U.S. attorneys are political appointees and, traditionally, Presidents dispose of them at their pleasure. But Jimmy Carter’s removal of Republican David Marston, the chief federal prosecutor in Philadelphia, was an embarrassment on two counts. Not only had candidate Carter promised to insulate the Justice Department from partisan pressure but Marston had also been investigating the activities of two Democratic congressmen from Pennsylvania—one of whom, at least, had been urging the President to give Marston the sack. The two men in question (profiled below by PEOPLE’s Greg Walter) are dramatically different—except that they represent the Administration’s worst embarrassment since Bert Lance and a state where, as one insider says, “Politics stinks.”
Eilberg: a face in the crowd
In 1974, as a member of the House Judiciary Committee pondering the possible impeachment of President Nixon, Rep. Joshua Eilberg (right) relished a rare moment in the national limelight. “Everyone likes to be recognized by his fellow man,” he allowed. “When the history of this is written, I’d like my contribution to be known. I’m saving every note, every scrap of paper I have, and I’m donating them all to Temple University Law School.”
Now the 57-year-old Philadelphia Democrat, once described as “the kind of man crowds are made of,” may be reassessing the pleasures of a life under scrutiny. He is famous once more—as the congressman who phoned President Carter to urge the expeditious firing of U.S. Attorney Marston. Eilberg insists he was unaware that Marston’s office was investigating charges that his law firm had received $500,000 in fees for help in obtaining federal funds for a local hospital. But when reporters sniffed out his get-away-from-it-all refuge in San Juan, Eilberg was “totally outraged.”
A veteran of 23 years in public life and 11 in Congress, Eilberg is a creature of the political clubhouse. His dad was a janitor in the Philadelphia school system, raising John in a tough neighborhood on the edge of the “Cement Gardens” tenderloin. Eilberg went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, served in the Navy during World War II and earned his law degree at Temple. After two years as an assistant district attorney, he was elected to the state legislature in 1954 and rose to the position of Majority Leader. Eilberg and his wife, Gladys, are the the parents of two grown children and maintain a comfortable home in northeast Philadelphia.
Considered an effective behind-the-scenes operator while rarely passing up a junket, Eilberg is second to no congressman in humorlessness. “It was as if Josh thought that anything funny wasn’t worth bothering with,” says an ex-colleague. “I seldom saw him smile, and I don’t think I ever saw him laugh.” Save for causes like Israel, mental health and his own constituents (he received 71 percent of their votes in 1976), Eilberg is grooved to the center line. “If there isn’t any middle of the road,” says a longtime associate, “Josh makes one.” For the moment, however, he could be losing traction. Political foes are smirking over Eilberg’s quote about Gerald Ford after the pardon of Richard Nixon. The President, he declared with unforeseen irony, was guilty of “interference with the criminal justice system.”
Flood: dramatis persona
On the day in 1926 that Rudolph Valentino was laid to rest, a young Hollywood hopeful named Daniel J. Flood (above) appeared on the Paramount lot for a screen test. Studio moguls liked his profile but doubted he could act. They were wrong.
Though “Dapper Dan” Flood never made it as a matinee idol, he has been a scene-stealing interlocutor in Congress for 32 years. No one needs a program to tell him from the other 434 members of the House: He’s the sartorial lion in the silk top hat and flowing cape, or in the flowered ascot and silver-buckled white pumps. His mustache, bristling with wax and often with indignation, makes him the capital’s most distinguished upper lip since the late Dean Acheson.
But if Flood is theatrical, he is not all show. He claims to have a hold on three-fourths of the federal budget. As chairman of the potent House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor, Health, Education and Welfare and vice-chairman of the Defense Subcommittee, the 74-year-old Democrat has, in any case, sluiced millions of dollars into his district—most notably after Hurricane Agnes ripped through Pennsylvania’s hard-coal country in 1972, leaving 200,000 people homeless. Two days after Wilkes-Barre was nearly washed away, the congressman appeared on TV to announce dramatically: “This is Dan Flood. Today I have ordered the Army Corps of Engineers not to allow the Susquehanna River to rise one more inch.” As usual, his will prevailed.
Born in Hazelton, Pa., Flood, a boxer at Syracuse University, graduated straight into a touring theatrical company. Mixing Shakespeare with drawing room comedy, he performed in more than 50 productions. A mustache he cultivated for the role of a plantation owner became his trademark. Later he studied law, established a practice in Wilkes-Barre and was elected to Congress in 1944. Though unseated twice, he staged successful comebacks each time. Married but childless, Flood lives with his wife, Catherine Swank, a former high school teacher, in a House Office Building annex that was once the Congressional Hotel.
Ironically, it is Flood’s acknowledged Washington influence that is at the heart of his current embarrassment. A former aide has accused him of peddling it for $150,000 in cash and stocks, and there are allegations of Mafia connections. Flood denies it and is expected to defend himself as forcefully as he battled cancer when he seemed near death in 1962. Many of his constituents will not easily abandon him. “Old Dan Flood ain’t done nothin’ the rest of ’em haven’t,” growls a local coal miner. “He’s done a hell of a lot for us—and don’t you forget it.”