111eMean.s. Jr., a Conroe chiroprac tor, had discussions with Rep. James E. Cox of Conroe in which Wednesday, Feb. 20the day of the deedHarmon had lunch with whom, Dr. David Bletner, re turned with him to his room in the Austin Hotel. Cox called Harmon and asked him to his room; Cox said he had some long distance calls inwould Cox come to his room instead? Cox said he would. This was about 4 o”clock Cox asked Bletner to go get a tape recorder quick. Bletner’s wife, Dr. Clara Bletner, made the arrangements with Berkman’s, a local typewriter store. Tom Harris, a Berkman’s employee, took the recorder to Harmon’s Room 512 in the Austin. Harmon asked take it to officials of the House 1 of Representatives.” “Jim, that’s the only thing you ‘ can do, and I admire you for doing it.” Since nothing was said about the talk being off the record. the question arose, why didn’t Watson report it? “Knowing Mr Cox as I did I didn’t see no story there …. We would have the benefit of AP” \(in Wat Friday in San Antonio Harmon called Hensley in San Antonio and told him what had happened. Sunday at 3 o’clock in the afternoon Carr, returned from Laredo, called in Reps. Heatly, Paducah; Conle y, Raymondville; Saul, Kress; Spilman, McAllen, . and Smith, San Marcos, played the tape for them, and concluded pockt. First thing I’m going to be arrestedcould look for the worst I told him I would rather be dead than in jail. “\(I drinking and I wanted to see’ how far he’d go… I had no idea the man would ever come back to town and no intention of taking the money at any time.” He did not tell Carr about any plan to “trap” the “crooked lobbyists,” even at this late date. was rather tense and excited… He had entered into an arrangement that Dr. Harmon and his association I presume would pay $5,000 to Cox and he emphasized that the payment would not be for killing HB 274 but for passing an amendment…. “He told me he wanted to pay $3,500 but Cox told him he was going to hold out for five and that finally the agreement was for five He didn’t think he’d come back. and hadn’t intended to go through with it, and was not going down there ….” Carr said Cox said Sandall had “tipped” him off. “I sort of smiled and asked was this the reason he was backing out. Jim smiled back and said, ‘largely so’.” Cox, Owen, “Jean” and another girl also unidentified, went to lunch then at the Terrace Motel. Cox called Carr twice, once to be told by Carr it was “a very serious matter,” again to tell Carr: “I’ve been thinking it I sit tight in the boat, I’ll be all right” leaders in at lunch and told them what Cox was saying. On the specific question, had he asked Cox why he didn’t take the money, Carr said: “I wouldn’t advise anyone to take any money, particularly when I knew that the jig was up.” Cox came back in the afternoon. Cox told him their discussions were at an end and advised him “not to run.” Cox left the House chamber two minutes ahead of Sheriff T. 0. Lang and a warrant for his arrest. At 11:55 Sandall tipped off COY The Search Harmon, meanwhile, waited in his hotel room, “I just sat there twitched.’ He was finally told there was a “leak somewhere” and Cox was not to be found. “So I took my money and went home” Carr, rushed by reporters, released a statement condemning “one or a minority of the membership,” acknowledging the situation, and averring: “We must be dedicated to protecting the integrity of our government.” Four men from the sheriff’s office and five from DPS watched the hotels, the bus, train, and plane outlets of the city, and Cox’s car, which they found parked at the Seventh Street entrance to the Driskill. They checked at the Club Petite but did not find him there. Sheriff Lang said at 6 Cox was still in the cityand, indeed, he was. He had left the House chamber with Rep. Ed Sheridan.. Together they went to “a private residence”mortgaged by I. B. Roy of Corpus Christi but, not otherwise identified for obvious reasonswhere they listened to records, including a new Frank Sinatra album Sheridan had bought. Cox called his wife in Conroe about 5 o’clock. Sheridan and Cox stopped in at the Petite and had a drink but Sheridan says they were alone. Cox told him he had been “trying to trap this fellow Harmon” and was “unhappy that what he’d planned to do had backfired on Page 4 March 5, 1957 The Cox Case, Beginning November In November, 1956, Dr. R. E. and that struck Harmon as “a lit McMeans indicated he would faa group of naturopaths, one of vor a bill to regulate naturoShortly after the session opened Cox asked Rep. Ed Sheridan, San Antonio, to help him write a bill to put the naturoSheridan wrote H. B. 274 for Cox; it was almost word-for-word a bill Sheridan introduced in 1955, never setting it for a committee hearing, he later conceded. \(SherDr. Howard Harmon, new president of the Texas Naturopathic Assn., took Rep. Ted Springer, Amarillo, to lunch and discussed the bill and called Rep. Edgar Wilson, Amarillo, into the lobby , Harris to conceal it in the room, to discuss it. Both were friendly, and Harris put the recorder “un der the bed on the far side” from and honorable in their dealings 1 a chair by the bed and ran the Rep. Jim Heflin, Houston, told cord to the mike, which he con Cox “one of his boys in Hous cealed under the blanket “on the ton” wanted to talk to Cox a-1 corner of the bed by the chair.” bout H.B. 274; two weeks later All Harmon had to do was flip a Cox asked Heflin about it and w Heflin called Houston, the call within minutes after Harris had was transferred to San Antonio, I left the room, Cox arrived. “He knocked on the door. I turned the and Harmon called Cox, ‘agreeing could be talked to. Now what he , mon talked. Cox agreed to take meant by that I don’t know”: $5,000 to withdraw his HB 274 and about it when they asked if wanted; Harmon agreed to pay it after failing in an effort to get Heflin visited Harmon in his I the price down to $3,500. The con hotel room and told him he would versation. is reviewed fully in anfind out what Cox had against the other story starting on page one. Heflin said he doesn’t know a Harmon about 6 o’clock \(How 1 tell anyone Cox was “the type “he didn’t know anything, he hadman you can do business with” or n’t seen anybody … he didn’t day before the bribe talk he reHarmon took the tape recorder turned a call from Harmon, who to the safe of the Austin Hotel wanted to know when the bill right away and locked it up for was coming up, and he suggested the night. He forgot to turn the I Speaker Carr recalls the tele On Feb. 3, a fellow naturopath phone conversation he had with called Harmon and said he’d Harmon then. “Between 6 and 7 heard HB 274 “is one of these at night last Wednesday, I was deals.” On Feb. 4, Dr. Morris .winding up my work in the Cook, a Midland naturopath and Speaker’s’ office when I received a friend of Carr’s, and Harmon a call from a man who called visited . Speaker Waggoner Carr in his Capitol apartment. Cook said, 1 “Waggoner, I have heard that this bill is a business proposition,” and Carr turned to Harmon and said, “If you can get me any evidence to’ that effect you bring it Harmon “wanted me to know there would be no money spent The idea of trapping a legislator “first ,came to my mind” at pose it was in my mind all the time.” Asked Rep. W. S. Heatly: “If anyone could be bribed you was gonna get the evidence.” “That’s it pure and simple …. if it was proposed that we were goDr. Verb Howard is a Waco nathe House committee that afterturopath and a member of the nanoon Cox said: “I told him I had turopaths’ legislative committee. been offered a bribe and I was On the telephone he asked Hargonna see what I could do about mon, had he seen Cox yet? Harit.” What had Sandall meant mon said no. Howard told him to about “trapping” Harmon? “I go see him and “find out who got don’t know because I never told him to sponsor that bill” \(Har-‘ anyone in Austin of my plans …. II didn’t disclose that to anyone Howard was not in on the plan in Austin.” Maybe he had meant to “offer this bribe” and did not catching Harmon “before he got he’d find out who’d introduced it Sandall’s version is not clear. and why it was introduced” He said he told Cox he’d better I get the “evidence,”‘ not the ” money.” He said: “I don’t be I lieve that Mr. Cox talked any Tuesday, Feb. 19, Cox received thing about a trap.” He said “he Cox said he was busy; Harmon “He did mention setting a trap to said he’d call him off the floor me …. on the 20th ….” Wednesday; Cox said no, he Cox called Harmon back and would come down to the hotel, told him the bribe had to be paid that night because “I had to take care of some of the boys …. I told him I had to have the money that night or the deal was off” get the money until the next Tuesday or Wednesday. Harmon called Rep. Joe Lee Hensley, San Antonio, who had done legal work for the naturopaths before he announced as a legislative candidate, and told Hensley about the taped conversation. Hensley told him “he should make a full disclosure to the authorities at the earliest posAt about this time Harmon called Carr and they went, over the same ground they had covered in their earlier conversation. Early Thursday morning \(Feb. to talk about the amendment to Harmon told him HB 274 was “taken care of” and not to worry At 7:45 Thursday morning Harmon got the tape recorder from the Hotel Austin safety deposit vault and took it to the Speaker’s apartment. He told Carr he didn’t know if anythhing had been reThe battery had run down, so a new one had to be sent for. Finally, about 10:15 that morning, it was played. .”One moment he himself, the next moment he the law enforcement officials. from 10 or 11 until midnight Mon Carr “commended me and day. Was the bribe mentioned? thanked me for doing an honest “I don’t remember, sir I just thing. He said, ‘Well, Dr. Harmon, don’t remember. I can’t give you The same night at the Depart ‘ ment of Public Safety, about 9 1 p. m., Carr played the tape for him, of “this proposition of bribery and told him I was going to accept this money and then turn him over to the kauthorities” thing to Bill Bradford, advertising manaficials were staked out in a room As Watson reconstructs the Cox to show up and collect the conversation with Cox, it went money. Cox told Harmon he’d like this: I be down in the afternoon \(Har “Wat, a bunch of nature doctors I are trying to bribe me down in I Austin.” “The hell they are. Well, Jim I I At 11:55 Sandall tipped off Cox know you’re not going to take it.” i in the House lobby that Carr “Hell, I’m not gonna take .a had the tape. bribe. I’ve always kept my hands “He said he had been told that in my pocket and I intend to go i the minute I picked up the money on keeping my hands in my that the authorities were gonna be over and pick me up. At that point I said I couldn’t turn anybody over to the authorities. I’ll “Tuesday morning I talked to Mr. Cox outside the House chamber . I advised him to go \(see At noon Cox did go to see Carr, calling back into his apartment. They had it out. Accounts of what was said vary sustantially, depending on whether Cox or Carr is talking. Cox: “I did not advise him I was pretending to take a bribe . Mr. Carr asked me ‘why don’t you take the money? Are you getting cold feet?’ I said ‘No, Waggoner, I just don’t do things like that.’ He said it was out of his hands and I could expect to himself Dr. Howard …. He had something to show me, to let me hear, concerning a member of the House …. He seemed excited and worried.” Carr told him to come to his apartment behind the Hou..4 chamber at 8:30 or 9 the next morning.
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.