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Sidney Kessler

John Simkin

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Does anybody know anything about Sidney Kessler? I found this article:

The Corpus Christi Times (1st August 1961)

President Kennedy intervened in the personal financial dealings of Grant Stockdale before permitting him to take his post as U. S. ambassador to Ireland, it was learned yesterday.

Alter nominating the Miami politician and real estate dealer for the post in Ireland. Kennedy learned with shocked surprise of an interest-free $5.000 loan Stockdale had received from a nationally known builder.

Stockdale, in a transatlantic telephone interview from Dublin, admitted that the President was "afraid the loan could make it

look like I was finagling around with the FHA (Federal Housing Administration)."

He said the President expressed his fears at a White House meeting before Stockdale left for Ireland, and that the President told Stockdale to pay back the money. Stockdale said he returned the $5,000 to Sidney Kessler of New

York, whose application tor an FHA commitment of $8 million for an apartment building in Miami was pending at the time the loan was made.

Kessler said yesterday the loan had nothing to do with his FHA application. He said he offered Stockdale the money when Stockdale mentioned that he had been absent from his real estate office in Miami during the presidential campaign and was short of cash. Stockdale was a money-raiser for Kennedy during the campaign. He operated out of New York, working closely with Joseph, the President's father.

Stockdale insisted yesterday that he had nothing to do with the search for a new FHA direcor for south Florida, but he said

the President felt that the loan from Kessler might be "misconstrued." He admitted, however, that John A. Grubbs, who was later ousted as FHA director in Miami, spoke to him "two or three times" after the campaign about the prospects of being retained in his $13,730-a-year job.

He also said that some of his own clients in the real estate businessthought highly of Grubbs and suggested that Stockdale do what he could to get backing for Grubbs within the administration. Stockdale said all he did was pass this information, along to Sen. George Smathers. D-Fla. a key figure in patronage appointments for Florida under the Kennedy administration.

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An article by David Draslow in The Chicago Daily News on 15th August 1961, provides more details of the deal.

Kennedy insisted at a White House meeting that Stockdale pay back the money before leaving for Ireland. Stockdale, who helped raise funds for Kennedy during last year's campaign, complied with the President's order.

Two weeks ago, when this incident was disclosed, Stockdale explained that "the President was afraid the loan could make look like I was finagling around with the FHA."

Both Stockdale and Kessler said that at the time that the loan had nothing to do with any FHA matter. Kessler said he went to see Stockdale at the latter's office in Miami (he thought in February or March) to see if Stockdale could belp him acquire some land. At this meeting, Kessler said Stockdale mentioned that he had been absent from his business during the campaign and was short of cash. Kessler said he then offered Stockdale the loan. Kessler said it was not unusual for him to loan money to a friend at no interest. Stockdale said he did, not know Kessler well at the time.

Three weeks ago the FHA approved Kessler's request for an $8 million commitment for the 21-story town house in an expensive bayfront Miami neighborhood. The application was approved in spite of these factors:

1 — Six weeks ago, it was learned, the FHA issued a "stop order" on accepting any new applications for luxury apartments in greater Miami.

2 — Joseph Graham, FHA zone chief whose jurisdiction includes Florida, was "apprehensive" about the Kessler application and had reported his feelings to Edwin G. Callahan, special assistant to FHA Commissioner Mel Hardy.

3 — An FHA "marketability survey" in Miami indicated that the market for the type of apartments in the Kessler project is

poor. The survey was projected for several years, covering the time when construction of Kessler's project would be completed.

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