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Staff Photo L. V. RUFFIN, land promoter who has figured prominently in public testimony in the veterans’ land investigation, stands in front of his real estate and insurance office in Brady on the street floor of the Brady Hotel. RUFFIN IS ‘GOAT,’ TWO SOURCES SAY The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth. Thoreau Ers. George W, Haggard 2.56 1507 Hardouin Austin, Texas a l l4 i irXaS 1\(1[41a 111711:1117 An Independent Liberal Weekly Newspaper We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. VOL. 46 JANUARY 31, 1955 AUSTIN, TEXAS NO. 42 Veterans Land S andal BRADY. Jan. 31L. V, Ruffin is a trader. 4 He is mildly proud of the fact that the folks around Brady think of him as a man you have to watch or he’ll outwit you before dawn. Shivers Unsure On Ike in ’56 But Is ‘Very Fond’ Of President, He Says AUSTIN, Jan. 31While he is “very fond” of President Eisenhower, Governor Shivers says that he does not know now whether he will back the President for re-election in 1956. “It would depend on a lot of things,” he told Washington newsmen when he was questioned after lunching with Eisenhower at the White House. People here are wondering about the answer with which Shivers parried one questioner who asked, “who is your candidate for Governor” in the 1956 election in Texas. The Associated Press from Washington reported that Shivers replied with a laugh: “I am only interested in one candidate Shivers.” “Does that mean you are going to run again?” the reporter asked. “I didn’.t say that,” Shivers replied. Senator Price Daniel has indicated a willingness to return to Texas and run for Governor, leaving two years of his present Senate term incomplete, if a majority of the people want him to do so. Talk has been current that Shivers might back Daniel for Governor and run for the Senate himself. On the Eisenhower question, the Governor said he is “very fond of the President and I think he has had an excellent recordgood for the country.” W. A. Blakely, a Dallas lawyer, joined Shivers and Eisenhower at lunch. Jack Dillard, an administrative assistant to the Governor, accompanied Shivers to Washington, where they attended .a meeting of the President’s Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Press reports have indieated. on the basis of testim, froiik, State Auditor C. H. Caw hat Ruffin made $310,694 in a Series of group land sales to the Veterans’ Land Board. Ruffin has denied he made that kind of money, and it now appears that some of the money went into overhead and some to other persons in the deals. In Austin, a source on the House Military a n d Veterans’ Affairs Committee says that Ruffin apparently is supposed to be “the fall guy.” A man who grew up with him, C. N. Bell, now in the feed store business, says in Brady: “L. V. Ruffin is being made the goat by someone else. It’s going on both in Austin and here. He’s an innocent victim of politics.” Right now, the 35-year-old Ruffin isn’t talking. He is one of four persons in the veterans’ land scandal who have invoked the state constitutional provision protecting anyone from being compelled to testify against himself in a criminal prosecution. Ruffin is willing to tell his story fully when the time comes, it is indicated, but his lawyer, Sam McCollum III, has advised him to wait for that time. Ruffin grew up in Brady. He has never been in trouble with the law except for some traffic tickets. He used to break broncs on a nearby ranch. Married now, with a couple of little girls, he’s come up by a mixture of workin’ and swappin’. People around here say he’s a good guybut sharp. Ruffin has a cigarbox full of medals the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Presidential Citation, and clusters. He was one of the pilots who flew across “the hump” between China and India, ferrying gasoline and food into the Assam Valley of China. In a public statement, he denied that he had made the much publicized profit”I’ve never seen that kind of money,” he said. He said he did not recruit the veterans who signed the papers that made the group land transactions. “There you couldn’t turn around in my office.” Through the Maze Details recorded by reporters from testimony of state officials at the Senate hearings on the veterans’ land program afford this view of some of the activities of the principals: T. J. McLarty, Cuero, sold land to a corporation of which he was president for $288,000. The corporation then sold it to the state program for $511,450 for re-sale to eterans, it was said. C. 0. Hagan, Yoakum, sold land to two corporations under investigation, and they then resold it to the state program. C. L. Carey, president of both corporations, was said to be Hagan’s former book-keeper in a tomato packing plant in Yoakum. Cletus Ernster, Cuero, former employee of Hagan’s, went to California to obtain signatures of veterans involved in multiple land deals, testimony says. Four Use Legal Right To Refuse To Talk AUSTIN, Jan. 31Four persons have invoked the state constitutional protection against being compelled to give evidence against one’s self in a criminal prosecution, and two are reported to have left the State and cannot be subpoenaed in connection with the veterans’ land scandal.. Bascom Giles testified before the Senate Investigating Committee behind closed doors almost two hours on the history of veterans’ land legislation and possible changes in it, but he refused to answer questions “relating to his business relations, transactions, partnerships, or coownership with any and all persons and companies, including J. Paul Little, C. 0. Hagan, B. R. Sheffield, L. V. Ruffin, and T. J. Mc Constitutions Prevent Forced Self-Incrimination Article I of the Texas Constitution is the Texas “Bill of Rights.” Section 10 reads in part: “Sec. 10. Rights of Accused Persons in Criminal Prosecutions. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused …. shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself ….” The Fifth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” 3 Bascom Giles and some members of his family have been associated in business transactions with Sheffield, C. 0. Hagan, Yoakum, and Elbert J. Wall of Brady, who is Sheffield’s son-in-law. Hagan was a promoter of veterans’ land deals of the type under investigation, and Wall seems to , have been. 4 House members say Har deman visited the House chamber and urged some of ‘them not to investigate the, land scandals, and four House members say a drive is under way to squelch such an inquiry, but Hardeman says “there’s nothing we’re trying to cover up.” 5 Attorney General John Ben Shepperd, a member of the Veterans’ Land Board with Governor Shivers and new Land Commissioner. Earl Rudder, told a House subcommittee that though he would welcome a House investigation in his capacity as a member of the Land Board, he would discourage such an investigation in his role as a law enforcement officer. 6 Freshman U.S. Congressman John Bell of Cuero, when a state senator, ‘.made representations before the Land Board on behalf of veteran applicants “at no retainer,” but it is not yet established whether he also represented group land sellers from the Cuero area before the Board, a possibility acknowledged by the acting Land Commissioner, Dennis Wallace, in response to a question. 7 Wiley Cheatham, a young and crusading county attorney in Cuero, told this newspaper that the Travis County grand jury “could bring 400 indictments if they wanted to.” 8 Four persons who were called to testify before the Senate committee Bascom Giles, L. V. Ruffin of Brady, Hagan, and Cletus Ernster, Cuero businessman have invoked the state constitutional protection that a person cannot be compelled to testify against himself in a criminal prosecution. Two others, Sheffield and T. L. McLarty of Cuero, are reported out of the State, McLarty permanently. In general, the standard abuse has been the promotion of land sales to the State, sometimes at high profits .made possible by high appraisals, and then the promoters’ re-acquisition of the land either by a lease-back or some other device after it was bought by veterans from the Land Board. Thus the State’s long term three percent credit was extended to land promoters instead of individual veterans desiring land. Although he is reticent about comments for publication, it was Cheatham’s work, along with the newspaper reporting of 32-year-old Editor R. K. Towery of The Cuero Record, that started the now-statewide investigations last. year. So far, as a result of the investigations, Giles has refused to qualify for his ninth elective term as Land Commissioner; three Land Board officials. L7.v1rc ,nr Jackson, execu, tive set.rcw21, U. S. MeCutcro” . Jackson’s assistant, and H. of Richey, the appraiser in most of the dubious deals, have resigned; and indictments have been brought against three Cuero men. Ernster is charged with passing a forged instrument and two Cuero notaries are alleged to have violated their oaths. In addition, Shivers and Shepperd have been criticized for “absenteeism” at Board meetings. Shivers went to three and Shepperd eleven out of the 78 meetings during 1952, 1953, and 1954 before the controversy “broke.” Shivers has criticized requiring the Governor to serve on “ex-officio” boards and has said he was kept too busy with other State business to pay full attention to the land program. Hardeman says that his hearings are near an end and that he does not anticipate the need for further closed hearings. Travis County District Attorney Les Procter said Saturday that the grand jury still has the veterans’ land matter under consideration. In Cuero, the DeWitt County grand jury investigating the program recessed until March 7. Indictments will be sought at that time on the basis of testimony the jury has received and further investigations, a Cuero law enforcement officer said. Hardeman and Sheffield Meet Senator Hardeman said that his law partner, Carl Runge of San Angelo, “told me Sheffield tried to hire him to represent him.” Runge refused, Hardeman said, because of Hardeman’s connection with the investigation. Asked about information received at Brady that he had conferred with Sheffield the week before Christmas, shortly before the beginning of his committee’s investigation on Dec. 27; Hardeman responded: “Yes, I talked to him, I was in Brady to look over a water project. Try To Stop House Probe Is Charged and Denied By RONNIE DUGGER Editor, The Texas Observer AUSTIN, BRADY, CUERO, and YOAKUM An independent inquiry by The Texas Observer into the veterans’ land scandal has yielded this information: 1 Senator Dorsey Hardeman of San Angelo, chairman of the Senate committee investi gating the scandals, conferred in Brady with B. R. “Slim” Sheffield, one of the principals in the current statewide inquiry, about a week before his committee’s investigations began. A Brady witness said the two men had lunch together, but Hardeman , called that “a damn lie” and said Sheffield “hounded” him until he conferred with him. 2 Sheffield tried to hire Hardeman’s law partner but was refused, Hardeman says.