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John Simkin

LBJ and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

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I recently came across a discussion of how the Baker scandal was "contained" after LBJ became president. From Ch 14 of Rick Perlstein's "Before the Storm" (2001):

"In late January [of 1964] when Republicans tried to get Walter Jenkins, Johnson's most intimate aide, to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigation, Johnson put in the fix. Two psychiatrists appeared to testify that an appearance would – literally - kill him. [Republican] Carl Curtis moved to call Jenkins to the stand anyway. He lost 6-3 in a party line vote. . . . Curtis lost again when he moved to make the record of the session public. The investigation closed without a single Administration witness being called."

Only three senators attempted to expose the LBJ/Bobby Baker scandal: John Williams, Hugh Scott and Carl Curtis. The LBJ tapes reveal that he spent a great deal of time talking to friends about how to keep these three men quiet. The Honey Pot Scheme (see next posting) sorted out Williams and Scott. The tapes do not reveal if LBJ/Baker were able to find out anything about Curtis. It is possible that he was indeed an honest politician. However, he could not continue the fight on his own. Curtis also knew that if the story came out it would reveal the corrupt activities of his friends in the Senate. He did however publish his memoirs, Forty Years Against the Tide, in 1986. I have just ordered a copy via Abe Books. I will be interested in discovering if he reveals anything he found about LBJ in the book.

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An investigation of the Quorum Club is vital to understanding how LBJ managed to cover up the assassination of JFK. It also explains how he managed to suppress details of the Fort Worth TFX scandal that should have forced him to resign in 1963.

The Quorum was a private club in the Carroll Arms Hotel on Capitol Hill that had been established by Bobby Baker. As Baker pointed out in Wheeling and Dealing its "membership was comprised of senators, congressmen, lobbyists, Capitol Hill staffers, and other well-connecteds who wanted to enjoy their drinks, meals, poker games, and shared secrets in private accommodations". (1)

The last passage of this quotation helps to explain what happened at the Quorum Club. The leading politicians only thought they were sharing “secrets in private accommodations”. In fact, their activities were being recorded. The Quorum was not only used to gather evidence of the sexual activities of politicians. It was also used to gather concrete evidence that politicians were taking bribes paid for by the Military Industrial Congress Complex. In this way, all those capable of exposing LBJ, were fully compromised.

The Quorum was not the only place this evidence gathering took place. Private parties held at the home of Carole Tyler was another source of obtaining incriminating information. So also was Fred Black’s hotel suite at the Sheraton-Carlton in Washington. (2) It was here that LBJ got the necessary information to blackmail Gerard Ford. (3)

Hoover helped LBJ obtain this information. Some of this information was used to help uncover criminal activity. However, most of it was used to apply pressure on politicians to act in a certain way. (4)

Baker used young women working at the Senate and high-class prostitutes to provide the entertainment for the politicians. He also used three women who had been born in communist countries but had fled to the west: Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. (5) These three women were brought in to deal with John and Robert Kennedy. It was impossible to get to the brothers with money. Evidence that they were sleeping with women other than their wives would not have been enough. The only thing that could bring them under control was evidence that they had been sleeping with communist spies.

Not that JFK and RFK were aware these women were spies. In fact, it is possible that they were not spies. Nor did the brothers give the women any classified information. All this was unimportant. What mattered was the public perception of these events.

JFK became very concerned with something that took place in the UK on 2nd March, 1963. George Wigg (6) had made a speech where he referred to rumours that John Profumo, the British minister of war, was having an affair with a prostitute named Christine Keeler. (7) A few weeks later Profumo made a personal statement where he admitted he knew Keeler but denied there was any impropriety in their relationship.

At the time few people were aware of the significance of these events. JFK was one of those who did know why this was the start of a very big story. Ben Bradlee reports that JFK became obsessed with the case. He even got David Bruce, the American ambassador to the UK to provide regular information on the Profumo story. As Bradlee reports in his book, Conversations With Kennedy: “Kennedy ordered all further cables from Bruce on the subject sent to him immediately.” (8)

Bradlee believed JFK was interested in the case because it “combined so many of the things that interested him: low doings in high places, the British nobility, sex and spying”. However, this was not the main reason JFK was interested in this case. JFK was scared that the same thing that had happened to Profumo was about to happen to him.

You see, George Wigg, had been told by a MI5 contact that Christine Keeler was also having an affair with Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet naval attaché. (9) It was believed that a man called Stephen Ward, had arranged for Profumo to meet Keeler at a private parties. Ward had in fact being doing what Bobby Baker had been doing in Washington. Both men had even used the same women. This included Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang, two women that JFK had sex with in 1960 (10)

As further details were revealed Profumo was forced to resign on 5th June. Stephen Ward committed suicide (or was murdered) and this stopped the full story being revealed at the time. (11)

Hoover of course knew all about JFK involvement with Ellen Rometsch, Maria Novotny and Suzy Chang. Novotny and Chang were back in London but JFK was still sleeping with Rometsch. Apparently she was the most exciting woman he had ever had sex with and was reluctant to loose her.

John McCone also knew all about what had been happening. He had been told by Cleveland Cram, deputy chief of the CIA station in London. Cram had got the information from Charles Bates, the senior FBI man in London. (12)

In July 1963 FBI agents questioned Romesch about her time in East Germany. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. This information was now passed onto RFK, who arranged for LaVerne Duffy to take her back to Germany. Duffy was an inspired choice. He was not only a close friend of JFK who could be trusted, he was also involved in a passionate affair with Romesch. In fact, Romesch was in love with Duffy. He was the one man who could get Romesche to do as she was told.

