News

THE GOVERNOR'S 800-POUND GORILLA

Page 3 of 13

In a withering attack on Dowd's report, investigative techniques and witnesses against Rose, Dash testified that, "Frankly, this report was, in fact, so flawed that if it had been given to me as chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee by one of my deputies or investigators, I would have fired them." Three years later, Dash's comments still rankle Dowd.

"The testimony of Mr. Dash was ludicrous," said Dowd last week. "Mr. Dash never read my report to the commissioner before he testified for his old classmate, Reuven Katz, who was representing Pete Rose."
Dash was incredulous at Dowd's remarks.
"I had thoroughly read his report," countered Dash. "The work was not only inadequate, it was fallacious. It was absolutely outrageous. He actually withheld quite a bit of information from the commissioner, exculpatory information which tended to exonerate Mr. Rose was not included. . . . I did not make a conclusion as to Pete Rose's guilt. I was testifying on what kind of a job John Dowd did."
Dowd claims Dash overlooked exhibits that contained the missing information.
"If what John Dowd is saying is that I would do an unethical act for an old friend, that is outrageous. Reuven Katz is not an old friend. We are not in touch. We were not in touch. We were classmates at Harvard but that was 42 years ago. When his call first came in, it was left on our answering machine. You may not want to believe this, but when I played the tape, I asked my wife, 'Who's Reuven Katz? Who's Pete Rose?'" After Dowd's report was finally issued, Rose's lawyers, not unexpectedly, blasted it. But they also singled out Dowd's conduct for comment, concluding, "If this report is your idea of fair play and natural justice, I feel sorry for you."
Today, Dowd is stoic and imperial: "A review of the complete record shows that the criticisms by the attorneys for Mr. Rose to be without merit."

Whatever opinions exist regarding Dowd's tactics, the fact is that he prevailed. Even Dowd's detractors concede that it was the attorney's tenacious pursuit that nailed Rose. If baseball did not cover itself with glory, Pete Rose was, nonetheless, banned.

To his supporters, the harsh opinions of Dowd's tactics that live on in the wake of the Rose investigation are somewhat mystifying.

"A lot of people were upset with him about the Pete Rose investigation. A lot was said about that," said former Attorney General Griffin Bell. "But you have to remember that Pete Rose had a lot of friends. I knew John Dowd when he worked for me at the justice department. He's a fearless prosecutor and a very good lawyer. I would be glad to have him represent me. I would have been aware if there were problems at the justice department and I never heard anything like that. I can't imagine he'd have been as successful as he was if he was at all underhanded."
Prior to handling the Rose investigation, Dowd was with the U.S. Department of Justice from 1969 to 1978. There he distinguished himself in tax cases and RICO prosecutions aimed at mobsters. In his last four years, he was in charge of one of that agency's Organized Crime Task Forces.

In 1976 Dowd looked into allegations of FBI corruption. Agents were accused of making home improvements for J. Edgar Hoover's successor, Clarence Kelley. The new director was also accused of accepting expensive gifts from subordinates.

At the conclusion of his investigation, Dowd made the front page of the Washington Post with his recommendation that Kelley be fired.

When asked, Dowd told the press recently that President Gerald Ford, who appointed Kelley, wanted Dowd's head following the investigation.

The implication, of course, is that the President of the United States was infuriated by Dowd's unflinching quest for justice.

It is just as likely that Ford was upset because Dowd looked like a knothead.
Terming the incidents "common and trivial," the Washington Post in a 1976 editorial characterized Dowd's call for Kelley's dismissal the result of "excessive zeal and undiscriminating righteousness."

The paper noted that when Kelley accepted the job his first wife was mortally ill with cancer and that overeager agents installed window covers, at an expense of $335, to ease the couple's harried move into the nation's capital.

"The gifts involved--including an $83.48 clock, a $105 easy chair and a walnut table--do sound expensive," wrote the Post, "until one learns that they were purchased by a group of FBI executives, each of whom chipped in $10 or $15, and were given to the boss at Christmas or an anniversary . . ."
From her Missouri home, the second Mrs. Kelley said her husband no longer gives interviews because of a series of strokes.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey