mr. Guild's dahlias. Mr. Guild was regarded as a kind of an interloper because he had a dahlia farm and you really didn't do that in Cold Spring Harbor. You looked at property. You didn't produce anything on it. So, the community didn't like Mr. Guild either, but then when her goats ate his dahlias, they didn't know which side of the fence to be on. Anyway, she took it to court and she won because there was a law of the range that said you had to protect your property from the wildlife of the range and so she won the case. I don't think that eccentric part of her I followed, but I certainly admired her spunk, her leadership and her courage to stand against the times. Anyway, that's the General - I had an uncle who was a lawyer but didn't practice, many members of my family on both sides had been lawyers. So that's generally the background of my family.
MR. WINERMAN: You didn't seem to spend too much time looking at property. I guess if you could tell us a little bit about your college years, before law school and your law school career.
MS. JONES: Well, even as a kid, I was doing social work at the Herald Tribune Camp for boys near where I lived. I went to private school, so there wasn't much opportunity to do very much there.
In college, I majored in history and was interested in political science, but I was not very much of an activist. I was part of, in my senior year, a program that the Navy had to train college students in cryptography. It was secret on the campus. I got all the way up to getting a waiver for my nearsightedness and then I thought, I cannot be in the Navy, I cannot salute people and take orders. That would just be absolutely impossible for me. So, I ducked out. I think it was the best thing I ever did.
Then I did what I really wanted to do, which was to teach. I went down to the George School outside Philadelphia, which was the only coeducational boarding school in those days. I was an intern teacher. But then I decided I didn't know anything more than the kids. I was reading the same books. I was having the same emotional problems. I thought I didn't have anything to offer them at all. So, I had an opportunity from a professor friend of mine at college to go down to Washington. Her brother was in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and he was looking for somebody. So, I went down and got interviewed and he hired me. The day I arrived, he went off on a six-week vacation.
MR. WINERMAN: This was who?
MS. JONES: This was Hajo Holborn. He was a professor of History at Yale University. He worked in the research analysis part of OSS. It drew all the top-flight scholars from all over the country, a great many of them from Yale. It drew a lot of the very prominent refugees from Germany, German Jews. When I got there, they had just completed its main project, which was to develop handbooks for the occupying troops in Germany. They had used all these German refugees to map out the little towns, who was friendly, who was a Nazi. It was just extraordinary.
People like Franz Neumann, who was a history professor at Columbia, Otto Kirkheimer, who was a criminal justice lawyer, Herbert Marcuse, who subsequently became a famous philosopher, Harold Lewis, who was a Howard University Professor of History. They gave so much of their time and expertise to this project, it was wonderful. But by the time I got there, the project had been completed. My boss went on a vacation. He had an assistant in the office, Phoebe Morrison, who was an international lawyer. So, I went to work for Phoebe and I never did work for Hajo Holborn. That's how I got introduced to law.
I was kind of fascinated by it. I went to night school to see whether I liked it. Then when the OSS was over in '46, I decided to go to law school. Phoebe came from Yale, so - in those days, it was fairly easy. She wrote a letter and I think I had an interview of some kind and the next thing I knew, I got admitted. There were 100 in the class. There were two of us who were women, the rest of them were men. They were very friendly. It was not a hostile environment. But a lot of the students kind of said, "What are you doing here, you're taking the place of a man." I said, "Well, I want a career, too, and I've also been a part of the wartime effort."
Anyway, by and large, it was a wonderful experience. I really came alive in law school. I was the perfect Yale law student because I believed very naively in something called "the law." I couldn't understand the Yale Law School approach that what you had for breakfast and what your family and social experiences had been and the likewise was material to how you reached your decisions. I scratched and fought my way through law school and came out speaking pure Yale Law School stuff, because of course, they're absolutely right. I was, I guess, their perfect student because I really fought my way through all that. It was a difficult but exciting experience.
MR. WINERMAN: So, they converted you?
MS. JONES: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Been that way ever since.
MR. WINERMAN: And then you went into private practice?
MS. JONES: Um-hum. I had a real problem on that. I was a Law Journal editor, I graduated Order of the Coif, which is the legal Phi Bet. I did everything that was right and I couldn't get a job. I saw 50 law firms and I trudged my way from one to the other. Some of them were very open and honest and said they didn't hire women. Others put you through all this stuff, but they had no intention of hiring you I remember one man who said, "Oh, Ms. Jones, if I hired you, my partners would have a heart attack." He was at Cadwallader Taft. I went to several admiralty firms because I had done a lot of my honors work in international law.
I had written an article comparing the treason and collaboration trials in Switzerland, England and France. It was a very interesting study. I had really tried to carve myself out a specialty. But in those days, strangely enough, nobody admitted they practiced international law. They claimed they didn't know anything about it. So, I had to switch that approach.
When I went to one of the big admiralty firms. The partner who interviewed me said, "Oh, Ms. Jones, our young lawyers go into the holds of ships and you understand, Miss Jones, young female lawyers and the holds of ships." Well, I could just see those Lord Day and Lord lawyers going into the holds of ships. But anyway, that's the excuse they gave me.
Then there was one lawyer in another firm, which had an active practice in railroad and aviation law. He said, "You know, Ms. Jones, our young lawyers travel with their colleagues on trains." Then he thought for a moment and said, "We do have women in our aviation department, but you see Ms. Jones, that's airplanes." That was the legal mind at work.
But anyway - I finally did get a job actually at Donovan Leisure, that was headed by General Donovan who had run the OSS. But he didn't know me and I didn't know him then. But he was looking for somebody. We got talking about international issues and foreign policy. He liked the cut of my jib and I liked the cut of his jib, so he hired me. So, that's how I got into private practice.
MR. WINERMAN: Then a few years later, you went to the Antitrust Division.
MS. JONES: Um-hum.
MR. WINERMAN: And I gather you did international cartel litigation there, including significant cases.
MS. JONES: I realized at the law firm that I had to have some kind of a specialty, and since international law, in those days, was not a specialty, I thought antitrust might be a good one because it was policy-oriented and that was what I was interested in. The General urged it, too, and said he thought that might be useful to get that kind of experience. So, I got a job with the Eisenhower Administration. But that didn't bother me because antitrust in that sense from my level was not as politicized as is it today on the level of young lawyers. I did all the things you usually do. I was staff on an international watch case. My bosses kept leaving and I kept staying on it. Finally, there wasn't anybody else familiar with the case so when they had to go to trial, I finally got to try it. But it was not by anybody's selection or desire or anything like that. It was just there they were and they were stuck with me.
MR. WHITE: Persistence.
MS. JONES: Persistence. Yeah, I just stayed on it. So, that was fun. We had a judge, Judge Cashin, who came from Kingston, New York. I never thought he figured out the difference between the Clayton Act and the Sherman Act. But he was very sweet and very smart with witnesses. He liked women. That was very clear. All of a sudden, all of these Wall Street law firms dredged out the women in their firms that they had segregated in various closets. I met the judge in the hall one day and he said, "See what you've done. You've gotten these women some visibility." It was very cute.
So, that was fine. The major challenge I had was with the defendant's first witness, a Supreme Court Judge who testified that, of course, everything the defendants did was in accordance with Swiss law. I kept watching Judge Cashin for a day-and-a-half of testimony. I knew he was impressed with titles and he was looking very intently at that judge. I thought, I can't shake that judge. I thought about it overnight and the next morning I came in and I asked him a few gimmicky questions as to whether it was against Swiss criminal law or not and then I sat down. Of course, the defendant's attorneys weren't prepared for that at all. So, they asked for an adjournment because they weren't ready.
I met the judge in the hall a couple of days after and he said, "Oh, thank God you didn't cross examine that old windbag." We won the case but it was eventually settled by the Attorney General, in part because of pressure from the Swiss government that feared the case would damage relations with Switzerland. Then I was on the first IBM case, involving tabulating machine cards. Remington Rand was the owner of the UNIVAC patents and saw its opportunity to bring its UNIVAC computer to market, knowing that IBM would not dare to try to repress it. One of the major values of bringing that case was that IBM's hands were kind of tied while the case was going on and Remington Rand was smart enough to bring out its UNIVAC at that point.
So, as a result of the case, competition came in. We also, as I remember, prohibited IBM from continuing their lease-only policy. That freed the machines up a little bit and created a used market in computers. Those were the major impacts of the case. There was no question that IBM had tied up the field. They had a separation-of-field agreement with IT and NCR, National Cash Register. It was a vicious case. It was easy. But we settled it as we usually do in these instances.
Those were my two major cases, but I didn't try that one. I was just on the staff, but I did try the international cartel case.
MR. WINERMAN: And on the international cartel case, you actually got to combine your interest in antitrust and your international interests.
MS. JONES: That's right, and my policy issues, which were always important to me.
Then I got tired of the Antitrust Division and decided that I really ought to get back into private practice, I thought, well, this will be a snap. Same problem. Absolutely the same problem, even though I had now tried and won an international cartel case, I had a reputation, I had private practice experience. I had everything that you wanted, but they couldn't see that.
MR. WHITE: Mary, what year was that, would you say, that you were beginning to think about leaving?
MS. JONES: 1960. Yeah, I came in '53 and I guess it was 1958 and '59, I started to think about leaving and finally made the move in '60. The only reason I got the job, strangely enough, was through Wellesley. That is a curious place to get a job in a law firm. I had received one of those little cards that alumnae offices always send out, "Are you looking for a job? Can we help you?" I scrawled across the card, which I mailed back, "If anybody asks for a lady lawyer, I'm here."
The head of the Wellesley Career Office was obviously savvy. She called me up and she said, "No, we don't receive requests, but we have some male trustees who are lawyers in law firms in New York and and also husbands of trustees, so I will canvas them." And one of them, by God, needed a litigator. They had just taken on a client, which they couldn't keep because of a conflict of interest and had just passed the case on to the Webster Sheffield firm. The Webster Sheffield firm's antitrust litigator had just left to take a leave so they were desperate. In their desperation, they took a woman. At the time, I remember Bethuel Webster, the senior partner said, "How old are you?" I was 40 then. He said, "Well, you don't look it." It seemed a little funny.
Later I realized that he was grooming his son-in-law for the antitrust spot in his office and he was wondering whether I would work well with the son-in-law and whether ultimately I would let the son-in-law take over. So, this was why he hired me, none of which I realized at the time. I was still terribly naive. Still am, I guess, in some sense. But anyway, I had a lot of fun, enjoyed the work, learned a lot. But I had learned most of my skills already at Donovan Leisure. That's where you learn your skills when you come out of law school - I spent four years with Webster Sheffield and then got tired that I was not being made partner. I wanted to go to court, talk to the clients. I didn't want to always carry somebody else's bag. They couldn't understand that and the younger lawyers were breathing down my neck. I thought, I've paid my dues, I knew I was valued.
So, I went to one of the partners in the firm that I thought had a lot of outside practice and talked with him about the possibilities of non-legal jobs. He said, "I can help you with that." As I was thinking about it I got a telephone call from an attorney friend of mine in the Washington Antitrust Division asking if I would I like to be a Federal Trade Commissioner.
MR. WINERMAN: Where did that telephone call come from?
MS. JONES: That came from Worth Reilly, who used to be head of the Antitrust Office in New York City. Worth had heard the scuttlebutt in Washington that Johnson was looking for women and called me up. I said sure. I barely knew what the FTC was in those days. Antitrust was the the Department of Justice to me. I hadn't had any kind of FTC practice.
When we hung up, I thought, well, I have to do something about this because I really would like to do that. So I called John Lindsay, who was a personal friend of mine. I had grown up with John. We had been in law school together. I didn't realize I was asking John for political help. I just wanted to get some advice in terms of what I could do to help the cause as it were. He said, "I don't know, Mary, I'll look into it and call you back." He called me back the next day. He said, "Sure, I'll help you." That meant, I realized later, that he was willing to spend his credit cards on my appointment. Johnson was interested in rewarding his liberal Republicans, and that was who John was.
He said, "Do you know Esther Peterson?" I said no. He said, "Well, you ought to meet her." He also said, "I've already spoken to your senior partner and he'll take care of your Senators because you have to get your Senators' endorsements." They were both Republicans. Then I thought, well, that's fine. I went back to the partner I had talked to about the non-legal job and told him about this. I said, "I'm not playing this partnership issue now, I really would like to get that job." Well, he said, "I know Elliott Janeway and he owes me something." Janeway was one of the front men for Johnson in New York. "I'll set you up with an appointment." So, he did.
I went over to see Janeway. I can remember sitting across the desk from him. We were sniffing each other out and all of a sudden he leans back in his desk and said, "You strike me as a complete political innocent. I'll support you." This was a Republican spot so it was obviously important that I not be political. They didn't want anybody playing games with them. So, one of my qualifications was that I knew nothing about politics. That was fine with me because that was accurate. This thing was made in heaven. It was going to happen just because I was just right for all the things they needed.
MR. WINERMAN: One minor clarification. What was John Lindsay's position at that time?
MS. JONES: He was a Congressman in the House of Representatives, representing New York. Then I called a couple of friends down in Washington, Lloyd Cutler who had worked with my uncle and was now senior partner at Wilmer Cutler, and Ephraim Jacobs and Mark Hollabaugh, who were in the Antitrust Division and were savvy. I went down to talk to them. I remember Mark telling me that I would need to see Senator Javits. Mark had laid out all the legislation which Javits had proposed over the last 10 years and briefed me on all this stuff. As Eph Jacobs walked me out of the elevator, he said, "Mary," he was very slow-speaking, "I think you might have only more than two minutes with Javits." That relieved my mind a lot and he was exactly right. All that was expected was to make a courtesy call. I also called on Esther Peterson, who was extremely encouraging and said she would support my candidacy.
So, that's all I did. Then I got a call from Ralph Dungan who was Johnson's appointment secretary, asking if I would come down. So, I did. At that time I was so convinced that I couldn't possibly get the job that I was very relaxed. We got talking about how he picked people and what his criteria were. The first thing he said he looked to see was who was in whose pocket. He said, "In your case, we wanted to find somebody who is industry- connected but not is not specifically industry-connected." He said, "We have manufacturers who know only manufacturing, we have retailers who know only retailing. We tried the business schools but we couldn't persuade anybody from the business schools to do it. You've got a nice background in private law firms. That kind of fits this, and so, we're interested in that."
"Of course," he continued, "my problem is that I'm so Eastern establishment. I think there must be lots of people out in the Midwest and on the West Coast. For example, take your case. I was at a cocktail party and ran into Lloyd Cutler. He was telling me about you. You know, everybody knows everybody else in this area." But that was the sum total of the conversations mostly. I mean, he probably was looking for other things that I was unaware of. But I just felt very friendly towards him and I felt very comfortable.
Then I waited and I waited, and the office was starting to have farewell parties, and I still hadn't heard from anybody. And then I got a call. "Would it be convenient to come to the White House?" Well, it's always convenient to come to the White House. I came tooling down and saw Johnson. At that time, Walter Jenkins was still with him. I remember when I first got down, I didn't have time to change any of my clothes because I had locked myself out of my apartment, which, of course, one will do when one is nervous. So, I came down wearing a little house dress. Walter Jenkins comes out and says, "We are terribly sorry but the President can't see you until 2:00." So, I was fine. I went off to Garfinkel's and I bought an outfit, I got my hair done. At 2:00, I was back in the White House all properly coiffured. I tell you, everything was lucky on this.
Johnson sat there. He spent a lot of time talking with me, very relaxed and said, "You know, people are going to think this is just a political appointment to influence my campaign with Goldwater." But, he said, "I have a very intelligent mother, my wife is very intelligent, I have two daughters, and I think we have just not done enough with talented women. I believe in women's talents very strongly." Of course, I believed him because I like to believe everybody. But I did find in tapes that Beschloss has now published as a book that there are a couple of phone calls President Johnson made to people like Orville Freeman, his Secretary of Agriculture, where he's saying, "I want you to hire women, I want you to hire women in the top positions." So, it wasn't just a campaign issue for him. He really did believe in hiring top women and he did it. I'm very grateful to him for that.
The White House or someone leaked my possible appointment to the press. It was reported in the papers as a rumor. Again, a month passed and I didn't hear anything. I was up at my country place when I finally got another call. "Would it be convenient?" This time I was ready. I went down and met with Johnson again. He said, "Since I talked with you, we got a letter about you." One of the defendant's lawyers in the watch case had written a letter saying I was an antitrust persecutor and impossible to get along with and deal with. I thought that was a great compliment actually. I think probably Johnson did, too. He said, "I just want to read this to you so you know what's being said. I want it always to be said that you always listened, you listened to people and were fair-minded to them." I saw Johnson in his very simple kind of homily moods, which were also a part of him. I mean, he was such a many-faceted person.
