The Lusk Committee
The Joint Legislative Committee to Investigate Seditious Activities consisted of four senators and five assemblymen. Headed by Senator Clayton R. Lusk of Cortland County, it was known popularly as the "Lusk Committee." While most of its investigation centered on New York City, the committee also undertook investigations in Buffalo, Rochester, and Utica. Private detectives and legislative staff members assisted in the investigations, and the State Attorney General acted as the committee's general counsel. Additionally, the committee cooperated closely with local police and district attorneys and officials from the United States Immigration Bureau and Department of Justice.
During its investigation, the committee raided the headquarters of suspected radical organizations to gather evidence that these organizations advocated the overthrow of the government. Among the organizations raided were the Russian Soviet Bureau, the Rand School of Social Science, the left wing section of the Socialist Party, the Industrial Workers of the World (all located in New York City), and 73 branches of the Communist Party. Using search warrants in the raids, the committee seized thousands of documents from these organizations, retaining the originals (or making copies) for examination and, in some cases, for inclusion in its final report. In addition, the committee seized financial records and membership lists and shared them with local district attorneys throughout the State who, drawing on the lists, indicted many individuals on criminal anarchy charges. The investigation also involved committee investigators who observed mass meetings held by suspected radical groups and reported to the committee on the makeup of the audiences and the content of speeches.