Dark Rose

Organized Crime and Corruption in Portland

Robert C Donnelly
Foreword by Carl Abbott

  • Published: July 2015
  • Subject Listing: History / Western History; Pacific Northwest / History
  • Bibliographic information: 208 pp., 13 illus., 5.5 x 8.5 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

In April 1956, Portland Oregonian investigative reporters Wallace Turner and William Lambert exposed organized crime rackets and rampant corruption within Portland's law enforcement institutions. The biggest scandal involved Teamsters officials and the city's lucrative prostitution, gambling, and bootlegging operations. Turner and Lambert blew the cover on the Teamsters' scheme to take over alcohol sales and distribution and profit from these fringe enterprises. The Rose City was seething with vice and intrigue.

The exposé and other reports of racketeering from around the country incited a national investigation into crime networks and union officials headed by the McClellan Committee, or officially, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field. The commission discovered evidence in Portland that helped prove Teamsters president Dave Beck's embezzlement of union funds and union vice president Jimmy Hoffa's connection to the mob.

Dark Rose reveals the fascinating and sordid details of an important period in the history of what by the end of the century had become a great American city. It is a story of Portland's repeated and often failed efforts to flush out organized crime and municipal corruption - a familiar story for many mid-twentieth-century American cities that were attempting to clean up their police departments and municipal governments. Dark Rose also helps explain the heritage of Portland's reform politics and the creation of what is today one of the country's most progressive cities.

Watch the book trailer:
Robert C. Donnelly is assistant professor of history at Gonzaga University.

"Dark Rose takes readers inside a seamy and significant episode in Portland's history, complete with snitches, secret tapes, and a congressional spotlight on the city's corruption that made it a national object lesson for municipal reform."
-William Lang, Portland State University
Foreword by Carl Abbott

1. Early Portland and the Failure of Progressive Reform
2. Post-World War II Portland
3. Elkins vs. the Teamsters
4. The Portland Vice Scandal
5. The McClellan Committee

Bibliography Index

"Robert C. Donnelly lays out a surprising, and depressing tale of decades of rampant corruption."
-Lee Juillerat, Klamath Falls Herald and News, August 2011

""Seattle is the 'Emerald City,' and Portland the 'Rose City'. . . . But in his Dark Rose, Robert C. Donnelly sees other colors in the history of Portland. Instead of green and rose, he sees darker hues in his account of post-World War II corruption and racketeering."
-Todd Carney, H-Environment, October 2013

"He critically uses many sources to create a narrative that alerts readers to numerous participants' lies and half-truths. Readers interested in Oregon history or in American urban, journalism, political, or criminal history will find value in Donnelly's accounting."
-Harry H. Stein, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Winter 2011

"With new evidence discovered in recent years, Dark Rose proves to be an intriguing and very highly recommended read for American history collections."
-James A. Cox, Library Bookwatch, September 2011

"As Robert C. Donnelly shows in Dark Rose, graft was as much a part of Portland's DNA as rainy winters."
-Jeff Baker, The Oregonian, July 2011

"Dark Rose is an intriguing book . . . [it] presents a fascinating history of Portland's struggle with vice and organized crime that will likely be appreciated both by historians and by fans of historical or organized crime novels."
-Stephen J. Ross, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Winter 2013