I was very lucky. Those were the times that I saw him and he was just as genuine about those as he was about some of the other things he did. He sent my name to the Senate the next day as a recess appointment and then subsequently submitted it again to the Senate after it reconvened from its Christmas recess. I was confirmed. That was it. It was great. I couldn't believe it.
MR. WINERMAN: Let's see. Apparently, you had two qualifications for the role. Not only were you a woman, but also as you mentioned, you were also a Republican and it was a Republican seat. Could you describe your Republican credentials?
MS. JONES: Oh, I didn't have any. Everybody assumed it. I came from a Republican family. I had been in the Eisenhower Administration in the Antitrust Division, by sheer chance. So, nobody really questioned it. I had belonged to my Republican club in the neighborhood because when I got back to New York after law school, it was a social thing and a way of getting back into the community in New York. So I had joined it.
Those were my Republican credentials. I was more realistically an independent. I registered as an independent. But I resent the fact that those were my only two qualifications because I was an antitruster, I was well-known as an antitruster and - as I said, I had tried cases.
MR. WINERMAN: I'm sorry, I didn't mean it -
MS. JONES: I had the substantive qualifications, but you're quite right.
MR. WINERMAN: Right, right.
MS. JONES: But those aren't good for anything unless you have the substantive qualifications as well.
MR. WINERMAN: Those were the prerequisites that the administration was looking for, is what I meant.
During your confirmation hearings, Senator Monroney said, "I think they need an indignant woman aboard down there to do as the distinguished Senator from Maine," Margaret Chase Smith, "always does, dig those French heels in and say, 'Look, we are going to get this report out of the committee or I am going to make a report myself.' I found in my own personal experience that sometimes speeds up the action of the Senate, the men being dilatory and the lady being indignant, to get on with the housekeeping." Now, this isn't the sort of thing we would hear today.
MS. JONES: But it's lovely. I guess that's what I did.
MR. WINERMAN: I was wondering if you recall how you might have felt with remarks like that or continual remarks about being the first woman -
MS. JONES: Oh, I'm sure I was delighted. I don't think they gave you even the questions in advance. It was very perfunctory. I think I had a recess appointment.
MR. WINERMAN: You did. About two months.
MS. JONES: So, I had already been at the Commission.
MR. WINERMAN: Right.
MS. JONES: I think I looked at it pretty much as kind of perfunctory and they took it that way. There was no challenge. But I'm sure I was simply delighted with that. But I don't remember it particularly.
MR. WINERMAN: Okay.
MR. WHITE: It turned out that way.
MS. JONES: Yeah, exactly, exactly. He was a good forecaster or I was a good follower.
MR. WINERMAN: Actually, your response was, "I will sharpen my heels, Senator."
MS. JONES: Yeah, one wore heels in those days, that's right.
MR. WINERMAN: I'd like to talk next about the years before the Nader and the ADA reports, basically the Dixon Chairmanship. I was going to ask what you knew about the other Commissioners before arriving, but apparently -
MS. JONES: No, I really didn't. Elman, of course, we all had friends in common and everybody had told me that you and Philip Elman will have a wonderful time. I certainly didn't go to see Phil before I was appointed, but I'm sure that he was one of the first persons that I went in and talked to. We were happy to be soul mates. We had friends in common who were liberals. But the others, I didn't know at all. There was John Reilly and Paul Rand Dixon and - what was his name?
MR. WINERMAN: Everett MacIntyre.
MS. JONES: MacIntyre. I didn't know them at all. I hope that I made courtesy calls on them, but I'm not even sure I did that. Because, as I say, I'm not really politically minded and it probably didn't occur to me in those days to do that kind of thing. But I liked Rand, I got along with Rand well. I liked them all. They were all fine. I didn't have any problems with them.
MR. WINERMAN: And I gather from that that you hadn't, for example, followed much about the Elman controversy and the renomination of Commissioner Elman before -
MS. JONES: No, no, absolutely not. The sad part of my experience with Phil was that we were so much on the opposite end. I read Phil's interview [in the Columbia Oral History Project] and I think he probably had a good analysis of it, that I expected him to be supportive of me and I wasn't accustomed, in those days, to take opposition without taking it personally. I've learned a lot since then. But in those days, I think I took it very personally and I think I felt betrayed. But it was sad because somebody told me they took a statistic and Elman and I were more on opposite sides of issues than any other two Commissioners.
MR. WINERMAN: Really?
MS. JONES: That really startled me. I think, by the same token, Phil also had some problems of envy or jealousy just as I did and was also probably personally hurt. I think the two of us had these kind of emotional problems that probably really intervened because we were very good friends after the Commission and talked a lot about it afterwards.
Also, Phil had very different ideas. He was much more intellectually interested in the law and I was much more interested in social and economic policy. I saw my work was mostly to try and raise those policy issues in terms of how the Commission's work fits in and that wasn't Phil's major interest at all. Phil was a very, very brilliant lawyer. I was a good lawyer, but that wasn't my particular interest.
Then Phil loved to dissent and I didn't. My needs were to get along. His needs were to dissent. That bothered me. Some of his tactics bothered me. I'm sure, by the same token, some of my tactics must have bothered him and seemed wishy-washy. But I think just our whole personalities were very different. It was too bad. But we were always on the same side on most cases. I think - that's your recollection, too, isn't it?
MR. WHITE: I believe you're correct.
MS. JONES: Yeah. When we needed three votes on any socio-economic policy. We were together most of the time. It was more on legal issues where we dissented. In some instances, I think Phil's dissents were right and on others I think that they were wrong. I don't think it hurt the Commission, just we could have been better if we had been together.
MR. WINERMAN: What agenda did you have before arriving?
MS. JONES: It didn't occur to me. I knew the antitrust side. I didn't know anything about the consumer side. I learned the consumer side and then I developed an agenda. Being the only woman on the Commission, I was constantly invited by small consumer groups to speak. I wouldn't have known a consumer if I fell over one in those days, but I learned. I remember my first speech. Esther Peterson was supposed to give a speech to the advertising club in Canton, Ohio and she got sick. So, I went out - it was a blizzard. We went out on a small plane and I kept thinking, small plane lost in blizzard.
I get out there and I make a very serious speech about the FTC. All I could talk about in those days was kinds of hearts and flowers because I didn't know very much. It was the Advertising Man of the Year evening and everybody was drunk as a lord and making jokes. Here I was with my little serious speech. I didn't know how to throw speeches away in those days. That was a technique I learned later. I remember there were round tables and there was one character sitting right in front of me who kept nodding during my speech. I'm sure he was drunk as a lord, but I thought he was agreeing with me. That encouraged me, and I spoke right to him.
MR. WHITE: So he was probably nodding off.
MS. JONES: Yes, that's right. I got through it. Basically it was my consumer contacts that excited me. I suddenly realized that the purpose of the FTC up to that time had been to try and educate business as to what its responsibilities were. So, all of its guidelines that it issued were trying to explain the law to business people and all of its public communications, as much as they had in those days, were directed to the business community.
I suddenly realized that what we needed was to have consumer supporters and to have them know what their rights were. We started to turn this around. We began to issue guidelines that talked to consumers about what their rights were and how they could exercise them. I remember suggesting to the Commission that we ought to invite consumers to our hearings. I remember John Reilly saying to me, "Oh, Mary, not the ladies," because he thought that they would be mainly Helen Hokinson type reporters who had occasionally come to Commission hearings. That's what he thought about consumers. I said, "Yes, dammit all, John, if that's who they are, that's who will come." But I knew better. The consumer activists were very bright and sophisticated.
I used to bring back to the Commission after my speeches the names of consumer organizations and people who said they wanted to be on our mailing list. So we put a list together and started to communicate with them. Then we started to invite them as witnesses. I remember one hearing we had on pollution, I think it was detergent or something -
MR. WHITE: It was detergents.
MS. JONES: Detergents. There was a very bright woman who testified on behalf of consumers in terms of the impact on the environment of this stuff. She was very good-looking. I remember Rand leaning over to me and nudging me and saying, "Mary, this was a good idea." That was his reaction because they were pretty.
MR. WHITE: Mary, that was Aileen Adams Cowan.
MS. JONES: Is that who it was? Okay.
MR. WHITE: It was my client. It was those hearings. I have to tell this story.
MS. JONES: Oh, yes.
MR. WHITE: I was making a presentation in those hearings and Commissioner MacIntyre asked me a question and I answered that question. He asked me another question and I realized that he was leading me down the wrong path, that really my original answer was wrong. So, I was trying to decide whether to stop and say, excuse me, I started wrong and backtrack and then go in the right direction, or whether I could get to the point that I wanted to make without having to do that, when from the other side of the bench the question came in from you in a fairly easy to catch manner. I said, "Yes, that's exactly what I meant to say, thank you."
MS. JONES: Yeah, you have to do that when you see a witness being led down a garden path that they don't want to go, and MacIntyre would have good techniques to do that.
MR. WHITE: Indeed.
MS. JONES: That's great. You know, in those days, it was just Phil and I, so it was two against three, but occasionally John Reilly would join us.
I don't know whether I'm jumping now, but when Reilly left, he said to the Commission - somebody asked him whether he had he picked his resignation date yet. He said no, he hadn't. Rand spoke up at that point and said, the day you retire is the day the President will appoint McKay Henderson, who was our General Counsel. I didn't think he was at all qualified for the job. But he had a very good paper record. He had done antitrust work in Korea, I think it was. He was a Texan. I remember Phil and I being absolutely appalled and Phil going to work with his political contacts to do whatever he could do about it. Since I didn't have any of those types of contacts, I decided to write the President a letter. I said, "We've got a new Commissioner coming up, that we all happened to have government backgrounds and we tended to be a little bit older." I was 45, 46 then. What we needed was young blood and somebody who was in private practice and so forth. I never said anything about McKay Henderson. I never heard. I got an acknowledgment from John Macy, the head of the administrations civil service.
Then on December 10th, I remember very clearly, I got one of those calls. "Would it be convenient to come to the White House?" So, I came wondering what the hell I had done now, because I hadn't been in the White House since my appointment. Johnson comes out and says, "Oh, come in, Mary." He said, "Now, I just appointed this young man who's in private practice, who's from Indianapolis, he doesn't know much about antitrust but I want you to take him in hand and teach him about antitrust." Then he added, "I don't know much about his politics" - which I am sure was not true - "but he's against discrimination." That was very important because we needed a third vote on a case we had pending that was, I thought, quite innovative where we were trying to sue the real estate companies in D.C. for failing to disclose material facts, to whit, that they wouldn't rent or sell to blacks.
I knew that that wasn't a great case for us because we didn't have any effective sanctions and teeth. But, nevertheless, it was important to have the principle established. Obviously, Johnson knew all about it. The problem with Johnson was, he shouldn't have known that much about the Commission, he must have followed everything. He had a prodigious mind - and work. He told me that we wouldn't have any problem with our third vote on that case.
At that point he said, "Now, I know you've been having problems with Elman and I'm going to take care of that." He apparently was privy to all of the things that were going on at the Commission. Then he said, "Now, I'm awfully sorry, but I have to go because my daughter's wedding rehearsal is this evening and Secretary Rusk is outside." I just sailed out. That wa-s my only other experience with him until after he retired.
MR. WHITE: And who was the young man?
MS. JONES: Jim Nicholson. He did, indeed, come in, and he was very good. He was the one who started to clean out a lot of the dead wood cases that we and the staff had been coping with. But I'm getting ahead of myself. So you go ahead.
MR. WINERMAN: I'd like to go back to the period before this meeting, which I believe was towards the end of 1967. You characterized the Commission as you and Commissioner Elman against the others. I was wondering if you could describe a little bit about what the other Commissioners were trying to accomplish and how they were trying to accomplish it.
MS. JONES: We had very sincere philosophical differences. Both Dixon and MacIntyre believed very strongly, they had been on the Hill, they believed very strongly that the leadership for statutory changes should initiate with Congress. Both Phil and I, especially with my Yale Law School background and Phil, with his experiences with the Hill in the Solicitor General's office, believed that we should take that responsibility off the Congress. The last thing the Congress wanted to do was resolve these problems. That's politically impossible for them. We knew that changes should, to the extent possible, be made through interpretation. When you need to expand the law, you do it by interpretation.
These were very real differences. Then there were other differences where Phil and I were just more consumer-oriented and they were more business-oriented. They had been brought up that way. They viewed the FTC that way. The FTC had always been that way. It's always easier for new people to come in and see another route. They weren't particularly consumer-minded. They thought that was kind of a nuisance. They didn't take consumers very seriously. They were thought of as women in those days and that was all a part of that problem.
Actually, it turned out there were many, many able men and, I think, probably in balance more men than women in the Nader period of public interest advocacy. The consumer organizations were mostly women-dominated.
I got angry at them, yes, because they were conservative and I wanted to move and they wanted to support the FTC as it was. There was a lot of cronyism, there was a lot of old line friendships between them and some of the business interests, and between them and some of the chief staffs. That made it really hard.
MR. WINERMAN: When you talk of business interests here, are you speaking of small business groups or business more generically?
MS. JONES: Well, it depended. Rufus Wilson, who was the Bureau of Competition Director and a friend of Rand's, was very much into small business and so was MacIntyre. I think Rand, himself, was probably just as much oriented to the interests of big business.
In many instances, Rand's personality and style wouldn't appeal to a lot of the big business, because they were more sophisticated and Rand didn't come across that way. He was probably more simpatico with smaller businesses who were a little bit more southern or western or not quite as Harvard Business School oriented as many of the chief executives were. So, it was a kind of a mix.
But, basically, I think they were comfortable with the old Commission. It must have been hard for them when new people come in and wanted to change things because it's a challenge and it says you're wrong. It's not easy to come in and change and try to make changes because it implicitly says, we're criticizing you. Whether you wanted to do that or not.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, what would you make of the characterization some people have set up, that there was sort of an eastern intellectual block, which would have been you and Commissioner Elman, and a southern populist block?
MS. JONES: Yeah, I would agree, except that I was probably much more populist than any of them, in the real sense of the word. I'm not much on putting labels on people. I'm probably more reflective now and generous to them than in those days. I probably felt angrier. Chris could probably testify to that. I probably called them all kinds of names. Chris, maybe you better intervene here and refresh me a little bit, because I suspect I probably wasn't as philosophical as I am now.
MR. WHITE: I think that's right. I remember a meeting, the first meeting that I ever came to as an attorney advisor. As I recall, at that time, attorney advisors were to be seen and not heard and only came to Commission meetings on the direct invitation of their Commissioner. And at one point, you asked me to come with you. And I think I wound up sitting to your left and you were actually at the table about where you are now.
Rand was about where Marc is and I was in between with my seat pulled slightly back. I was trying to be inconspicuous, not an easy thing for me. And at some point in the discussion, I remember you were making a point and Rand sort of reared up and leaned across me. He put his hand out to lecture you on some point and you both had a spirited discussion. I thought, my God, is this what Commission meetings are like? And I really didn't know because I had no experience of it.
And afterwards, as the two of you were leaving, you were as congenial and as calm and collected about it as I could have imagined. So, it was my sense from that little tiny window was that indeed there was a lot of spirited debate.
MS. JONES: Oh, there was. I didn't mean it was all sweetness and light. Obviously, if it reached the President's level there had to be a lot of confrontation among the Commissioners. We challenged Rand directly because we wanted to have some control over appointments of the senior staff, because that's where the Chairman has so much power and the Commissioners really have almost none. That's where all the decisions are made and that's how policy is made. The only role left is to write dissents and give speeches or talk to the press or whatever. But it's that control over appointments that to my mind was critical to influencing the Commission's direction. We tried to change that. Rand wasn't going to allow it. No Chairman is going to allow it because that's the way they impress their own personalities and beliefs on Commission policy and practice. I guess that's what Chairmen are supposed to be doing, but that clearly was a revolt in the ranks.
This housing issue was also a kind of revolt in the ranks. But this time we had three votes. We had Reilly and then Nicholson came along to replace Reilly. I remember when Rand challenged me that we would be hurting the passage of the housing legislation on the Hill. That was the only time that I took a political action. I went down to see Senator Javits. I laid out the housing issue that we were involved in and said, I'd like to get your advice in terms of whether you believe it would hurt the housing legislation then pending on the Hill. I remember Javits thinking about it for a few minutes and then he turned to me and said, "The FTC has a reputation for being slow. I wouldn't hurry." So, he figured out that he could use the Commission's pending action as leverage for the legislation. We both knew legislation was going to be much more effective than anything we could do. The legislation was eventually passed. He figured he could use it by saying, "Those crazy fools are going to do something stupid unless we adopt this legislation." So, that was very helpful. But I didn't do that very often.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, you've talked about the meetings a bit. Philip Elman has described smoke-filled Commission meeting rooms. The Washington Post in an editorial, praising you when you left the Commission, spoke of the noise of Commission meetings, which they described as voices in loud debate. Could you describe the tenor of the meetings?
