Memorandum of Disapproval of a Bill for the Relief of Miloye M. Sokitch.
I HAVE WITHHELD my approval from H.R. 3571, "Relief of Miloye M. Sokitch."
This bill would permit the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission to consider the claim of Miloye M. Sokitch under the Italian claims program administered by the Commission. The amount determined by the Commission to be due to Mr. Sokitch would be paid by the Secretary of the Treasury out of the Italian Claims Fund.
After World War II the Italian Government transferred funds to the United States for the payment of claims of Americans for the loss or damage of their property in Italy during the war. While the statutory authorization for this program originally limited the eligibility of claimants to those who were American nationals at the time their property was lost or damaged, the law was amended in 1958 to include persons, so-called late nationals, who had become nationals of the United States prior to August 9, 1955, and who had filed claims under the original statute prior to September 30, 1956.
Mr. Sokitch has a claim of $215,200 for property losses he suffered in Italy during the war. He was not eligible to have his claim considered under the original legislation, however, because he did not become an American citizen until 1947, and he was not eligible to have his claim considered as a late national under the 1958 amendment because he had not filed a claim within the time prescribed in that amendment.
In 1967, the Executive Branch recommended general legislation which would have recognized the claims of Mr. Sokitch and approximately 50 other late nationals similarly situated but Congress refused to enact it. At the same time, since approximately $1 million was still left in the Italian claims program, Congress did authorize the settlement of the claims of Americans who lost property in areas ceded by Italy after the war, primarily the Dodecanese Islands.
I can find no true equities to support approval of H.R. 3571. Mr. Sokitch's claim is no different from those of the 50 other late nationals whose claims for property losses in Italy are barred by existing law. Along with these other claimants, Mr. Sokitch was also denied relief when the general legislation that would have recognized their claims was rejected by Congress. Mr. Sokitch would thus be given special and preferential treatment over a number of other persons whose cases differ in no material respect from his.
Further, permitting Mr. Sokitch to have his claim adjudicated and paid, if otherwise found meritorious, would be unfair to those persons whose claims for property losses in the areas ceded by Italy are now under consideration. I am advised that asserted claims under this ongoing program aggregate approximately $24 million as compared with the $1 million available for their payment. Any settlement paid Mr. Sokitch under the preferential provisions of H.R. 3571 will obviously reduce the settlements that can be paid to the persons already eligible for payment under the general provisions of the ceded areas program.
For the foregoing reasons, I feel compelled to withhold my approval from H.R. 3571.
The White House
December 24, 1970
Richard Nixon, Memorandum of Disapproval of a Bill for the Relief of Miloye M. Sokitch. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240806