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Estes and JFK Part 2


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Part 2: Senate or Penitentiary

It is true that Estes’ remarks to the 1984 Marshall grand jury gave the direction and incentive to examine Lyndon Johnson as an accessory to the murder of President Kennedy. In fact, Estes not only gaves us a direction to Johnson, but specifically to two other individuals involved in both the Marshall and Kennedy murders, one of them being directly involved in the crimes. It is also true that Estes’ statements can be labeled as “scurrilous” and fantastic charges coming from a man previously convicted for fraud.

Countering that interpretation is the fact that for over 30 years, Estes was exceedingly careful to share his information in a very controlled manner. He was also especially concerned about grants of immunity and when he was not given the assurances of immunity from prosecution as an accessory he stopped “officially” talking. In addition, Estes did not just give us a theory, he gave us names of individuals other than Lyndon Johnson, including the name of Malcolm Wallace, the man identified by Estes as directly involved in both the murders of Marshall and President Kennedy.

However, because no official body ever investigated Estes’ claims or the names he provided, it is left to us to evaluate Estes as a source, to attempt to corroborate at least the basic elements of his assertions and to see if we can find any consistency between them and other elements of the conspiracy and cover-up.

To begin, we have Estes’ behavior as an informant, his remarks about the scandal in which he was personally the key figure and his purported relationship with Cliff Carter and Lyndon Johnson in that scandal. If it can be demonstrated, after forty years that Carter and Johnson were involved and that the scandal was a major risk to Johnson’s political career, then we can examine how Johnson might have reacted in comparable circumstances as some measure of Estes’ validity. We can also examine the relationship between Cliff Carter and Lyndon Johnson and investigate Carter’s activities to see if they support Estes’ remarks. As Estes describes him, Cliff Carter was both his source of information and an accessory in both the Marshall and Kennedy murders (and others which are as impossible for us to examine now as they were for the District Attorney in the 1984 grand jury).

However, because of the Kennedy assassination and the Johnson Presidency, it may be that we also have some information with which we can evaluate Carter as to his possible “guilty knowledge” in regard to the murder of President Kennedy. And because of yet another Texas murder and it’s investigation, we will also be able to examine Malcolm Wallace, the other name first brought fourth by Billie Sol Estes. All of which takes us back again to our starting point on the Johnson accusations, West Texas, the Estes scandal and Estes’ very first remark on the death of Henry Marshall.

Washington D.C., October, 1961

Estes’ first visible remarks on the subject were apparently made during a visit to Washington D.C. in which he took up the subject of the Agriculture Department’s investigation of his cotton allotments. Up to that point had not been a public issue or the subject of serious dialog outside of Henry Marshall’s opposition to Estes’ practices in Texas.

Marshall had been found dead in June of 1961. During Estes’ visit to the Agriculture Department he threatened that if his allotments continued to be challenged and investigated he would publicly embarrass the administration. He also mentioned to Mr. Tucker, with whom he met, that one person associated with the investigation had already died. This would appear to indicate that even in the beginning, Estes was associating Marshall’s death with his problems. (1)

Estes made no further public remarks on the subject for several months, until March of 1962 when he was arrested for fraud. For most of that interim period it appeared that the investigation had become a non-issue and Estes remained an active participant in political events in both Washington and Texas. He also continued his personal correspondence with Vice President Johnson as before. In fact, if a rival newspaper in Pecos (Estes owned one of the two town papers) had not begun its own investigation and press crusade centered on various Estes activities, it is extremely likely that there never would have been an “Estes/Johnson Scandal”.

Pecos, Texas, March 31, 1962

Estes’ next significant statement came when he was called to testify at initial hearings in April, 1962. At that time he told the court that his various partners including the finance companies associated with his fertilizer tank activities “knew the tanks didn’t exist….we were buying their credit.” Of course the named finance companies and other business participants strenuously objected to this allegation. However, in the end, a number of Agriculture field inspectors, several senior Agriculture Department officers and the Assistant Secretary of Labor had been fired or forced out of office. And along with Billie Sol Estes, Ruel Alexander, Henry Orr, Coleman McSpadden (all of Superior Manufacturing Company, the company which made the fertilizer tanks) would receive prison terms. Orr, then vice-president of Superior, had assigned the tank mortgages to Pacific Finance. (2) (3)

Considerable press attention was also directed to Commercial Solvents Inc. the Chicago firm which supplied Estes’ fertilizer. Commercial Solvents had assigned him the huge line of credit which had effectively allowed him to keep his prices so low that he could simply take all he West Texas fertilizer business from his established competitors. Even though a senior Commercial Solvents officer, Harold Orr, was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in May of 1962, the company itself was never forced to reveal details of its activities nor its investors. In fact, Commercial Solvents apparently ended up supplying Estes with funds after he was in jail and in the end obtained control of his fertilizer business against outstanding Estes debts. (4)

Although the popular press and in particular the Texas press gave considerable attention to the possible involvement of Vice President Johnson in the Estes scandal, Billie Sol Estes himself did not support that view when the scandal broke in 1962. Indeed he seems to have gone to great lengths to avoid implicating Johnson at the time, even when threatening the Agriculture Department or the Kennedy Administration as a whole. The press spent its time discussing Estes, his business associates, Secretary Freeman and the Agriculture Department, Senator Yarborough, Lyndon Johnson, President Kennedy and a host of related subjects including Texas politics as related to Estes. Because of the number of names in play, it is a bit difficult to mentally grasp the scandal and its real implications, particularly the implications as they might relate to Johnson’s actual involvement and concern.

Perhaps it was that sort of confusion that led to remarks such as the FBI statement during the first Marshall grand jury hearing that there was no sign that Marshall even knew Billie Sol Estes? Or the following 1964 remark which followed the conclusion of the Congressional investigation into the Estes scandal (at that point under the Johnson administration):

James Naughton, subcommittee counsel, said that to his knowledge there is no mention of then Vice President Johnson in the 439 page report. Naughton said that Estes sent gifts of nominal value to an awful lot of people… there is no evidence that Mr. Johnson ever knew Estes.”

Dallas Morning News, October 12, 1964.

Given this sort of apparent confusion, it seems necessary to go through a timeline of significant events pertaining to Billie Sol Estes and West Texas agriculture, especially as it involved his political connections and associations. The ones he didn’t talk about in 1962.

Estes Timeline (5)

1954: Estes loaned his personal plane to Ralph Yarborough for the 1954 gubernatorial campaign and was helping finance his Senatorial campaign broadcasts. Estes even received a certificate as “State Transportation Manager” for Yarborough. (San Angelo Standard, May 20, 1962)

May 18, 1958: “Billie Sol for Governor” Bid Recalled by Texas Senator. Yarborough revealed that in 1957, he was asked to join a move to draft Estes for the gubernatorial nomination. Yarborough also said that he did not feel he was being used when he accompanied Estes to the Department of Agriculture to discuss Estes’ cotton allotment problems. (Fort Worth Star Telegram, May 18, 1958)

November 6, 1960: Estes reportedly gave $50,000 to Senator Yarborough while the Senator states it was only $900. Witnesses support Estes’ account of the amount although at least one received a death threat in the process. (The Dallas Morning News, June 7, 1964)

January 12, 1961: Vice President Johnson wrote a letter to Estes thanking him for holiday roses, “it’s wonderful to have friends like you,” signed, Lyndon. (6)

January 18, 1961: Estes was in Washington D.C. for the Kennedy/Johnson inauguration. He visited with Johnson. The Department of Agriculture, which had been preparing to raise Estes’ bond requirements, reversed its policy, freezing amount at 1960 levels.

….when Texans called Johnson’s office to arrange for trips to the inaugural, they would get calls within a matter of minutes from Billie Sol Estes inviting them to fly to Washington in his private plane. “How Estes Succeeded”, Drew Person, column, May, 19, 1962. 16 Exhibit 22-3

Authors note: In a following chapter we will see that Cliff Carter was working out of the Vice President’s offices at the time, coordinating all inaugural events as relating to Texas and Texas “patronage”.

January 25, 1961: Henry Marshall, at a meeting of Southwest farm aid officials, ruled that Estes’ existing transfers of farm allotments were permissible. “Despite his suspicions, Marshall decided to pass along the approved transfer forms.”

January 31, 1961: Johnson wrote to Agriculture Secretary Freeman on behalf of Estes in regard to allotment procedures and process. He enclosed a letter from A.B. Foster, an Estes employee in Pecos.

February, 1961: during attendance at a business conference in D.C., Ward Jackson, a high official with Commercial Solvents, was provided with special services by Cliff Carter and also visited privately with Johnson. Jackson was personally involved with Commercial Solvents business activities with Billy Sol Estes.

February 20, 1961: Freeman replied to Johnson’s letter, pointing out that there had been some changes in regulations governing allotment transfers due to past abuses. The new procedure required that the applicant personally appear before the county committee with all pertinent documents and prepared to answer all pertinent questions. However, Freeman assured Johnson that the state committee could waive this step if the appearance “unduly inconvenienced” the applicant or because of “illness or good cause.” Freeman assured Johnson that he “felt sure the committee would be reasonable in passing judgement” should the applicant fail to appear.

Freeman’s note was signed and sealed from the Secretary of Agriculture. Johnson mailed Freeman’s reply to Estes accompanied by a note to Billie Sol. The note reads “I hope the information contained in the attached will be of interest and helpful to you” and ended “If I can assist you, let me know.” The note was on a Senate memorandum slip and of course was sent from the Vice President’s office.

May 27, 1961: Estes hosts a $1,000/person tables at President Kennedy’s birthday dinner in Washington D.C.

June 3, 1961: Henry Marshall is found dead by his pick-up.

June, 1961: Estes was appointed by Agriculture Secretary Freeman to a seat on the National Cotton Advisory Council. “Estes Fraud Probe May Lead to High Places”, Miami Herald, May 2, 1962. 15 Exhibit 22-2

August 16, 1961: A letter to Estes from Johnson thanked him for grapefruit and thoughtfulness. Signed, Lyndon Johnson.

Oct 18, 1961: Estes and his attorney visited Mr. Tucker at the Agriculture Department to protest investigation of Estes' allotments. Estes threatened that if the investigation continues, he would publicly embarrass the Administration. During this visit he noted one person has already died in the affair.

October 27, 1961: The Agriculture Department generated a 140 page internal report on the Estes investigation including his threat to go to top Administration officials.

November 17, 1961: Estes attended Sam Rayburn’s funeral and circulated within the enclosure set up for the Rayburn family and the top official guests including Presidents Kennedy, Truman, Eisenhower and V.P. Johnson. “How Estes Succeeded; Money Talks in the U.S.”, Drew Pearson Column, Miami Herald, May 19, 1962. 16 Exhibit 22-3

December 4, 1961: Estes was promoted from informal advisory group to National Cotton Advisory Committee. The Undersecretary of Agriculture and some other top officials knew about the alleged bitter threats against the Administration when they agreed in December to Estes’ promotion to the official government advisory position. “Probers Eye Purported Estes Threat”, Miami Herald, August 2, 1962. 17 Exhibit 22-4

January 1, 1962: Estes paid for a dinner given by the Secretary of Labor in honor of Vice President Johnson. Estes met with Johnson and received an invitation to Johnson’s home for a reception. Estes had been offered the opportunity to pay for the dinner by Jerry Holleman, Asst. Sec. of Labor. The Secretary of Labor would later deny this stating he paid for the dinner. However, Holleman was eventually forced to resign, admitting taking a $1,000 gift from Estes.

January 14, 1962: Estes and other Texans visited Johnson’s home; Estes held a brief, private conversation with the Vice President.

January 16, 1962: Estes’ records show that he was in D.C. from Jan 16 – 20 and that he took three separate cashiers checks totaling $145, 015. The checks were drawn on Estes’ account on January 16 and were taken by him to Washington.

Authors note: Drew Person reported Estes’ actual withdrawals in cash for the D.C. trip as $40,000. “How Estes Succeeded”, Drew Pearson column, March 19, 1962.

January 18, 1962: The Department of Agriculture wired an order to Estes increasing his bond by $700,000 to $1,000,000.

January 23, 1962: Letter to Estes from Johnson “it was good to get a chance to see you this weekend and I’m so glad you could take the time to come out for a visit with Lady Bird and me.” Signed, Lyndon

Authors note: Apparently this sort of thing escaped the attention of the Congressional Committee investigating the Estes scandal - or at least that of its spokesman earlier quoted as stating there were no indications at all that Lyndon Johnson even knew Billy Sol Estes.

January 25, 1962: Estes flew to Washington meeting with Undersecretary Murphy.

Following this meeting, Estes’ recent bond increase was waived.

January 29, 1962: Estes hosted two $100/seat tables directly below V.P. Johnson’s dais at the Kennedy administration’s first inaugural dinner. Senator Yarborough was a senior guest at each of Estes’ tables. Dallas New, April 1, 1962; A Texan Looks at Lyndon, J. Evetts Haley, p. 120.

February 12, 1962: A Pecos newspaper began a series of expose articles on Estes which depicted his fraudulent business practices and eventually destroyed his business.

March 29, 1962: Estes placed a call to Cliff Carter in Washington D.C. the day before Estes’s arrest for fraud.

March, 1962: Estes, Harold Orr, Ruel Alexander and Coleman McSpadden are arrested and charged with conspiracy for tank mortgages. (Pecos Daily News, March 31, 1962)

April, 1962: Agricultural Department Washington office employee N. Battle Hales was downgraded and reassigned after accusing the Department of favoring Estes; his former secretary was forced into the D.C. General Hospital as a mental case by a Doctor from the Department’s medical unit.

Only after the intervention of Senator John Williams was Mary Jones finally released – after the Senator had verified with her own Doctor that Miss Jones was perfectly normal. A Texan Looks at Lyndon, J Evetts Haley, pp. 129-131, Palo Duro Press, 1964

May 11, 1962: Assistant Secretary of Labor Holleman resigned, admitting he had

taken a $1,000 gift from Estes.

May, 1962: In conjunction with a trip to Texas for the funeral of Major Tom Miller of Austin, Lyndon Johnson’s plane skidded during a landing in Dallas and Johnson had to return to Washington by commercial airline. However, there are reports that Johnson had taken a side trip to Midland where his plane was parked away from the terminal while Johnson received visitors who were later identified as Billie Sol Estes and one of his lawyers.

Follow-on inquiries with Midland tower elicited the reply that flight records of the date in question were sealed by government order. A Texan Looks At Lyndon, J. Evetts Haley, Palo Duro Press, 1964.

June, 1962: Telephone company records revealed three calls from Estes to Cliff

Carter in Washington D.C.

Authors note: this article also relates that the telephone records revealed that there had been and two calls from Mr. Estes’ telephone in Pecos to Henry Marshall.

June 25, 1963: Estes appeared in Texas District Court and demanded immediate trial on charges relating to his fertilizer tank deals. Estes was represented by John

Cofer, well known for his association with Vice President Johnson. This move blocks Estes from testifying before any Congressional Committees and Cofer will prevent Estes from offering testimony in Texas.

July 7, 1962: Two Federal farm officials in Oklahoma admitted to a Senate

Subcommittee they had each accepted about $820 in cash from Estes.

July 27, 1962: Coleman McSpadden told a court that Estes had told him he was going to build a 10,000 bushel grain elevator and give an eighth interest to Johnson. Estes also told him he spent $100,000 a year on the “situation” in Washington.

September, 1962: Estes determined he would be best served by telling the full truth in court but was opposed by his lawyer Cofer. Estes attempted to fire Cofer and replace him but Cofer stated he had been paid and refused to leave the case or to allow Estes to testify in court.

September, 1962: Long time Johnson associate Morris Jaffe purchases Estes’ bankruptcy estate for $7 million.

November 3, 1962: John Cofer rested the defense case in the Estes trial without putting a single witness on the stand; his summation was 22 minutes in length. Estes was convicted on November 7 and Cofer did not ask the jury for a suspended sentence.

Note: Commercial Solvents Corp was assigned all Estes grain-storage payments to pay off the $5.7 million owed the form for fertilizer and other debts.

October 12, 1964: A long awaited report on the Estes case stated that there is no evidence that Estes got preferential treatment because of bribery or political influence. The report concluded weeks of public hearings in 1962. James Naughton, subcommittee counsel, said that to his knowledge there is no mention of then Vice President Johnson in the 439 page report.

Naughton said that Estes sent gifts of nominal value to an awful lot of people… there is no evidence that Mr. Johnson ever knew Estes.” (Dallas Morning News, October 12, 1964)

Given the full picture of Estes’ dealings it seems realistic to conclude that Estes’ basic claims do have an element of truth to them. First, a good number of individuals both in his associated companies and within the Agriculture Department had good reason to know that Estes’ business dealings were suspect. Several either lost their jobs or went to jail as a result. In some cases, Estes gained the sufferance of individuals with his touted political connections, in other cases with different types of gifts (including gifts of cash).

In many instances, he simply used the standard quid pro quo of politics, offering campaign contributions, event payments, and the loan of services including his airplane – nothing as graceless as “bribes”. He may indeed have used bribes but given the fact that he was investigated by a Democratic administration (indeed in the end by Johnson’s own administration) and that the records of the Congressional hearings are sealed, it is difficult to say. However, his cash withdrawals prior to his key D.C. visits certainly are suggestive.