MS. JONES: I think Chris probably best describes it. I know that I can recount the differences to you now in a kind of dispassionate voice, but in those days I was feeling passionate about the issue. I was really very upset at Rand and MacIntyre and convinced that they were wrong and that the Commission must act. So, I'm sure the discussions were loud and passionate. But, remember, that was 30 years ago. My memory dims a little on those kinds of things. But there's no question that we were poles apart and there were angry exchanges, of course.
MR. WHITE: May I just come back to a point that you made earlier? There was a dispute between the Commissioners and the Chairman about the appointments to the heads of the major units within the Commission.
MS. JONES: Right.
MR. WHITE: And I just want to make sure I understand that. That was a dispute about the interpretation of the Reorganization Plan.
MS. JONES: That's right.
MR. WHITE: The Plan allocates administrative power to the Chairman and reserves certain powers for the Commissioners. The Chairman can make appointments to the staff, and he needs to obtain Commission approval only for appointments to head "major administrative units." There was a dispute as to how many staff members were heads of "major administrative units."
MS. JONES: That's right, that's right.
MR. WHITE: And that dispute couldn't really be resolved inside the building, could it?
MS. JONES: I guess not. Well, Rand could have said, "I'll take your advice, and consult with you on all the appointments you're questioning. I will bring two or three candidates to your attention." He could have kept the power and at the same time be more considerate of our feelings. I suppose, on the other hand, if there had been some of the Nader organizations that existed later that would have taken that issue up and brought suit like Humphrey's Executor, I don't know how it would have come out. I'm not sure a court would have gone with it. I think that's probably got to be part of the Chairman's prerogative. If we'd written the legislation, we would have written in that the Chair had to consult more broadly. But a Chairman doesn't have to and they can also consult perfunctorily.
It probably was a losing battle, but it was critical because it was so hard to get past the staff. Chris, I'm sure you were on the staff and could appreciate that. There were some few people on the staff who were concerned in doing what you wanted to have done, but they had problems getting past their chiefs and bureau directors. It wasn't until Kirkpatrick came in and top staff changed that we could get these kinds of things done. The other Commissioners were always fighting a delaying action and it was hard to get proactive stuff going. We couldn't bring the cases.
MR. WINERMAN: That would be Kirkpatrick or Weinberger?
MS. JONES: Oh, no, not Weinberger.
MR. WHITE: I want to come back to one of the other matters. I appreciate that there was a controversy about the allocation of power and it never was completely resolved, I suppose, and hasn't been a source of major controversy since. You also mentioned, though, the housing project.
MS. JONES: Um-hum.
MR. WHITE: And I'm wondering whether that was an example of what was happening out in the country coming into effect at the Commission. The late '60s were an exciting time in the big cities.
MS. JONES: Oh, there's no question. A lot of the economic reports that we did on the poor pay more and the pricing in the ghetto were a result of the Kerner Report after the Watts riots that talked about the urban consumer unrest because of the sleazy marketing practices they experienced in the low income markets. The country was aflame with the problems that consumers were having. Esther Peterson was talking about it. There were riots, protests in some of the supermarkets from the consumers, and of course this reflected itself on the Commission.
I was very much involved in all that because I believed that the Commission must play its part in promoting equal justice. I became a leader for that point of view. The Commission didn't see itself as playing a social justice role, and I did very clearly. I think Elman did, too. I forget whose thought it was to bring the housing case, but it certainly fitted in with our jurisdiction. It involved a service and false advertising case using traditional FTC law on failure to state a material fact. I can't think of a more material fact than that a real estate agent won't sell and rent to blacks and conceals that fact from you.
The only problem with the sanctions - and we ought to get to the sanction part of it after this - because it was remedied later on - was that we only had cease and desist powers. But at that time that just wasn't going to cut it. There was no question about that. I was very much concerned about that aspect of the case.
Before I came to this interview I reviewed some of my speeches that I had given during my tenure as Commissioner. They were almost totally related to the social and economic impact of marketing and business on the national economy, on consumers' abilities to participate in the emerging national market place and on the economy and on inflation. Generally, I tried to relate the FTC's actions to the larger issues of marketing and consumer information. I tried to persuade whatever group I was with that these issues did not just involve an FTC violation. We had socio-economic problems that the country had to come to grips with. I saw the FTC as a very small, but significant tool to impact these larger issues. I believed that that was the duty of an FTC Commissioner. You had a little power, you could impact problems and you had the bully pulpit from which to do it. Unfair practices in the ghetto all contributed to the unrest of those who were being cheated and deceived in the market place.
I saw that as my role.
MR. WHITE: And there were a series of cases that the Commission brought that were an attempt to address practices that primarily affect the urban poor.
MS. JONES: I believe that bringing these cases was a big triumph of the Commission because I believed very strongly, especially after all these riots, the '68 Riots in DC, the Kerner Report, the Watts Riot, that the Commission had to play a role in the ghetto market place. The argument on the part of the other Commissioners and the staff was that bringing cases against inner city small business did not give you the greatest bang for the buck. If you go after a small retailer, even if you put them out of business, they emerge in another community under another name, so you were just wasting Commission resources. I said I didn't care about that, that the blacks and the low income populations constituted, in those days, 11 percent of the population, much more now, and that they deserved 11 percent of our resources. That's the way I wanted them to see it.
Well, I finally did make a dent because the Commission staff set up a unit for metropolitan fraud that was charged with bringing fraud and deception cases against inner city merchants. As part of this program, we did bring complaints against local retailers like New York Jewelry and Walker-Thomas charging them with deceptive pricing and marketing practices.
We also issued some innovative trade practice guides involving the holder in due course doctrine. Trying to stop the use of this practice to avoid liability for their deceptive and unfair marketing practices by selling their installment contracts to third parties who took them free and clear of any defenses the consumer might have had against the original seller. These sellers adopted the practice of adding each new product a consumer bought to the original installment sales contract, so that the poor debtor could never get out from under it and everything he bought was always subject to being repossessed if he failed to pay an installment. It was an outrageous practice. Just absolutely incredible fraud on the consumer. We had to stop it and we did.
MR. WINERMAN: In a set of unusually personal remarks, you gave a speech that was printed as an article in 1969, so the event may have been in '68 or '69. It was "The Role of National Companies: Ghetto Development, Redress of Denied Opportunities, Growth and Profit Maximization or Black Capitalism?" It was a two-day seminar and you began by saying you had prepared remarks in advance and had decided that they were too full of platitudes that had been condemned the day before. Instead you delivered an impassioned speech that you apparently wrote the night before. Do you recall that incident?
MS. JONES: No, but I was accustomed to throwing speeches away. I'd go to conferences and discover that I had picked the wrong note that either the audience was ahead of me or they were too far behind me or I just was talking about the wrong topic. So, it was not unusual for me to throw away the speech. I don't remember that specific incident, but I lived and breathed this stuff. If you look at my speeches and papers, they were full of footnotes of articles and writing about the poor people and the blacks and what they were suffering in our economy. So, it was easy for me to do that.
MR. WHITE: That may be worth a visual. Let me reach behind you. Those two hefty tomes are your speeches, Mary.
MS. JONES: I looked over my '68 speeches because you referred to one of them. I noted I was giving a speech almost every three weeks. They were all dealing with these kinds of issues, talking to lawyers and telling them about the ghetto marketplace. I also talked about franchising as a way for people to start small businesses. I suggested to lawyers that they had some obligation to inform themselves about franchising from the point of view of the franchisee so that they could better advise their clients. My speeches weren't totally limited to this. I talked about other aspects of franchising that would or would not pass muster under the FTC laws.
I felt it was essential to just focus on the whole economy as well as on the people who couldn't participate in it. A significant part of the economy involves jobs and purchasing power and exclusions. My speeches were my bully pulpit. I used them to evolve my own thinking. My general pattern was here's the national issue, here's what you're concerned with, this is the FTC's role in it and here's the solution of what you could do. I always wanted to end on something that was positive, the things that they could do that could help them, their own interests, and help society.
MR. WINERMAN: I noticed that your speeches, while there were a fair number specifically devoted towards inner city problems, that you also took a broader perspective with speeches on subjects such as the cultural and social impact of advertising on American society.
MS. JONES: Yes, I recognized what a powerful force advertising was in our economy and in our society. I felt that advertisers had to understand the impact of what they were doing. They weren't just selling products. Their advertisements were affecting the whole country. It was important that they understood this. The FTC needed to understand it as well. I spoke as much to them and to the staff as I did to the industry. In my speeches, I tried to bring it home to them in some specific way. The FTC had the ability to impact people's lives and had the potential to do much more. I worked hard to make sure that the Commission used the full range of the power that Congress had given it.
I also wrote on computer-assisted education. I was doing an investigation for the Commission on conglomerate mergers and why they were taking place. I had been invited by the Hutchins Group, the policy group in Santa Barbara, to come out to talk with them. One of the things I, as a Commissioner, wanted to explore with them was how do you get policy accepted, how do you get it translated into some kind of action.
I remember Harry Ashmore, a member of the group and editor of a large newspaper in South Carolina, I think it was. He said, "Well, I don't know much about policy making, Commissioner, but I am interested in the mergers taking place between computer companies and publishing companies." He said, "I think it's very interesting, I think you ought to look into it." I decided, being a Commissioner, I can do that. So, I talked with the other Commissioners, they agreed it was an important question and urged me to go ahead. I interviewed all kinds of people in the publishing and computer industry and began to realize what was happening. Educational curricula were being computerized into software. Unlike books, computer software was difficult to evaluate and difficult for educators, teachers and school boards to control. I feared this change might shift control over education from the educational community to the business community. I was deeply upset by this.
Now, that wasn't particularly an FTC subject, but because of that, I got on to the President's Committee on Computers and Software (COSATI). We worried about the same issues of access and equity that we are still concerned with today. It is called the digital divide today but the lack of computers and sophisticated educational software has been a problem for inner city and rural schools and poor school districts. So, this investigation drew me into a lot of areas that I was very fascinated by. And then, of course, I would give more speeches or write articles. It ultimately drew me into telemedicine and how to deliver home care electronically to the homebound and chronic patients or young mothers with premature babies. But that is getting ahead of my story.
I'd be invited by the computer and educational people to attend their conferences on what was then called computer assisted education. When I first went there, I didn't understand the language. I didn't know what they were talking about. But you learn.
MR. WHITE: I guess that changed.
MS. JONES: I could ask the policy questions, which is why they invited me. They knew all the other stuff, but they were interested in what the policy implications were.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, one topic that gets spoken of sometimes is the synergies between the competition and consumer protection missions, and you've just spoken about a very different synergy between the competition mission and broader social issues that aren't directly competition-related.
MS. JONES: Yeah, that's right, that's right. And the synergies between consumer protection and - well, that's another issue of incidental consequences. I remember when we were worrying about the scope of warranties to meet consumer needs in the marketplace. Being good Federal Trade Commissioners, we were very much in favor of having stiff warranties that would help the consumer. I remember one General Electric official coming in and saying, "We can comply with those warranties." But, he said, "Small business can't. They're too detailed." I listened to that and I thought, they're right, we have to be careful. We could just accomplish the reverse of what we want to accomplish if we make the warranty requirements so complex that most small businesses can't implement them or live up to them. We would end up hurting small business and competition.
It was interesting as a Federal Trade Commissioner. If you listen to consumers and business with an open mind and sort out what was genuine about what they said, you can gain a lot of information and insight. I had training on this when I was in the Antitrust Division in New York, because I had done a lot of consent decree negotiations. An important role was to listen and figure out what the defendants were saying that made sense and what they were saying that was just there to protect them. So, I had had a lot of experience in doing that kind of thing.
MR. WINERMAN: You've indicated on some of these you were alone on some of these issues, but somehow you did manage to bring fellow Commissioners along and to get staff to initiate actions to promote the programs that interested you. Can you describe how you did that? How were you able to influence Commissioners and also staff?
MS. JONES: I hope it's the power of what I was saying, but I really don't have any idea. Elman was clearly where I was. He may not have focused his speech making and what have you on the social impact of FTC's jurisdiction, but he clearly had that kind of a personality, and Reilly did, too, and so did Nicholson. So, when we finally started to act on these types of issues, they weren't particularly opposing. I may have been the lone voice in the sense of initially arguing for this broader social approach to the Commission's business, but I think after a while, we did get three votes to support cases implementing these concerns.
I don't know, I would like to think that younger staff members were cheering that on, too. Chris could probably be a better source of how staff felt. I don't know, I just don't know. I don't even remember how much part I played through talking to my staff. Certainly my staff had contacts with other Commissioners' staffs and with FTC staff and that might have had some influence. A lot of it was done by Commission vote.
MR. WHITE: I think that's right.
MS. JONES: Yeah, it probably was done by vote of the Commission.
MR. WINERMAN: So, you initiated the staff actions by a vote on the Commission?
MS. JONES: Yes, we could do that. We could direct them to do that.
MR. WHITE: And there were some studies undertaken as part of that -
MS. JONES: Oh, yes.
MR. WHITE: - that used the Commission's information gathering power.
MS. JONES: That's right. That ghetto study was fine. In fact, it was the only current study of ghetto marketing practices and prices. There was one book titled, I think, "The Poor Pay More." But the Commission study was much more rigorous and showed in the District of Columbia the price differences between the ghetto and the middle income markets, and that ghetto prices were much higher. It also showed the relative costs of doing business in the two markets. The way the ghetto retailers did business was highly expensive. It was a very fine study and it was really the only thing that people cited. It was cited in Hill debates and hearings. You have to remember that that was the period when people were very consumer-minded and when the war on poverty was a high priority of the administration. They were concerned about the issues of the poor. It was a wonderful heyday period of this country, which unfortunately doesn't exist today anymore.
But under Johnson it did. We had legal services. We had the war against poverty. We had a bully pulpit in the White House. It was a Democratic Congress and they were interested in these important consumer and social issues. Usually when you go to Congress for your hearings on your appropriations, they used to ask you questions, why did you bring these mergers or why did you hurt big business? Instead the kind of questions we got, were why didn't you do more, why aren't you bringing more merger cases, what are you doing for the poor? The whole environment of this country was dedicated to try and solve these problems of the poor, the handicapped and the consumer. Unfortunately, even that didn't help. Maybe Vietnam mucked it all up. But it was a wonderful confluence of meeting of the minds. So, I was just sailing along in this same period.
MR. WINERMAN: I've also heard from Chris and others that you had brought people to the Commission or you had inspired people to come to the Commission. Do you recall how you did that?
MS. JONES: Yes, that was one of the things I did when I got on the Commission. I was entitled to three legal assistants. I had one lawyer. I figured I was a lawyer, so I didn't need any more than that. I was very interested in - I think in the first year, I probably had lawyers. In my second year, I got interested in the whole advertising and social marketing field. I had been invited by a business marketing school to give a speech about what marketing graduates could do for the FTC. That educated me in terms of what skills and expertise these students and professors had. I realized there was a whole resource out there of people who were studying the social impact of marketing, advertising and other issues with which we were grappling. I thought what I needed to do was bring somebody with these skills on my staff. My third staff member was an economist. I always had an economist.
Murray Silverman was my first marketer staff person. At my suggestion, he talked a lot with the Commission consumer protection staff. After a couple of years of working with people like this, I was simply delighted to see that the staff finally picked that up and hired somebody on their own. As a result, the Commission started to hire some research-oriented, survey-oriented people who were now very influential in our advertising programs because lawyers can't do that. They haven't the faintest idea of how to change people's habits. They needed the expertise and input of these more business-oriented social marketers. So, I did that by bringing them on my staff. The same thing with the economists, although they had economists, of course, and they were very good. But it was useful to have an economist on my staff.
In the later years, I brought on straight business school graduates with organizational development and management experience. I should have realized the need earlier. I was really a very poor Commissioner because I didn't know anything about management, and lawyers are notoriously bad managers. So, I brought a business school guy on my staff to try and teach me about what management by objectives were. It was hard for me because, as a lawyer, my training is to write every regulation so tight that you tied everybody up. The lawyers would get around it anyway and game it. I began to realize that what you have to do is put in objectives and then get reports on how they reach those objectives.
