« AnteriorContinuar »
The board established four different branches of the Home-one in Maine, one in Wisconsin, and one in Virginia, and appointed for each a deputy governor; and one branch at Dayton, Ohio, known as the “Central Branch," for which a governor was appointed. In the small branches the governor was made acting treasurer; in others, a treasurer was appointed for each. It became necessary that there should be some financial officer of the general management to control the funds, with power to adjust accounts of treasurers and acting treasurer of the branches. About twelve years ago, General B. F. Butler was appointed by the board president and acting treasurer, and as such he gave bonds in $100,000, to the satisfaction of the board.
Under the act of June 16, 1880, substantially a new board was appointed.
On the 8th of July, 1880, the board elected General W. B. Franklin president, and he was appointed acting treasurer of the board. By another resolution of the board, General Butler, who had ceased to be a member, was asked to continue acting treasurer of the board until General Franklin should qualify as such by executing proper bond, so that, as disbursing officer, he might be able to receive the funds and settle the accounts with the acting treasurer. This continued General Butler as acting treasurer for the time being.
By the act of June 23, 1874, (18 Stats., 216,) it is provided :
“That all moneys hereafter appropriated for the aid, use, support, or benefit of any charitable, industrial, or other association, institution, or corporation, shall be placed to the credit of the proper fiscal officer of such association, institution, or corporation, by warrant of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the books of the Treasurer of the United States, or of an assistant treasurer or designated depositary of the United States other than a national bank, and shall be paid out only on the checks of such fiscal officer, drawn payable to the order of the person to whom payment is to be made for services, materials, or any other purpose, and stating in writing thereon the specific object or purpose to which the avails thereof are to be applied: Provided, That when payments are to be made under twenty dollars, such fiscal officer may check in his own name, but shall state in writing on the check that the avails thereof are to be applied to the payment of small claims, and shall furnish to the Treasurer, assistant treasurer, or designated depositary on whom the check is drawn, a certified list of such claims, which list shall set forth the amount and nature of each claim and the name of each claimant."
By the act of March 3, 1875, (18 Stats., 359, 360,) the Home is to be supported by annual appropriations, and the managers are required, on or before the 1st of August in each year, to furnish the Secretary of War estimates in detail for the support of the Home, and “money
shall be drawn from the Treasury for the use of said Home upon quarterly requisitions, by the managers thereof, upon the Secretary of War;" and the managers are required to render to the Secretary of War an account, with vouchers of expenditures.
A requisition having been duly made by the officers of the Home on the Secretary of War, that officer, on the 17th of July, 1880, on an " Accountable Requisition, No. 9784," addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury, asked him “to cause a warrant for $331,900 to be issued in faror of Hon. B. F. Butler, acting treasurer of the Board of Managers.” This was duly signed by the Secretary of War, countersigned by the Second Comptroller, and registered by the Second Auditor.
It is now submitted to the First Comptroller, to determine how the warrant shall issue. (Rev. Stats., 269.)
On the 27th of November, 1876, the Second Auditor, by letter, asked the Secretary of the Treasury (1) it General Butler, then treasurer, should be required to file a bond (to the United States) before receiving an advance of money; and (2) if “the moneys advanced to him should be deposited in the Treasury," to be drawn therefrom in accordance with the act of June 23, 1874. (18 Stats., 216.)
It appears, from a memorandum on this letter, that it was submitted to the First Comptroller, who decides that no bond was required, nor did the act contemplate the depositing of the money in the Treasury.”
On the 3d of April, 1877, Hon. R. W. Tayler, then First Comptroller, addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, in which he said:
“ I do not find any law requiring the treasurer or assistant treasurer of the Home to give bond to the United States, nor any law making said treasurer, or assistant treasurer, an officer of the United States. Hitherto, money has been paid by the Treasury to the person authorized by the Board of Managers to receive it. The managers of the Home are appointed by Congress, but cannot be called officers of the United States, nor can the treasurer appointed by them be regarded as such officer.
“By act of March 3, 1875, (18 Stats., 359, 360,) the managers, on estimates, make quarterly requisitions on the Secretary of War, on which estimates moneys are paid to the person named in the requisition, and payments so made are lawful. When the law directs moneys to be paid to particular persons, or in a specified manner, I do not understand that conditions can be prescribed not authorized by law, nor that pay. ment in the way provided will be illegal.”
He does not in his letter allude to the act of June 23, 1874. (18 Stats., 216.)
The act of March 3, 1875, (18 Stats., 360,) does not specify any “particular persons” to whom it " directs moneys to be paid," nor is there - any specified manner” of payment prescribed in the act. It does provide that money shall be drawn “upon quarterly requisitions by the managers (of the Home) upon the Secretary of War."
