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Carl T. Curtis


John Simkin
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Carl T. Curtis from Nebraska was a member of the Senate Rules Committee that investigated the activities of Bobby Baker. In his autobiography, Forty Years Against the Tide (1986), Curtis gives an insider view of what happened. I have never seen it quoted in any book on the assassination. I therefore thought it might be worth posting some long extracts from the book.

The Ascendancy of the Contact-Man (244-248)

When Bobby Baker began as a page in 1943, his salary was $1,460 a year. Yet he soon became a wealthy man. The minority report of the committee that investigated his activities (filed on July 8, 1964) had this to say about Baker's amassing of wealth:

"According to financial statements submitted by Baker, he had a net worth of $11,025 as of May 3, 1954. As of February 1, 1963, Baker claimed a net worth of $2,166,886. It is agreed, however, that this latter figure carried errors and exaggerations. After the known errors are taken into account, Baker's claimed net worth would be $1,664, 287. However, it may well be contended that Baker over-valued his Serv-U Corporation stock, with its very lucrative contracts in plants having huge government defense contracts, as well as his stock in the Mecklenburg enterprises and his land near Silver Springs, Maryland. If these assets are carried at their actual cost, Baker still would have a net worth of $447,849. It is obvious that these three assets were very valuable and their value had increased considerably over Baker's initial investment."

The Committee's records show that between January, 1959, and November, 1963, Baker and his associates had borrowed $2,784,338 from lending institutions. These loans had come from twenty-four banks and other lending institutions. The Committee's investigator also reported that Baker's share in approximately six different loans was $1,704,538.

All the time that Baker was making himself a man of wealth, he continued to serve as a most important and influential employee of the United States Senate.

Fred B. Black, Jr., a management consultant whose clients included North American Aviation and Melpar, Inc., and who was associated with Baker in several business ventures, said that the late Senator Robert S. Kerr, of Oklahoma, had told him that outside of his sons and his wife, he never knew and loved a person so much as he did Bobby Baker; that there was nothing Kerr would not do for Baker if he would ask him. Later Black said that he and Baker and the Serv-U Corporation had borrowed over half a million dollars from Kerr's Oklahoma City Bank.

Baker's operations became a subject of some discussion, raising questions in the minds of several senators and Senate employees. Eventually, on September 9, 1963, a law-suit was filed by Ralph L. Hill, president of the Capitol Vending Company, which alleged wrongdoing and the use of governmental influence in Baker's business dealings.

In his suit, Hill alleged that Baker had employed political influence to obtain contracts in defense plants for his own vending-machine firm, called Serv-U Corporation. Hill also charged that Baker had accepted $5,600 for securing a vending-machine franchise for Capitol Vending with Melpar, Inc., a defense plant in Virginia. Hill stated that after Capitol had secured the contract with Melpar, Baker had tried to persuade Capitol Vending to sell out to the Serv-U Corporation; and that when Capitol refused to sell its stock to Serv-U, Baker had conspired maliciously to interfere with Capitol's contract with Melpar. The suit contended that Baker had told Fred B. Black, Jr., that he, Baker, was in a position to help obtain contracts with the government. Hill said that in return, North American (to which Black was a consultant) entered into an agreement to permit Serv-U to install vending machines in its Californian plants.

The filing of this suit brought to light many unpleasant facts, reflecting not only on Bobby Baker but on those men about him and on the Senate generally.

At this point, Senator John Williams, of Delaware, began to take an active part. Williams was a man beyond reproach, sincere and intelligent and dedicated. During his service in the Senate he was rightly referred to as "the conscience of the Senate." He was an expert investigator, tenacious and courageous. Senator Williams became the prime mover in bringing about the investigation of Baker.

On October 3, 1963, Williams went to Senator Mike Mansfield, the majority leader, and to Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, the minority leader, and arranged for them to call Baker before the leadership at a closed meeting on October 8. It was Senator Williams' plan to confront Baker with questions about his activities. Bobby Baker never appeared before the Senate's leadership: the day before his scheduled appearance he resigned his post with its salary of $19,600.

Senator Mansfield, announcing Bobby Baker's resignation, said that "Baker has discharged his official duties for eight years with great intelligence and understanding. His great ability and his dedication to the Majority and to the Senate will be missed." Developments during recent weeks, however, Senator Mansfield continued, had made it apparent that it would be best if Baker withdrew from office. "I deeply regret the necessity for his resignation and the necessity for its acceptance."

Senator Williams introduced a resolution calling upon the Committee on Rules and Administration to conduct an investigation of the financial and business interests and possible improprieties of any Senate employee or former employee. On October 10, 1963, the Senate adopted this resolution by voice vote.

The Committee on Rules and Administration was made up of nine members, six Democrats and three Republicans. The Committee's chairman was B. Everett Jordan, Democrat, of North Carolina. The other Democratic members were Carl Hayden, of Arizona; Claiborne Pell, of Rhode Island; Joseph Clark, of Pennsylvania; Howard W. Cannon, of Nevada; and Robert C. Byrd, of West Virginia. The Republican members were John Sherman Cooper, of Kentucky; Hugh Scott, of Pennsylvania; and Carl T. Curtis.

This Committee held its first meeting for the Baker investigation on October 29. Senator Williams, testifying in closed session, recommended that the Committee investigate the FBI files of a deported East German woman, a Mrs. Ellen Rometsch (otherwise known as Elli Rometsch), who had been identified in news stories as a "party girl" associating with lobbyists and members of Congress. He urged also that the Committee look into Baker's transactions with the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation; into the large sums of cash given by Bobby Baker to Mrs. Gertrude Novak, wife of a business partner of Baker; into the vending contract referred to in Hill's suit against Baker.

Additionally, Williams recommended that the Committee investigate circumstances surrounding the rapid growth of the Serv-U Corporation, Baker's company; charges against Baker with reference to irregularities connected with the Senate payroll of pages and other employees working under Baker; Baker's brokerage-fee from the Haitian-American Meat Provision Company. The Committee should look into the transactions between Baker and Don Reynolds connected with Reynolds' selling of insurance to Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, Williams continued. The Committee should check the performance-bond for the building of the stadium at Washington.

Having heard Senator Williams, the three Republicans on the Committee requested that the Committee hire outside counsel to conduct the investigation. This move was opposed by the six Democrats on the Committee. Chairman Jordan, presently yielding to public pressure, announced on November 13 that L. F. McLendon, a lawyer from Jordan's home state of North Carolina, was appointed outside counsel.

The Committee on Rules and Administration needed to agree on some procedures. In this the Committee received considerable help from the Subcommittee on Investigations of the Government Operations Committee, headed by Senator John McClellan, of Arkansas. McClellan had followed a procedure of first calling a witness-particularly a controversial witnessin a closed session of the Committee, to inform the Committee what to expect and how to frame their questions. Later the witness would be called in public session. In the investigation of Baker, this rule was not followed, as we shall see later in this account of the great cover-up.

Bobby Baker was a highly successful contact-man. During and after the Second World War, on either side of the Atlantic, the contact-man loomed large. Contact-men existed primarily to obtain for their clients and themselves some share of the vast pool of riches in the possession of swollen centralized political bureaucracies. The more impressive a contact-man's political connections, the better he and his clients would fare. Professor W. L. Burn, in England, well described this international phenomenon:

"One may imagine the stage festooned with forms, applications for licenses, refusals of licenses, checks that failed to command confidence and agreements that failed to produce the desired result. Music is supplied by the ringing of the telephone, the prelude to ambiguous and improbable conversations; and through the half-lit jungle, from public dinner to government department, from government department to sherry party, glides the contact-man, at once the product and the safety-valve of this grotesque civilization."

In Washington, Bobby Baker had become a principal actor in such tragi-comic dramas.

Johnson, Baker, Jenkins (pages 249-254)

Baker was called as a witness early in the investigation, appearing both in a closed session and in a public session. He had received a subpoena directing him to appear and to produce certain documents. Senator Curtis requested him to submit the required records. Baker refused. The following extracts from the Committee's hearings may suffice to suggest Baker's response. (It should be remembered in this connection that a witness's refusal to answer on the ground that he might incriminate himself raises a legitimate presumption that indeed the witness has committed some act which might subject him to a criminal prosecution.)

Replying to Senator Curtis, Baker refused to produce the desired records. He declared that he had so informed the committee earlier, and therefore should not have been called back to repeat his position.

"Today's proceedings are an unconstitutional invasion by the legislative branch into the proper function of the judiciary," Baker argued. "I do not intend to participate as a defendant witness in a legislative trial of myself, when my counsel has no right to cross-examine my accusers, or summon witnesses in my defense, and when the testimony has been taken both in secret and in the open."

Baker continued that the records were not "pertinent to any bona fide legislative purpose." A case pending in the U. S. District Court of the District of Columbia, he mentioned, in volved some of the documents called for. "I am presently being investigated by two agencies of the executive branch, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. To force production of these records against this background would be to do indirectly for these agencies what they cannot lawfully do direct. " Moreover, his "privacy of communication" had been invaded by government personnel, so he was refusing to provide any additional information to government agents. Baker concluded by invoking "the protection of the first, the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth amendments of the Constitution, and I specifically invoke the privilege against selfincrimination."

So it went through the questioning of Bobby Baker. Altogether, he "took the Fifth" in response to a hundred and twenty questions.

Senator Curtis asked him, "Will you advise the committee whether or not you acquired the cash referred to by Mrs. Novak in the course of your duties as secretary to the Majority of the U. S. Senate?" Baker "stood on his previous answer" that is, refused to answer the question.

Later, Curtis inquired, "Mr. Baker, a previous witness, Mr. Hill, testified under oath that he paid to you the sum of $250 for a number of months for the purpose of securing and keeping a contract which his company, the Capitol Vending Company, had with a government-contracting defense plant. Will you advise us whether or not Mr. Hill's testimony is true?"

Baker refused. Still later, Curtis told him: "Now, Mr. Baker, I hope that you will consider this question carefully, and the rights of all people involved. The witness, Mr. Don Reynolds, has testified that he gave to one Lyndon Johnson a hi-fi set costing something over five hundred dollars. Statements have been made elsewhere that you were the giver of the gift. Will you tell this committee whether or not you made that gift?"

Baker refused. Then came a related key question from Senator Curtis:

"Mr. Baker - Mr. Reynolds, while under oath, testified before this committee concerning this hi-fi gift. He produced certain canceled checks and invoices. He also testified that he purchased $1,200 worth of television time on a TV station in A-astin, Texas. My question is: did you have any part in that transaction?"

Baker refused to answer that question, too, and many more.

It became clear in the course of the investigation that Baker's secretary, Nancy Carole Tyler, had assisted Baker in business transactions handled in his office and during his travels; and that she had handled funds involved in these transactions.

Subpoenaed, Tyler was asked by McLendon, the Committee's counsel, certain important questions. Counsel inquired about trips made by Baker to Los Angeles in connection with the business of the Serv-U Corporation; and when Tyler had resigned her position with Baker, secretary to the majority. Tyler refused to answer on the ground that she might incriminate herself.

The Committee learned no more from Carole Tyler; before the investigation ended, Tyler died suddenly and somewhat mysteriously in an airplane crash on the beach near the Carousel Motel, owned by Bobby Baker.

The key witness in the investigation was Don Reynolds, an insurance agent in the Washington area. He and Baker had been friends, and Baker was an officer in Don Reynolds, Inc., although Baker had not supplied any money for the forming ot that company. Reynolds had been associated in, or was familiar with, many of Bobby Baker's transactions that were under investigation. After consulting with his wife and with Senator Williams, Reynolds decided to testify in full, under oath, whenever called upon by the Committee.

Reynolds said that he had sold insurance on the life of Lyndon Baines Johnson in the amount of two hundred thousand dollars; and that he had to make a "kickback" on the premium he received. The transaction with Johnson had been conducted through Walter Jenkins, a close aide to Johnson. (Jenkins later was disgraced by his arrest for soliciting homosexual acts in the men's room at the YMCA, late in 1964.) Baker had arranged Reynolds' appointment with Jenkins. Facing competition, Reynolds had bought $1,208 in advertising on Johnson's television station in Austin; Reynolds had re-sold this advertising contract, losing $1,100 on the deal. (This "kickback" arrangement had occurred while Lyndon Johnson still was senator from Texas.)

"Why did you purchase the television time?" Senator Curtis asked.

Mr. Reynolds: "Mr. Jenkins, in his discussion with me, showed me a letter from Mr. Huff Baines, indicating that if he had the privilege of writing. . .that he would purchase so much advertising time on the local- station, KTBC."

Under more questioning from Curtis, it turned out that Station KTBC, in Austin, was owned by the LBJ Company. Reynolds went on: "And I told him that although I might not be able to do the same as far as dollar volume, that I would do the best I could, consistent with the fact that the contract I had offered him was the most favorable, if you exclude any question of advertising, sir."

Curtis proceeded to obtain from Reynolds the testimony that Walter Jenkins had informed him he was expected to buy advertising from Lyndon Johnson's television station if he wanted the insurance contract. He had sold the contracted advertising time to Albert G. Young, president of Mid-Atlantic Stainless Steel, "because I saw no use whatsoever for Don Reynolds, who was unknown in Texas, sir, to get people to listen to something they had no interest in, nor could they." Walter Jenkins had confirmed this deal by telephone to Young, whose firm sold pots and pans. After Jenkins had called him, Young went to Austin and utilized the advertising facilities of KTBC; this was corroborated by Young's canceled checks, invoices, and correspondence, shown to the Committee.

This testimony obviously alarmed the majority members of the Committee and the Committee's counsel. At the time of this investigation, Lyndon Baines Johnson was President of the United States; Walter Jenkins was one of the President's aides in the White House, handling much of Johnson's private business. Lyndon Baines Johnson had entered Congress a man of very modest means; but by the time he assumed the presidency, he was a very rich man.

A principal source of Johnson's wealth appeared to be the television station he had acquired in Austin. KTCB was the only television station licensed in Austin; and every other city in the United States, the size of Austin, had at least two television stations. Such licenses were issued by the Federal Communications Commission, upon which political influence might be exercised by persons in power not overly scrupulous. How had Johnson and his family obtained a monopoly of Austin television? To what additional awkward testimony about KTCB might the statements of Reynolds and Young lead if this subject should be pursued?

Therefore, in an effort to prevent Walter Jenkins - former Senate employee, now a White House aide-from being called before the Committee to give sworn testimony, Counsel McLendon had Jenkins sign an affidavit: an affidavit unique in that Jenkins swore to the truth of a memorandum which was written by the Committee's chief counsel and chief investigator. This curious memorandum, referring to Jenkins, stated, "Nor does he have any knowledge of any arrangements by which Reynolds purchased advertising time on the TV station. "

Unimpressed by this remarkable document, Senator Curtis further questioned Reynolds. "Well, then," he asked the witness, "do you agree or disagree with this statement of Jenkins that Mr. McLendon, our counsel, has put in the record, as a statement, not of oral testimony but sworn to before a notary public: `Nor does he have any knowledge of any arrangements by which Reynolds purchased advertising time on the TV station.' You would disagree with that?"

Reynolds disagreed completely with the statement. In further testimony, it was learned that Huff Baines, of Austin, Reynolds' alleged competitor for the sale of insurance to Lyndon Baines Johnson, was a cousin of Johnson, and had sold a number of policies on the lives of people connected with the LBJ Company. Even though Reynolds had offered a better insurance contract than Baines had, it appeared, he had been required to provide advertising revenue to the Johnson station and the gift of a high-fidelity set as sweeteners, lest the contract be awarded to kinsman Baines. And Baker had made the deal.

Throughout these hearings, the Republican members of the Committee-Cooper, Scott, and Curtis-repeatedly endeavored to have Walter Jenkins called as a witness. Jenkins had been employed by Johnson for years. It was well established that he had handled many of Johnson's business concerns. The information given to the Committee by Reynolds clearly conflicted with the memorandum to which Jenkins had subscribed.

This could be resolved only by calling Jenkins as a witness. On March 23, 1964, occurred a roll call on the question of calling Jenkins; the vote went along party lines. Why did these six prominent Democratic senators, several of them leaders of their party, vote against hearing and cross-examining Jenkins? After all, this elusive Jenkins had been an employee of the Senate; he enjoyed no senatorial immunity, nor was he the beneficiary of the usual "senatorial courtesy" tradition. The determined and successful fight by the Committee's majority to prevent the receiving of Jenkins' testimony may have been waged not to protect Walter Jenkins or Bobby Baker, but rather Jenkins ' principal - Lyndon B. Johnson.

The purchase of time on the LBJ broadcasting station was not the only kickback required of Don Reynolds for selling insurance on Lyndon Johnson, for Reynolds was requested to provide a hi-fi set for Senator Johnson. Reynolds, questioned by McLendon, stated that he had bought a Magnavox stereo set, costing him $584.75, and installed it in Senator Johnson's Washington residence (also paying for the installation) in 1959. But Mrs. Johnson had found the set unsatisfactory: it did not fit the space for which she had intended it. In response to questioning from two Democratic senators, Reynolds made it clear that Bobby Baker had told him to give the set to Senator Johnson, and that Johnson knew Reynolds to be the donor.

At a news conference, Johnson had told a reporter that the set was a gift from Bobby Baker. There were two witnesses who might clear up the questions as to whether the set was given by Baker or whether it was an obligation put upon Reynolds for his opportunity to sell life insurance to Johnson. Those two witnesses were Baker and Jenkins. Baker took the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify on the ground that he might be incriminated. Walter Jenkins, protected by the Committee's majority, was not called to testify.

Later that year, in the closing days of the JohnsonGoldwater race for the presidency, television technicians in Los Angeles wore a large round button, on which was inscribed the legend, "Johnson, Baker, Jenkins. The family that plays together stays together. "

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Carl T. Curtis, Forty Years Against the Tide (1986)

Master Builders, Vending Machines, and Motels (pages 255-259)

In terms of money, the affair of the hi-fi was a small matter by the side of the scandal about the construction of the stadium in the District of Columbia. Its builder was Matthew McCloskey, treasurer of the Democratic Party for a long period, and at the time of this investigation the ambassador to Ireland. Bobby Baker and Don Reynolds had been involved in the stadium scandal, as had been William McLeod, at that time clerk of the District of Columbia Committee of the House of Representatives. That Committee handled the legislation required for the building of the stadium.

Questioned by McLendon, Don Reynolds revealed that in the spring of 1960 he had participated in a meeting at Bobby Baker's office, called by Baker, attended also by McCloskey, McLeod, and Congressman John M. McMillan. McCloskey received the contract for the stadium, and Reynolds, as a broker, wrote the bond for the contract, with a premium on the bond of $73,631. Reynolds' commission on this performance bond was slightly more than ten thousand dollars. Shortly thereafter, Reynolds paid Bobby Baker the sum of four thousand dollars, "in compensation for his services in connection with the procurement of that bond." In addition, Reynolds was billed by William McLeod, clerk of the House District of Columbia Committee, for "legal services" in connection with the bond, for the sum of $1,500, which Reynolds paid. The two clerks for Senate and House did well out of the bond contract for the stadium, with the knowledge of the contractor and a member of the House.

So the minority on the investigating committee pressed for calling Ambassador McCloskey to testify. He would be asked to give his version of that meeting in Baker's Capitol office; and why the performance bond for the stadium was handled by Reynolds as broker, when the firm actually acting as agent for the bond was Hutchinson, Rivinus, and Company, with which Matthew McCloskey's son-in-law was associated. He would have been asked, too, what he knew about Reynolds' kickback of four thousand dollars to Baker, and about other kickbacks, including the payment by Reynolds to McLeod. McCloskey had erected many other costly government buildings; he would ' have been asked what dealings, if any, he had had with Baker, or any other Senate employee, or any senator or former senator, in connection with other government contracts for construction.

Senator Curtis asked that McCloskey be called. The Committee's chairman responded, after discussion, "Well, I'm going to be forced to rule that it is not pertinent to what we are doing here and we pass to the next one and we call the roll on this." The three minority senators voted to call Matthew McCloskey; the six Democrats voted against it. McCloskey did not testify at that time.

That stadium cost the government a great deal of money; the total bill came to nearly twenty million dollars. Bobby Baker obtained his share.

Throughout the period we have been discussing, Baker, through his Senate employment and the influence it brought him, was amassing a fortune in his Capitol office. Federal departments, officers in the executive branch, senators and their staffs-all took it that Bobby Baker was speaking as agent for the majority leader of the Senate, Lyndon Johnson. Never was any notice given that Baker might not be speaking for his employer. It was obvious that he could prevail upon government offices to grant licenses and permits, or to enter into contracts, because he spoke as secretary of the Senate-not as a mere private citizen.

So great a dignitary as Bobby Baker found numerous opportunities-and varied ones-to enrich himself. Consider vending machines.

During and after the Second World War, the vendingmachine business had grown a great deal. Machines were installed in factories with thousands of employees, and sold cold drinks, coffee, sandwiches, and candy; also hot chocolate. Factory management would contract with a vending company for the installation of machines. If Bobby Baker were to say a good word to a manufacturing company with government contracts, to the effect that the company would do well to place a vending contract with certain persons, his influence would be felt.

The Committee's investigation of Baker had been initiated because of the suit of one Ralph Hill, proprietor of the Capitol Vending Machine Company, against Baker. Testimony taken by the Committee-Counsel McLendon asking the questions-shows how the secretary to the Senate operated.

Hill testified that Bobby Baker, in February, 1962, had taken the initiative in this vending-machine affair by asking Hill to meet at the University Club with him and Eugene Hancock, who was involved in the vending business in Florida. At that rendezvous, Baker asked Hill to take Hancock to the firm of Melpar, Inc., near Four Corners, Virginia. Hill had not previously visited the premises of Melpar, nor did he know any of that firm's officers. Complying, Hill and Hancock were received at Melpar by a man named Bostick, Melpar's president, and Bostick's assistant, a man named Weid.

Bostick told his guests that he had promised Bobby Baker a contract; and he instructed Weid to show the visitors anything pertaining to this vending contract. This contract was with Baker himself, not with a friend of Baker. A local vending company, at the time, was serving Melpar with vending machines.

On their way back to Washington, Hancock told Hill that his own firm would not be interested in contracting with a small company like Melpar: "They were interested in big things, like North American." Hill was given to understand that the door was left wide open for Hill himself to make a proposal for a Melpar contract, perhaps without having to compete in bidding with the local vending firm, G. B. Macke.

Hill did make a proposal from his Capitol Vending to Melpar; it was accepted by Melpar on March 23, 1962. And soon Hill learned that he was required to make a cash payment to Bobby Baker, who in person told him, "if the contract was valu able to us, we were making money out of it, and he wanted a thousand dollars a month. And so we argued back and forth, and we settled for $250." This monthly tribute, in small bills, Hill delivered personally to Baker in his office, "usually having to wait for him." Baker regularly counted the money in Hill's presence to make sure that other people were honest.

But Hill's Capitol Vending received some compensation for this additional cost of doing business. Through Baker's intervention, Melpar found it expedient to grant to Capitol Vending what they had refused to grant before: a price increase at the plant for drinks from the machines, five to ten cents; and authorization to install hot chocolate in the machines. Thus, in effect, the employees at Melpar paid for Bobby Baker's monthly retainer. To parody a children's Sunday-school song, "Hear the nickels dropping, listen as they fall; Every one for Bobby's sake; he will keep them all."

Capitol Vending's increase of net income because of this plum amounted to more than two thousand dollars a month. Baker then inquired of Hill, "Now, do I get my thousand dollars a month?" After bargaining, Hill agreed to pay Baker thereafter $650 monthly.

But Baker was dissatisfied with such small potatoes from Capitol Vending; there were bigger fish to fry. Baker proceeded to organize himself a new vending-machine firm, the Serv-U Company. Quite promptly, Serv-U ousted the existing machine vendor at the North American Aviation Company, in California. This was accomplished when Serv-U had no contract anywhere else, and indeed did not own a single machine or a single sandwich. But we will turn to that contract later; just now we continue with Hill's account of the Melpar contract.

In reply to McLendon's questions, Hill related that about the first week of April, 1963, Baker telephoned him that Capitol Vending was about to lose the Melpar contract; Serv-U would replace Capitol at Melpar. A meeting followed, at which Baker informed Hill "at least ten or fifteen times," obdurately, "You are going to lose Melpar. Mr. Bostick doesn't like you." Serv-U, supplanting Capitol, would try to pay Capitol some compensation.

The testimony was clear that Baker himself placed the Melpar contract for Hill's company, and that Baker was able to obtain price increases and other concessions for Hill after nobody else had been able to persuade Melpar to raise machine prices to its employees. (A previously-refused concession to vend hot chocolate tasted particularly sweet to Hill.) What hold Baker had on Melpar and Bostick never was made wholly clear, except that Melpar profited from government contracts.

Curtis questioned Hill: "So Mr. Baker gave and Mr. Baker took away: Is that right? He was the one you got the contract through originally? ...And the first word that you were going to lose it came from Baker?"

"Correct," said Hill, in response to both inquiries.

The ingenious Baker was carrying on many activities. He was in the real-estate business, and one of the people involved in building the Carousel Motel at Ocean City, Maryland (where later Carole Tyler came to her violent end). Baker's partners in the Carousel venture were two brothers named Novak.

When funds were required for the purchase of land and for construction, often Baker would produce the money in cash. Mrs. Gertrude Novak, whose late husband had been Baker's partner, testified to the Committee that she frequently would obtain funds from Baker to pay current bills for the Carousel project. She stated that she was frightened by the large sums of money handed to her, usually in hundred-dollar bills. On one occasion, twelve thousand dollars in hundred-dollar bills was handed to her at Baker's office. Miscounting, Baker gave Mrs. Novak almost a thousand dollars too much. Carole Tyler, Baker's secretary, put the surplus back into a filing drawer.

"Music is supplied by the ringing of the telephone; ...from government department to sherry party glides the contact-man, at once the product and the safety valve of this grotesque civilization."

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Carl T. Curtis, Forty Years Against the Tide (1986)

The Investigation Revived (pages 260-268)

The investigation of Bobby Baker had begun late in October, 1963. By March, 1964, the six Democrats on the Committee had determined that the investigation must end. Until that month they never had called a single witness requested by the minority members. Senator Hugh Scott, addressing the Senate on March 16, 1964, put the situation well: "The majority members of the committee have been on the brink of ending the investigation as soon as they thought they could do so without incurring the wrath of the American public."

Concerning this question, a most interesting meeting of the Committee was held on March 13. Senator Curtis offered, in the record, a letter signed by the three minority members, which he had delivered to the Committee's chairman on March 9. In this communication, the minority asked that more witnesses be called. Three of these proposed witnesses were Senate employees: Margaret Broome, Rein J. Vander Zee, and Jessop McDonnell, closely associated with Baker in his duties. Other witnesses asked for were people who had business transactions with Baker, or who were officers or partners in Baker's several enterprises: they were Matthew McCloskey, Max Kampelman, Paul Aguirre, Warren Neil, Charles Baker, Nick Popich, and two men connected with Riddle Airlines.

In connection with Reynolds' disputed testimony and the refusal of Baker to testify, the minority asked that Walter Jenkins and George Sampson also be called.

Curtis then asked that a copy of the affidavit of Milton Hauft, of March 12, 1964, be placed in the record. At this point McLendon, nominally counsel for the Committee but more realistically counsel for the majority, declared, "Mr. Chairman, I do not think that affidavit ought to go in the record."

Curtis replied, "I'll read in the record," to which McLendon responded, "Wait a minute!" There followed a lively discussion, in which Curtis challenged the right of a Senate employee to overrule a senator. Insisting, Curtis began to read. The Chairman said "Wait a minute," to which Curtis answered, "I am on the record;" and to the reporter, "You take this down." He then succeeded in reading the affidavit:

"I, Milton L. Hauft, living at 3801 Archer Place, Kensington, Maryland, do give this affidavit to Senator John J. Williams, of Delaware, of my own free will.

"On this date I was called to the Internal Revenue Service to give information relative to tax returns I had prepared for Robert G. Baker.

"During the course of presenting the information in my possession, I was questioned about some partnership tax returns prepared for the Carousel Motel. During the course of my association with Mr. Baker, I had never prepared any returns for the Carousel Motel. When presented with the return by the Internal Revenue Service, I noted that the signatures purported to be mine were forgeries.

"As a result of this, I went back to the personal returns for Mr. Baker prepared by me, and on looking at the signatures on these returns I noted that the signatures as to the person preparing those returns were also forgeries and were not my signature.

"This was reported immediately to the investigators of the Internal Revenue Service, and samples and specimens of my handwriting were also presented to them for matching purposes."

This disclosure of tax-evasion and forgery set the Committee's majority back on their heels. Some twelve hours after Counsel McLendon had received a copy of the Hauft affidavit, he delivered a report to the Committee, setting forth the plan of the majority to end the investigation. McLendon's sentences seem wondrously inappropriate:

"I think two conclusions may be drawn from this extensive investigation. First, it is highly unlikely that any additional evidence can be found materially differing from the type of evidence already placed in the record of the committee's hearings; and second, that it is a reasonable certainty that any additional evidence which can be produced will be repetitive and cumulative. If evidence differing substantially from the pattern of evidence already presented is in evidence, surely it would have been discovered in the course of the investigation." McLendon concluded by recommending that investigations into the activities of past or present Senate employees should cease, and that the Committee's staff immediately begin to prepare the Committee's report to the Senate.

A Committee meeting was to be held to consider McLendon's recommendations. It turned out that Chairman Jordan already had prepared an advance news-release, to be issued after the anticipated meeting had concluded. The six Democratic senators seemed determined to close their eyes and ears to any additional evidence, though they had called not one witness requested by the minority. That abortive news-release -as matters turned out, never issued-stated that "the committee voted 6 to 3 to follow Major McLendon's recommendations."

On the Senate floor, Senator Scott commented concerning this: "How clearly this proves that the evidence offered by minority senators over a three-hour period had been rejected before they had even been heard!"

After controversy arose in the Committee hearing on March 13, Counsel McLendon added these words to his recommendation: "...except as to the matter relating to Mr. Hauft's affidavit presented to the committee on this date...."

The investigation did not terminate quite so abruptly as Counsel McLendon desired. Curtis, leaving a closed session of the Committee's meeting, had read to the press McLendon's recommendation that the investigation be terminated and the staff disbanded. That gave the majority pause; and rather than dissolving itself, the Committee proceeded to consider whether it should receive testimony from those additional witnesses named by the minority.

In the course of this heated meeting, the question of what testimony is relevant was discussed. Rule 19 provided that if any member of the Committee should request the appearance of a particular witness, that witness should be called unless the chairman of the Committee should find the proposed testimony to be irrelevant; if he should so find, there must be a vote of the members.

It will be recalled that Bobby Baker, in his refusal to testify, argued that the investigation had no legislative purpose, and therefore he did not have to produce his records. The minority members of the Committee had pointed out repeatedly that although there are court decisions to the effect that a congressional committee does not have the power to expose for exposure's sake, and that such committees are limited to taking testimony that may serve a legislative purpose, this Baker case was different.

For whether or not the Baker investigation might lead to legislation, the purpose of the investigation was to investigate wrongdoing among senatorial employees, and possibly among senators. Congress possesses the unchallenged power to determine its own procedures and to clean its own house. The Senate had directed its Committee on Rules and Administration to look into wrongdoing within the Senate's own immediate jurisdiction. Therefore the testimony of any witness who might know about malfeasance in office would be relevant testimony. The court decisions about calling citizens to appear before congressional committees were intended as protections against general "fishing expeditions" by such committees; those decisions did not apply to congressional management of Congress' own immediate internal concerns. Investigations of that sort may have no legislative purpose in view, and yet be proper and necessary investigations.

Let us look at these witnesses whom the minority on the Committee wished to have called to testify-and whom the majority of senators on the Committee wished not to hear.

Mrs. Margaret Broome had served as Bobby Baker's secretary before that position was taken by the pretty and ill-fated Carole Tyler. The record clearly indicated that some of Baker's transactions requiring investigation had taken place while Mrs. Broome had been Baker's secretary. At its meeting on March 23, the six majority members of the Comittee voted not to hear Mrs. Broome's testimony, and the three minority members to hear her. Mrs. Broome was excluded.

The next witness-name on the list was that of Rein Vander Zee, who had been employed by the Senate in various capacities for some years. He had been assistant to Bobby Baker when Baker had been secretary to the Majority, maintaining a desk in the outer office of Baker's Capitol suite. In his statement, Vander Zee revealed that he had seen Don Reynolds in Baker's office; that he had been in Baker's house often; that he had attended a gathering in the home of Carole Tyler, who had lived in a house provided by Bobby Baker. Vander Zee also acknowledged that he was acquainted with Ralph Hill, had lunched with him, and had discussed with Hill the vending business and the Serv-U Corporation. Members of the Committee were aware that Vander Zee had discussed with other senatorial employees problems that had arisen about their pay and alleged kickbacks; and that Vander Zee knew of many telephone calls by Baker, and had traveled with the Baker crowd to the opening of Baker's motel at Ocean City.

Nevertheless, Chairman Jordan ruled Vander Zee's testimony irrelevant; and the majority of the Committee sustained Senator Jordan. Six to three, the Vander Zee testimony was excluded.

The next witness considered was Jessop McDonnell. Senator Cooper pointed out that McDonnell had said he had disliked Baker's way of doing things, and had been fired as an assistant to Baker. McDonnell desired to appear before the Committee. Jordan ruled McDonnell's testimony irrelevant, without troubling to learn what that testimony might be, and was sustained, six votes to three. McDonnell was excluded.

Matthew McCloskey, who had built the stadium and become ambassador to Ireland, had been mentioned repeatedly in Reynolds' testimony. During discussion of whether McCloskey should be called as a witness, it was disclosed that the cost of the stadium had been fixed in 1957 at six million dollars; but that a year later Congress had passed a bill removing this cost-ceiling. The stadium contract had been awarded to McCloskey's company in August, 1960. McCloskey's low bid had been fourteen million dollars, but plan changes raised costs by three million dollars; so payments to McCloskey had brought the total cost of the stadium to nearly twenty million dollars. Regardless, McCloskey was excluded from testifying, six to three.

The next possible witness was Paul Aguirre, who had traveled with Baker. They went together to New Orleans, where they looked into the possibility of participating in a housing development. They had stopped to look at a plot of land near the Shamrock Hotel, Houston. Also they had considered together a proposal for setting up trailer parks. Information had been given to the Committee that Baker had intervened on Aguirre's behalf with reference to a matter before the Federal Housing Administration. Aguirre's statement to the investigators informed the Committee that he met Baker, Carole Tyler, and Elli Rometsch, the party girl. Chairman Jordan ruled all this not pertinent to the Committee's business. Five to four, Aguirre was excluded as a witness. Incidentally, Aguirre had declared that had he been asked anything about what had taken place in New Orleans, he would have taken all the constitutional amendments, from the First to the Twenty-Eighth. (In the case of Aguirre, Senator Byrd voted with the Republican members of the Committee.)

Then the Committee discussed the possibility of calling Warren Neil as a witness. Baker and Neil had been close friends. Neil had resided in Puerto Rico, and always had looked up Baker on trips to Washington. Neil had been Baker's host in a company apartment in Puerto Rico. Along with Aguirre, Neil had endeavored to find money from the labor unions to finance some of Baker's projects. Neil had conferred with Baker on means of reaching certain union leaders. Also Neil and Baker had talked about establishing a title-insurance company in Puerto Rico. Chairman Jordan ruled testimony by Neil irrelevant, and was sustained, six votes to three. Neil was excluded.

What about Nick Popich, of New Orleans? He and Baker had been together several times, and had made many telephone calls to each other: the Committee had such information. Popich owned, among other things, a New Orleans restaurant, and was involved in constructing a pipeline in Washington. Baker was involved in an organization called the Pansatic Corporation. Popich had sent a thousand dollars in payment for stock in that corporation. The money had been returned to Popich; Counsel McLendon said that evidence suggested that the Pansatic stockholders didn't want Popich. Senator Curtis inquired whether this was because of Popich's bad reputation; McLendon replied that this was implied. The Committee's minority believed that Popich's testimony might bear on reports that "hot" money from gamblers and underworld characters had been funneled through Baker. Chairman Jordan held testimony by Popich irrelevant, and was sustained five to four, Senator Byrd again voting with the minority. Popich was excluded.

Walter Jenkins' testimony was more needed, in the opinion of the minority, than that of any other possible witness. Reynolds and Young had testified to Jenkins' participation in the kickback for sale of insurance policies to Lyndon Johnson. Only the testimony of Jenkins might have refuted that of Don Reynolds. Senator John Sherman Cooper, once a Kentucky judge, with much knowledge of the law and a judicial temperament, made a strong statement as to why Jenkins should be called as a witness. Nevertheless, the Committee voted six to three not to call him. Jenkins was excluded.

The next day, the Committee denied, six to three, a motion to recall Don Reynolds as witness. His testimony had been given earlier in executive session, not in public session; it was highly important testimony, worth reviewing in the light of testimony by others. Reynolds had been subjected to repeated attacks by the Committee's majority. Reynolds was excluded.

Now the minority sought to call Max Kampelman, a former Senate employee, friend to Baker. He was one of the founders and organizers of the District of Columbia National Bank. Baker had subscribed to 1,700 shares in that undertaking, and had been allocated 1,500. Baker's stock was in Baker's name, but he had purchased a third of it for Fred Black, who had been involved with Baker in several transactions, among them the Serv-U Corporation. Another third of the Baker stock was for Edward Levinson, of Las Vegas, who took the Fifth Amendment; and the remaining third was for Benjamin S. Siegelbaum, of Miami, who also pleaded that he would not testify because he might incriminate himself. From this District of Columbia National Bank, Baker had borrowed $125,000 on an unsecured note. Testimony showed that Max Kampelman knew about this loan; Kampelman was counsel to the Bank, and a director. Baker had asked Kampelman how he, Baker, might buy stock in this bank. But the Chairman ruled that Kampelman should not be called, and was sustained by a vote of five to four, Senator Byrd voting with the minority. Kampelman was excluded.

Then the name of Deane Beman was proposed as a witness. Senator Curtis said, "According to the committee counsel, the witness Hill had a conversation with Beman in which Beman was alleged to have said that he knew how Hill got the contract with Melpar. Beman refused to talk to our investigator. There was valid reason for our investigator going to see him. His testimony was both relevant and needed." Senator Cannon, acting as chairman, ruled that Beman's testimony would be irrelevant. Six to three, the chair was sustained. Beman was excluded.

Should not Paul Ferrero be called to testify? Senator Scott put the case: "We have an interview on Mr. Ferrero which I would like to see. He is the Deputy Commissioner, Federal Housing Administration, who was called by Mr. Baker on behalf of Aguirre to obtain approval of a project in which Mr. Aguirre was interested, and I believe Mr. Ferrero either ruled against it or informed Mr. Baker that there was a ruling against it. I think his testimony would be interesting and valuable as showing whether Mr. Baker sought to influence Mr. Ferrero's decision, whether Mr. Baker's approach to him was on behalf of a client or whether it was made as secretary to the majority. We are investigating, among other things here, the improper use of influence...." Counsel McLendon advised Senator Cannon, in the chair, that Ferrero's testimony would not be material. Five to three (Senator Byrd not voting), Ferrero was excluded.

Baker had been involved in Hampco (Haitian-American Meat Provision Company), a firm exporting meat from Haiti to Puerto Rico. Hampco was owned by the Murchison interest, headed by Clinton Murchison, Jr., of Dallas and New York. Strong evidence existed to the effect that Bobby Baker had negotiated with the Department of Agriculture in connection with Hampco's application for authorization to ship meat to Puerto Rico; also that Baker had received substantial sums of money through the good offices of the Murchison interest, amounting in one year to eight or nine thousand dollars. The instrument for this payment had been a kickback commission from a William E. Kentor, of the Packers Provision Company, Inc., a Chicago firm. Baker's law partner gave evidence that Baker himself got all the money from this Hampco transaction. The Committee's investigators could find no substantial services rendered by Baker to Hampco.

Was the Hampco kickback to Baker payment for the use of his influence with the Department of Agriculture? Or might it have amounted to payment by Murchison to Baker for some other mysterious favor extended by Baker to the Murchison interest?

At last the Committee agreed to hear the testimony of William E. Kentor, who had purchased meat from Hampco. On all meat delivered to him by Hampco, Kentor said at the Committee hearing, Kentor had agreed to pay a half-cent per pound to a law firm known as Baker and Tucker, in Washington. This agreement had been negotiated in Haiti with a Marshall Dancy, representing Hampco.

At this testimony, the Committee's minority pressed for calling Marshall Dancy as a witness, so that they might explore this odd Baker transaction. The Chairman held that Dancy's testimony would be irrelevant. Five to three, Senator Byrd again not voting, the chair was sustained. Dancy was excluded.

Here testimony at the Committee's hearings ended. The numerous additional witnesses sought by the minority had been weighed in the balance by the majority and found irrelevant, or else not considered at all. Much evidence had been covered up.

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