Kennedy now contacted Hoover and asked him to persuade the Senate leadership that the Senate Rules Committee investigation of this story was "contrary to the national interest". He also warned that other leading members of Congress would be drawn into this scandal and so was "contrary to the interests of Congress, too". (13)

It had now become a game of bluff. RFK suspected that Hoover would be unwilling to leak the full story. To do so would expose him as setting up a Honey Trap to obtain evidence against his president. RFK was right but Hoover gambled and increased the stakes. Along with Johnson he needed to keep the pressure on JFK and RFK because of the Bobby Baker case. Hoover therefore leaked the story to one of his assets, Clark Mollenhoff. On 26th October, 1963, Mollenhoff wrote an article in The Des Moines Register claiming that the FBI had "established that the beautiful brunette had been attending parties with congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen from the executive branch of Government... The possibility that her activity might be connected with espionage was of some concern, because of the high rank of her male companions". (14)

Mollenhoff did not name Rometsch or Kennedy. But he did say that John Williams "had obtained an account" of this woman’s activity and planned to pass this information to the Senate Rules Committee, the body investigating Bobby Baker. This was a direct message to JFK and RFK. Hoover and LBJ had discovered that RFK had been passing information about the Baker case to Williams. This was revealed in an interview that Burkett Van Kirk gave to Seymour Hersh in 1997. (15)

Kirk was chief counsel in 1963 for the Republicans on the Senate Rules Committee. He said that the information that Curtis and Williams were getting about Baker, was coming from RFK. The reason for this, according to Kirk, was to “dump Johnson” as vice president. The warning was clear, unless, JFK backed off, he would be exposed as a president who had been sleeping with a Soviet spy. JFK acknowledged that he could not survive the story being published. Harold Macmillan had resigned prime minister in October, 1963, over the Profumo scandal, although he was allowed to say it was on health grounds. (16)

Kennedy knew that even if he soldiered on he would be defeated in 1964. He therefore decided to agree to Hoover’s terms and said he would help cover up the Baker scandal. The problem was that it had gone too far. Williams had now been contacted by Don Reynolds with information that LBJ had been receiving a rake-off from the Fort Worth TFX contract. Reynolds was now due to testify on 22nd November, 1963. (17) Although it was in a closed session, LBJ knew that Williams would leak it to the press. LBJ had no option. JFK had to die before 22nd November. It was only as president could he cover up this story.

As Reynolds told John Williams after the assassination: "My God! There's a difference between testifying against a President of the United States and a Vice President. If I had known he was President, I might not have gone through with it."

One of the most important sources of information that supports this view of events is a telephone call made by LBJ to George Smathers on 10th January, 1964. (18)

Lyndon Johnson: Have you heard about this tape recording that's out?

George Smathers: No.

Lyndon Johnson: Well, it involves you and John Williams and a number of other people.

George Smathers: You mean, some woman?

Lyndon Johnson: Yep.

George Smathers: Yeah, I've heard about it. And it involves Hugh Scott.

Lyndon Johnson: But it's a pure made-up deal, isn't it?

George Smathers: I don't know what it is. I never heard of the woman in my life... But she mentions President Kennedy in there.

Lyndon Johnson: Oh yeah, and the Attorney General (Robert Kennedy) and me and you and everybody. And I never heard of her.

George Smathers: Thank God, they've got Hugh Scott in there. He's the guy that was asking for it. But she's also mentioned him, (laughs) which is sort of a lifesaver. So I don't think that'll get too far now. (Everett) Jordan's orders.

Lyndon Johnson: Can't you talk to him? Why in the living hell does he let Curtis run him? I thought you were going to talk to Dick Russell and go talk to Curtis and make Dirksen and them behave.

George Smathers: Jordan has assured me over and over again.

Lyndon Johnson: Well, he's not strong enough though, unless someone goes and tells him now.

George Smathers: That's right. Now Dick Russell is the man that ought to do it. And I've asked Dick to do it and Dick has told me that he would....

Lyndon Johnson: They had this damned fool insurance man, in and they had him in a secret session and Bobby (Baker) gave me a record player and Bobby got the record player from the insurance man (Don Reynolds). I didn't know a damned thing about it. Never heard of it till this happened. But I paid $88,000 worth of premiums and, by God, they could afford to give me a Cadillac if they'd wanted to and there'd have been not a goddamned thing wrong with it.... There's nothing wrong with it. There's not a damned thing wrong. So Walter Jenkins explained it all in his statement. This son of a bitch Curtis comes along and says, well, he wouldn't take any statements not sworn to. They had their counsel come down and Walter Jenkins handled it, told him exactly what was done.... A fellow said Manhattan is the only company that would write on a heart attack man.... Bobby said, "Hell now, wait, let my man handle it and he'll get a commission off of it." So we said all right... Now he said - Walter - "I'll swear to it." "No, I want a public hearing so I can put it on television." Now that oughtn't to be. Now George, I ought not to have to get into that personally.

George Smathers: Absolutely not.... And Dick Russell has got to exercise his influence. He must do this and I think you've got to talk to him about it and just say you've got to do it. I'll talk to Jordan. Jordan thinks I'm guilty of something. So he thinks I may be covering up trying to protect myself. Hubert has been really good in this and, believe it or not, Joe Clark' has finally gotten the picture and he's trying to stop it now. But Hugh Scott and Carl Curtis are going wild, and Jordan doesn't have enough experience or enough sense to gavel them down and shut them up. But if Dick will talk to him-really talk to him and say

Lyndon Johnson: I think he needs to talk to Curtis too. Why don't you tell Dick to do that?

George Smathers: I will. I've already talked to him.

Lyndon Johnson: I hate to call him.... Get Dick to go see Curtis in the morning and just say, "Now quit being so goddamn rambunctious about this, Carl."

George Smathers: Can I tell Dick this is not right and you know about it? And naturally it makes you apprehensive and you've got all these damn problems and to have this little nitpicking thing. It's just not fair.

Lyndon Johnson: It's not.

George Smathers: So I'll do it.

Lyndon Johnson: Tell him he's the only one can do it. And he can do it. And if he was involved I'd damned sure walk across the country and do it.

George Smathers: Exactly. All right, that's a damned good thought and I'll do it. I've already talked to him about it, but I

Lyndon Johnson: The FBI has got that record.' Now you know I think you ought to leak it. I don't know who you can leak it to. But I've read the goddamn tax report and I've read the FBI report and there ain't a goddamn thing in it that they can even indict him on. The only thing that they can do is that he puffed up the financial statement, which everybody's done. If he pays that off, they couldn't convict him on that....