Based on Robert Caro’s excellent research biographies of Lyndon Johnson we know that this was not the first time that a Democratic administration managed to dodge a major political debacle over Johnson’s practice of Texas politics. As of 1940, Lyndon Johnson had proven that he could win major Texas elections if he could significantly outspend his opponents and he had found the keys to that level of spending. The first key was Brown and Root. In 1937, Brown had declined to contribute to the Johnson campaign. Johnson dedicated himself to showing Brown that he was a good investment, essentially going to work for Brown in ordering to ensure Brown and Root maximum profit on their huge Marshall Ford Dam project.

As Caro describes it, “He worked for Brown and Root as closely as if he were one of the firm’s employees, an employee anxious to impress his boss with his diligence.” In a note to Herman Brown, Johnson wrote, “It is needless for me to tell you we are humping ourselves on the jobs….this note…is being knocked off between conferences.” (7)

For Brown and Root, the dam project was so profitable that in 1938, Brown “gave Johnson his full weight” including instructions for donations to the Johnson campaign from his sub-contractors, lawyers, insurance brokers, bankers and local politicians. (8)

By 1941, Johnson had become even more valuable to Brown and Root, assisting them in gaining a Navy contract for shipbuilding (when Brown and Root had never built a ship before) which during the course of WWII brought them $375 million in work.

However, by this point through Federal contracts, Johnson had made Brown rich. Brown had gone to the edge of the law and as some IRS agents were later to contend, over the edge into the realm of fraud in order to finance LBJ’s ambition. (9)

The details of the Brown and Root/IRS/Johnson scandal are too lengthy to address here and may be found in Caro’s book, The Path To Power.

However, what is directly relevant is the fact that long before 1961, Lyndon Johnson can be shown to have participated in a pattern of trading influence for contributions and political support. He can also be shown to be a master of taking contributions and cash in a manner that is virtually impossible to trace directly to him and one which is more likely to bring legal action against the donor than Johnson himself. In the Brown and Root incident, Brown’s actions were so blatant and on such a scale that the IRS instituted a major investigation into his use of “cut outs” for the donations as both a tax issue and a violation of campaign donation limits. Brown at first assumed Johnson’s “White House connections” would deflect the investigation and indeed Johnson’s first defense (as it would be in the Estes scandal) was to point the blame at Texas political interests trying to injure the administration. (10)

Authors note: A point worth mentioning is that in 1942, when Johnson, his lawyer and Brown’s representative worked on their defense strategy in Washington D.C., they talked outside the Brown townhouse for fear that the IRS would have it bugged. This fear of being monitored comes up again in the Estes scandal and Estes’ remarks about Johnson’s involvement in the Marshall murder.

The initial Johnson ploy did not work, primarily due to the scope of Brown’s contributions, his tax underpayments were estimated at over $1 million by the IRS agents assigned to the investigation. In the end, Johnson was forced to personally go directly to President Roosevelt and plead for his intervention. Although we have no details on that conversation, Caro relates that the Johnson–Roosevelt meeting occurred on January 13.

On January 14, a single independent IRS investigator was dispatched from the Atlanta office to Texas. This investigator had no background in the work of the team already in Texas, however, after only three days in the field he submitted a recommendation against prosecution and by February 15 the investigation was closed by the IRS.

The IRS field team strongly opposed this decision as asked to be permitted to at least continue collecting data. Its supervisor was ordered to drop the subject with no further discussion. (11)

Authors note: The IRS actually opened another investigation into the same types of campaign contributions in 1950. The investigation had to be abandoned when it was discovered that the evidence had been “accidentally” taken from a fireproof storage warehouse and put into a shanty which then burned completely to the ground. (12) (13)

The major difference in the Brown scandal and the Estes scandal was not one of scale (both involved millions of dollars in penalties). Nor was it one of severity (Federal charges of fraud applied in both although Brown was allowed to settle privately with $372,000 in penalty tax payments, no trial, no fraud indictment and no publicity). It wasn’t even different in regard to political privilege; in both cases Federal investigations were either aborted or neutered.

The difference was one of media coverage and publicity. In 1962, the action of a small local paper elevated the Estes scandal to the level of a national media event, exposing the Kennedy administration in a manner not seen in Johnson’s previous exposure (although before Roosevelt’s intervention Johnson knew that incident “could also end a politician’s career”).

There is perhaps one other significant difference. By 1961, Lyndon Johnson was beginning to allow his influence to be used by individuals who were far more public and “promotional” than Herman Brown - individuals such as Billie Sol Estes and Bobby Baker. For that reason alone, Johnson’s long time practices were dramatically increasing his personal exposure. After his Congressional election scandal in 1948, Johnson’s grandmother had remarked that if the people of Texas had done their jobs “Lyndon Johnson” would be in the penitentiary instead of the United States Senate. (14)

By 1962, Lyndon was moving closer to the brink of legal exposure and as seen in chapter 16, by 1963 he his exposure had reached the critical risk level.

Summary

The first test for the Estes “direction” was to evaluate Estes as a source and then to test the basic elements of his statements. At this point, it seems reasonable to conclude that Estes’ actions, public statements and grand jury disclosures follow a credible pattern.

• Estes first allotment applications were accepted by Marshall even though Marshall held private suspicions over their legality.

• When he first encountered problems with his allotments, Estes went directly

to President Johnson who queried Secretary Freeman and seemingly obtained

an “out” for Estes in regard to Department process.

• Estes’ primary backer, Commercial Solvents, received personal services in Washington D.C. from Cliff Carter and a senior company official met with both Carter and Johnson.

• Estes’ initial response to Agriculture Department opposition was to threaten the Kennedy Administration with bad publicity if the Agriculture Department did not cease its investigation. Estes also introduced the matter of Henry Marshall’s death in the same dialog.

• The Agriculture Department significantly increased Estes bond but after his

his visits to Washington the bond increase was waived.

• There was no “Estes Scandal” until a local Texas newspaper conducted its own inquiry and makes Estes a matter of state and national media coverage.

• Estes made no initial accusations or statements involving Vice President Johnson and focused any issues of wrong doing on the Department of Agriculture and employees of his business partners.