Now, I wish I had known that deeper inside of me. They were really pushing me to do this because I still was hanging on to my old ways of doing things because I trusted those. I was sorry that I didn't build that earlier. They helped me with policy planning and, of course, Chris was wonderful in that area, too, and took it on when he went on the Commission staff. My economist also went on the staff of the Commission and carried on my interest in policy planning.
So, I did have some influence that way. I don't know about the people who came to the Commission because I was there then. They didn't tell me that.
MR. WHITE: You mentioned too some fairly substantial administrative changes that occurred when you were on the Commission. You were talking about two administrative developments at the Commission that I think really changed the way it operated in a significant way. It was at the beginning of the '70s that the Commission adopted a program budget, sort of reorganized the way it looked at what the staff was doing and developed the capability of deciding how much it was spending in particular areas and whether that made sense and that the Commission could tell the staff what to do not just on a case-by-case basis, but in a program-by-program way. That led to the development of objectives and a different way of the Commission attempting to direct in a forward-looking way what the staff was doing.
The other major change, I think, in the consumer protection area was the focus on getting empirical information about how consumers really behave, about what impact advertising claims actually have on consumers. I think you were instrumental, it seemed to me, in both of those processes.
MS. JONES: Yes, I believed in both of these developments very strongly. My policy interests had grown in the first years I was there. But it was a long time before we got the Commission to even consider exploring how policy planning could benefit the Commission's work. Even so, I never succeeded in getting the Commissioners to really state their priorities. What you needed was staff, very skilled staff, to bring those issues before them, carefully documented in terms of numbers of people impacted, costs and benefits and, perhaps even success rates and potential, and then get the Commission to decide where it wanted to put its money.
But the Commissioners were lawyers and they don't think that way. They didn't want to do that. I worked a little with Commission staff to do it internally with staff and, hopefully, get them to select the cases that made sense, but I never could get the Commission to support that kind of approach to case selection. I think the Chairmen had their own concepts of priorities, and applied their concepts, but that was essentially intuitive and seat of the pants thinking. I wanted it done consciously at the Commission level. Strategic planning, I think it's called; I didn't even know the words for that at that time. If you could only start again with what you learned later. But that's all right. Thank you for saying that because I did want to see those things done and I'm glad that they had some impact.
MR. WINERMAN: In terms of the way you operated, you mentioned at one point that you did a lot of your own interviewing when you were doing investigations. Did you call people up? What did you do?
MS. JONES: Yes. There were two instances when I did that. The first, I have already mentioned, involving mergers between computer and publishing companies. I talked to the Commission about it and they said, "Go ahead and do it." So, I had authority to make this investigation and study. One of the people I called up was Norman Cousins, the editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. And there were many others I talked with. The second investigation I made on my own with the Commission's blessing was my study of conglomerate mergers. I called up Litton, I think, and IBM and by that time, I had an awful lot of contacts.
When you were a Commissioner, it was pretty easy. I remember talking to the CEO of Rapid American. He was a wonderful Israeli guy. He told me he had originally wanted to be in investment banking, but that no Jew was permitted to go into investment banking in those days. So, he had gone into retailing. I wanted to get some sense of what his conglomerate mergers were all about and why he did it. So, it was - it was very interesting. I just called them up. I'm not even sure - did I take staff with me? I don't think so.
MR. WHITE: I don't think so.
MS. JONES: And then I made a report to the Commission. I don't know what happened to it.
MR. WINERMAN: I think that was something that was contemplated in 1914 and done very rarely afterwards.
MS. JONES: I think that's right. Elman was always high on the Commission doing economic and industry wide reporting. The Bureau of Economics did a wonderful job, but was not much on big policy issues.
MR. WINERMAN: More precisely, I think it was contemplated early on that Commissioners might take more of a hands-on approach. I've seen early Commissioners who actually traveled around the country conducting hearings in Part III litigation.
One thing you've mentioned, that you suggested we get back to, is the question of sanctions in the housing cases.
MS. JONES: Yes. Designing more effective sanctions generally was a real contribution that Kirkpatrick's Commission made. I haven't checked my dates on this, but, anyway, one of the problems with the Commission was that it only had cease and desist power. In the advertising field, this was a particularly significant weakness because by the time we got around to bringing our complaint, trying it through the Commission, having it appealed through the courts, the advertising campaign which was subject to the complaint had been completed.
I can envisage easily the conversations inside the corporation where the marketer said, "We've got this great campaign. The lawyers suggest that the campaign may be a little bit close to the edge." The chief executive turns to the lawyer and says, "Well, what can happen to us if we do it?" He says, "Nothing." It's a forgone conclusion that the CEO will say, "Well, let's take the risk." I mean, I can see that dialogue.
What we needed to do was to weigh the argument on the other side so that the lawyer would say, "If you do this you could be in big trouble." But none of us on the Commission had very many ideas about this. In fact, none. We brought a false advertising case against Campbell's Soup for putting marbles in its soup so that the vegetables in the soup would be shown bubbling to the top. So, the Commission, bless its heart, brings this case. As usual, the complaint sanction was the typical cease and desist order. But this time some GW law students file a motion to intervene under the acronym of SOUP, Students Opposed to Unfair Practices.
Their challenge to the case was the ineffectiveness of the sanctions. They wanted to intervene in order to argue for the insertion in the complaint of a sanction that would require corrective advertising. If the company was found guilty of false advertising, it would be required to spend its own advertising dollars to tell the public that its former ad had deceived them. Well, this was sinful. The Commission didn't like this at all. They didn't want these young whippersnappers coming in and telling them what to do. I thought it was brilliant for many reasons and I'll go into some of that afterwards. I don't remember if we let them intervene, but I think we adopted the idea and amended the complaint.
So, thus was born corrective advertising. That was just brilliant. That really gave us sanctions that we didn't have and sanctions that were meaningful to the industry. So, that just came from the youngsters. I remember when I used to talk to young people who had lost all faith in government and in any belief that they had any impact on anything, I would cite that as one example of the impact young people can have on policy makers. They did have an impact. They just had to keep working. We got many ideas from consumers and advocates, many of which we adopted. I think ad substantiation was an idea that came from the public. That was the idea that advertisers could not make claims in their advertising unless they had substantiating documentation in their files to support the claims made. This was a very effective power which even the outside bar liked as it helped them police their clients which they saw as their main job in representing their clients.
The other reason why I believed that we should permit consumers to intervene was to preserve a better balance between the Commission and the defendants, particularly large company defendants. Most cases are essentially the Commission against industry. But the Commission had concerns that were not entirely germane to the merits of the complaint. First, it didn't want to lose cases in litigation; second, it wanted to settle cases a lot because that was cheaper and more protective of its scarce manpower. So, we weren't really a full advocate against business. What we really needed was the consumers to be able to intervene because they would then protect their interests, industry would protect their interests and the Commission could do what it ought to do, which is mediate between the two. With consumer participants in the case, the Commission could not arbitrarily settle a case or settle it on terms more favorable to the business than to the consumers for whose benefit the case had been originally brought.
I had a kind of hidden agenda on this issue. I wanted to move ultimately towards third party intervention. It has never happened. But I do believe it is a weakness of the Commission because we wear two hats. We are both the prosecutor and the judge. Some people don't like it because they think that's going to make us more antagonistic to industry. I didn't like it because I thought it wasn't fair to consumers. There were two sides to this. Either we would have to take the side of the consumer or we'd have to be the adjudicator and wear that hat. Unfortunately, all the Commissioners thought that they represented the consumer, but, of course, they didn't. We had another set of broader and administrative interests.
So, I liked that case for several reasons, but I never prevailed on that second issue although I still think it's important.
MR. WINERMAN: Did you have any analog you wanted to pursue in competition cases or was this simply on the consumer protection side?
MS. JONES: Analog being?
MR. WINERMAN: The intervention sort of -
MS. JONES: Occasionally mayors of the towns in which the merging corporation had businesses or labor unions would seek to intervene. But we never permitted that because their interests were not related to our competitive jurisdiction but brought in issues with which the FTC had no jurisdiction to cope. Consumers had recourse in treble damage cases brought to challenge anticompetitive practices. So, if I had to compromise, I would have compromised with just having it in consumer protection cases because in these cases, consumers had no opportunity to express their interests themselves rather than leaving it to the Commission to do this. But, certainly, the issue was relevant across the board of the Commission's jurisdiction. But I was more fixed on consumer intervention.
One other sanction that was initiated by staff working under Bob Pitofsky, who was then Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, was ad substantiation. This was the notion that advertisers must have prior documentation of their advertising claims before launching their campaigns. This was a very creative idea that proved to be a very effective tool because it helped the lawyers police their own clients. Lawyers really, in a sense, are your representatives in the inner chambers of business, because they're the ones who have to look and see what the sanctions are and what the problems are and they do an awful lot more of the enforcement than any of us could do.
With ad substantiation, we gave the staff and the antitrust bar another enforcement tool. Now they could say, look, you don't have any substantiation for that claim and those crazy fools on the Commissions are going to use that and you're going to be in deep trouble. So, ad substantiation was a very important tool. In fact, I think that when the Republicans came in later on with Reagan, they tried to ax that program and I think it was industry that resisted, saying that it was a good program. Am I right about that recollection?
MR. WHITE: I think that's right.
MS. JONES: That was my recollection, that they really appreciated it. And it was, it saved them a lot of trouble and they - I mean, they didn't want to get involved in litigation. That was the last thing they needed to turn their attention to.
And you had money sanctions later on, but that's not my period. I don't know that period and that would be very interesting to see how that has worked out and what's happened to it. In my days, we didn't have that.
MR. WHITE: Although you did have the very beginnings of the Commission hauling off to court to prevent a merger that it thought ultimately would be -
MS. JONES: That's right, pre-merger notification, which was preventive.
MR. WHITE: And the - what was the case? Dean Foods?
MS. JONES: Yeah, yeah, that's right. So -
MR. WHITE: It sort of became the bread and butter, really, of the Commission's merger enforcement program.
MS. JONES: That's right, yes.
MR. WINERMAN: Could you describe the start of the pre-merger notification before the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act?
MS. JONES: Probably not. I probably don't have that recollection. But I know I would have supported it and jumped on the bandwagon. That probably came out of Elman. I mean, he was much more in the competition field than I was. We paralleled each other.
MR. WINERMAN: Could we talk a bit about the other Commissioners' priorities as you saw them? We've discussed Chairman Dixon. Would you like to add anything about his priorities and to what extent you were amenable to them? In his case, he was the Chairman, so he obviously had extra tools at his command, but how he would implement them?
MS. JONES: It's kind of hard to think of his priorities. I guess his staff and he, himself, were so accustomed to grinding out a lot of these foreign origin and flammable fabric cases and grinding out a lot of the older type cases that I guess he just let that continue. I don't think he had any priority of anything else he wanted to do. MacIntyre clearly was kind of a nut on Robinson-Patman, but don't ask me anything about Robinson-Patman because I never did understand the intricacies of that law. I left that largely to my staff to take care of all these issues and brief me on them. I couldn't have cared less and didn't want to bother to understand. I could understand enough so I could talk with them and make decisions, but in terms of doing any innovative work, I did not focus my energies on Robinson-Patman.
You have the staff and you get them to do it if you trust them and you understand enough about what's going on, you can afford to pay less attention to some issues than to others.
MR. WINERMAN: That actually seems to have been the issue that perhaps most divided the other Commissioners at that point.
MS. JONES: Dixon and MacIntyre?
MR. WINERMAN: Well, Dixon and MacIntyre versus Elman.
MS. JONES: Oh, yes, yes.
MR. WINERMAN: Elman giving his -
MS. JONES: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, and he was right. That was the fight he should do. My fight was on the consumer side. And I let Elman take care of that. I supported him on it, of course. But you can't do it all. You have to put down your own lines and just be flexible enough to - obviously, I cared about antitrust because it was my background, but I didn't have to take all the initiative.
I don't remember whether Commissioner Reilly had any particular priorities. But Nicholson came in with the notion of trying to clean up the case backlog mess. He spent a lot of time and a lot of energy to do that. It was a tribute to him and certainly necessary. It wasn't so proactive, but it was necessary to clean up that dead wood and he did that.
MR. WINERMAN: One other category of case that gets talked about a lot by people critiquing the '60s, and anyone looking at the organizational structure of the Commission in the days when there was a Bureau of Textile and Furs, was all the labeling cases. How did you react to that?
MS. JONES: Oh, I couldn't agree more. They were pretty petty stuff and I didn't think that consumers cared that much. My consumers didn't worry about it, the ones that I talked with, and it wasn't a particular priority of theirs. We had many more important things to do than worry about that. We needed to get rid of that kind of thinking and get into a much more proactive ways of dealing with the problems that consumers were confronting then. The marketplace was so complex and was changing to such a degree that the Commission needed to put its resources behind the new market place developments that we were seeing. Instead of worrying about fur labeling, we developed a care labeling guide line that required retailers to put a care label instruction on each of their garments so that consumers would know whether it was washable or had to be dry-cleaned, etc.
It was now a national marketplace. Consumers had very little opportunity to really find out what the characteristics of the products were or how to bring a complaint. So, the great dynamic of the consumer movement was to push business to institute more consumer-oriented business practices. Corporations did react. They appointed consumer affairs officers within corporations to help them understand what consumers wanted and needed.
I remember one speech I gave in which I suggested that an industry have an ombudsperson to act as a kind of the go-between corporations and their consumers and to try to facilitate consumers' needs. They needed to analyze the complaints they received from consumers, as these could be very informative to them. They could learn where their customers were, and what they cared about. The consumer movement could be looked at as a very pro-business resource. Again, a lot of my bully pulpit speaking was to try and get them to take the consumer seriously.
When I was appointed, I think there was one business magazine that had a headline saying, who is Mary Jones and all this kind of - the woman thing. And so, they - but over the years, there were business people like myself who believed in the consumer movement and thought that it was important to business. So, we would appear on panel after panel to try and do this kind of extra attention. So, it was a very important role that we had to play.
MR. WHITE: And then you mentioned Esther Peterson earlier. At the time, she was President Johnson's consumer advisor.
MS. JONES: That's right.
MR. WHITE: And she later served, really, as a consumer representative to the local supermarket chain here in Washington, Giant Food, right?
MS. JONES: Giant, yes. Esther was a great proponent for consumer marketplace information and unit pricing - all the things that we picked up as Commissioners and Commission staff. I think we took a lot of those consumer issues on. Fair credit reporting, truth in lending all came out first in a flurry of pro-consumer legislation. It helped the consumer struggle with this new marketplace. The Commission was charged with enforcing this legislation. That's what the role of a Commission was - to appreciate that the national marketplace was no longer made up of little local people whom you used to know personally, you saw the local supermarket president or the grocery president at the Elks. This type of personal connection kept fraud down and made for a more honest marketplace.
With the new national marketing, business became anonymous and faceless. So the consumers had a desperate need for information and for regulation of marketing practices that they could no longer influence and which no longer responded to their personal relationships with the local business community. The Commission played an important role in trying to educate people to what their responsibilities were in the new marketplace and then to get staff to start bringing cases that would support these new corporate obligations. This was the whole role that I tried to play.
MR. WHITE: You just said something that piqued my interest. Your turn at the Commission began at the beginning of that burst of legislation that you described. The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Truth-In-Lending Act and I'm sure of others that I'm not remembering right now. As a result of that legislation, the Commission got a host of new assignments. Do you recall what that was like getting those statutes and having to implement them?
MS. JONES: We worked very closely with Mike Pertschuk, who was Senator Magnuson's aide. Magnuson was Chair of the Commerce Committee out of which all of this legislation came. We all worked very closely with Mike Pertschuk. I think our staff was probably in on helping draft a lot of that legislation. As Commissioners, we would go down and testify in favor of it. So, that was very important for us.
I don't know how much time staff may have put in, but having regulations based on specific legislation ensured the issue had priority at the Commission and wouldn't just fade away when people's attention was focused on other issues. We had a legislative unit at the Commission in those days that helped states develop little FTC Acts and that kind of thing. It was an active period. Never as active as I wanted it to be. For me, it always seemed so slow. But legislation was fine. I thought the FTC could do it all by itself, but it was useful to have that legislation. It gave us legitimacy and effective sanctions.
MR. WHITE: Talking about slow, you were talking earlier about going out and learning about computer-assisted instruction. That was in the first few years of the '70s, I expect.
MS. JONES: '68.
MR. WHITE: And now it's 35 years on from that time period that computer-assisted education really begins to take hold in the educational system. It takes a while.