George Smathers: They won't print that 'cause I tried to leak that the day before yesterday to ... two different sources and it hasn't been printed. They just want to print this ... ugly stuff.... That Curtis is mean as a snake. (Everett) Dirksen sat in the room the night of the day after you became President with me and Humphrey and agreed that this thing ought to stop and that he would get Curtis to stop it. ... You know, there's some statement about Dirksen and Kuchel with this German girl.' So he said, "It is just ridiculous and it ought to stop.". . . . I think we can handle everybody on our side. Howard Cannon is the smartest fellow over there, but he's a little afraid to do anything because he himself figures he was involved out in Las Vegas. So he's a little afraid to be as brave as he ought to be. ... I'll tell Dick this. I've already told him once, but

Lyndon Johnson: Tell him he ought to talk to Dirksen and Curtis both. Please do it, and also Jordan. He's just got his work cut out Monday 'cause they're going to meet Tuesday and they're going to want a public hearing.' And then that's a television hearing, and then a television hearing about my buying some insurance. And what in the goddamn hell is wrong with my buying insurance? I paid cash for it, wrote them a check for it, made my company the beneficiary, and they didn't deduct it. No tax deduction. We'll do it after we pay our taxes. We pay the premium-only reason being if I died, my wife would have to pay estate tax on me on account of she'd have to sell her stock and they want the company to have some money to buy her stock so she doesn't have to lose control of her company.

Notes and References

1. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) pages 78-80 and 180-81

2. Tony Mauro, A Peek Into Justice White’s FBI File (2003)

3. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) page 170

4. Anthony Summers, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (1993)

5. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997)

6. George Wigg: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRwigg.htm

7. John Profumo: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRprofumo.htm

8. Ben Bradlee, Conversations With Kennedy (1976)

9. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 391

10. Anthony Summers & Stephen Dorril, Honey Trap (1987)

11. Philllip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy, The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward (1987)

12. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 392

13. Meeting between Robert Kennedy and J. Edgar Hoover on 28th October, 1963.

14. Clark Mollenhoff, The Des Moines Register (26th October, 1976)

15. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) page 406

16. Harold Macmillan: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/PRmacmillan.htm

17. Don Reynolds: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKreynoldsD.htm

18. Telephone conversation between Lyndon Johnson and George Smathers (10th January, 1964)

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LBJ and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy: Part 3

Johnson must have been aware that he was taking a terrible risk trying to cover up the assassination. Within minutes of Kennedy being killed, rumours began to circulate that Johnson had organized the assassination. This is not surprising as he had the best motive for wanting Kennedy dead. If he was not involved in the conspiracy, it was in his best interests to insist on a full and open investigation into the assassination. This would have been the best way to have cleared his name. The fact that Johnson did not do this suggests two possibilities: (1) Johnson was involved in the assassination; (2) Johnson was concerned that the investigation of the assassination would uncover information that linked him to other serious crimes.

It could well be true it was the first of these reasons. However, I suspect it was the “other serious crimes” that Johnson was really concerned about.

A close examination of Johnson’s taped telephone conversations in the weeks following the assassination reveal that he spent a large part of his time attempting to cover up another story. This is the story of a man called Don B. Reynolds (62)

Reynolds was a U.S. consular official in Berlin after the war. On his return to the United States he established a company called Don Reynolds Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland. Reynolds was a friend of Bobby Baker (63) , who was at this time working for Johnson. In 1957 Reynolds was asked to arrange Johnson's life insurance policy.

In 1963 Senator John Williams of Delaware began investigating the activities of Bobby Baker. As a result of his work, Baker resigned as the secretary to Johnson  on 9th October, 1963. During his investigations Williams met Reynolds and persuaded him to appear before a secret session of the Senate Rules Committee.

Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his committee on 22nd November, 1963, that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for him agreeing to this life insurance policy. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson.

Reynolds also told the Senate Rules Committee of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker had described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President Kennedy had been assassinated.

As soon as Johnson returned to Washington he contacted B. Everett Jordan to find out what Reynolds had said about Johnson. It was worse than he thought. He was particularly concerned about Reynolds’ comments about the TFX contract. This story dates back to when Kennedy appointment of Fred Korth (63) as his Navy Secretary. According to insiders, Korth only got the post after intense lobbying by Johnson. Korth had been president of the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, Texas, and a long time friend of Johnson.

Soon afterwards, Korth awarded a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. Rumours soon began to circulate that both Johnson and Korth had received kickbacks for this order. Korth was forced to resign and Johnson was expected to go the same way. As Peter Scott points out in his book, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK:

According to President Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Bobby Kennedy was also investigating Bobby Baker for tax evasion and fraud. This had reached the point where the President himself discussed the Baker investigation with his secretary, and allegedly told her that his running mate in 1964 would not be Lyndon Johnson. The date of this discussion was November 19, 1963, the day before the President left for Texas.

A Senate Rules Committee investigation into the Bobby Baker scandal was indeed moving rapidly to implicate Lyndon Johnson, and on a matter concerning a concurrent scandal and investigation. This was the award of a $7-billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to a General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth. Navy Secretary Fred Korth, a former bank president and a Johnson man, had been forced to resign in October 1963, after reporters discovered that his bank, the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, was the principal money source for the General Dynamics plant. (64)

The testimony of Reynolds brought Johnson back to the heart of the scandal. He could only survive if he could stop Reynolds’ testimony from being published. Johnson got his aide, Walter Jenkins, to talk to Jordan. As Bobby Baker reveals in Wheeling and Dealing (65), Jordan was one of those politicians under Johnson’s control. On 6th December, 1963, Jordan told Jenkins “… they ain’t going to get anything out of Everett. I can tell you that… I’m trying to keep the Bobby (Baker) thing from spreading… Because hell, I don’t want to see it spread either. it might spread (to) a place where we don't want it spread… Mighty hard to put out a fire out when it gets out of control."

Understanding what this comment means is crucial in grasping how Lyndon Johnson covered up both his involvement in the TFX scandal and the Kennedy assassination.

The story begins with Robert Kerr (66), the owner of Kerr-McGee Oil Industries. In November, 1948, Kerr was elected to the Senate. Over the next few years he established himself as the most influential men in Congress. According to the journalist, Milton Viorst: "Kerr was a self-made millionaire who freely and publicly expressed the conviction that any man in the Senate who didn't use his position to make money was a sucker. In a body where few of the members are averse to earning a fast buck, Kerr was the chief of the wheelers-and-dealers."

Kerr served on several key committees including the Finance and Public Works committees. He also forged alliances with key senators, such as Lyndon Johnson and George Smathers. Another key recruit was Bobby Baker. Kerr’s major strategy was to get people involved in his corrupt activities. This provided them with money in the short-term. However, once involved, they became under his total control.

Baker explains in Wheeling and Dealing how he was recruited by Kerr:

In 1949, Senator Kerr offered me the opportunity to buy one hundred shares in Kerr-McGee Oil Company. "It's a growing company, Bobby," he told me. "Nothing's a sure shot unless you've got a gun, but this is the next thing to it." That was good enough for me. Though I was going to George Washington University at night, and then to law school classes; though my salary was only about $6,500, and my net worth, including furniture, could not have been more than $5,000; I rushed home to Pickens to borrow the necessary $3,800 from an attorney named Julian Wyatt. He let me have it on my signature. Before long, I'd made about a $10,000 profit on Senator Kerr's advice. (67)

The first investment was legal. It is only with later investments did Baker and the other senators get involved in companies that they had to keep quiet about. Once part of this network, these politicians lost their freedom and had to obey Kerr’s orders. Baker played an important role in these entrapments. The other key figure of the team was Lyndon Johnson (68). In 1955 Johnson was elected majority leader of the Senate. He was now in a position to control who became chairman of the Senate committees. This he did with great success over the next five years.

In 1960 Johnson made a bid to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. Johnson used smear tactics against his main opponent John Kennedy. This included stories about all the Kennedy family. During the campaign the offices of two of Kennedy’s doctors, Eugene Cohen and Janet Travell were broken into and ransacked for medical records. (69) Baker describes a meeting he had with Robert Kennedy (70) in Los Angeles. When Baker tried to make a friendly comment Kennedy reacted badly:

Bobby Kennedy immediately grew so red in the face I thought he might have a stroke. “You’ve got your nerve,” he snapped. “Lyndon Johnson has compared my father to the Nazis and John Connally and India Edwards lied in saying my brother is dying of Addison’s disease. You Johnson people are running a stinking damned campaign, and you’re gonna get yours when the time comes!” (71)

Kennedy eventually won 806 votes. Johnson came second with 409 and Stuart Symington with 86.  As a result of the bad feeling between the two men, Kennedy’s advisers believed that Johnson would not be offered the opportunity to be his running-mate in the forthcoming presidential election. According to Pierre Salinger, the post was going to go to Stuart Symington. (72)

Ted Sorenson claims that Kennedy did consider Johnson for the job. He pointed out that the Harris Public Opinion Polls had shown that Johnson, along with Hubert Humphrey, would both win votes for the Democrats in the election. (73) However, Sorenson, like other Kennedy advisers, did not believe he would accept the post. Nor did Kennedy who told Sorenson, “frankly, I don’t see why he should take a demotion”.

It was Philip Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, who urged Kennedy to ask Johnson to become his running mate. Graham did this knowing that Johnson would say yes. Baker describes a meeting that took place on 14th July, 1960. At the meeting were Johnson, John Connolly, Bill Moyers and Lady Bird. For the first time Baker discovered  that Johnson was considering accepting the post. However, Johnson had a problem because his two closest political friends, Sam Rayburn and Robert Kerr, were completely against the idea. Rayburn told Johnson what a former Vice-President, John Nance Garner had said after four wasted years: “The office ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.”

While this discussion was going on Robert Kerr entered Johnson’s hotel suite:

Kerr literally was livid. There were angry red splotches on his face. He glared at me, at LBJ, and at Lady Bird. "Get me my .38," he yelled. "I'm gonna kill every damn one of you. I can't believe that my three best friends would betray me." Senator Kerr did not seem to be joking. As I attempted to calm him he kept shouting that we'd combined to ruin the Senate, ruin ourselves, and ruin him personally. Lyndon Johnson, no slouch as a tantrum tosser himself, had little stomach for dealing with fits thrown by others; he motioned me to take Senator Kerr into the bathroom and mumbled something about explaining things to him.

Senator Kerr was a huge man-six feet four inches, and about 250 pounds-and as I turned to face him in the bathroom he slammed me in the face with his open palm. It sounded like a dynamite cap exploding in my head. I literally saw stars. My ears rang. Tears were streaming down Kerr's face as he shouted, "Bobby, you betrayed me! You betrayed me! I can't believe it!" (74)

Baker then goes on to explain how he convinces Kerr that it would be in all their interests if Johnson becomes Kennedy’s running-mate. This includes the claim that (i) Johnson and Kennedy offer a well-balanced ticket and therefore will win the election; (ii) Johnson will lose support in the Democratic Party if he turns him down; (iii) Kennedy will take revenge on Johnson if turns him down and will “cut off Senator Johnson’s political pecker”; (iv) as Vice President Johnson will be “an excellent conduit between the White House and the Hill”.

According to Baker, on hearing this, Kerr puts his arm around him and said: “Son, you are right and I was wrong. I’m sorry I mistreated you.” We are supposed to believe that Kerr was incapable of working out these four points for himself and that it took Baker’s words of wisdom to convince him. This is of course all baloney.

This might well have been the scene where Baker convinces Kerr that this was a sensible strategy. However, it is unlikely that the above four arguments were used. I suspect that Baker informed Kerr that despite losing his job as Senate Majority Leader, Johnson would retain his political power. How was this? There could be only one answer. Johnson had drawn Kennedy into their corrupt network. Not with money, but with sex. Baker had been supplying Kennedy with women. That would not normally be a problem for Kennedy. However, Baker had ensured that the future president had become involved with women who could do him a great deal of harm.

Baker reassures Kerr that his main concerns would be dealt with by having Johnson as Vice President. This includes his fears that he will lose control over the important Senate Committees. He was also reassured about another matter. While Kennedy was in the White House, the oil depletion allowance would be kept at 27.5 per cent.

Kennedy had his own story of what happened. He told his advisers that he was determined to get Johnson removed as leader of the Democrats in the Senate. Kennedy was convinced that Johnson would use his power to block his legislation. Therefore, he was paving the way for Mike Mansfield, to become leader in the Senate. Johnson was made vice president because it would remove his power (this was of course the very reason why his friends said he would turn the job down).

Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s press secretary, gives another version of events in his book, With Kennedy (75) . Salinger was strongly opposed to the decision. So was Kenneth O’Donnell, who described it as a “double-cross” and the “worst decision that JFK ever made”.

Salinger recalls a conversation with Kennedy a few days after the convention. He asked him again why he had made this strange decision. Kennedy repeated the argument that it enabled him to get Mike Mansfield as leader of the Democrats in the Senate. When Salinger questioned the logic of these arguments, Kennedy  admitted: “The whole story will never be known. And it’s just as well that it won’t be.”