• Numerous Agriculture Department employees lost their jobs or resign; other

individuals with Superior Manufacturing went to jail or died in apparent suicides.

• Only in 1984, after the deaths of those individuals he named as accessories in

the Marshall murder, did Estes go public with his remarks about Marshall’s death. He refused to discuss deaths which occurred outside of Texas.

• After failing to reach terms with the Justice Department over immunity and

other issues, Estes went silent over another decade.

In addition to the actual involvement of both Johnson and Carter as indicated by the items in the timeline introduced here, the work of Johnson’s biographer Caro gives us an illustration of a virtually identical situation occurring two decades earlier – a scandal with all the basic elements of the Estes affair, which only failed to become a public scandal due to President Roosevelt. It seems very credible that both Johnson and Carter were involved with “helping” Billie Sol Estes in the manner he described, essentially giving political leverage and assistance as a quid pro quo for a very prominent and involved Texas contributor.

Notes

1. Act of Treason, Mark North, 1991.

2. The Pecos Daily News, March 31, 1962

3. The Dallas Morning News, April 12, 1962.

4. A Texan Looks At Lyndon, Chapter VI, J. Evetts Haley, 1964.

5. Unless otherwise noted all references are from Act of Treason, Mark North, Caroll

and Graf, 1991.

6. Letters from Johnson to Estes are provided as exhibits. Exhibit 22-1

7. The Path To Power, Robert A. Caro, p.474, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1982.

8. ibid, p. 474.

9. Means of Ascent, Robert A. Caro, p. 16, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1990.

10. The Path To Power, Robert A Caro, p. 743, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1982.

11. Ibid, pp. 741-753.

12. The Texas Connection, p. 112, Craig Zirbel, 1991.

13. A Texan Looks At Lyndon, J. Evetts Haley, pp. 90-92, 1964

14. The Texas Connection, p. 111, Craig Zirbel, 1991.

15. Exhibit 22-2; Estes Fraud May Lead To High Places

16. Exhibit 22-3 How Estes Succeeded; Money Talks In the US

17. Exhibit 22-4 Probers Eye Purported Estes Threat

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John, I don't know about Josefa's death to have an opinion; I do know she seems to have had the makings of becoming a major political liability to LBJ but she also appears to have had lots of problems which could have led to her death.

Estes doesn't really say why she is on the list although the implication is that he heard something from either Wallace or Carter to lead him belive that there was something suspicious about her death.

For myself, I suspect Estes did hear it but it could have been pure gossip; it probably does more to undermine the story than to support it.

-- Larry

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  • 4 weeks later...

Carl Curtis was a member of the Permanent Investigating Subcommittee that looked into the case of Billie Sol Estes. In his book, Forty Years Against the Tide, he provides a detailed account of how his numerous scams worked. (1) He also gives a account of how Democratic leaders covered up this story. It is clear that he believes that JFK as well as LBJ took part in this cover-up.

Curtis and Karl Mundt were the only Republicans on the subcommittee looking into the case. The most important testimony came from M. Battle Hales, an employee of the Department of Agriculture. Since 1952 he had been the main investigator of irregularities such as those involved in the Estes case. He built up a large body of evidence against Estes. However, the Department of Agriculture refused to take action against him. Instead they took Hales off the case, locked him out of his office and denied him access to his own files. Hales realised that senior officials within the Department of Agriculture were getting rake-offs from Estes. Curtis and Mundt were able to discover that even James T. Ralph, the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, was receiving money from Estes (he had access to Estes’ credit card). Other senior officials, including Leonard Williams and Emery E. Jacobs were also discovered to have been taking money from Estes. There was even evidence that Orville Freeman, JFK’s Secretary of Agriculture, was part of a conspiracy to keep this scandal from reaching the public. One memorandum revealed that Estes was being protected by a senior politician in Washington (Curtis believes it was LBJ).

When it became known that Curtis and Mundt were going to investigate the case, the Democratic Party machine instigated a smear campaign against the two men. They went public with these stories and made it clear they would not be intimidated.

Hales revealed that it was Henry Marshall who had originally exposed the scams being run by Estes. Hales suspected that Marshall had been murdered on the orders of Estes. Whoever ordered the killing had the power to persuade Lee Farmer, the local justice of peace, to decide that Marshall had committed suicide.

After Marshall’s death, officials in the Department of Agriculture had reported that Marshall had approved the Estes cotton allotments, finding their acquisition lawful. This was not true and showed that people inside the Department of Agriculture was involved in the cover up and probably were nvolved in Marshall’s death.

Clint Peoples, a Texas Ranger, admitted in 1984 that he came under political pressure in 1962 to say that Marshall had committed suicide. Peoples named Clifton Carter, one of Johnson’s aides, as the man applying this pressure.

Curtis and Mundt suspected this was the case in 1962 but were unable to persuade the Democratic dominated committee to do anything about it. Instead of being investigated for murder, Estes was charged with a fertilizer-tank fraud.

According to his daughter, Billie Sol Estes had given LBJ large sums of money in the early 1960s. (2) Curtis claims they found evidence that Commercial Solvents, a company where Lady Bird Johnson was the largest shareholder, had loaned Estes nearly a million dollars.

Curtis speculates that LBJ ordered the killing of Henry Marshall because he was worried that Robert Kennedy would find out about his connections to Estes. This fits in with the story that Kennedy was leaking information about LBJ to John Williams. It would seem that the Estes and Baker scandals were linked and the RFK was the person behind these investigations.

Curtis also hints that these cases were linked to the assassination of JFK: “Will there be published, some day, The Secret History of the New Frontier? The Congress did not investigate the grim incidents mentioned above: and Chief Justice Warren’s investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy was interestingly superficial. The whole truth about the murder, the Chief Justice said, might not be known for a century. How much else lies hidden?”

