The Texas Observer An Independent-Liberal Weekly Newspaper A Window to the South Volume 54 TEXAS, May 19, 1962 15c per Copy Number 5 SYNDICATE WENT TO WORK Downtown Dallas Intrigue EASTERN INFLUX Many Estes Deals Yet To Be Told AUSTIN Texas liberals have so far borne the greatest impact of political association in the Billie Sol Estes case. This may or may not be because the bulk of the Billie Sol Estes financial journal and his correspondence has never been opened to the public. Practically all data prior to May, 1961, are still held secret by Harry Moore, the federal receiver appointed by Federal District Judge R. E. Thomason, an old friend of the late Sam Rayburn, with whom Thomason served in Congress, and of Vice President Lyndon Johnson. All appeals by Attorney General Will Wilson to both Moore and Judge Thomason for access to the remainder of the Billie Sol Estes records, especially those pertaining to his contributions in the presidential campaign year of 1960 and those pertaining to his founding of his farm empire under the Eisenhower administration in late 1958 and 1959, have been refused on the grounds that Wilson’s intrusion “might impede” the work of the receivership. If Wilson got to the other records, he would doubtless release his findings to the press, as he has done with most of the material he has already gathered. The attorney general’s collection of Estes material was obtained through the quick action of his staff. As soon as the Estes case broke, Wilson, seeing an anti-trust possibility, sent five men to Pecos. As they have been trained to do, this crew photostated everything in sight before the federal receiver came in and threw them out. By the time Moore moved onto the scene, they had photostated back to last May. Fragmentary and limited as it is, the information so far released to the public about Estes’s dealings has almost all come from the office of Wilson. Virtually none has come from any federal agency. Nor will Austin attorney John Cofer, who is defending Estes, allow his client to even say hello to newsmen. In this desert of information swarm dozens of n e w s m e n, hungering and thirsting for a new thread of suspicion to follow. Reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, New York Herald-Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Business Week, Time Magazine, and even such first-rate but secondpower newspapers as the Nashville Tennessean have sent their reporters into Texas, bunching around the “Billie Sol Estes” room in the attorney general’s office and, in Pecos, stopping anyone who looks like they might have informationscratching, scrambling for news and, all too often, settling for innuendo. With less than a year of Estes’ journal to rake and re-rake, the names therein get perhaps undue emphasis. And Senator Ralph Yarborough’s name is there on the financial ledger: “Ralph W. Yarborough, $1,000, May 23, 1961.” In fact, his is the only prominent name listed during the May, 1961-to-now period. What names lie behind that date? What names during the campaigns of 1960when Yarborough wasn’t running, but some other prominent Texans were? Adding to Yarborough’s and thereby, since he is titular head DALLAS The Overton and Murchison families of Dallas recently announced their acceptance of one of the most ambitious allprivate downtown r en e w al plans ever projected for an American city. The Dallas, Texas, Corporation owned by these families owns 85 percent of the land in the 9.75-acre west downtown tract that would be dramatically renovated by the plan they have announced. They must own 100 percent of this tract before they will go forward, and they are now trying to get the part they do not own. Behind the gloss of this announcement there is a story of intrigue and secrecy that involves the entire Dallas financial community one way or another and runs all the way to Washington. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, has made an inquiry about one of the most fascinating aspects of the background, the manner in which the General Services Administration decided to locate the new federal center in the heart of the Overton-Murchison property. Between 1955 and 1960, acting behind a close-mouthed trustee named C. P. Cimiotti, a syndicate of Dallas businessmen, including Overton and Murchison interests, spent at least $4 million buying up land in the rundown west end of downtown Dallas. No one could say who was putting up the money until one day in 1960 when Cimiotti became very sick, and the syndicate were forced, in their own interest, to record their ownership of the tracts. Four days passed before the Dallas newspapers took formal notice of the fact, although it was the talk of the business community. One local reporter who wanted to write the story told the Observer he was so frustrated, he was advised by his chaplain to go get drunk. The decision to locate the new federal center in the heart of the Overton-Murchison land had been made in 1957 in a fashion of bizarre and unprecedented, eyebrows were elevated in the U.S. Congress, and the flap helped delay the authorization to go ahead with the center, which has not even yet been granted. Property Values Up The location of a federal office complex in a given spot sends property values there around skyscraping. The Dallas center will be about 20 stories high and is to house about 90 percent of all the federal employees in Dallas. Annual rentals for federal office space in Dallas now exceed $1 million. In 1957, a group of 14 financiers, including John Murchison and W. W. Overton, Jr., offered to give the government anything the goverment had to pay in excess of a million dollars if it would select a certain site in the syndicate’s part of town for the new center. None of the 14 men owned any of the property they proposed for the site. Although the government received 21 site offers, none of which had this feature of a guaranteed maximum price, and all of which were made on behalf of owners of the sites, the syndicate’s offer was accepted. The syndicate has already paid the government more than half a million dollars under this agreement. The center is to