Salinger claims that he did not know what Kennedy was on about. However, there seems to be only one explanation. Kennedy was blackmailed into having Johnson as his vice president.

Robert Kerr found that Bobby Baker’s promises about a Kennedy presidency came true. Baker was amply rewarded and when he faced possible bankruptcy during the building the Carousel Motel, Kerr bailed him out. It is probably relevant that Kerr was not willing to come up with the money until Baker’s business partner, Alfred Novak, committed suicide.

In 1961 Kerr came up with another money making scheme. His chosen partner was Johnson’s buddy, Fred Black. They established a vending machine company called Ser-U Corporation. 

There was big money to be made, Kerr said, by gaining a near monopoly on soft drink, candy, and cigarette machines to be installed at sites where companies were performing defense-related work that depended on government contracts. I've heard that Clark Clifford, the Washington lawyer-lobbyist who's been close to every Democratic administration beginning with Harry Truman's, talked Senator Kerr out of investing in the scheme because it clearly would constitute a conflict of interest on Kerr's part.

Senator Kerr then told Fred Black, "I want to help Bobby Baker. I'll get you the financing if you guys want to go into the vending machine business. There's a fortune to be made." True to his word, Senator Kerr obtained a $400,000 loan for us from the Fidelity National Bank and Trust Company of Oklahoma City, in which he owned stock. We spent the money for vending machines, installing them - among other places - at North American Aviation and at several subsidiary sites. Within a couple of years the Serv-U Corporation we founded-along with my law partner, Ernest Tucker; a Las Vegas hotel-casino man, Eddie Levinson; and a Miami investor and gambler, Benjamin B. Siegelbaum - was grossing $3 million annually. I owned 28.5 percent of the Ser-U Corporation in those days… (76)

According to William Torbitt (77) there was others involved in Ser-U Corporation. This included Grant Stockdale (78) , George Smathers and Clifford Jones:

Grant Stockdale, ex-United States Ambassador to Ireland and former George Smathers Administrative Assistant and a stock holder and officer in Bobby Baker's vending machine and Florida land transactions, knew and was closely associated with almost all of the top figures in the cabal. Shortly after President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, Grant Stockdale was pushed, shoved or fell from the fourteenth story of a Miami building and was killed immediately in the fall. As an officer in the Bobby Baker enterprises, Grant Stockdale had particular knowledge of a good part of the workings of the cabal and his death was one of a series made necessary to protect the group from public exposure...

Fred Black of Washington, D.C. was a lobbyist for North American Aircraft and business associate with Bobby Baker and Clifford Jones. Black has confirmed the connection between Jones, McWillie, Baker, Ruby and ex-Cuban President, Prio…

Of all the enterprises, none could compare with the controversial Serv-U Corp., a Baker-Black controlled vending-machine firm. Ed Levinson, president of the Fremont Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, was also a partner. Grant Stockdale, President of Serv-U and his money is covered later. Formed late in 1961, Serve-U Corporation provided vending machines for the automatic dispensing of food and drink in companies working on government contracts. In the next two years, Serv-U was awarded the lion-share of the vending business at three major aerospace firms - North American Aviation, Northrop Corporation and Thompson Ramo Wooldridge's Space Technology Laboratories. Baker and Black each bought stock in the company for $1 a share, while the others paid approximately $16 a share. (79)

This passage is not completely accurate. Grant Stockdale was not President of Serv-U Corp. This post was held by Eugene Hancock, one of Stockdale’s business partners.

Robert Kerr died suddenly on 1st January, 1963. Black and Baker continued to run Serv-U Corp but during the summer of 1963 the men became involved in a dispute with Ralph Hill, the owner of the Capitol Vending Company.  Hill filed a suit against Baker and Serv-U Corporation for $300,000. This story was picked up by a reporter and details appeared in the Washington Post (80)

This news story worried Lyndon Johnson and he sent Walter Jenkins to talk to Baker. According to Baker, Jenkins said: “Reporters have been around asking questions and he’s afraid Bobby Kennedy’s putting them up to hanging something on you so as to embarrass him.” Later, Jenkins again contacted Baker and urged him to settle the lawsuit in order to stop the case reaching the courts. Baker refuses to do this claiming he is convinced that Ralph Hill will back down. (81)

The Hill suit against Baker came to the attention of John J. Williams (82) of Delaware. Williams had been elected to the Senate in 1946. He was determined to bring an end to political corruption and became known as the "Sherlock Holmes of Capitol Hill". During a 15 year period his investigations resulted in over 200 indictments and 125 convictions. (83)

Williams began investigating the activities of Sev-U Corporation and was probably responsible for a series of stories that started appearing in the press about Baker’s business activities. This included a story about how Baker was using the home of Carole Tyler to provide parties where “Washington’s powerful and mighty” met attractive women.

Hugh Scott (84) of Pennsylvania joined Williams in his campaign. Johnson attempted to stop Scott by threatening disclosures about his relationship with lobbyist, Claude Wilde. Johnson also told Scott that he would use his influence to “close down the Philadelphia Navy Yard unless Senator Scott closed his critical mouth”. (85) Scott refused to back down and when Barry Goldwater (86) began calling for a full-scale Senate investigation, senior members of the Democratic Party decided they had to take action and on 7th October, 1963, Baker was forced to resign as Johnson’s political secretary.

By this time both Baker and Johnson had another problem as Don B. Reynolds now contacted Williams about his story. It was Reynolds’s evidence before the Senate Rules Committee that gave Johnson so much concerns during the weeks following the assassination.

Johnson had a two-pronged strategy. He used his considerable political influence to keep the story from becoming public. This included threats against those like Williams and Scott who were attempting to reveal the full details of the story. This ended in failure and on 17th January, 1964, the Senate Rules Committee voted to release to the public Reynolds' secret testimony. Johnson was forced to talk about the issue at a press conference on 23rd January, 1964. 

Johnson’s strategy now had to change. His main concern now was to discredit Reynolds as a witness. To help him do this J. Edgar Hoover (87) passed to Johnson the FBI file on Reynolds. A tape recording of a meeting that took place on 27th January, 1964, between Johnson, Walter Jenkins, Bill Moyers, Abe Fortas and Jack Valenti has survived. (88) At one point Johnson tells his men to leak these stories to journalists Drew Pearson (89) and Bill White. Abe Fortas boasts that he will be able to convince “Drew to do it”. He was wrong, Pearson refused to use these smear stories and instead, it was left to his colleague, Jack Anderson (88) to break the story.