While the requisitions are to be made by the managers—the only persons who could properly make them—it is not said that money shall be paid to the managers. If there could even be doubt about it, it is to be resolved in favor of giving full effect to the act of June 23, 1874. The act of 1875 does not profess, in terms, to repeal or modify the act of 1874, nor is there any repugnancy which requires me to hold that there is a modification by implication. It is well settled that repeals or modifications by implication are not favored. Both acts may stand and be operative. When the latter act provided for the support of the Home by appropriations from the Treasury, it became subject to the operation of the act of 1874.
The act of 1874 says, in direct terms, “that all moneys appropriated for the aid, use, support, or benefit of any charitable, industrial, or other association, institution, or corporation, shall be placed to the credit of the proper fiscal officer of such corporation, &c., by warrant of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the books of the Treasurer of the United States, or an assistant treasurer, or designated depositary,” &c., and " shall be paid out only on the checks of such fiscal officer," &c.
Under the power to create such “other officers as the managers may deem necessary,” they may appoint a “fiscal officer” for each branch of the Home, and make them subject to such supervision as the service may require.
I am very reluctant to change any usage of the Department, or construction heretofore given to laws. In cases where there can be such doubt as to the effect of statutes as to render different constructions admissible on approved principles of law, I would follow the usage which has prevailed. But I cannot doubt that the statutes require me to hold that the warrant on the accountable requisition before referred to should be such as to “place to the credit of the proper fiscal officer” of the Home the amount now to be applied for its benefit on the books of the Treasurer of the United States, or of an assistant treasurer, or designated depositary," as required by act of June 23, 1874.
In form the requisition and warrant should be made in favor of an assistant treasurer or designated depositary of the United States, to go to the credit of the proper fiscal officer of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.” This construction cannot result in any
inconvenience to the Home. General Butler, in a letter of July 30, 1880, to the First Comptroller, says:
“By an arrangement between myself and the Secretary of the Treasury, prior to the act in the 18th Statutes, it was arranged that the acting treasurer of the Home had leave to deposit his funds in the sub-treasury at Boston, and to be paid out on checks drawn by him thereon, so that there is nothing in the way of that act.
“There has been no change made in the dealings between the Home and the Treasury Department."
This noble institution is but a fulfilment, in part, of that measure of justice which the nation owes to its disabled volunteer soldiers, and the laws relating to it are entitled to a liberal construction to carry out its objects, and every facility which the law permits should be given by all connected with the Government to aid its operations.
The construction given to the acts of Congress to which reference is made, becomes somewhat important, because it applies generally to asylums and similar institutions under the patronage of Congress, and to the fiscal officers of such institutions.
This whole subject has been considered on conference with the Second Comptroller and the Deputy First and Second Comptrollers, and I am authorized to say that they concur in the foregoing opinion.
For the information of the officers of the Home and of the Treasury Department, it may be stated that in November, 1878, there were submitted to the Second Comptroller two questions touching the accounts of the Home, to wit:
1. “Are balances of appropriations remaining unexpended at the end of each fiscal year to be covered into the Treasury as provided by section 3690, Revised Statutes ?
2. “Ought the amount realized from sales by said Home to be covered into the Treasury as proceeds of Government property, as provided by section 3618, Revised Statutes ?"
These he answered as follows:
“I deem it clear that such of said balances as have not been transmitted by requisition of the Secretary of War to the corporation mentioned in section 4825, remaining thus unexpended, should be covered into the Treasury, in pursuance of section 3690, Revised Statutes, and the 5th section of the act of June 20, 1874, (18 Stats., 110.)
“But as to such parts of the appropriations as have been regularly drawn from the Treasury and paid over to the said corporation in pursuance of the act of March 3, 1875, (18 Stats., 359,) the covering in acts do not seem to apply.”
And he further says:
“To avoid all difficulty which might arise from an unnecessary amount of money becoming thus set apart, (for the Home,] Congress has, by the last-named act, (of March 3, 1875, besides requiring the annual estimate made for the information of Congress, required the managers of said Home to furnish to the Secretary of War quarterly estimates of the probable expense of each ensuing quarter, and can account of all their receipts and expenditures for the quarter immediately preceding. In this manner the Secretary of War is furnished with such data as to be able to determine, with reasonable certainty, whether at any time an unnecessary part of the appropriation has been placed in the keeping of the corporation, and to remedy any probable evil of this kind when issuing subsequent requisitions. This check upon the amounts to be intrusted to the administration of the corporation seems to have been designed by Congress as a substitute for the covering-in process which applies when the money is in the hands of disbursing agents having no corporate power, and no legal title to the money intrusted to them.