be built as an extension of the government’s present Santa Fe Bldg. at 1114 Commerce. Robert Jayson, a property owner who had just remodeled his building at a cost of $150,000 and who was sued by two of his tenants because the government broke its lease with him to condemn his building for the federal center, started raising cain from Austin to Washington. He is still doing so. The government, he has charged, made a deal with the syndicate at the expense of other businessmen, seriously abusing the power of eminent domain. Under sharp criticism from Cong. Jack Brooks of Beaumont and other congressmen responsible for the government’s building program, the General Services Administration has vowed never to pull such a trick again. However, G.S.A. has stood by its deal with the syndicate. In fact, national G.S.A. Administrator Franklin Floete as of March 16, 1960, wrote Bruce Alger the government hall saved money “without property owners being hurt in any conceivable way.” General Karl Wallace was the regional commissioner for G.S.A. when, in 1957, in agreement with his recommendation, the G.S.A. officially selected the site adjoining the Santa Fe Bldg. Although he had not made a conclusive recommendation until the day on which the G.S.A. national administrator selected the Santa Fe site, Wallace says, “I had . . . consistently favored construction . . . adjacent to the Santa Fe Bldg. due to potential economies . . . from the combined operation of the two buildings and due to the added convenience West Side Story -Tactics of an Election SAN ANTONIO Precinct 25 on San Antonio’s predominantly Latin West Side ordinarily favors the liberal candidates for any public office by about 15 to 1. On May 5, however, John Connally, who projects a conservative image in most sections of the state, carried precinct 25 with 600 votes to Don Yarborough’s 273 and Price Daniel’s 102. The story of how Connally won so handily in this key precinct is a classic lesson in political ingenuity. Money an unprecedented amount was spent here, and spent wisely, by Connally forces as it was in other areas. Heated local races also aided the Connally cause by diverting the attention of the more locallyoriented Yarborough supporters. But the real San Antonio clincher is represented best by an apparently ordinary campaign hand-out card. At first glance the ca rd seems no different from those given out by candidates all over the state in campaigns at all levels. However, the message delivered by this one told West Side voters what Connally apparently wanted them to hear, yet avoided telling conservative voters anything he possibly preferred they didn’t hear. It is a white card, slightly larger than business size. At the top is the usual request: “Vote for John Connally.” In the center is a photograph of Connally strolling leisurely along beside President Kennedy. The President appears thoughtful. Connally is leaning toward him, obviously speaking into his ear in intimate tonesperhaps a whisper. Beneath the photograph is the name: “Henry B. Gonzalez.” “Cleverest thing I ever saw,” one veteran of many Bexar Cour’ , ty political campaigns said. “That card doesn’t say anything, yet it says everything. It says John Connally is President Kennedy’s whispering-in-the-ear friend. That is, it says so to West Side voters and other liberal and brass collar voters here. But it doesn’t spell anything out that would embarrass Connally up in Dallas. And Henry’s name there at the bottom is another stroke of genius. Henry is a candidate too, although he has no opposition. But the card doesn’t say, ‘Vote for John Connally AND Gonzalez.” It just has Henry’s name at the bottom, almost as if he signed it. Still there’s nothing you can pin on anybody, you see.” The “unofficial” efforts in Connally’s behalf by Eddie Montez, Gonzalez’ liaison in Bexar County, were widely known. There were some angry moments for Bexar liberals when it first became known that Montez and other Gonzalez supporters were working for Connally instead of the liberal Yarborough. But most of the pros soon calmed down and apparently accepted the matter philosophically. Only last November, they point out, Lyndon John son came to San Antonio and gave Gonzalez yeoman service in the successful campaign against Republican John Goode, who got on-the-scene help from Dwight Eisenhower. The lack of a stand on Gonzalez’ part for Yarborough, the implications of the widely-distributed handout card and other literature on the West Side, and Connally’s formal tie-in with Kennedy as Navy Secretary were factors, Yarborough people say, that were not offset by primary time. Some knowledgeable politicians here say these factors will be nullified before June 2, but others say another Connally sweep is certain without a statement from Kennedy or Gonzalezand neither is at all likely. ‘Viva Connally!’ “They’ve done everything over on the West Side to identify Connally with Kennedy but change his name to Kennedy,” says Jim Presley, Yarborough’s county press manager. “The ‘Viva Connally!’ posters and stickers are the same color Kennedy’s were in 1960. All Connally’s campaign mailers are similar in color and design to Kennedy’s.” Lalo Solis, a silver-haired Mexican with the shoulders of a stevedore and the countenance of a patriarch, is Yarborough’s West Side manager. He became active in Bexar politics in 1934. \(“I started with Gonzalez 12 years ago when Solis was still scratching his head over the money spent here by Connally. “I’ve never seen so much money spent in a campaign,” he said. “On election day you could hardly go into the voting places the sidewalks were so crowded with Connally workers.” Dr. Jose San Martin, Connally’s West Side chairman, said Connally’s showing there was a result only of “hard work and organization.” He scoffed at the talk that Connally’s money and Kennedy’s name were the major influencing factors. “We did not stress any connection between Mr. Connally and the administration,” Dr. Martin told the Observer. “I stayed clear of that. We stressed Mr. Connally’s business experience. I think Yar \(Contin .
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