On 5th February, 1964, the Washington Post reported that Reynolds had lied about his academic success at West Point. The article also claimed that Reynolds had been a supporter of Joseph McCarthy and had accused business rivals of being secret members of the American Communist Party. It was also revealed that Reynolds had made anti-Semitic remarks while in Berlin in 1953.

This story created more problems for Johnson than for Reynolds. The New York Times reported that Johnson had used information from secret government documents to smear Reynolds. It also reported that Johnson's officials had been applying pressure on the editors of newspapers not to print information that had been disclosed by Reynolds in front of the Senate Rules Committee.

Larry Hancock has pointed out that at this stage Johnson thought that he might be “the first United States President to end his term in prison.” (90) Robert Winter-Berger later reported that on the 4th February, 1964, he was discussing public relations with John McCormack in his Senate office. Johnson barged into the office and not aware of Winter-Berger’s presence told McCormack: “John, that son of a bitch (Bobby Baker) is going to ruin me. If that cocksucker talks, I’m gonna land in jail.”

Johnson became embarrassed when he realised Winter-Berger was in the room. However, Winter-Berger reassured him by saying he could help Johnson with this problem. The following day he was meeting Nathan Voloshen, an experienced fixer for organized crime. Johnson then said to Winter-Berger: “Tell Nat that I want him to get in touch with Bobby Baker as soon as possible – tomorrow if he can. Tell Nat to tell Bobby that I will give him a million dollars if he takes this rap. I’ll see to it that he gets a million-dollar settlement.” (91)

As David E. Scheim has pointed out: “Given a subsequent scandal involving intercessions for Mobsters from McCormack’s office at Voloshen’s behest, the recounted tirade would hardly have been exceptional in that office. And the Baker case did indeed involve some close friends of LBJ, including Texas oil magnate Clint Murchison.” (92)

When questioned about the testimony of Don Reynolds, Johnson always concentrated on the issue of the stereo. He admitted that Baker had given the Johnson family the stereo. As Merle Miller pointed out:

He (Johnson) said the families frequently exchanged gifts; he said further that he and Lady Bird had used the stereo for a period. What happened after that was rather vague; apparently the set had been given to some other friendly family. Who, why, and whether or not the Baker family often sent such expensive gifts to the Johnson family would forever remain a mystery. (93)

What Johnson was unwilling to talk about was the $100,000 payoff for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract. This was political dynamite and if proved, would have resulted in Johnson going to prison.

John McClellan (94), the chairman of the McClellan was also chairman of the Permanent Investigations Committee, and the person responsible for investigating  the TFX contract, said that he wanted to interview Don Reynolds about this matter. However, for some reason the committee did not resume its investigation until 1969, after Johnson had left office.

The reason why Johnson survived this crisis was partly a result of the pressure he applied on the key figures in the investigation. However, the truth of the matter was that the political elite had no desire to remove another president. It was bad enough losing one by assassination, to lose another soon afterwards for corruption, would have severely damaged the democratic system.

Is there any evidence that links the assassination to the Bobby Baker scandal? I think there is. It is now clear that the FBI was involved in investigating the business activities of Bobby Baker and Fred Black in 1963. As Baker pointed out in Wheeling and Dealing:

He (Fred Black) kept a hotel suite at the Sheraton-Carlton in Washington where he and his friends - and I was among them-repaired to conduct business, drink, play cards, or entertain ladies. Though we did not then know it, that suite was bugged by the FBI. They must have heard some interesting doings. (95)

Baker also points out that a large number of politicians, including Gerald Ford, visited Black’s hotel suite at the Sheraton-Carlton. If Baker and Black were involved in the assassination of Kennedy, Hoover would have known about it. If so, Hoover would have told Johnson. Although it is unlikely Johnson would have been involved in the assassination, he might well have known it was going to take place. This would partly explain why his actions after the assassination suggested that he knew it was not part of a communist conspiracy to undermine the American government.

The other link concerns the Serv-U Corporation. This was a scam that involved a lot of politicians. After the death of Kennedy, all these political figures, did what they could to cover up the events surrounding the assassination. That is, except one, Grant Stockdale.

Stockdale was a close friend of George Smathers. In 1949 Smathers introduced Stockdale to his friend, John Kennedy. The three men remained close for the next twelve years. In 1959 Stockdale was director of the Florida State committee to elect Kennedy. After Kennedy won the nomination, Stockdale actively campaigned for him in West Virginia, Oregon, and New York. He was also a member of the Democratic Party's National Finance Committee.

Stockdale also formed a close business partnership with Smathers. Their company, Automatic Vending, was involved in providing vending machines to government institutions. 

In March, 1961, President Kennedy appointed Stockdale as Ambassador to Ireland.  Later that year Automatic Vending was sued for improper actions in getting a contract at Aerodex but the suit was eventually dismissed. However, Stockdale resigned. He remained involved with vending machines and both Smathers and himself were financially linked with Serv-U Corporation.

Smathers fell out with Kennedy over his policy towards Cuba, but Stockdale remained close and on 26th November, 1963, he flew to Washington and talked with Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."

Edward Grant Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but Smathers claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of Kennedy.

Stockdale’s wife said similar things about her husband’s death. We now know that is not true. When I raised the issue on the JFK Forum (95) I received an email from Grant Stockdale’s daughter, Anne Stockdale:

Yes I guess that is factual (my posting), except I thought that when he came home from Ireland, that he no longer had any $ interest in Vending Machines. One thing I do know is that Kennedy asked Daddy to go to the Air Force Base South of Miami to see if (against Kennedy's orders) bombs were being loaded on the planes. Bombs were being loaded on the planes!! I believe one of the reasons Daddy was killed was because he knew that the Government was being run by the Military Complex.

The Military Complex didn't want the American People to realize (and still don't ) that they were calling the shots. Daddy knew he was being followed... & he told Mom that they were going to get him... and they did. There was an attempt on my life also several days after Daddy's funeral . I realize now that this was a scare tactic to silence my Mother... i.e. if you speak about anything, Your kids are dead. It worked!! (96)

Did Stockdale know about the plot to kill Kennedy? Did he tell Robert and Edward Kennedy (97) what he knew? If so, why did they refuse to take action? Was it anything to do with the fact that Johnson had entrapped the Kennedys into a scandal that they knew would ruin their political careers?