MS. JONES: Yes, it does take a while and it's still not the way that I always wanted it to be. At least the new computer educational technologies facilitates distance learning and gives schools access to a greater variety of courses and that kind of thing. I think the school boards probably still keep a lot of control. I think my fears about the curriculum becoming more business-oriented may not have happened. But business has used the computer technology to introduce news programming and advertising in the schools which I had not anticipated.
But on the issues of access that we're still talking about. Schools that have computers are too often only in the wealthy districts. The poorer schools don't have as many computers and they don't have space for them. Nor do as many of their teachers have the time to afford training. So, the whole issues of access and equity are still with us. But as you say, we're now working with a system that is and I was working with a system that was beginning and I was trying to anticipate what it might be like.
MR. WINERMAN: We've touched a bit on your relation with staff. One of the major issues in the Nader report, and to a certain extent in the ABA report as well, was the whole question of staff quality in the 1960s, particularly what might be called a Tennessee clique among the staff, leading up to what's seen as a massive housecleaning in the 1970s. First of all, were there members of the senior staff whom you particularly respected and worked well with?
MS. JONES: Let me back up a minute. I didn't do a lot of work with staff. That hadn't really occurred to me. I wasn't even sure it was very appropriate. I didn't feel that one Commissioner should do that, although I understand that all the other Commissioners did. But some staff used to come to my office and I got to know them as they appeared at Commission meetings.
I remember when Sam Rozel came up to see me in my office. I had called him up once because he wrote a recommendation for a complaint that I thought was a terrible complaint. I called him and he looked at me and he said, "Well, Commissioner, that's the way we've been doing it for 20 years." And now, knowing Sam, I think he did that deliberately to bug me. I got very angry with him. So, then he said, "Well, why don't you write a memo to my boss?" So, I did. And then he fixed it, as I am sure he had wanted to do all along. A year later I invited him to join my staff.
So, occasionally, I would deal with staff who were working on particular issues that I wanted to talk to them about either to understand it or to see if there wasn't more that we could do, a little bit better. But I didn't particularly work with the bureau directors. I probably should have, but I didn't. Fritz Mueller in the Economics Department, I had a lot of respect for. But the others were not great. They were - I just didn't have much confidence in them.
MR. WINERMAN: Did you see much difference between senior staff and junior staff? I realize if you had little relation with staff -
MS. JONES: Oh, well, junior staff was fine, I mean, the ones that I had contact with. Some of them would come in and talk about things they were doing. Well, you know, like likes like. I could tell when they came into the Commission hearing to defend a case and what have you, it was - I always liked the junior staff because I thought they knew what ought to be done. They were having trouble getting through the bureaucracy. As I say, I took some people from the staff who I particularly liked.
MR. WINERMAN: One of the major critiques of the Commission seems to have been focused on the staff. In an article you later wrote about the FTC in 1968 ["The FTC in 1968: Times of Turmoil and Response," 7 Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 1 (1988)], you talk about policy issues, about how some of the good has gotten buried because of the influx of criticism that came in the '60s. I'm wondering about the extent that you might have seen that there was a lot of really good junior staff work that somehow got buried with the broad brush with which the Nader report, particularly, targeted staff.
MS. JONES: Oh, I'm sure it did. I'm sure it did. When we got the new Chair and we got some new top staff, I'm sure they had their problems with whom to deal with and how, but I'm sure that they found a lot of able people. Then there was the Department of Justice Honors Program that we had access to. I think we got very bright young people in from that program. But they would get buried until you could change the top Commission direction
My conclusion about the Nader report was that, in balance - after I began to think about it and got past my original reaction to it - it did a lot of good. But my first reaction to it was that it was really kind of unfair because it didn't give any credit to Elman or me and some of the others who had really worked very hard to try and change the Commission, and who had succeeded in turning the Commission around to make it more consumer minded.
But then I began to realize that our incremental way of trying to change it from the inside would not probably succeed in making the major changes that were needed. I constantly have this problem even today of how I do my advocacy. There comes a point when incrementalism just won't work anymore. I think that the Nader report came at that time when no matter what we had done, no matter how much we had changed small things, the basic problems of staff - senior staff - were not going to change. So, no matter how many bright people you had on staff, it wasn't going to really change the whole passion and direction of the Commission.
You could make incidental changes and we talked about some of the ones that we made and they were lasting. But I think that the Nader report was probably necessary. I was always disappointed that they didn't have a more balanced view of some of the efforts that we had made. But those weren't important to them because they wanted to change other parts of the Commission, and I gradually began to understand that. Rand never forgave them, but I thought that was stupid. You can't argue with these people. They have a different style and use a lot of polemics, a lot of adjectives. I'm not an adjective person. So it was hard for me to take the report without more balance in its appraisals. But I had to admit that it did the necessary job. Without it, the FTC probably wouldn't be anything where it is today.
MR. WINERMAN: We've talked about a couple of key things that happened beginning around the end of '67. One issue was your meeting with Johnson and a period when Johnson called a few of the other Commissioners in, or spoke to several of the other Commissioners on a reception line - the Flammable Fabric Act signing, I believe - and told them that he knew there were problems and the Commission should stop making headlines for the wrong reason. Around that time, you also had Commissioner Nicholson replacing Commissioner Reilly, which, as I understand, made substantial differences in the dynamics among the Commissioners.
Then, the Nader report and the ABA report. Commissioner Elman takes credit for allowing the representatives from Nader to work inside the agency. He even speaks in his oral history at Columbia University of providing access to this files. What was your impression of the Nader people before the report, as they were actually working at the Commission?
MS. JONES: I don't think I actually knew that. I think that surprised me. I must have led a very cloistered life with my staff and my speech-making and what have you. I didn't wander around particularly to other Commissioners. It was not my style. So, I really didn't know that. I don't remember - maybe you do, Chris - whether they came in and started to interview me. If they did, I'm sure I was very open with them because that's what I believed in doing. I used to do that with the press. I never got crossed up by the press. I always gave them my impression of what happened. It may not have been what really happened, I could recognize that.
But I wanted them to make sure that they did understand what I thought was the dynamics of a particular action they were asking about because otherwise they would only get everyone's else's interpretation and I wanted them to have mine as well. They were usually valid issues. They have arguments on both sides. I could make arguments on these issues for both Rand and MacIntyre. I didn't because I didn't believe them and I didn't like their argument. But, you know, I could do it. They were able people. It's just that I didn't agree with them. They had different values and different goals and I thought they were obsolete, just as I am sure they felt I was naive. So, I don't remember knowing anything about the Nader report until it came out. I think I was probably as shocked as anybody else when I read it.
MR. WINERMAN: What about the ABA report?
MS. JONES: I don't remember whether they came around or not, but they must have. They must have interviewed me. I'm sure they did and I'm sure I did the same thing with them, tried to tell them as much as I could about what I knew about the Commission and how it was operated and what the problems were and, you know, what its potential was. I was, by that time, a pretty seasoned and a committed Commissioner. I loved the FTC. I believed in it. I thought it was a terribly valuable and essential instrument of government. So, I'm sure that I waxed very voluble on all of that.
But I think, you know, like anybody, they were looking for dirt and I wasn't that kind of person. I wasn't interested in that.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, this leads in 1970 to a series of new chairs, a very rapid-fire series of new chairs. How did the dynamics at the Commission change when Chairman Weinberger began his -
MS. JONES: Well, you ought to know that I was the only so-called Republican, although I always used to laugh at that. But I was the only official Republican.
MR. WHITE: Nominal.
MS. JONES: So, I entertained the notion that it would be nice to be Chair. That was a little wild on my part, but nevertheless, I thought, well, I should at least put my hat in the ring. So, I did try and I moseyed around a little bit. I don't remember exactly what I did, but I did try and do that. But that clearly was not going to happen.
When Weinberger came in, he was a very different type from Rand. He liked prerogatives and he liked positions. One of the first things he did was to change the Commission car Commissioners had been using from a little Chevrolet that we all could use if Rand wasn't using it - and if he was using it he would say, "We're going down here. Do you want a ride?" - to a limousine with a chauffeur that was available only to him. So, that was a kind of change.
Anyway, he was very smooth and, as you say, he didn't last long, six months. He was perfectly polite. And I guess he made some changes right away in some of the staff. I don't quite remember which staff members he got rid of but there were a number of them that really should have gone long ago.
MR. WHITE: Yeah.
MS. JONES: And there were some others.
MR. WHITE: And I think - I mean, the impression - this happened just before I got here. The impression was that it was during that short period that the Commission was reorganized into basically the structure that we have now.
MS. JONES: Oh, that's interesting.
MR. WHITE: The Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Bureau of Competition, and the Bureau of Economics. What had been the Bureau of Textile, Wool and Fur, the biggest piece of it was reorganized into the Consumer Product Safety Agency and I think that all happened -
MS. JONES: That's right, that's right. And then he set up a credit unit, too. So, he did, obviously, some very good things. I don't have any recollection of being terribly upset at anything because he was very pro-Commission. That was the beauty of it. I mean, for once the Republicans came in on a platform of making the Commission effective. That was weird. But I, obviously, was applauding all of that. I had no objection to any of those things that he did. I just was not crazy about Weinberger as a person but that's personal and that didn't make any difference.
When Kirkpatrick came in, that was really a breath of fresh air. He was someone who could be very simpatico. He really was a very polished lawyer, elegant and very gracious. We had our fights, Kirkpatrick and me. He was more conservative than I. But that was all right. You know, the fights continued in many respects, but they were more professional. At least, we were more simpatico in terms of making the Commission effective. He brought in very fine people as bureau chiefs, kept some I was sorry about but you can't win them all and every one has to make their compromises.
MR. WINERMAN: And how did you feel your consumer protection initiatives faired at that time and were you able to pursue them more effectively?
MS. JONES: Oh, oh, with Pitofsky. Yes, he was fine, although I didn't always agree with him either. As I recall the metropolitan fraud program did not last very long. The focus then was much more on advertising. We had hearings on the advertising industry and its techniques that were very fascinating. Many minority groups testified. I remember being shocked at myself when one of the Hispanic witnesses came and put up some advertising showing Hispanics with a sombrero lying under a tree. I looked and I thought, what's the matter with it? And then he said, "You know, that's what perpetuated the stereotype of the lazy Hispanic." I thought, oh, my God, and I just bought into that just totally and was not a bit sensitized to it. I had been very sensitized to the black issue, but not a bit sensitized to the Hispanic issue. So, it was very helpful, in that sense, to be a Commissioner and be exposed to that. You get an opportunity to learn a lot on the Commission because the witnesses did expose you to things that you had no way of knowing.
When I was talking about the report on the ghetto marketplace and retailers, I remember I used to talk about the fact that it was too bad that the ghetto residents didn't all venture out into the middle-income marketplace to do their shopping. Of course, I was completely insensitive to the fact that blacks had learned long ago that that marketplace was not a bit sympathetic to them and that they were not welcome there. Of course, they really had been watching. I was, in my naivety, hoping that the report would educate them to make comparisons and go out to some of the stores that were cheaper.
I also noticed in my early speeches that I was still talking about the consumer "he," and not using he and she. That's something I never would do today. But even with the women's movement starting in '65, highlighting the kinds of male language we were accustomed to accept, like chairman instead of chairperson I would still be using "he" instead of "she." I haven't read all of - or reread all of - my speeches, so I can't pinpoint when I started to change over. But I do know it took some time.
MR. WINERMAN: And then the arrival of Chairman Engman.
MS. JONES: Lew was a very nice guy. He was very sweet. By this time we had staff that was going great guns. We had a Commission that was on top of things that were important so the Chairman really didn't have that much impact in those days. Most chairs still were consumer-minded, they still had a Congress that was pushing them to be consumer-oriented, so we won our battles in that sense. I mean, I'm sure there were battles that I had with Lew Engman. But my major thrust which was trying to bring the Commission up-to-date, to bring it into the 21st Century or the 20th Century, I guess then, was really being accomplished. So, the Chairs didn't have that much impact.
But as you said, Chris, they came in with a differently structured Commission and a Commission that was moving down certain roads. I'm sure they influenced it in terms of which merger case to bring and that kind of stuff. And I'm sure there were issues we had over which cases should or should not be brought. But basically the thrust of the new chairs was to go along with the major outlines of the changes brought by the Kirkpatrick Commission.
I should read - before my next session with you, I will reread some of my speeches after those Chairs came in and see what I was concerned about.
MR. WINERMAN: That would be great.
MS. JONES: There probably were still important issues. But at this point, I was more focused on the consumer-oriented issues.
MR. WINERMAN: Sure. Well, I note in a graduation speech in May 1971, you managed to make the newspapers for something non-FTC-related. You spoke about Mayday arrests [at anti-war protests]. What led you to that?
MS. JONES: Oh, I was so deeply distressed with the Vietnam protests and the way the protesters were being treated. This seemed to me to be front and center, the major, issue in this country. Civil liberties, the whole thing we're discussing today with the Patriot Act. Law and order versus civil rights. We're back in it today. That was a major issue on the '60s. I worked very hard on that speech and I remember shopping it to some of the other Commissioners. Was Elman still there? I guess he was -
MR. WHITE: If it was early in '71, he might have been.
MS. JONES: It was Pitofsky that I valued and I went to Pitofsky and said I'd like him to read my speech because I was sensitive to the fact that I was a Federal Trade Commissioner and, no matter how many disclaimers you make and no matter the fact that we are independent and not part of the Administration, still I was sensitive to the fact that I had a position of some kind in the Administration.
I recall Pitofsky not agreeing me with at all. His emotional background to these issues was as a member of a Jewish refugee family who had been attacked by the Nazis hoodlums. So he looked at protesters very differently, more akin to the hoodlums who had stirred up so much hatred against the Jews. He had remembered the Hitler period and the hoodlums and it had been the hoodlums that had given Hitler his excuse to come in. So, he believed you had to deal with the hoodlums first. That was so interesting to me. He didn't agree with the speech at all. But - at least we talked a little bit about - he didn't want me to give it as it was written because he didn't believe in it. But I talked to a couple of other people to make sure that I wasn't missing something, that there was something that I really shouldn't be doing and I never heard any argument that said I shouldn't give it. So, I did give it and it was very - it was powerful. It was powerful for me to give it and I think it was powerful for that audience to hear it. As I say, I worked very hard on it.
The other time that I got involved - you've talked about throwing a speech away. I was invited out to Greenbelt Cooperative to give a speech on the FTC. It was the day after the Kent State shooting of the students. I faced that audience and I looked at them and I thought, I can't talk about the FTC. So, I put my speech away and I talked about Kent State and how badly we were feeling. We were all part of the same era. It was a poignant, tremulous period. You couldn't just be single-minded on the FTC. There was too much going on in the country.
I remember somebody running up after that speech and giving me her peace ring. I still have it. She said, "Here, I want you to have this." You know, you just had to, as a Commissioner, speak out on some occasions and a graduation speech was perfectly appropriate to take a position on other issues that were confronting the country. They didn't want to hear about the FTC. That was for sure.
MR. WINERMAN: Right, right. You mentioned earlier that you had had a series of meetings with LBJ. Two meetings, I guess, before you became a Commissioner, one meeting in '67, and then you said that was your last meeting with LBJ while you were a Commissioner.
MS. JONES: That's right, that's right. I -
MR. WINERMAN: That leaves open an obvious question.
MS. JONES: After he retired or resigned, I was invited to give a speech down in Austin, Texas and Rand said to me, "Mary, you've always been fond of LBJ, why don't you drop him a note and tell him you're coming?" Well, that hadn't occurred to me, but I thought that was a nice idea, so I did. I didn't hear from anybody.
But when I got off the plane, this tall blond drink of water came and said, "Commissioner, the President has arranged a luncheon for you." Well, it was not only for me, but also for Mary Gray who was a big fund-raiser of his. But nevertheless it was the two of us. He gave us a lovely luncheon and welcomed us, two lovely Marys, he said in his little welcoming speech. The he showed us around and showed me the library. I asked him if he was active in the LBJ School. He said, no, he didn't want to taint the school. Imagine as the ex-President to have to think that way. That's what we do to our political figures. He was a very, very subdued individual.
I thought it was a lovely lunch and then I went back. The next morning I gave my speech and who do I see sidling in the side door but LBJ. I thought, my God, that guy must be so lonely to listen to a Commissioner speak about advertising. He was just so lonely for government and he came. My mother always told me to drop your thank you notes, so I dropped him a thank you note, and I get a lovely letter back from him saying he didn't think that wild horses could drag him out of Acapulco, but it took two lovely Marys to do that.