Curtis was a right-wing Republican who is obviously hostile to Kennedy for political reasons. However, the theme of his book is the role that the hierarchy of the Democratic Party in preventing the truth of these scandals entering the public domain. It also explains why the Democratic Party has been unwilling to call for a full investigation into the JFK assassination. Any such investigation would reveal the extent of political corruption within the party in early 1960s. Books by Robert Caro, Dan Briody and Robert Bryce suggest that this corruption dated back to the 1930s.

1. Carl Curtis, Forty Years Against the Tide (1986) pages 220-241

2. Pam Estes, Billie Sol: King of Texas Wheeler-Dealers (1983)

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  • 3 months later...

Larry and John,

Have either of you spoken to any researcher that has seen or read the purported book recently published by Billie Sol Estes himself? It is shown on http://www.billiesolestes.com/ with a picture of the cover and teasers of the contents. To order the book you have to pay $30 to an online service, usCommerce, which does not even acknowledge that they have copies for shipment.

Is this unverified book titled, "A Texas Legend: The Man Who Knows Who Shot JFK", which is not listed in "Books In Print" at my local book store or library, perhaps another one of Mr. Estes scams?

Jeff Dahlstrom

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Larry and John,

Have either of you spoken to any researcher that has seen or read the purported book recently published by Billie Sol Estes himself?  It is shown on http://www.billiesolestes.com/ with a picture of the cover and teasers of the contents.  To order the book you have to pay $30 to an online service, usCommerce, which does not even acknowledge that they have copies for shipment.

Is this unverified book titled, "A Texas Legend: The Man Who Knows Who Shot JFK", which is not listed in "Books In Print" at my local book store or library, perhaps another one of Mr. Estes scams?

See this thread for details of William Reymond's book on Billie Sol Estes. William also has passed comment on Estes' book.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=2891

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Jeff, I have read Estes new book, most of it at least - it is indeed not an English translation of William's book done with Estes. Not having read William's book I can't really compare the two although I can say that there is certainly a variety of new information in the Estes' book, some of which will be pretty controversial.

The book is also in stock and avaliable through Andy W at the Last Hurrah Bookshop.

I hope to explore some of the material in advance of the November Lancer Conference and present on it there; given that his health permits it we also have a commitment from Billy Sol to be at the conference.

Personally I find his personal insights into the Estes scanda and Marshall murder to be consistent and certainly accurate as compared to the independent information available. However the information he received from Carter and Wallace will elevate the controversy on Johnson's role and support. I also think the book would have profited from a good editor.

Of course beyond the conspiracy elements which are only a part of the book, I'd also say that anything Estes writes about himself is always colorful and highly entertaining.

Larry and John,

Have either of you spoken to any researcher that has seen or read the purported book recently published by Billie Sol Estes himself?  It is shown on http://www.billiesolestes.com/ with a picture of the cover and teasers of the contents.  To order the book you have to pay $30 to an online service, usCommerce, which does not even acknowledge that they have copies for shipment.

Is this unverified book titled, "A Texas Legend: The Man Who Knows Who Shot JFK", which is not listed in "Books In Print" at my local book store or library, perhaps another one of Mr. Estes scams?

Jeff Dahlstrom

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Larry,

Thank you for your reply. Mr. Estes replied yesterday to an email request for a source to buy his book with an offer to send me directly (and hopefully) an autographed copy of his book. I'm looking forward to reading what he has to say about JFK/LBJ.

Even more exciting from your message is that Mr. Estes will, if health permits, attend the Lancer Conference in November. I have never attended any of the JFK events because I am very new to this discussion about the assassination. I will definitely make arrangements to attend this years Lancer conference to hear directly what Mr. Estes has to say and to learn more about your research on this very dramatic new direction on my primary questions as follows:

1) Who was the primary mover behind the assassination,

2) why was it necessary to kill Kennedy,

3) when was the decision made to murder the President, and

4) how was it actually accomplished,

appears to be coming into better focus with Mr. Estes unique story and direct roll in this trajedy in our history.

If it turns out that the primary conspirators in the JFK assassination were LBJ/Carter/Wallace with possible support from Hoover/Black/Roselli, how does this line of inquiry relate to your very thorough research in your book "Someone Would Have Talked" concerning the players in the Cuban exiles and the CIA? Are the exiled Cubans (Interpen, Alpha 66, JMWAVE, John Martino, David Morales, Roy Hargraves, Gerry Hemming, et. al.) still potential shooters and actors in the conspiracy?

Jeff Dahlstrom

Jeff,  I have read Estes new book, most of it at least - it is indeed not an English translation of William's book done with Estes.  Not having read William's book I can't really compare the two although I can say that there is certainly a variety of new information in the Estes' book,  some of which will be pretty controversial. 

The book is also in stock and avaliable through Andy W at the Last Hurrah Bookshop.

I hope to explore some of the material in advance of the November Lancer Conference and present on it there;  given that his health permits it we also have a commitment from Billy Sol to be at the conference.

Personally I find his personal insights into the Estes scanda and Marshall murder to be consistent and certainly accurate as compared to the independent information available.  However the information he received from Carter and Wallace will elevate the controversy on Johnson's role and support.  I also think the book would have profited from a good editor. 

Of course beyond the conspiracy elements which are only a part of the book,  I'd also say that anything Estes writes about himself is always colorful and highly entertaining.

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Jeff, you probably know that Estes recently broke his leg in two places and has some other medical problems. I surely hope he does feel well enough to actively participate in November. I also hope to have the chance to get some further comments from him before the conference so that I can better deal with the new information in his book.

One of the biggest problems at present is that it is extremely difficult to boil out specifically what details he was told first hand by Carter or Wallace versus his general observations about the JFK assassination - and other conspiracies. Unfortunately his book also seems to remove the possibility that we can ever get direct corroboration - if I am correct in reading what I think he says about the tapes. He also states that Kyle Brown was not a personal witness in the meeting with Carter....even though Estes did identify him as a witness to the Justice Department. This disclaimer is also in direct conflict with Brown's Remond video remarks that he was indeed present in person.