Bobby Baker reveals in Wheeling and Dealing that Johnson cut off all communication with him after he resigned in October, 1963. However, in September, 1972, Walter Jenkins telephones him and arranges for Baker to visit Johnson at his home in Texas.

After dinner Johnson goes for a walk with Baker. He tells Baker that he wanted to come to his aid: “But Bobby Kennedy would have crucified me… If there was any way in the world I could have turned off the investigation when I became president, I’d have gladly done it. But I knew it would be politically disastrous, and perhaps even legally disastrous.” (98)

It was not until the next day that Johnson raised the subject that most interested him. “LBJ gave me a sideways look and said, “Bobby, what’s gonna be in that book I hear you’re writing? Is it gonna be one of those kiss-and-tell books?”

According to Baker, he replied that he was “still in the outline and research stage, that the book hadn’t yet been fully formed in my mind.”

One can assume that Baker told Johnson he was safe. As he writes in the book, if he had told the full story at the time he would have caused serious trouble for several of his political friends:

Might I not have been better off, years earlier, had I indicated a willingness to talk before the Senate investigating committee rather than take the fifth amendment? Wouldn't the good senators have been eager to shut down the hearings and sweep everything under the rug had I begun to name names and tell all I knew of loose campaign money, outright bribes, conflict-of-interest investments, sex habits, and so on?

Once I had started it, however, it's doubtful if the press or a few self-advertised reformers would have permitted the corruption issue to die. I'm certain that some senators might have chosen not to run for re-election or might have been defeated had I originally named them even as marginal business partners. Certainly many senators would have found themselves in highly embarrassing circumstances, to say the least. Lyndon B. Johnson might have incurred a mortal wound by these revelations. They could have denied him the presidency, or driven him from office as later happened to Richard Nixon. (99)

Baker adds the reason he decided not to “chirp like a canary” was because he would not “have liked myself very much had I turned informer.” Baker does not mention the million dollars negotiated by Nat Voloshen. (100)

You received an email from Stockdale's daughter?

Adele Edisen

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In his book The Dark Side of Camelot, Seymour Hersh provides some interesting insights into why Johnson became Kennedy’s vice presidential candidate. He interviewed several of the figures involved in these negotiations. This included Clark Clifford who states that Stuart Symington had been JFK choice all along and that he was actually told the night of the nomination that he was to get the job. Clifford was the one who told Symington. He then reported back to JFK that he had said yes. This is backed up by another JFK aide, Hyman Raskin, before he died he wrote an unpublished memoir of these events. (1)

Raskin points out that LBJ and Sam Rayburn asked for a meeting with JFK soon after the nomination. This took place early the next morning. Rayburn and Clifford did not attend the meeting. However, JFK emerged to say that LBJ would now be his running-mate. Clifford was given the task of telling Symington that JFK had changed his mind. JFK told Clifford that he had never gone back on a deal like this but after his meeting with LBJ and Rayburn he “had no alternative”.

Clifford was never told why JFK had “no alternative”. However, it had nothing to do with winning the election. True they won Texas but by having LBJ on the ticket they knew they would lose California (as they did). Their polling showed that Symington was crucial if they were to win this state.

JFK did tell Raskin why he had changed his mind: “You know we had never considered Lyndon, but I was left with no choice. He and Sam Rayburn made it damn clear to me that Lyndon had to be the candidate. Those bastards were trying to frame me. They threatened me with problems and I don’t need more problems.”

Evelyn Lincoln, JFK’s personal secretary, was also aware of what happened. She told Anthony Summers that Hoover had been involved in the plot to get LBJ as JFK’s running mate. (2) Lincoln believes it was Hoover’s evidence of JFK’s womanizing that was being used to blackmail him to put LBJ on the ticket.

I personally doubt this was the case. There were several attempts to blackmail JFK with a wide variety of potentially damaging affairs he had with some very dubious women during 1960. JFK never paid up and these stories were taken to the press. The most significant of these was Florence Kater who had photographs and tape-recordings of his affair with Pamela Turmure. When JFK refused to pay up she passed this evidence on to the press and the FBI. JFK responded by threatening Kater that he would get her and her husband dismessed from their jobs. (3)

The press refused to publish the story and so she followed JFK around with a placard that showed a photograph of JFK attemting to cover his face while leaving Turmure’s apartment. Despite this campaign by Kater, JFK refused to end his affair with Turmure. In fact, after he became president he appointed Turnure as Jackie’s press secretary.

The fact that LBJ blackmailed JFK to become vice president raises other issues. One reason JFK did not consider LBJ for the job was the belief that he would refuse. Everyone knew that the job would reduce LBJ’s power. That is why all of LBJ’s cronies, including Rayburn, were totally opposed to the idea of him being vice president. Rayburn told Johnson what a former Vice-President, John Nance Garner had said after four wasted years: “The office ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.”

As Bobby Baker points out, this all changed on the eve of the nomination. At a meeting held in LBJ’s hotel room, all his backers changed their mind on the matter. The reason that Baker gives for this is completely unconvincing. Maybe LBJ’s comment that president’s had a habit of dying in office indicates the real reason he was so desperate to become vice president. (4)

Notes

1. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) pages 121 to 130

2. Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential (1993) pages 271 to 273

3. Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) pages 107 to 110

4. Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing (1978) page 126

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John,

Were you aware that at the time of the assassination, Cliff Carter’s brother, General Marshall S. Carter, was deputy director of the CIA?

According to Palamara (link below), he was appointed by JFK in 1962, on the recommendation of Nelson Rockefeller.

This is surprising to me in that despite all the discussion and speculation about the CIA of that era, I had never heard of General Carter till happening across the Palamara link. How or why did this deputy director remain so unknown?

Seems to me that as CIA deputy director and Cliff Carter’s brother, he could have been a significant contact in any conspiracy involving the CIA and LBJ.

LBJ named him head of the National Security Agency in 1965.

http://www.acorn.net/jfkplace/03/VP/0006-VP.html

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/mscarter.htm

Ron

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Were you aware that at the time of the assassination, Cliff Carter’s brother, General Marshall S. Carter, was deputy director of the CIA?

I knew about both men but did not know they were brothers.

Here are pictures of Cliff and Marshall Carter.