So, you know, he was something. I saw him in those quiet thoughtful moods. He was a beautiful human being to me. He really cared about government. That was the last occasion I saw him.
MR. WHITE: I think that's a wonderful note on which to take a break, if that's all right with you. And we can relax and get some lunch.
MS. JONES: Wonderful, good idea. Good idea.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, to close out this session, I think we'll just talk about what you've done since leaving the Commission.
MS. JONES: Okay, all right. That's been a career in itself. You know, you don't think when you leave one job like the FTC that you have 30 years yet to work on whatever you want to work on. I was very careful not to look for jobs while I was on the Commission because I didn't think that was appropriate, which probably was stupid, but nevertheless, I didn't.
Then the University of Illinois came to me through one of the FTC staff persons who had been recruited from the University of Illinois. He asked me if I would be interested in teaching at the University of Illinois. I said, yes, I'd always wanted to be a teacher ever since I had been in college. I had tried it on and off and it never quite worked. I thought, well, maybe I finally have something to teach. So, I was very enthusiastic.
The long and short of it was that I got a joint appointment in the law school and the business school as a full professor with tenure. That was exceedingly nice.
The other thing that should have put me off a little was they kept telling me how easy it was to get away from Champaign-Urbana. I didn't take that in until I got to Champaign-Urbana. Then, I realized why they had stressed that.
MR. WINERMAN: They were protesting too much, were they?
MS. JONES: Yes. But that was fine. The only problem was that I found that I had been too long away from teaching. I didn't want to stand up and be an authority figure and lecture. I really wanted to get discussion going, but I didn't have the skills to do that because that takes some practice. I was worried that I might get stuck at the University which I really didn't like that much. I stayed for a year-and-a-half. I wanted very much to do team teaching, especially with the business school, because I thought that would enable me to use my strengths, which were primarily in demonstrating how business concepts work in the marketplace. I had a lot of experience in how some of the regulations were working out. Students tended to look at these from the businessman's point of view and I thought I could offer another perspective that would make an interesting learning experience.
But it just didn't work out. I think that takes time to develop. I had suddenly the feeling that I might turn out to one of these people on the campus who would say, "When I was at the Federal Trade Commission 25 years ago we used to do it this way." I decided that that was not for me. While I was thinking about this, I got an opportunity, through a friend of mine, to interview with Western Union. They were looking for somebody to set up a consumer affairs office. I thought that would be interesting and it would get me back to Washington, which is really what I wanted to do.
I went out to see them and they liked the cut of my jib, and made me an offer to be a vice president in charge of consumer affairs. I accepted and came back to Washington. I got to the office in Washington headed by the general counsel of the company. He clearly was very nervous about having another lawyer and a regulator to boot in the same office. He suggested that I have a little office next to him and that I share his secretary. I said, no, I didn't think that would do. For once, I was learning to assert myself.
I pointed out down the hall where there were two offices and suggested that these would suit me fine. I said, all you have to do is take the wall down between them. From then on I became the lady who wanted to take the wall down! The Chairman of the Board who had hired me, Earl Hillcock, I think his name was, invited me up to Saddle River where the main headquarters were. He said, "You've got an office here and I want to show it to you." It was a great big office. He said, "I hope it's satisfactory." I really apparently had created a stir in the company. But it was just as well. Being a woman, they better know that they weren't going to push me around.
Naturally, they were very gracious. I was, again, the only woman executive. We would go off to these monthly executive staff meetings, and I was just absolutely appalled. Everybody would talk sports, everybody made jokes. You would think they didn't have a brain in their heads. You would think they had never read a book, they never went to a play. I mean, it was just incredible to see this level of where they were. Everybody was, I guess, so afraid of trespassing on anybody else's territory. The only person who talked at all was the president, who loved opera and loved plays, and he and I used to talk a lot about books and that kind of thing. But it was really quite extraordinary.
But it was an interesting experience. I had a friend who had been head of marketing at Ford Motor Company and he advised me. He said, "Mary, what you have to do is get yourself a survey instrument of some kind that measures quality, especially in the consumer field, which is your field. Then you get them looking at this instrument to see how they're doing." It was very good advice. I created a customer survey instrument that I sent out every quarter. At first they disputed the findings that tended to demonstrate that consumers were not happy with how long Western Union service staff spent in the office trying to fix a problem. They said their records showed that they had only spent an hour. I said, but if the customer didn't know that and believed that their telex had been out all day, then there was something wrong with how our service people communicated to them. Eventually they got the notion that how consumers perceived them was more important than what they actually did. So, when new staff would come in, they would say, "You've got to understand it's how you're perceived."
I had an interesting time. I had a good staff. My chief of staff was somebody like Chris who was very perceptive about me. He was restless because he wanted to have more responsibility. So, he started gradually to take on more and more things and then every night he'd come in my office and tell me exactly what he had done. So, I began to realize what he was doing and thinking, yes, I'm not good at delegating. But this is working fine. So, I let him do it and it worked. We had a lovely relationship and he got the kind of responsibilities he wanted and I was happy that I was not sitting on him.
So, it was great. Then I wanted to hire a black staff. We were a government contractor, so we were under a lot of rules in terms of making sure that our staffs reflected the population.
I would go and I would hire people. Unfortunately, I'm not a good judge of people's abilities. I'm not good at hiring. If somebody had a sweet smile, I hired them. And, of course, my staff had to pick up all the pieces. So, one day they came in to me and said, "Mary, we know exactly what you want and we will do the initial screening and then we will bring you two or three candidates," which they did, and that worked very well.
I had a great staff. We really got along well and I learned an enormous amount. If I had my druthers, I would have gone to Western Union first before I got on the Commission. I learned so much about management, management by objectives, I learned how you did these kinds of things. I would have been a much better Commissioner because I would have been much more able to discharge my role as manager rather than act too often as a sort of participant.
But it was an interesting experience. The problem was that I would go home at night and would realize that I was working just as hard and having a very fascinating intellectually experience. But I thought, I don't care that much about Western Union. I don't get any emotional kick out of my work. It just wasn't fun.
I had worried when I went to Western Union that I might be corrupted. I found that wasn't true. I guess I had been deep enough in my own values and my interests and what have you. So, that was not a problem for me. Staff in the field would call me up and say they had a problem and they couldn't deal with their managers and would I take it up. So, we had a lot of trust going. Western Union is a lovely old company, 125 years old. It loved what it was doing. It believed in people and staff was really kind of heartbroken when they couldn't do everything they wanted to for their customers. They saw me after a while as somebody who was going to be their spokesperson. In that sense, it was enjoyable. But in balance, it just didn't give me any emotional kicks. I loved public service and didn't want to do this.
So, I took early retirement. I was there seven years. I wanted to found a public interest organization, which I did, the Consumer Interest Research Institute. I wanted it to be the Brookings Institute for consumer advocates. for the advocate. Advocates never had time to do all the research they needed in order to be able to negotiate. Therefore, when it came to negotiating or finding solutions, they really didn't have much time really to look at all the range of possibilities. I thought, if I could do that basic short-range action-oriented research, that would be an effective tool for the advocates to use.
Also, I was distressed that consumer protection and consumer concerns were pretty much limited in most people's minds to false advertising, false marketing practices, lemons, automobiles. I saw that the consumers' concerns were much more focused on services, health care services, and computer services, insurance services. It was not products anymore. The marketplace was no longer as product oriented as it had been and was becoming much more services oriented. I wanted to do that kind of research.
I had a great organization; I had a great mission statement. I had a whole raft of advisors, honorary advisors, John Gardner and people of that ilk. The problem was I couldn't get it off the ground. I couldn't get the fund-raising. By that time, Reagan had come in, my timing was very poor. It was 1982. And all the public interest organizations were running back to their foundations because they were losing all their grants, and the last thing the foundations wanted to do was fund another public interest organization.
Then, I remember they had a lot of conceptual problems between what's the difference between the public interest movement and the consumer movement. We had very interesting discussions, but I could never close on a project. I couldn't get the funding for it and I finally realized then that I was not really an entrepreneur. I spurned having a newsletter because I thought, there's too much claptrap in newsletters and they're not worth the paper they're written on. But, of course, newsletters force you to discipline yourself, to focus on who you are and what issues you're going to focus on. I should have ground one out but I was too stubborn to do that.
The long and the short of it was I just couldn't get my non-profit started. Then I realized that I had retired myself and that had not been my idea. I had plenty of energy left. So, I decided to take a Ph.D. at Georgetown while I was treading water figuring out what I wanted to do. I had tried to take a Ph.D. at Georgetown during the time I was a Federal Trade Commissioner. In my innocence again, I had marched into the dean's office and announced that I wanted to take a Ph.D. Well, it was the period where everybody was taking a Ph.D. and they were turning down everybody left and right. So, the notion that I would arrive on the doorstep and say that I wanted to take a Ph.D. was not pleasing to the dean.
I remember he asked me, "Well, how old are you?" I think by that time I was 52. And he said, well, you'll find it a killing pace. I said, I think that's my business, not yours. I was very arrogant. I had decided that that's what I wanted to do. So, the long and the short of it was they turned me down. But, of course, when I went back in 1982 when I was 62 that was a piece of cake. They thought that would be great. They'd love to have some senior citizen taking a Ph.D!
I took it in American Studies, but then I got busy and I never did finish my Ph.D. thesis. I had a lot of respect for a Ph.D. I thought that the thesis ought to be something that was, you know, important and significant. I had spent a lot of time on it and I suddenly realized that I didn't have that time anymore. Also by that time, I had gotten active in consumer issues in the health care field. I had gotten fascinated by telemedicine. Using my computer background, I could see the possibilities of using telemedicine to deliver health care services to the home and the urban neighborhood because that's where people were. That's where the low income people were, the neighborhood clinics. They couldn't get specialists. Older adults with chronic illnesses were at home and had difficulty getting to their doctors' offices. Young mothers with premature babies could go home instead of having to stay for long periods in the hospitals while their baby was developing to full size. With telemedicine, patients could dial in to see their health care professional from their home. It was just a fascinating field and I spent, oh, I guess three or four years pushing for home care.
At that point, [Senator Albert] Gore had taken this up, the Internet had just started, and people were talking about the computer being used for assisted education and for hospital specialists to local practitioners. But I couldn't get anybody interested in home care. I kept saying, "But that's where the real issues are." Ultimately, that's where they moved. Today there is now some hardware and some activity. Not as much as I had hoped for. But, then, somewhere along the line, I don't know how that happened, but I got into aging issues and then I got into mental health issues and I discovered that I couldn't keep up with telecommunications issues at the same time. They moved too fast. But I had the satisfaction of knowing that my push for home care had finally been taken up by others in the field and was becoming a reality. I founded a public interest organization with another person to push the consumer interest in telecommunications. It was the Alliance for Public Technology. I was President of it for a while. I was very active in that. That organization is still going strong promoting the consumer interests in telecommunications, that is very important.
After I left the presidency of the Alliance for Public Technology, again, I thought, well, I didn't have enough time to do it all, so I kind of morphed into aging issues and mental health issues. I took over the presidency of a mental health organization in the District, which was on its back and having financial troubles. That was in 1998. I worked hard and got a couple of projects funded, got it moving. After four years, I resigned from the presidency for a variety of internal reasons. I had raised enough money for the Association to have an executive director. Unfortunately, the executive director and I didn't get along. I suspect I was part of the problem with having trouble delegating and part of her problem being nervous about having the president of the board as a full time hard-working volunteer. She was not accustomed to working that hard. In any event, I finally resigned. But I miss it.
MR. WHITE: Mary, what organization was that?
MS. JONES: The Mental Health Association of D.C. It's an affiliate of the National Mental Health Association. It was a very nice organization, a very nice board and it was fun. I really loved it.
I had created a directory of children's mental health services. We printed 5,000 copies, and in a year-and-a-half, they were exhausted. It was very successful. Then I got us into mental health education for senior citizens in African-American churches. We conducted these programs for about two or three years. We had a grant each year that got renewed. And that was very interesting.
We conducted these programs in the second year at wellness centers and senior clubs and churches that had senior programs. To some extent, our participants were self-selective, the people who came. But I was really startled by the number of people who either themselves had been to a therapist or whose kids were depressed or who had relatives who had had therapy. They were not a bit hostile to the idea of mental illness. We had a very interesting series of sessions. We started the sessions with 10-minute presentations on the mental health subject, and then we'd break into small groups for discussion. We would pick subjects in the mental health field that people had some experience with themselves.
At the small breakout sessions people talked to other people in the group about how they coped with these issues. That's the real learning experience because they shared their own experiences and listened to the experiences of other people. We got some fascinating and very positive evaluations. I didn't even know people had feelings about this. I met some people that I had known for a long time and didn't know anything about them. So, it turned out to be a very, very valuable technique for disseminating important health care information. It was interesting doing these things.
While I was at the Mental Health Association, I had set up two coalitions, one to promote school-based mental health services in the D.C. schools and one to represent children's issues in D.C. For a long time, the predecessor of the current Department of Mental Health, the Commission on Mental Health Services, had totally ignored children. There was a consent order decree, the Dixon Decree, which had been interpreted to be applicable to adults only. We finally persuaded people that it was applicable to children as well. But up to that time, the District had never focused on children's mental health services. It's still a problem.
When I resigned from the Association, I continued to run those coalitions and continued to work with the new Department. A lot of my advocacy work had been working within the Department. I was on the Director's Partnership Council, which was an advisory body, and I had also been appointed to the State Mental Health Policy Council. As a coalition, we would set up work groups to look at issues, for example, of children's access to hospital care. Then we would persuade the Department to continue the work on these issues because they were in a position to do more about it than we could. Other coalitions worked closely with the Department on promoting mental health services for children in the schools. I continued to lead these coalitions after I left the Association. This is what I spend most of my time on today.
That was very creative and lots of fun. Finally it has gotten to the point now that trying to work within the Department and with department staff was not yielding the results we had hoped for. Children's services, in the view of the children's advocates and the family advocates, were just not being served. We had a Director of the Department of Mental Health who talked a very good game. We had city council members who talked a good game. We had the mayor saying that consumers and children were very important, but nothing was happening.
Finally, I put a paper together for the coalition using only Department of Mental Health documents and showed that they were dedicating a very small percent, 27 percent of their monies, to children's issues, that they were simply not providing services. The paper analyzed all the various children's programs of the Department, which, except for the school mental health program, simply were not being delivered as promised. That paper has now put me at loggerheads with the Department, which is hard for me because I like to work inside. I like to work with the people who have the power to do things. But I've got two good coalitions and we're struggling along with this.
We had a press conference, had good coverage in The Washington Post on our paper and now we're strategizing in terms of how to actually make some of these services come onboard. It's the same problem, you can lead the horse to water, but how do you make him drink. Same thing on Commission. How do you get the staff to do these things that you know in your wisdom are actually necessary? In a sense, it's deja vu, but in a whole different environment. I have a lot more patience right now, a few more skills.
So, that pretty much brings you up-to-date.
MR. WHITE: I think it also completely explains why Chairman Muris decided to name the Commission's Award for Volunteerism, the Mary Jones Award for Volunteerism.
MS. JONES: Well, I couldn't live without working. Now I have discovered the volunteer sector. It's interesting. There are a lot of things the volunteer sector has to do. They have to professionalize their volunteers because the new baby boomers that are coming out are going to be very much like me. They're going to be professional people, they're not people who just do part-time stuff on a do as you want basis. Today and tomorrow's volunteers will be very serious. My problems with working in the senior issues, particularly, when I worked for the Older Women's League very closely, was that staff was often afraid of the volunteers. I realize that staff was very concerned about board members coming in and wanting to volunteer. They were afraid they were going to take their jobs.
What you have to do as the executive director of a non-profit is to work out with your staff in advance where are the gaps, what could a volunteer do, what kind of autonomy should they have, who do they report to. Flexible hours will be very important because that's important to people who are volunteers. They're not going to want to do it full-time. But I think we really have to professionalize this so that we can use the enormous numbers of volunteers who I believe will be increasingly available and wanting to work with non profit organizations.
I retired in 1982. That meant I was 62. I'm 82 now. I've had 20 years of very useful life and hopefully still useful for more years. It's terrible to waste this talent. There are a lot of us - there are some people who don't want to do it, and that's fine. Nobody has to continue being a workaholic. But if they want to, there ought to be places for them. It never occurred to me that I was interviewing for a job when I looked for volunteer activity. I just thought, well, I'll try and get on a board. It didn't occur to me to go out and actually seek a job that would be unpaid because I, fortunately, don't need a salary. But I think more and more people want to do that and we have to make room for that kind of thing. Maybe even the government has to think about that. They probably can't, but they - you know, we could do something.