Up to this point I had developed one (unpublished) scenario as to how the bottoms up information in my book would connect to a Johnson/Carter/Wallace scenario. Estes newest version of the plot pretty well blows away that scenario although his statement of a direct involvement of Marcello/Trafficante opens up other speculation. Perhaps the more significant issue is that his newer remarks speak to a much broader conspiracy with a much greater number of people involved in Texas and with a direct involvement by two or mor major crime families.

Hopefully by November I'll be in a position to offer a more cogent view but a lot of questions need to be addressed first.

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Few words on this book because i hate to see good researchers as Larry and others wasting their time and energy.

1) The Estes book is not a translation of JFK, le dernier temoin

2) The book is a first draft that Tom Bowden and myself wrote back in 2000. This draft was used by the publisher to shop the project around. It was a failure and one reason was that lot of BSE's claims were not backed by fact and some of them were in direct conflict with others evidences.

I guess, it was Tom and myself position all the time. Back then, we grew more and more unconfortable with Billie's story. Or, may i say, Billie's stories.

And it's one reason why the draft is pretty heavy on Billie's childhood and business deal and pretty light on the JFK assassination.

3) Then, my publisher asked me to do a different book. A book with hard facts and evidences. With less Billie but more JFK. And this time, the rule was pretty simple : each Billie Sol's allegations must be prove right/ So, Tom and myself started a very deep and long investigation on Billie's claim and with a strong emphasis on the Texas mafia. JFK, le dernier temoin and the video documentary were the results of this new investigation.

4) few months ago without asking my publisher, Tom or myself approvals, Billie Sol published the 2000's first draft hoping that our community will buy it thinking that it was a translation of the book or an updated project. It's not. This move will have several consequences. Most of them are none of my business. But let me say that today i'm very sad. Even if Billie printed a very short stack of copies, this move will add another shadow's layer on his credibility and then, on our ability to solve JFK's assassination.

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Larry,

Since Mr. Estes no longer has to fear retribution from LBJ for "keeping his mouth shut", has he expressed a willingness to release the taped conversations with Carter in 1971 for verification and corroberation of his story? William Reymond discussed his French version of Estes story in this forum and indicated that his publisher would probably not be interested publishing the English version. Perhaps the publisher was concerned about liability in the US courts.

It would be interesting to find out from Mr. Reymond how he compares the content of his book with the new English version.

I re-read your chapter on the End Game (20) and noted that the Dallas trip was an exception to Carter traveling with LBJ, presumably moved from advance man to work on the 1964 election. Kennedy was the President not Johnson, and JFK was planning to dump Johnson in 1964, so whose campaign was Carter working on as Secretary of the Democratic National Committee? Did Carter know in advance that LBJ would become President after the Dallas trip? Mr. Carter was certainly busy on the phone and into action early on the cover-up (Calls to DA Wade, the Chief of Police, etc).

When did Hubert Humphrey enter the picture as Vice President? Or another related question might be who became acting Vice President on November 22? Was Carter discussing the Vice Presidential slot with candidates before Dallas? The presidential succession amendment to the constitution was not in effect in 1963.

The last sentence of End Game brings into question where was Bobby Baker in these events, besides being a major potential scandal or indictment for Johnson, similar to wheeler dealer Estes, and the possible complicity of Fred Black who was LBJ's, Hoover's, and Baker's neighbor?

LBJ's often stated concern for a nuclear war after the assassination seems to me to be very disingenious, especially in light of his failure to inquire about the nuclear football and with the acting members of the JFK/LBJ war cabinet in the immmediate aftermath of the fatefull day.

Jeff Dahlstrom

One of the biggest problems at present is that it is extremely difficult to boil out specifically what details he was told first hand by Carter or Wallace versus his general observations about the JFK assassination - and other conspiracies.  Unfortunately his book also seems to remove the possibility that we can ever get direct corroboration - if I am correct in reading what I think he says about the tapes.  He also states that Kyle Brown was not a personal witness in the meeting with Carter....even though Estes did identify him as a witness to the Justice Department.  This disclaimer is also in direct conflict with Brown's Remond video remarks that he was indeed present in person.

Up to this point I had developed one (unpublished) scenario as to how the bottoms up information in my book would connect to a Johnson/Carter/Wallace scenario.  Estes newest version of the plot pretty well blows away that scenario although his statement of a direct involvement of Marcello/Trafficante opens up other speculation.  Perhaps the more significant issue is that his newer remarks speak to a much broader conspiracy with a much greater number of people involved in Texas and with a direct involvement by two or mor major crime families. 

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William Reymond discussed his French version of Estes story in this forum and indicated that his publisher would probably not be interested publishing the English version. Perhaps the publisher was concerned about liability in the US courts

I guess that you are not really familiar with the publishing business. Flammarion aka the original publisher own the books worwilde rights but as a French publisher can publish only in.. France.

So, then, its job is to find national publisher ready to buy the rights and publish a translation of the book. They didi it in several countries as Spain or Japan and they failed in the States. Their interest was to do it but they didn't find any US publisher with an interest of publishing the English Version.

It would be interesting to find out from Mr. Reymond how he compares the content of his book with the new English version.

i already did it. It's not a new book, it's not a translation. It's an old draft. See my other post on the same topic.

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William, many thanks for clearing the source up for all of us, that eliminates

one part of the mystery on the new book. It's truly unfortunate that your version is not available in the U.S. in English,. As you say, I'm afraid this turn of events is going to make it harder rather than easier to investigate Johnson's actual involvement.

-- Larry

Few words on this book because i hate to see good researchers as Larry and others wasting their time and energy.

1) The Estes book is not a translation of JFK, le dernier temoin

2) The book is a first draft that Tom Bowden and myself wrote back in 2000. This draft was used by the publisher to shop the project around. It was a failure and one reason was that lot of BSE's claims were not backed by fact and some of them were in direct conflict with others evidences.

I guess, it was Tom and myself position all the time. Back then, we grew more and more unconfortable with Billie's story. Or, may i say, Billie's stories.

And it's one reason why the draft is pretty heavy on Billie's childhood and business deal and pretty light on the JFK assassination.

