In 1964, while he was serving as the cochairman of the Canadian-American Interparliamentary Group, Democrat Gallagher was received warmly by President Johnson at the White House.
I once met Congressman Gallagher at a Knights of Columbus hall in the Jersey City Heights. I remember him as being very old and very tired. Walking up the block after leaving the K of C my mother remarked, “They say Congressman Gallagher is owned by the Mob, but he’s always been a good friend of your grandmother’s.”
That was around forty years ago. Today, my grandmother is dead; my mother is dead; the Knights of Columbus building is gone and the Mob is to a large part made up of shadows now, too. But, Cornelius Gallagher is very much still here. He appeared hardly any older than what I remembered and seems to be enjoying the benefit of a good rest. He spoke for two hours — on his feet and without notes.
When I was young saying that someone was a “real politician” was a compliment. The meaning was that the person was well-dressed, affable, and a good public speaker. Cornelius Gallagher is a real politician.
Playfully waving a cane resembling a shillelagh, Gallagher marches with Democratic congressional colleague Dominick Daniels in Jersey Citv’s Columbus Day parade
Congressman Gallagher served from 1959 to 1973, during the Administrations of presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Cornelius Gallagher worked in JFK’s presidential campaign.
Congressman Gallagher contends that after beginning to investigate the government’s assault on privacy he was hounded from public life by J. Edgar Hoover.
The Congressman equated what he calls the replacement of the Constitution by the Patriot Act with government spying by Robert Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover. Cornelius Gallagher claims that Harvard University was a hotbed of mind control — Manchurian Candidate — research and that the Unabomber was the result. Gallagher also points out that America today lays claim to a military empire through over one thousand bases overseas.
The Congressman reflected on a wide range of historical figures including Roy Cohn, Joe McCarthy, and Cardinal Spellman — a self-described “simple man;” Gallagher’s comment: “as simple as Sadam Hussein.” Cornelius Gallagher also described visiting war-torn India during the Bangladesh conflict. On his return to the US, the Congressman briefed President Nixon. Nixon called in National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger who Gallagher reports as commenting, “That broad (India’s Indira Gandhi) is always getting heated up.”
Gangster Joe Zicarelli was a New Jersey capo in Cosa Nostra
Life reported that there were ties binding the congressman and the hoodlum in an alliance of interests.
Contemporary accounts associated Congressman Gallagher with the Mafia. Cornelius Gallagher called these fabrications by a spiteful J. Edgar Hoover. Gallagher says that his only meeting with Joe Zicarelli was when the Bayonne crime boss introduced the Congressman to a Cuban soldier. This disillusioned former follower of Castro wanted to inform the US that Russian soldiers and engineers were building missile silos in the mountains of Cuba. This was under Eisenhower, two years before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cornelius Gallagher says that he only met with Tino DeAngelis when the salad oil mogul’s empire was about to collapse. Gallagher described DeAngelis not as a salad oil swindler but a successful local businessman who was a victim of the big outfits. The Congressman says that he only met Harold Konigsberg (hit man, serial killer, sadist, and sex criminal) once when the Bayonne resident introduced himself to the then Freeholder Gallagher. Gallagher paints “Kayo” Konigsberg as a local “character,” one of many in Bayonne. Cornelius Gallagher denies that he called Konigsberg to remove a corpse from the Congressman’s home.
A bland-faced enigma, Tino De Angelis stands amid steamy clouds in his New Jersey refinery
There was a good-sized crowd at this Bayonne Historical Society event, filling most of the seats in the Library’s upstairs meeting room. Boxing great Chuck Wepner was among those attending.
– – –
Some stories from Cornelius Gallagher’s talk:
- Congressman Gallagher was to meet Tony, a Jersey City Ward leader, at 7:15, but was two hours late. The steaming local pol demanded to know the cause of the delay. The Congressman explained that the Russians were blockading Berlin. Soviet tanks faced US tanks and WWIII was feared. Tony wanted to know the source of the information. Upon hearing that it was John Foster Dulles, Tony replied, “You kept me waiting for that Republican after I carried my Ward in Jersey City for you.”
- A train fell off of a bridge in Bayonne. Congressman Gallagher went out on a friend’s boat to assist in the rescue efforts. People were screaming. The dead and injured were everywhere. Because the locomotive was underwater, steam made it difficult to see. From another boat, someone hollered asking if that was Congressman Gallagher. He called out in the affirmative. The reply: “What ever happened with that job you promised?”
- In DC, Congressman Gallagher was being briefed by Secretary of State Rusk. At the end of the meeting, Rusk offered Gallagher a lift. Cornelius Gallagher was surprised to see two telephones in the car. He proceeded to call his office, asking the receptionist if there were any messages. There were: from President Johnson and from Mayor Kenny. The Congressman had to return the most important one first — Mayor Kenny’s. (Getting reelected was the most important thing.)