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Were you aware that at the time of the assassination, Cliff Carter’s brother, General Marshall S. Carter, was deputy director of the CIA?

I knew about both men but did not know they were brothers.

Here are pictures of Cliff and Marshall Carter.

If i'm right, Marshall and Cliff were not relatives.

This probably should be easy to check. I suspect they each have on-line bios that list their place of birth and probably their parents.

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According to the Mary Ferrell database, General Marshall Sylvester Carter was the “brother of Clifton C. Carter.” Cliff Carter is also referred to in the Warren Report as Clifton C. Carter (pp. 47, 52, 57), and in the online Arlington obituary of General Carter’s father, the father’s other son is referred to as Clifton Coleman Carter.

Here's an interesting tidbit I've found on General Carter. William Pawley called him when he wanted CIA help for the Bayo-Pawley mission. General Carter told him that the CIA could not help directly, but that he would try to find him three good men. The men who reported for duty were Rip Robertson and two others. (Deadly Secrets, pp. 192-193)

Ron

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According to the Mary Ferrell database, General Marshall Sylvester Carter was the “brother of Clifton C. Carter.” Cliff Carter is also referred to in the Warren Report as Clifton C. Carter (pp. 47, 52, 57), and in the online Arlington obituary of General Carter’s father, the father’s other son is referred to as Clifton Coleman Carter.

Here's an interesting tidbit I've found on General Carter. William Pawley called him when he wanted CIA help for the Bayo-Pawley mission. General Carter told him that the CIA could not help directly, but that he would try to find him three good men. The men who reported for duty were Rip Robertson and two others. (Deadly Secrets, pp. 192-193)

Ron

The Arlington on-line obituary seems convincing to me that they were brothers.

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According to the Mary Ferrell database, General Marshall Sylvester Carter was the “brother of Clifton C. Carter.” Cliff Carter is also referred to in the Warren Report as Clifton C. Carter (pp. 47, 52, 57), and in the online Arlington obituary of General Carter’s father, the father’s other son is referred to as Clifton Coleman Carter.

Here's an interesting tidbit I've found on General Carter. William Pawley called him when he wanted CIA help for the Bayo-Pawley mission. General Carter told him that the CIA could not help directly, but that he would try to find him three good men. The men who reported for duty were Rip Robertson and two others. (Deadly Secrets, pp. 192-193)

Ron

The Arlington on-line obituary seems convincing to me that they were brothers.

They were. I mean Clifton Coleman Carter and Marshall Sylvester Carter were brothers. But LBJ's aide was Clifton Crawford Carter. Clifton Coleman Carter did graduate from West Point in 1926. Cliff Carter was born in Texas in 1918 and he never been to West Point.

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William and James,

Thanks for clearing this up. I'm surprised to see Ferrell and Palamara both make this mistake. I wonder if Palamara got his info from Ferrell or what.

I'm also surprised to find that LBJ's Cliff Carter is such a biographical non-person on the internet. I've looked in vain for a biography, and I looked in vain for what the middle C stood for. I figured it had to be Coleman, based on Ferrell's and Palamara's wrong info.

Ron

Correction: I did find John's biography of Carter, but there's actually little about Carter outside of the Estes case. I got the impression that John was also able to find out little about Carter the person. (I was looking in particular for his middle name and something on what I was sure was his kinship to General Carter. Turns out there was no such kinship.)

Edited by Ron Ecker

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I'm also surprised to find that LBJ's Cliff Carter is such a biographical non-person on the internet. I've looked in vain for a biography, and I looked in vain for what the middle C stood for. I figured it had to be Coleman, based on Ferrell's and Palamara's wrong info.

Correction: I did find John's biography of Carter, but there's actually little about Carter outside of the Estes case. I got the impression that John was also able to find out little about Carter the person. (I was looking in particular for his middle name and something on what I was sure was his kinship to General Carter. Turns out there was no such kinship.)

You are right, there are few references to Cliff Carter on the internet. I have not helped matters by forgetting to add Carter’s name to my JFK index page. This creates problems for most search-engines.

I have had great difficulty finding information on Carter. However, after you reminded me about the defects of my biography, I decided to do a bit more research into him. Amazingly, there is only one reference to Carter in Robert Caro’s massive biography of LBJ (over 2,000 pages in two volumes). The one reference though is very interesting. It points out that Carter, along with Bobby Baker, Edward A. Clark and Walter Jenkins, were responsible for collecting money from the Suite 8F Group and other lobbyists in Texas and taking it to Johnson in Washington.

Most other biographies of LBJ also make no references to Carter. It is also significant that in his book Wheeling and Dealing, Bobby Baker, despite their close relationship, only mentions him once. Alfred Steinberg (Sam Johnson's Boy) is one of his few biographers who does mention Carter. He claims that LBJ used him to smear political rivals such as Ralph Yarborough.

Carl Curtis, the senator who carried out a long investigation into LBJ’s corrupt activities does mention him in his book, Forty Years Against the Tide. He states that during his research he discovered that Carter knew a great deal about LBJ’s confidential affairs. However, Carter was unwilling to talk. Curtis was keen for Carter to be indicted in the case of Henry Marshall. He thought that if this had happened, Carter would have plea-bargained and that all would have been revealed.

As you have already said, Carter is closely linked to the Billie Sol Estes case. Barr McClellan covers this in some detail in Blood, Money and Power. However, recent books on the Suite 8F Group such as Cronies and the Halliburton Agenda do not mention him.

There is one interesting references to Carter in a little well known book on LBJ (The Accidental President by Robert Sherrill). He claims that Carter had close links with Matthew H. McClosky. I have been interested in McClosky for some time. He was the man that Baker was accused of getting a £12,700,000 construction contract in 1961. The reason I am interested in McClosky is that he was a member of JFK’s Irish Mafia. McClosky, like Grant Stockdale, was one of the main figures involved in raising money for JFK’s 1960 campaign. McClosky was in fact Democratic National Treasurer in 1960. McClosky replaced Stockdale as US Ambassador to Ireland in 1962. This was the same time that Baker and McClosky were being investigated for corruption.

The point I am trying to make is that Baker appeared to be working for JFK as well as LBJ. Carter and Walter Jenkins (another interesting character who I will return to later) appear to be the link people in this. I think this explains why RFK decided to pull back over the investigation of Baker. It also helps to explain RFK’s response to the assassination of JFK.

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