3) Then, my publisher asked me to do a different book. A book with hard facts and evidences. With less Billie but more JFK. And this time, the rule was pretty simple : each Billie Sol's allegations must be prove right/ So, Tom and myself started a very deep and long investigation on Billie's claim and with a strong emphasis on the Texas mafia. JFK, le dernier temoin and the video documentary were the results of this new investigation.

4) few months ago without asking my publisher, Tom or myself approvals, Billie Sol published the 2000's first draft hoping that our community will buy it thinking that it was a translation of the book or an updated project. It's not. This move will have several consequences. Most of them are none of my business. But let me say that today i'm very sad. Even if Billie printed a very short stack of copies, this move will add another shadow's layer on his credibility and then, on our ability to solve JFK's assassination.

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Jeff, William has clarified the source and high level differences in the books in a separate post.

I confess that I need to reread the new Estes book and ask some questions before I fully understand where Billy Sol stands on the tapes. He speaks of having sold off some tapes to Hoffa and it is unclear to me exactly what he might still have in his possession. However he also states that there are still unnamed participants in Texas who are a threat to him, makes it clear that he has not and will not name all names and certainly presents that there is still some fear of retribution if he does more. I see no sign that he is going to provide any tapes to validate the story. Perhaps as importantly, he refutes his statement to the Justice Department that Kyle Brown was in a meeting with Carter and can corroborate the JFK information from Carter. Estes says that the real person will remain unnamed. This seems to be in direct conflict with Brown's statements in William's videotape. Again, all this continues to cast down on rather than lead to any corroboration for Carter or Wallace's statements to Estes. I hope that we can get some further clarification from Billy Sol himself.

As to Carter's work back in Texas, supposedly (and per his oral history at the LBJ library) he moved back to Texas to either begin campaign preparations for the 1964 election with Johnson on the ticket as VP (a bit hard to swallow) or perhaps to support a general Democratic slate in Texas (he is not specific). On a side note, Carter did indeed do some advance work for the JFK trip, we know for example that he visited Dallas. However he did not personally participate in the final advance work immediately prior to the visit but seems to have stayed in constant touch with Jack Puterborough (sp) from a distance. That strikes me as a bit odd given Carter's personal touch but then Dallas really was not a Johnson city and Cliff may not have had the personal connections he had in south Texas.

On your VP / November 22 question. It's unclear there was any thought or discussion given to that and knowing Johnson's character I doubt he would have even thought of a VP before he had to recruit one for the 64 campaign.

In regard to Baker, personally I don't see Baker as anything more than a "nexus" that events pertaining to the assassination may have jelled. He was important for bringing certain people in touch with each other as part of his many business dealings and for creating the scandal that put so many of them at risk, but I think that was it.

And yes, Johnson's purported concerns about a Communist conspiracy or about possible war don't seem to have much to do with his actions the afternoon and

evening of November 22 - unless somebody has scrubbed a lot of information out of the historical record. On the other hand it seems to me that there should probably have been more of a defensive response by the Joint Chiefs or by the Sec of Defense than there was. It's rather amazing to me that at the height of the Cold War, the President could be assassinated by parties totally unknown for some two hours and that the Joint Chiefs did not even elevate the DEFCON status.

...good thing it wasn't a Communist conspiracy, Larry

Larry,

Since Mr. Estes no longer has to fear retribution from LBJ for "keeping his mouth shut", has he expressed a willingness to release the taped conversations with Carter in 1971 for verification and corroberation of his story?  William Reymond discussed his French version of Estes story in this forum and indicated that his publisher would probably not be interested publishing the English version.  Perhaps the publisher was concerned about liability in the US courts. 

It would be interesting to find out from Mr. Reymond how he compares the content of his book with the new English version.

I re-read your chapter on the End Game (20) and noted that the Dallas trip was an exception to Carter traveling with LBJ, presumably moved from advance man to work on the 1964 election.  Kennedy was the President not Johnson, and JFK was  planning to dump Johnson in 1964, so whose campaign was Carter working on as Secretary of the Democratic National Committee?  Did Carter know in advance that LBJ would become President after the Dallas trip?  Mr. Carter was certainly busy on the phone and into action early on the cover-up (Calls to DA Wade, the Chief of Police, etc).

When did Hubert Humphrey enter the picture as Vice President?  Or another related question might be who became acting Vice President on November 22?  Was Carter discussing the Vice Presidential slot with candidates before Dallas?  The presidential succession amendment to the constitution was not in effect in 1963.

The last sentence of End Game brings into question where was Bobby Baker in these events, besides being a major potential scandal or indictment for Johnson, similar to wheeler dealer Estes, and the possible complicity of Fred Black who was LBJ's, Hoover's, and Baker's neighbor? 

LBJ's often stated concern for a nuclear war after the assassination seems to me to be very disingenious, especially in light of his failure to inquire about the nuclear football and with the acting members of the JFK/LBJ war cabinet in the immmediate aftermath of the fatefull day.

Jeff Dahlstrom

One of the biggest problems at present is that it is extremely difficult to boil out specifically what details he was told first hand by Carter or Wallace versus his general observations about the JFK assassination - and other conspiracies.  Unfortunately his book also seems to remove the possibility that we can ever get direct corroboration - if I am correct in reading what I think he says about the tapes.  He also states that Kyle Brown was not a personal witness in the meeting with Carter....even though Estes did identify him as a witness to the Justice Department.  This disclaimer is also in direct conflict with Brown's Remond video remarks that he was indeed present in person.

Up to this point I had developed one (unpublished) scenario as to how the bottoms up information in my book would connect to a Johnson/Carter/Wallace scenario.  Estes newest version of the plot pretty well blows away that scenario although his statement of a direct involvement of Marcello/Trafficante opens up other speculation.  Perhaps the more significant issue is that his newer remarks speak to a much broader conspiracy with a much greater number of people involved in Texas and with a direct involvement by two or mor major crime families. 

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