The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Vol. 53 TEXAS, MAY 13, 1961 15c per copy No. 6 AUSTIN Defense of and opposition to House Bill 7, the so-called loan shark bill, reached a new peak of invective, innuendo, and confused counter-charges this week as its backers struggled to get it to the Senate floor for a straightforward debate. Bob Sherrill Stirring up more dust in the battle, Sen. Hubert Hudson, one of the outspoken opponents of the bill, released to the Observer photostats of two letters which he feels indicate Ed Clark, prominent Austin attorney, lobbyist, and political strategist, and Tom Reavley, another prominent Austin attorney and secretary of state under Gov. Allan Shivers, have worked closely with big out-ofstate and big in-state loan companies to bring about the present legislation. Defenders of the small-small loan companies have all along contended the loan shark bill was written to favor the big companies and to put the small loan companies out of business. :in excerpt from one of the letters addressed to Hudson reads: “Your questioning of Mr. Tom Reavley during the committee hearing on House Bill 7 this week indicated that you were well aware of many things being used to bring Texas into the fold of the super loan sharks such as Household Finance; United Finance & Thrift, Seaboard, Aetna, Community, Family, Beneficial, and many, many others. . . . “Now for your information, Senator Hudson, if you will recall Mr. Reavley before the committee and have him say whether or not Judge Elkins law firm in Houston paid him $1,500 per month for his work on the constitutional amendment program and if so what he was paid for, I am sure you will get some interesting remarks. He was paid the $1,500 by Elkins firm for Pacific Finance and Household Finance. . . .” Asked about the accuracy of these charges, Reavley cheerfully told the Observer he did indeed receive that much, “and probably more,” from Elkins, who has for years been a kind of powerful behind-the-scenes Buddha in the workings of conservative politics in Texas. Any Help OK “I was for that constitutional amendment \(which killed the 10 and so were the big loan companies,” he said. “When people agree with me, I’m glad to have their help, whoever they are. The big loan companies spread a lot of money in their campaign. Some of it they spread through our law firm. But if our firm benefited at all, it was bad wages for a hard week’s work.” Where did he spend the money? “Oh, on public relations firms and that sort of thing,” he said. Reavley said he made it clear that he was doing the work not as the companies’ attorney but simply as someone who also wanted to bring the loan industry under regulation, first by suspending the old interest rate ceilingwhich was widely and openly violatedand then by passing legislation that would raise the legal interest rate but also institute strict open-book regulations of the loan companies. Reavley said he helped Rep. Tony Korioth write his House Bill 40, which was later incorporated into Rep. Criss Cole’s House Bill ‘I, the one now under fire in the Senate. Asked if the passage of Cole’s bill wouldn’t be an invitation for AUSTIN The Observer learned from a reliable source this week that Tom Sealy, chairman of the Citizens for a Sales Tax organization, is receiving $25,000 for his services this session and Searcy Bracewell, former state ‘senator and vicechairman of the group, is receiving $20,000. Willie Morris Both Sealy and Bracewell declined to comment on the Observer’s information, on grounds that the reporting of fees is not required by law and Citizens for a Sales Tax “should not be singled out.” Bracewell is registered also this session as lobbyist for Gulf States Utilities Company. He said he preferred not to disclose his salary with Gulf States. He stoutly denied any connection between his role as Gulf States lobbyist and the provisions in HB 727, the general sales tax bill, exempting industrial and commercial users of utilities. Sealy was asked if his law firm in Midland represents Mobile Oil, Atlantic Refining, and Honolulu Tom Sealy Oil? “Oh yes,” he replied. “We’ve represented those companies for 25 years. We also represent other oil companies, as well as farmers, ranchers, schools, churches, and merchants, and other clients represented by law firms engaged in general civil practice.” Is he retaining his part of his firm’s law fees from these companies while serving as chairman of Citizens for a Sales Tax? “Oh sure,” he said. “I’ve always done so. I did while I served as chairman of the board of regents \(of that my firm has been kind enough to continue receiving my tees while doing this civic activity.” Sealy also firmly denied that he had any influence in placing the exemptions on oil and gas equipment and products and offshore drilling rigs into HB 727. “We didn’t have anything to do with the specific provisions of these bills,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned,” Sealy said, “the fewer the exemptions, the lower the rate, and the greater the money collectedas a basic principle of taxation.” Asked by the Observer .if any of the oil campanies his firm repo eselitz; have contributed to the campaign fund of the Citizens for a Sales Tax, Sealy said, “I don’t remember. I’m honestly not sure about it. I know contributions have come from various segments and all phases of industry. “I’ll definitely say this. This isn’t an oil company front.” The organizational meeting in Dallas was attended by 250 persons of all backgrounds, he said. Have any other oil, gas, banking, or utilities interests contributed to the fund? “I wouldn’t say that,” Sealy replied. “Certainly I wouldn’t say that.” Contributions have come in “from one dollar up,” he said. “We wouldn’t analyze these contributions to get down to where they all came from. Our contributions have come from all ranks of life.” A large number of cards were sent out seeking donations, he said. What has been the average contribution? “I don’t know,” Sealy said. “We haven’t tried to worry with that very much. I wouldn’t attempt to say.” How much money has the organization collected? “The collections haven’t been anything like what some people have said,” he replied. “It’s still in five figures.” How much has the organization spent? “I haven’t counted it up,” he said. “It’s well within present contributions.” Most of the expense, he said has been in mailing costs. Would he be willing to release a list of contributors and amounts contributed? “No sir, I would not. I don’t feel we’re called on to do that.” If the legislature passes a law requiring such information, “we’ll be among those ready to make a report. But we ought not to be singled out for that purpose.” Does he feel that the public might have a right to know such details about a citizens’ group? Sealy said he “sees no reason for us to disclose the nature of the contributions we’ve received than is necessary for others to do.” Has he received any compensation or fee for his services? “I’d answer in the same way as on the question about sources of contributions,” he replied. “I don’t know why we should be singled out.” Is It true he is receiving $25,000 for his services? “You might as well pick out a figure from one dollar up,” he said. He repeated this is “not required to be disclosed under the present laws.” Asked about a recent notice sent out encouraging letters to state senators on HB 727, with lists of senators and the counties they represent, Sealy said “our communications are certainly not ‘Good Beginning’ Shark Measure On Senate Reef S-T Officials Mum on Funds * * Sealy, Bracewell Won’t Comment on Fees, Money Spent ‘Fifty Miles from Where He Was Born’ EAST TEXAS A Negro boy, Charles Elbert Williams, was born in Centerville, Texas, twenty years ago. According to a relative, his mother and father were not married and never lived together. He had three brothers and a sister. He lived with his grandmother and grandfather in Houston, with “his kin peoples” in East Texas, with his mother in California. Ronnie Dugger He started helping with the crops when he was about ten. He finished seven grades of school and began, but did not finish, the eighth in California, coming back to Texas to help, his ;grandfather with 200 acres of cotton, corn, peas, cane, watermelon, and potatoes they farmed on halves. Living 30 miles from the nearest town, in the evenings there was not much to do but eat supper, clean up, and go to bed. “I growed up as my own race. I had experiences with my own race,” he says. “I didn’t want for anything. I worked for everything.” He got into some scrapes the six years, off and on, he lived in Houston. He was held on an auto theft investigation but was never prosecuted; he says the car belonged to a friend and was not stolen. “Like a young man did, I was out talking with girls, dating girls, and having fun.” One night in 1956, he said, a Negro policeman picked him up and let him go for $20. Another Negro boy who was working with him at a Houston filling station stole some tires, but, Williams says, white officers arrested him, beat him up, locked him up, and let him go when they learned he had been somewhere else the night of the theft. In 1959 his aunt in East Texas had a stroke, and he went back to help with the cotton. Early on the morning of June 29, he was come upon by officers while he slept and arrested on the accusa tion of a 47-year-old white divorcee who lived alone that armed with a knife he had raped her twice the night before. Legally an adult at 18, he was indicted, tried, found guilty, and a year after his arrest sentenced to die. Barring delay and clemency, he will be shocked into instant death on May 19 in Huntsville Prison, 50 miles from where he was born. Plead Not Guilty District Judge V. M. Johnston appointed two Houson County attorneys to defend the indigent Williams. One of them, however, told the judge he was “a member of the white race and . . . president of the Houston County Citizens’ Council.” He said his firm had successfully defended the father of the prosecutrix \(here, to protect her identity, to be called Mrs. years ago. Furthermore, he said, his firm had now been retained by the father to help get a guilty verdict and a death penalty against Williams, and to see that the verdict was not reversed. Judge Johnston withdrew his appointment of the Citizens’ Council president and named to work with Dan Julian instead an attorney from a county to the north, Robert Fields of Athens. Williams plead not guilty. County Attorney Nat Patton, Jr., testified that Williams freely and voluntarily confessed the night he was arrested before Patton and three other witnesses. Patton said Williams understood and signed the written confession after being told he did not have to say anything and the confession could be used against him. In the document, Williams confessed that he tricked Mrs. Jones out of the house with a story her mother was sick and had sent him to fetch her; grabbed her and put a knife to her back; took her to the side of the house and raped her; later in a car, still brandishing the knife, raped her again; told her she knew too much and he “probably should kill her”; and went home and went to bed, where the officers got him. Mrs. Jones’ mother said her daughter drove up in front of her house at about 10:10 .that night and told her, “I’ve been raped.” Said the mother: “He had a knife all times drawn on her . . . She said he said he would cut her goddam throat if she hollered any more.” She told defense attorney Fields that Williams had worked for her and “made a pretty good job at it.” After Mrs. Jones had gone to her mother’s, a relative came in;
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