MR. WINERMAN: Thirty-eight years ago, at your confirmation hearing, there was a concern, apparently, among the Senators about people coming into the Commission, serving for a year-and-a-half, two years, going out into the private sector and practicing law on the other side for the next 20 years of their career. I suspect that if the committee had seen your subsequent years of service on the Commission and your years after leaving the Commission, they wouldn't have worried.
MS. JONES: Yes. I think - you know, so many of us in my era on the Commission, were public servants. Rand, MacIntyre, Elman. John Reilly was the only lawyer and then Nicholson and then they started to come on, but I think we were all of that ilk. This was our career. Public service was what we wanted to do and I wish that people understood and appreciated what a wonderful thing public service is.
When I was taking my Ph.D., my professors were mostly of the Vietnam generation. They were very cynical about government, very cynical. I would find myself rising to my feet and declaiming about how wonderful it was to be in public service. My proudest moments were walking into the United States District Courtroom and saying, "Ready for the United States Government." I really believed in those days that we were right. But I must say that after Vietnam and subsequent periods, today particularly, I can't say that about our government. So, I understand where that generation was coming from. But fortunately, I came out of a generation where the government really did stand for truth and it did stand for right. Sure, it can make mistakes and it can be stupid and political. But generally it was an honorable service.
I always wanted my college to invite me back and talk about public service. But they never did. They invite the corporate executives to tell the young grads where the opportunities are. Yale Law School, and I think some of the other law schools, do provide some kind of forgiveness of loans if their graduates go into public service. They don't call it public service, but define it instead by salary range because they decided it was too hard to figure out how to define public service. But it's a pretty good way of defining it as, unfortunately, it is low salaries.
That's been fine. It's given some people an opportunity. But I think this money mania in this city or in this country is just terrible. I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore when I left the FTC. I didn't want things to be black and white. I knew that things were gray and I thought lawyers were arrogant. I wanted to get into policy where you can really make things happen. Lawyers say, "Thou shalt not," and I wanted to get in terms of how we could make things happen. So, I guess I was always policy-oriented. I loved my profession while I was doing it. But I wanted to move on and do something else. So, I have and it's been very rewarding and fun.
MR. WHITE: Here, here. We can think of no finer moment or statement on which to end our day's conversation. It's a great gift that you've given us, the Commission, and those who will be interested in it for the future. We are just deeply grateful.
MS. JONES: I'm so glad you're doing it. I think it's a great idea and I love to be your first guinea pig, as it were.
MR. WHITE: Right, right.
MS. JONES: I figure I'm the oldest living Commissioner.
MR. WHITE: I think that's correct.
MS. JONES: So, I wish you well and we'll keep our 29th day or the 24th, whenever. We'll take a look and see if there are things that you have burning still to cover. I'll take a look and see if there are things that I think are burning and, otherwise, we could just leave it go.
MR. WINERMAN: Very good. That's what we'll do. Thank you.
October 24, 2003
MR. WHITE: It's October 24th, 2003 and we're here to resume the interview of Commissioner Mary Gardiner Jones, the first in our hopefully long and distinguished series of oral history tapes. So, welcome again.
MS. JONES: Thank you.
MR. WHITE: And we'll just follow up on a couple of points in our earlier conversation and see if we can elaborate on some of the issues that we raised last time.
MS. JONES: Great, good.
MR. WINERMAN: Welcome.
MS. JONES: Hi, Marc. How are you?
MR. WINERMAN: Very good, thank you.
MS. JONES: Chris, thanks for the introduction.
MR. WINERMAN: During the last session, you made a comment to the effect that Commissioner Elman needed to dissent whereas you preferred to function by consensus. What did you see as the merits of your approach and do you have anything to add to your earlier observation?
MS. JONES: Well, I guess it's the old tension that's always existed. How long do you try and get along? How long do you try and compromise in order to move things forward and at what point do you stop and say no, this is beyond the pale and I'm going to dissent? I suspect that Phil was more ready to dissent than I was. I was more interested in seeing if we could push the thing along towards consensus. We're five people, we've got to make some adjustments to each other. And I hope that I didn't do that too often, but that's always a danger. I think it's just a matter of philosophy, of personality and probably of personal style. It's a little bit of everything.
MR. WINERMAN: Did you see either approach as particularly effective during your tenure here?
MS. JONES: Well, I think Phil, remember, was always interested in the law. It was probably much more important to dissent on a legal issue because then you do raise the issues and you sharpen it for the appeal court where it's always going to go. I was much more interested in social policy and moving the Commission along in terms of embracing new issues and for that you have to go slower because people aren't ready to embrace change especially that Commission. Rand Dixon and McIntyre were much more status quo people. They wanted to leave it to Congress to press the envelope and I believed very strongly that we had to press the envelope. That's why we were set up the way we were. Congress doesn't want to be bothered with all these issues. That's our job and our responsibility.
But in order to do that kind of thing, I think you have to probably make many more trade-offs than you have to on legal issues. You can't make trade-offs on legal issues. You either feel one way or you feel the other. I was not unknown to dissent on legal issues. I issued I don't know how many dissents, but I'm sure not as many as Phil. But on legal issues, it's much clearer.
MR. WINERMAN: You also noted that you and Commissioner Elman voted differently more often than did any other pair of Commissioners, even though you described the Commission in your earlier days here during the Dixon chairmanship as split between, on the one hand, the two of you, and on the other hand, the other Commissioners. I guess that would be particularly the case before Commissioner Nicholson came.
MS. JONES: Yeah.
MR. WINERMAN: Can you explore a little more this curious pattern?
MS. JONES: Well, I think that Phil and I had exactly the same values. We cared about the consumer, we wanted to move the Commission. Phil was angrier with the Commission than I was. I think he liked to take the opportunity to lambaste them. But on legal issues, apparently, we differed, and in some cases, he was right and in some cases, I think he was wrong. But, again, it's this kind of a split of where your interests lie.
But we had the same values. We cared about the low-income consumers, we cared about consumers in general. I think Phil was more adamant on Robinson-Patman than I was, probably because I didn't know as much about Robinson-Patman. I left that to Chris to write those decisions. But it's hard to explain. I think it's just one of those phenomena. But we were very much in the same ballpark in terms of what we wanted. I think he was, perhaps, more impatient - yes, much less patient than I was at the Commission.
MR. WINERMAN: Do you think that was primarily a function of character or was it partially a function of his arrival several years before you had arrived?
MS. JONES: I think it's personality and style. We never could quite understand it ourselves. We talked about it a lot because we didn't like it.
MR. WINERMAN: Right.
MS. JONES: But it just happened to come out that way.
MR. WINERMAN: Right. You noted that you had perceived Chairman Dixon as being closer to business, including big business. Can you discuss a little bit further the basis for this observation and perhaps, for example, how it might have affected substantive decision-making or aspects of his chairmanship?
MS. JONES: No, I don't think so. Rand was always a very fair-minded person. I think he was not only sympathetic to big business, but also to small business. He was very much like MacIntyre. I think he believed very much that you had to protect small business. But on mergers, which tended to be politically sensitive, I think Rand had more of his finger to the wind than I did. But it's hard to know what goes through another person's mind.
Commissioners are funny people. We range all over the lot and our values are very important in how we look at issues of law and issues of social policy. I think Rand was more of an establishment person. He was more comfortable being in that kind of a genre, but I'm now guessing - it's hard to psychoanalyze other people. I don't think it was a matter of big business versus small business or big business versus the consumer. It's just that I had the feeling that he was perhaps more understanding, more sympathetic, which is a better way of putting it, than I was towards business and, more important, less consumer minded than I was
He had much less understanding of consumer needs and concerns than I had. I was very strong on the consumer and I didn't tolerate a lot of the kind of practices and advertising practices that went on which were so unfair to consumers and really interfered with their ability to deal with the market place. I thought some of these practices were really terrible.
MR. WINERMAN: Okay. If I properly understood your remarks, you indicated that Chairman Dixon's relation to Congress, essentially his deference to Congress, limited his view of the Commission's authority or perhaps more precisely of how the propriety of exercising that authority.
MS. JONES: Um-hum, good summary.
MR. WINERMAN: Can you explain this further, perhaps with examples?
MS. JONES: Well, the main example I remember is the housing example. Rand did not want to apply the Commission's authority in this new area, even though technically we had a case. Certainly the real estate industry deceived people by not revealing that they wouldn't sell or rent to blacks. But I think it was also the fact that that was a new area for the Commission to go into. He saw nothing but perils to it and he was not willing to make that kind of a jump.
I think another example would be the issue of intervention by the young students or any third party in Commission proceedings. I had a very strong philosophy that although the Commission is supposed to be in the public interest, it was very hard for us to be in the public interest and be for one side of the issues, which would be the consumer side. I thought we really ought to arbitrate between the two and that meant that we couldn't represent the consumers as people tended to think. That was part of our public interest. It wasn't really true. I thought that consumers ought to be able to intervene so we'd have two parties and then we could really play our role of arbitrating the issue and trying to figure out what the balance should be between the two rights and the two interests. So, I guess that's where I was coming from.
MR. WHITE: Mary, I just want to ask about that momentarily.
MS. JONES: Um-hum.
MR. WHITE: That was the Students Opposing Unfair Practices who wanted to intervene in the Campbell's Soup case.
MS. JONES: SOUP, yes. They did subsequently intervene, I realized as I looked through my notes. They were permitted to intervene in the Firestone case. So, we finally brought the Commission around, but go ahead.
MR. WHITE: It was an interesting comment you had and I was wondering if you'd just elaborate a little bit on what it was like when that - because I think that was the first time that a consumer group had attempted to intervene.
MS. JONES: Oh, I thought it was brilliant.
MR. WHITE: What was it like among the Commissioners when this dropped on the Commissioners?
MS. JONES: Oh, those damn young people and what do they think they're doing, intervening and telling us what to do and who are those whippersnappers. Bear in mind, this was the tail end of the '60s and you were either in favor of that student movement or you thought it was terrible. There were many people who saw this on another level as hoodlums. People who had come out of Germany, for example, from '38 remembered that Hitler had come to power because of the fear of the hoodlums, and that was a very interesting take on all of this. They were also concerned about the same kind of things we were, but looking at it with a different background.
But I cheered it. I thought we needed to do this. It was all part of my philosophy that we had to reach out to the public and they had to be more involved in our proceedings. Besides which, not only was I interested in the notion that they had suggested that they should intervene, but the idea then pushed my thinking about the whole role of the Commission. I began to think about consumer intervention as a way of balancing the role of the Commission as more arbitrator with consumers pushing their own point of view and not having to rely on the Commission to promote their interests which the Commission might or might not see as the prevailing public interest to promote. The contribution that consumers could make was exemplified by their initiation of the idea of corrective advertising. The idea was brilliant.
We had struggled with this fact that we had no real important power over advertising. All we could order was to cease and desist from continuing the ad campaign- typically after it had already run its course. We knew that we didn't have much power, and that finally gave us the clue.
So, not only was I happy they intervened, I thought the idea was wonderful. Also, I was also looking over some of my notes realizing that - you asked me a little bit about what had changed after Weinberger, after Kirkpatrick came in. I was realizing that these chairpersons came in under President Nixon on a platform of making the Commission more significant. So, that gave us a great incentive to be more affirmative and to be more proactive. I realized as I looked at some of my speeches that we were moving in terms of encouraging people to petition There were other petitions that we had received urging us to take certain kinds of actions which proved very helpful to us. We are not the repositories of universal exclusive expertise. These young people in the consumer movement were very active and bright and had lots of ideas. We got more ideas listening to them.
When I worked for General Donovan, one of the things he asked me to do was answer all his mail. A lot of his mail ranged from little 10-year-old kids who wrote to ask the General why they should study Latin to all kinds suggestions about foreign policy. I said to him one day, I said, "General, why do you answer all of these letters?" He said, "Because you never know when you're going to get a good idea." He wanted to be known as a person who listened, and he did. I think that was part of my thinking, too, that you're going to get good ideas out of this.
So, the more openness, the more information you give people, the more you encourage them to come in, listen to our hearings, sit in on them, I think, is really very productive of lively ideas.
MR. WINERMAN: It seems this relationship with the student movement is interesting because it works on a few levels for you and others as Commissioners. First of all, Washington was the site of numerous protests in those days. As we discussed last week, you had actually given a speech at one point and -
MS. JONES: A graduation speech at GW.
MR. WINERMAN: Right, a graduation speech. There was also, I believe in the Nixon papers - strangely enough, someone in the White House had thought of creating a vacancy on the Commission by making Philip Elman a Federal judge.
MS. JONES: Hmm.
MR. WINERMAN: I was curious to -
MS. JONES: Well, that was a famous - that was a famous ploy. They offered Kirkpatrick a judgeship. They inquired whether I would like to have a judgeship. That was a very typical way of trying to get you off the Commission. I think Kirkpatrick would have given his eyeteeth to be a judge, but he wasn't going to do that kind of thing.
I remember it was set up - I went down to Palm Beach to visit my mother and there was a party and all of a sudden, I found myself alone in the room with Papa Bopst, as he was known then, the Chairman of the Board of Warner Lambert. The first thing he did was start talking about the Warner Lambert case that was pending before the Commission. I said I wouldn't talk about that. Then he asked me what my future plans were and I said I hadn't - this was, I think, in the early '70s. I said I hadn't decided yet, I was going to wait until my term expired.
And he said, "Well, you know, are you interested in being a judge?" I said, "You know, I'm not going to decide until I leave the Commission." So that took care of that. But we all had those overtures. I'm sure that Phil had such overtures and I think Phil, again, would have loved to have been a judge. I think all of us thought we weren't going to succumb to that kind of thing. That's the kind of way that people tried to intervene.
MR. WINERMAN: Right.
MS. JONES: With MacIntyre, he reached the age of mandatory retirement and they gave him, I think, six-month extensions.
MR. WINERMAN: Perhaps one year - it was limited extensions.
MS. JONES: And that was terrible, I mean, because they really had him. He had to do their bidding.
There is always a certain amount of political pressure, particularly on the chairpersons. I remember when we talked about the budget on the Commission. I was saying to Rand, "Why don't you ask for more budget?" He said, "Mary, you haven't been at breakfast with Johnson when he gives you the eyeball treatment." So, there are all kinds of ways in which pressure can be brought. There is also the cult of a politeness. I mean, I'm sure Rand was not a person who was going to sacrifice his independence. But there are those kinds of pressures. He is your president.
MR. WINERMAN: Right.
MS. JONES: He did nominate you. And he's a powerful person.
I don't know, he never pulled it on me, thank God. But I don't know how I would have reacted. He was a very persuasive person and I admired him a lot. So, there are lots of ways of influencing Commission action and the budget, of course, is one way.
MR. WINERMAN: Well, that's very interesting, that in the '60s, the Commission seats were seen as so important that they were often willing to use overtures of judgeships -
MS. JONES: Well, bear in mind, this is '68.
MR. WINERMAN: The late '60s, I'm sorry.
MS. JONES: This is after the Nader and the ABA reports. As I said, those reports provided us with renewed incentive. But also it was unique. It's another form of influence, if you will, when you go down to Congress to testify. In those days, they asked you, "Why aren't you doing more for the consumer? Why aren't you showing more vigilance on mergers?" It could be the other way, and that's a very dampening experience.
I've seen Rand do masterful jobs on the Hill. The first time I went with him when he was testifying before a House Committee. There must have been 14 members of that House Committee. They'd each ask him questions and he would ramble on and on. I thought, my God, how could he do this. At the end of it he said, "Mary, they didn't want to have any answers, they just wanted to have some time and the publicity." He knew how to do that. I think that may have been one of the problems with Mike Pertschuk. He didn't know how to orchestrate those committees. I wouldn't have known either or been willing to play those games. I would have been very blunt and straightforward and that isn't what they wanted at all.
So, the buddy system worked well down there. And he wasn't going to harm that buddy system either. So, those were pressures on him.
MR. WINERMAN: One of the other intriguing things about the Elman overture, in particular, is there is a letter in the Nixon papers [which are available at the National Archives] where someone writes, and I forget who it was - "You know, you've been talking about giving this guy a Federal judgeship, but did anybody realize he was marching in peace marches?" So, the broader politics overlapped Commission politics.
On that score, as you talk about the view of the youth, generally, there's the broader social picture of the anti-war protests, which you and Commissioner Elman clearly seemed to have been - I'm not sure if you were actually marching in the protests, but certainly supporting the protesters. At the same time, the youth movement, in a sense, also gets reflected in the Nader report and -
MS. JONES: Um-hum.
