Thursday, February 12, 2015

On This Date in Minnesota History: February 12

February 12, 1916 – State Treasurer Walter J. Smith resigned his office today following his indictment by the Ramsey County grand jury charging irregularities in the handling of $28,000 of state funds. Smith, still at the Gatling Institute in Minneapolis, is in critical condition and too sick to be brought to the city hospital in St. Paul.

A strange explanation of Smith’s alleged act in tampering with state funds was made today when it was learned that he received offers of credit to an almost unlimited extent from banks in the state desirous of becoming depositories of state moneys.

It was suggested that this credit first induced the speculation in which he is said by his alleged partner Robert C. Pickit
to have participated.

Impaired physical condition and the realization that his credit was inflated by his official position are believed to have led to his indiscretions.

It is now known that, in several instances, Smith availed himself of credit for small amounts, notably with St. Paul, St. Cloud, Stillwater and Iron Range banks.

Smith was a liberal spender and had been drinking heavily for several years according to friends, but they claim he was not a roisterer. He lives in a modest, rented home; his family consisting of his wife and a 15-year-old daughter. His salary is $4,000 a year. He mingled much with politicians and is known on occasions to have spent $40 or $50 a day in entertaining political or personal friends. It is said, however, that while he was liberal with his money, he did not “splurge” to this extent often.

The family does not entertain much nor does Smith own automobiles or horses. His home life is said to have been quiet and happy, no members of his family indulging in extravagant luxuries.

Former Minn. State Treasurer Walter J. Smith
St. Paul Pioneer Press; Feb. 8, 1916; p. 1. 

This afternoon Gov. Burnquist appointed Arthur C. Gooding, a Rochester banker, to succeed Smith as state treasurer. He will begin his term on Monday, Feb. 14.

Arthur C. Gooding, new state treasurer
St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch; Feb. 12, 1916; p. 1.  

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer; “Walter J. Smith Resigns As State Treasurer; Is Indicted By Grand Jury. Gives Resignation to Clerk in Office Who Handed it to Governor Today. Appointment To Office To Be Made Immediately. Smith in Critical Condition at Gatlin Institute, Minneapolis; Unable to Be Moved.”; February 12, 1916; pp.1 & 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment