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AP WAS THERE: Uncovering Lyndon B Johnson's Stolen Election

ALICE, Texas (AP) — In 1977, Related Press reporter James W. Mangan’s unique interview with a South Texas election pass judgement on who detailed certifying false votes for Lyndon B. Johnson just about 3 a long time previous made headlines around the nation.

With the win via an 87-vote margin within the 1948 Democratic number one runoff, Johnson, then a congressman, simply defeated his Republican opponent to sit within the U.S. Senate, and he ultimately ascended to the presidency.

Mangan spent 3 years pursuing the tale, which pulled again the curtain at the victory that had drawn suspicions ever since election officers in rural Jim Wells County introduced the invention of uncounted votes in poll field referred to as Field 13.

Headlines around the U.S. that accompanied the tale incorporated: “Polling Legit: Phony Votes Stole ’48 Runoff for LBJ”; “LBJ’s election to Senate ‘stolen’”; “Texan Claims Repair in LBJ Election.”

This is the tale that ran July 31, 1977:

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A former Texas balloting legitimate looking for “peace of thoughts” says he qualified sufficient fictitious ballots to thieve an election 29 years in the past and release Lyndon B. Johnson on a trail that resulted in the presidency.

The remark comes from Luis Salas, who was once the election pass judgement on for Jim Wells County’s infamous Field 13, which produced simply sufficient votes within the 1948 Texas Democratic number one runoff to offer Johnson the nomination, then tantamount to election, to the U.S. Senate.

“Johnson didn’t win the election; It was once stolen for him. And I do know precisely the way it was once accomplished,” stated Salas, now a lean, white-haired 76; then a swarthy 210-pound political henchman with absolute say over vote counts in his Mexican-American, South Texas, precinct.

The debate over that runoff election has been a topic of tantalizing conjecture for almost 3 a long time, ever since U.S. Excellent Court docket Justice Hugo Black unexpectedly halted an investigation, however the principals were silent. George B. Parr, the South Texas political boss whom Salas served for a decade, shot himself to loss of life in June 1975. Johnson is lifeless and so is his opponent. Salas, retired from his railroad telegrapher’s process, is one of the few dwelling individuals with direct wisdom of the election.

Johnson’s widow, Woman Fowl, was once knowledgeable of Salas’ statements and stated via a spokeswoman that she “is aware of not more about the main points of the 1948 election rather then that fees have been made on the time, carried via a number of courts and in any case to a justice on the Excellent Court docket.”

The Related Press interviewed Salas continuously all through the previous 3 years, looking for solutions to questions that, save for rumors, have been left unanswered. Handiest not too long ago did Salas agree to inform his complete model of what came about. In his cushy Spanish accessory, Salas stated that he made up our minds to wreck his silence in search of “peace of thoughts and to give away to the folks the corruption of politics.”

Salas says now that he lied all through an aborted investigation of the election in 1948, when he testified that the vote depend was once right kind and above board. “I used to be simply going in conjunction with my celebration,” he says.

He advised the AP that Parr ordered that 200-odd votes be added to Johnson’s overall from Field 13. Salas stated he noticed the fraudulent votes added in alphabetical order after which qualified them as original on orders from Parr.

The general statewide depend, together with Field 13 votes, gave Johnson an 87-vote margin in a complete tally coming near 1 million and earned him the tongue-in-cheek nickname: “Landslide Lyndon.”

Texas Democrats have been cut up in 1948. Johnson, then 39, a congressman, represented “new” Democrats in his bid for the U.S. Senate. His number one opponent was once Coke R. Stevenson — 60 years outdated, thrice Texas governor, by no means overwhelmed and the candidate of the “outdated” wing of the celebration. They known as him “Calculating Coke.”

The vote within the July number one was once Stevenson 477,077, Johnson 405,617. However a 3rd candidate, George Petty, siphoned off sufficient votes to disclaim Stevenson a majority, forcing a runoff between Stevenson and Johnson, set for Aug. 28, 1948.

In the intervening time, Johnson intensified his marketing campaign. One of the vital puts he went stumping was once the new, flat, brush nation of South Texas, George B. Parr nation, the place the Mexican-American vote gave the impression all the time to return, favoring Parr’s candidate, in a bloc.

The ability had handed to Parr from his father, Archie, a state senator who had sided with Mexican-American citizens in a 1912 fight with Anglos over political regulate in Duval County. The more youthful Parr was once referred to as the “Duke of Duval.”

Salas stated he was once Parr’s right-hand guy in Jim Wells County from 1940 to 1950, however surrender over Parr’s failure to improve a fellow Mexican-American who have been charged with homicide.

“We had the legislation to ourselves there,” Salas stated. “It was once a lawless son-of-a-bitch. We had iron regulate. If a person was once adversarial to us, we might put him into bankruptcy. Parr was once the godfather. He had lifestyles or loss of life regulate.

“Lets inform any election pass judgement on: ‘Give us 80 in line with cent of the vote, the opposite man 20 in line with cent.’ We had it made in each and every election.”

The evening of the runoff, Jim Wells County’s vote was once stressed to the Texas Election Bureau, the unofficial tabulating company: Johnson 1,786, Stevenson 769.

3 days after the runoff, with Stevenson narrowly main and the seesaw depend just about entire, Salas stated, a gathering was once known as in Parr’s workplace 10 miles from Alice. Salas stated he met with George B. Parr; Lyndon Johnson; Ed Lloyd, a Jim Wells County Democratic Govt Committee member; and Bruce Ainsworth, an Alice town commissioner. Lloyd and Ainsworth like Johnson and Parr, now are lifeless.

“Lyndon Johnson stated: ‘If I will be able to get 200 extra votes, I’ve were given it gained.’

“Parr stated to me in Spanish: ‘We wish to win this election. I need you so as to add the ones 200 votes.’ I had already grew to become in my ballot and tally sheets to Givens Parr, George’s brother.

“I advised Parr in Spanish: ‘I don’t give a rattling if Johnson wins.’”

“Parr then stated: ‘Neatly, needless to say you’re going to certify what we do.”

“I advised him I’d, as a result of I did not need any one to assume I am not backing up my celebration. I stated I’d be with the celebration to the top. After Parr I and I talked in Spanish, Parr advised Johnson 200 votes can be added. Once I left, Johnson knew we have been going to deal with the placement.”

Salas stated he noticed two males upload the names to the record of electorate, about 9 o’clock at evening, within the Adams Construction in Alice. He stated the 2 have been simply following orders and he would no longer establish them.

The AP interview then produced this trade:

Q. While you advised Parr you might certify the votes, he stated he would get any individual else to in reality upload the names?

A. Yeah. And I in reality noticed them do it. I used to be appropriate there once they added the names.

Q. Had been all 200 names in the similar handwriting?

A. Oh, yeah. All of them got here from the ballot taxes, I imply, from the ballot tax sheet.

A. No person was once lifeless. They simply did not vote.

A. I qualified. So did the Democratic County chairman. I stored my phrase to be dependable to my celebration.

Q. Had a few of the ones names already voted?

A. No, they did not vote in that election. They added ’em. They made a mistake of doing it alphabetically.

Q. They added them alphabetically, as regardless that they’d walked in to vote alphabetically?

A. Yeah, that is what I advised George B., and he would not concentrate to me. I stated: ‘Take a look at the A, you upload 10 or 12 names on that letter. Why don’t you exchange it to the opposite, C or D or X, combine ‘em up?’ George stated, ‘That’s all appropriate.’ George was once cussed. He would no longer concentrate to any one. But it surely was once silly. They went to the ballot tax record and were given the ones names. For example, at the A they were given 10 or 12 names.

Q. Individuals who had no longer voted?

A. That is appropriate. they went at the B the similar method, till they entire 200, and I advised George, ‘That’s improper.’

Q. Whilst they have been doing it you advised him?

A. Yeah, and he stated: ‘It’s OK.’

Q. They will have to have modified the handwriting?

A. How? Handiest two guys? How they going to modify it? The attorneys noticed it in an instant, they positive did.

Six days after the runoff, with Stevenson nonetheless retaining a slim lead within the statewide depend, a 2d telegram was once despatched, converting Jim Wells County’s vote to: Johnson 1,988, Stevenson, 770.

Johnson won 202 votes; Stevenson 1. They got here from Field 13.

Tomorrow, the legitimate statewide vote canvass gave Johnson 494,191 and Stevenson 494,104.

Stevenson protested. Johnson stated that if Stevenson had proof, it was once his responsibility to visit a grand jury. “I do know that I didn’t purchase any one’s vote,” Johnson stated.

Stevenson went to federal courtroom in Citadel Price and, on Sept. 14, Pass judgement on T. Whitfield Davidson signed a brief restraining order forbidding certification of Johnson because the Democratic nominee. The pass judgement on ordered an on-the-spot probe of balloting in Jim Wells County.

When that inquiry started, on Sept. 27, journalists from across the nation confirmed up in Alice. By means of then it was once nationwide information.

The similar day, in Washington, U.S. Excellent Court docket Justice Black agreed to listen to Johnson’s petition to boost the injection. Johnson’s lawyer was once Abe Fortas, in later years a Johnson appointee to the top courtroom.

Stevenson was once in Alice that day; Johnson was once on President Harry S. Truman’s marketing campaign teach. All the way through a marketing campaign forestall in Temple, Tex., Truman introduced Johnson to his facet and publicly recommended him as the following senator from Texas. Additionally at the teach at San Antonio that day, in line with Salas, have been Parr, who had won a presidential pardon from Truman in 1946 after serving 9 months on an source of revenue tax conviction, and Lloyd, the Jim Wells County govt committeeman.

Salas advised the AP he was once summoned the next day to come via Lloyd and advised: “Luis, the whole lot is all appropriate. We talked to Truman at the teach. Do not be concerned in regards to the investigation.”

Two days later, Justice Black, in an order he dated himself in longhand, voided the transient injunction towards placing Johnson’s title at the poll and ended the investigation. Black stated, “It could be a major smash with the previous” for a federal courtroom to resolve an election contest.

Stevenson had misplaced; Johnson had gained.

That ended Stevenson’s political occupation. He retired to his Hill Nation ranch, insisting till he died in 1975 that the election have been stolen from him. Johnson changed into an influence in Congress, and 15 years later he was once president.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material is probably not printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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