MR. WINERMAN: - from the viewpoint of Chairman Dixon, in particular, there may very well have been an overlap that these people attacking the Commission were the young people. So, with all of those sort of threads in mind, could you talk about how your fellow Commissioners, perhaps including you and Commissioner Elman, were reacting generally to the youth movement and the fact that this was pressing on the Commission and everybody in Washington in various ways?
MS. JONES: I didn't put that altogether but I'm sure it's got to have had some impact. But we never talked about that kind of thing. I think that in the case of the Students Opposing Unfair Practices, the SOUP Group from GW, it was much more a reaction to the fact that the young consumer group had issued that report attacking that Commission, and Rand felt that very personally. We all did to some extent. It was not easy, even for me, because I thought, I had been working towards opening up the Commission, I had been consumer-minded. But what it did for me was to make me realize that at some point, incrementalism isn't enough. You have to do more.
So, after I simmered down a little, I began to realize that a lot of what they said was probably true. I don't think Rand ever did simmer down because, after all, he was the target. But I think it was much more these young whippersnapper consumers who had attacked the Commission. Where the Commissioners' wartime, anti-Vietnam positions were, I have no idea. I just don't know.
I was not very active in the anti-war movement. It was one thing I had really tried to stay away from. It took me quite a while. I remember my epiphany came when I was in New York. I was walking along Madison Avenue and we stopped because there was a Vietnam peace march crossing the street. I looked at the people who were in it who were middle class, middle-aged kind of citizens. They weren't all these young people with long hair and what have you. I began to think, there's got to be something more to this than I'm appreciating. I began then to get more concerned about it and to watch it a little bit more and then when I saw the Nixon people beating these kids up and carting them off in buses to what were, in fact, concentration camps, that was just too much for me.
But it took me a while to get there. So, I don't know where everybody else was on it, but I think it was more the fact that these whippersnappers can't tell us what to do, I mean, we're the Commissioners.
MR. WINERMAN: Right, right. And I didn't want to draw too simplistic a connection given the fact -
MS. JONES: Yeah, I think that's hard. I just don't know. I didn't even know Phil was marching in peace marches.
MR. WINERMAN: At least White House correspondence claimed he was.
MS. JONES: Well, he probably was. That would be typical of him. He had three boys and he must have been very close to that.
MR. WINERMAN: Right. And, of course -
MS. JONES: And he liked the young people. He had the Nader people in his office working with them. So, that was, you know, very consistent for him.
MR. WINERMAN: Very good. Have you any further thoughts about the tenures and similarities and differences among Chairman Weinberger, Kirkpatrick and Engman?
MS. JONES: Weinberger was in too short a time. He - as I said - I think I said last time, he did a couple things I wasn't crazy about. But in terms of philosophy and appointments and that kind of thing, he was in too short a time to make much difference, except that he carried on the notion that the Commission should be more consumer-minded.
And, of course, Kirkpatrick had the real ability to pull in the able people like Alan Ward and Bob Pitofsky. So, he made much more of a dent. Engman kind of came in following through a little bit, but I don't remember him making any strong differences. I've kind of forgotten now.
MR. WINERMAN: And I guess in terms of other Commissioners who came during the Nixon presidency, you overlapped Mayo Thompson just by a few months. You overlapped Commissioner Dennison's tenure a bit longer. Have you any further comments?
MS. JONES: Well, Dennison was a very laid back person. I'm not even quite sure where he was coming from in terms of some of his opinions.
Mayo Thompson seemed to me - I don't remember him making any dent on anything. I think he was very much a go-along-with-the-establishment, and I don't think I expected anything from him. I don't think I got anything from him. But I don't really remember them very clearly.
MR. WINERMAN: Okay.
MR. WHITE: Mary, let me just interject. Were you at the table when Commissioner Dennison demonstrated a product that they were considering a complaint against, the underarm deodorant?
MS. JONES: I don't remember that.
MR. WHITE: This might have been after your tenure.
MS. JONES: Oh, okay.
MR. WHITE: There was a case pending in front of the Commission and staff was pitching the case to the Commissioners. To me, observing, it wasn't going all that well until -
MS. JONES: To coin a pun, it didn't smell right.
MR. WHITE: It wasn't looking good. Commissioner Dennison had one of his attorney advisors hand him the product and picked up an ashtray and sprayed the product on an ashtray that demonstrated the issue about which the false claim was alleged.
MS. JONES: Good for him.
MR. WHITE: They sent the thing right up.
MS. JONES: Good for him, good for him. Well, that's very imaginative and that's a way of fighting, too.
MR. WINERMAN: Turning to a somewhat broader topic, you suggested earlier that at least some of your colleagues tended, at least at first, to view consumer groups as, I think your term was, "the ladies."
MS. JONES: Um-hum.
MR. WINERMAN: Which opens us a series of questions. Did the perception of these colleagues suggest a significant element of gender bias on the part of the Commission as the Commissioners approached substantive issues?
MS. JONES: Well, it's hard. I mean, in those days, you went to meetings and women were still addressed as gentlemen. The language was still "he" and there was a tendency of men to tune women out. But when you're one of five, it's not easy for them to tune you out. When you get upset, they can't tune you out. So, I didn't feel it. I've always had this feeling that gender bias is much more in terms of hiring; once you're there, they kind of forget it. It's not always true and I, perhaps, didn't stay long enough. I never made partner in Webster Sheffield and I think that was probably gender bias. But maybe not. You always wonder if it's your own personality or whether it's gender. It's not an easy thing to judge.
So, it's hard to know. I think there was the usual feeling among men that women weren't as able and didn't have as much to say, but then when the women would get up - the ladies remark was because, typically, the press members who were interested in consumers in that early period were very much Helen Hokinson types. They were not the smooth, sophisticated young women who eventually emerged. They were ladies of a much earlier generation and, in a sense, they did evoke that response. They were not as trained and they were not as sophisticated. But that was, I think, the genesis of that remark, that those had been the people that the Commissioners had seen at hearings.
They weren't very interested in the consumer movement anyway or in women's and consumer issues, that was something their wives were supposed to do. So, there was that general social bias. But in terms of individuals, I didn't see it and when we did invite a broader group of consumers to testify and women represented them, there was just as much attention paid to what they said because they were very able. You couldn't ignore them. So, I didn't really feel that kind of severe disabling bias.
Now, I don't know how staff members felt and how promotions went and all that kind of thing that I am sure was deeply present within Commission staff. After all, I was a Commissioner. I had a title and everybody had to be polite to me. So, my experiences are not a fair test of where the Commission was in terms of those issues. But I felt them generically and I guess I accepted them, tolerated them much more than a lot of people. I was brought up in the politeness cult. I wanted to just get in. I didn't want to make waves. I wasn't a feminist in that sense. I learned a lot from the women's movement because I got, I think, stronger, more self-assured. But in those early days, I just wanted to get along. I just wanted to get a job. I wanted to keep a job. I wanted to be listened to.
So, I didn't have the same things at issue for myself once I got the jobs and responsibilities I wanted. Not what the men got but enough to enable me to be a lawyer and a person to some limited extent. As I say, I learned from them.
MR. WINERMAN: Although you certainly had the background, being one of two women in your class at Yale Law School back in 1948.
MS. JONES: Oh, yeah. But, you know, when you're a one-person minority, you're careful.
MR. WINERMAN: Right. From a somewhat different direction, do you see your own interest in consumer issues as flowing in some way from being the first woman Commissioner?
MS. JONES: No, but not in the way you meant it. I think it fascinated me. I'm always for the underdog, have been all my life. I was invited by consumer groups to their conferences because I was the only woman Commissioner. My philosophy of speech making was to take the first invitation that came along. Some people looked at the number of people and the organization, I just took whatever came along and I don't think I ever refused anything unless I was busy and couldn't do it. So, I learned about the consumer movement from many of my speaking engagements. I got a sense of the power that they could be and of the power that the FTC had to advance their interests.
Bear in mind, I didn't know much about FTC law when I came in. I was an antitruster, so I knew about the merger and anticompetition laws. So, consumer deception was kind of new for me. I got kind of fascinated by it and I came back and wanted to put the consumers I met at these conferences on FTC's mailing list. I started thinking about the FTC powers from the point of view of the consumer, mostly, because I got early introduced to them. So, the fact that I was a woman I don't think had as much to do with my emerging interest in the consumer movement as these other things. I said once to Rand that he was a much better consumer than I was. He did the shopping for his family. He worried about income and that kind of thing. I was single, I didn't have a family, and I didn't have to do all that shopping. So, in a sense, he had much more of a background for the consumer issues than I did.
But I took to them psychologically. I do think partially it was my long-term feeling for the underdog. I also think that where some of that influence came was in my concern for the ghetto and the low-income individuals. That did have a strong resonance with me because I had been discriminated against. Although it was nothing like the blacks, because I could melt in much better, but still, that gave me a real sensitivity to what they were going through and what it was like and how it's subtle and how there are code words that it's generated by. So, I think that gave me that kind of sense of empathy with individuals who felt and were largely powerless.
MR. WINERMAN: Okay. Finally, we've talked about influences within the Commission, both between Commissioners and between Commissioners and staff, in terms of implementing visions of the Commission that people within the agency had. Could you address a bit visions of people outside the agency and how they tried to influence how the agency operated, including within government or outside of government?
MS. JONES: Oh, well, everybody's got an interest in the Commission. You know, all the lobbyists have and all the industry has. What was new in my period was that the consumers had an interest now. So, we balanced that. And that was very important. As I said, when we started to open ourselves up, we got all kinds of petitions for various actions from the consumer groups. So, it was very proactive. Now, the consumers' influence was always, do more, get better sanctions, enforce the law more creatively. Clearly, the industry pressure was the other way. You don't understand, we need to get along, we have to do this, and we have to do that. So, there were always people who wanted to influence you.
We had an interesting discussion in terms of what our rules on ex parte conversations should be. We finally did get a rule in which we said we wouldn't have ex parte conversations with people unless we had a staff person there, and that was very, very healthy because, first, we can get snowed by all kinds of arguments. If you have the staff person there, you've got a chance to listen to the arguments of those you are meeting with and have them refuted. You can let the staff person go at them without you having to compromise yourself by saying, "I don't agree with you," because then you might stray into some kind of a bias that could be used against you. You have to be careful.
But I always listened to people. I thought, let them say whatever they want to say. You learn. I mean, there's no question. Industry isn't all black and all white. We have to understand where they're coming from. We don't have to believe it all, but we have to understand it.
We're better able to write our decisions if we understand it. I think I cited you the last time, the one time I do remember when General Electric came in and said on our warranties, we can comply with those, but small business can't. That was very impressive to me, I learned something from that. You can always learn something. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree with the conclusions they draw from it, but you've got to know it. And that's our job anyway. We've got to listen to people.
MR. WHITE: I'm just wondering, thinking about the time period, whether there are any groups, organizations or their representatives that stand out in my mind as having a particular interest in the Commission? Were there industry associations that were particularly important in the Commission's doings?
MS. JONES: Oh, yes, goodness me. The advertising industry, of course. I gave more speeches to advertising groups, I think, than any other group. The credit industry was very concerned. The grocery manufacturers. I don't remember the oil industry coming around particularly. I don't remember the big telecommunications. I think they dealt more with Justice anyway in those days. But the grocery manufacturers, the advertising industry, the credit industry were very strong. We went to all their receptions and they were the ones who gave all of those receptions. The consumers had their annual meetings that you went to, but there weren't as many. So, you didn't get to hobnob with them as much.
It was - you know, this politeness code, it has an effect. It doesn't change your opinions, but it's there. Maybe it should be because it's another way of opening yourself up to the public, but you have to be careful about it. It's not easy to hang on to your independence and, you know, you can always kid yourself. You're the biggest sucker in the world for yourself. You can always rationalize everything. Hopefully, your staff can keep you straight, and they do, That's one role to have for staff if they trust you and you have them there because you want that and they know that, they can help you a little bit.
MR. WHITE: I also wonder if there were any attorneys representing outside parties that appeared before the Commission that particularly stand out in your mind?
MS. JONES: Oh, Tommy Austin was always there. I mean, every time you turned around, Tommy was there. I'm not sure I even remember anybody else, but he was there.
MR. WHITE: That's what I was wondering, whether there was -
MS. JONES: Yeah, there were always some. I also remember Howard Bell who was the advertising agency person. He didn't come around so much to the Commission, but he was very active in all of the receptions that you had to go, interminable ones. And, again, I thought it was important that you do this kind of thing. I mean, you have to show that you're willing to listen to everybody. Especially since I tended to be on the other side, it was important for me to go. They were all very smooth.
I enjoyed this. That's one thing I loved about my antitrust work with the Department of Justice was negotiating consent orders. I loved to listen to the other side and figure out what's going on and what makes sense in what they're saying and what is just overblown. That's the game. You have to play this in the back of your head and try and figure out what makes sense. If you can really do that, if you can believe that they have a real problem with, but then you can design a better way solve it, it's a much better way of going.
MR. WINERMAN: And did you have any other experiences in terms of how other branches of government sought to influence Commissioners?
MS. JONES: No. We'd been talking about the independence of the Commission and the role of the executive, but in terms of other agencies, no. We talked about the way the President has an impact, the Congress has an impact, the factor of the more blatant ones that Nixon talked of offering you judgeships. Of all the lobbyists, the industry lobbyists are probably much more active than anybody else. But, you know, that may also be my experience because I was kind of known as an independent. Perhaps people didn't try to lobby me on some issues knowing ahead of time that I wouldn't bite.
I don't think people would have bothered very much. But I don't know what other violins were playing and what other strings were plucked and, you know, all that kind of thing. I suspect everybody had their own people that approached them and must have had their own experiences.
MR. WINERMAN: Okay.
MR. WHITE: I suppose we're nearing the end of our conversation. Is there anything that we haven't suggested that you might want to talk about?
MS. JONES: Well, I was looking over some of my speeches since the Weinberger and Kirkpatrick Chairmanships came in, and I noticed an increasing concern on my part of openness and the Commission being concerned with that issue, which, as far as I can remember, had never come up before. So, that was a very positive impact of the Nader and ABA reports. The new Chairman with a new mandate to make the Commission effective, and that we now talked much more about making ourselves available. I think there was much less opposition, in fact, probably none at that point, to consumers, other than the kind of whippersnapper opposition. But basically understanding this was a movement, this was important. Congress was interested in it. Even the President, as I said, came in on a platform of making us more effective.
So, there was, I think, a distinct strengthening of the consumer side of the Commission mandate. I don't want to say new because I believe very strongly we had been - Elman and I, in particular, had been - doing a lot of this before. Anyway, it became much more of a Commission goal. So, that was important.
Talking about the difference between Elman and I. My issues were - in all my speeches, I don't think I gave a speech on a legal issue. I don't think I ever cited a footnote of a case. I might have wanted to, but my whole goal was to try and get the business community to accept the consumer movement as something positive for them, that if they didn't, there would be a cynicism against business that would have reactions to them and that they could learn from their consumers just as we were and they could anticipate problems if they would look at what the consumers were saying about them. That was really the purport of a lot of my speeches, the economic and social impact of the consumer movement.
I think that was something that the Commission was probably not as articulate about as I was, but I think they did appreciate that it was not out of the mainstream now to talk about the consumer movement and its positive role and how we should look at it.
Those were the things that I think made a difference as a result of the attacks on the Federal Trade Commission and the new consumer groups that came in called public interest groups in those days. They differentiated themselves. Talking about the ladies, the public interest advocates tended to include more men. That may have had, perhaps, a comforting effect or maybe gave these advocates a little bit more credibility. It's hard to know how those various factors play out. But it became much more of a male and female movement than it had ever been before. It had been associated with the ladies and now consumers of both genders were much more sophisticated than in the early days of the consumer movement.
Also, these youngsters from GW, they were male law students, maybe a mixture. Probably the women's movement had a lot of impact on changing the climate. The climate was distinctly better. So, that made our work much more creative and much more interesting.
MR. WHITE: Well, "creative and interesting" I would like to use as the closing thought because this conversation has been both of those. For Marc and for me, I just want to say thank you, again. This has been just a great delight to go over these issues with you and we're just happy to be able to capture and hope that others will benefit from it in the future. So, many thanks.
MS. JONES: I thank you for giving me this opportunity, and also to refresh myself a little bit on that period. So, it's been a fun period for me and I thank you for the opportunity.
MR. WHITE: Very good.
MR. WINERMAN: Thank you very much.
(The interview was concluded.)