Estes vs. Sen. Yarborough An Accusation and an Ans Austin Harry Moore, vice president of the El Paso National Bank and the trustee in the bankruptcy of Billy Sol Estes in federal court in El Paso, told the Texas Observer by long distance from El Paso this week that he has never seen or heard of anything in Estes’ records that would bear out the statement attributed to Estes in the Dallas Morning News Sunday that he, Estes, gave Sen. Ralph Yarborough $50,000 in cash on Nov. 6, 1960. The News quoted Sen. Yarborough as stating that the report “is an infamous lie out of the whole cloth” and as saying further he doubted Estes made the statement and that it sounds like “another dirty Dallas News trick.” Senator Yarborough’s headquarters Monday provided the Observer with this full text of Yarborough’s comment on the report: “This is an infamous lie out of the whole cloth, concocted by the Dallas News, the same paper that printed the -infamous attack on President John F. Kennedy Nov. 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated in Dallas. “The Dallas Morning News is the same newspaper that printed stories in 1890 implying communist support for Jim Hogg, the same newspaper that charged in October of 1952 that President Harry Truman was a traitor. The reason the Dallas Morning News and other large reactionary dailies are against me is because I am for the national Democratic program of Lyndon Johnson. They will be giving President Johnson the same dirty treatment this fall before the general election that they have given all good Democrats like Jim Hogg and Presidents Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy.” The Observer has other good reasons to assert that there is nothing in the Estes records that have been examined since his troubles began in 1962 that would substantiate his statement about the $50,000. Jimmy Banks, in the copyrighted Dallas News story, said Estes declined to divulge the total he has given Yarborough, saying, “It would take a lot of work in my old records to come up with the exact amount.” The News quoted Estes on Sen. Yarborough: “I wouldn’t go ten miles to hear him. I’ve listened to him enough already. I listened to him so much that I gave him $50,000 at one time in 1960.” Banks reported that Estes said he gave Yarborough the $50,000 the afternoon of a barbecue for the senator at Estes’ Pecos home and that Yarborough had called him about three days beforehand and said he needed the money. Yarborough did not have a political campaign in 1960. The Observer telephoned Moore, the trustee in Estes’ bankruptcy, and reached 4 The Texas observer him at the bank of which he is an official in El Paso Monday morning. After reading him excerpts from the News story attributing the statement to Estes that he had given Yarborough the $50,000, the Observer asked Moore “if there is anything in any records in the Estes bankruptcy” to substantiate Estes’ statement. “Of course, we are searching for certain things [in the records], and only those having to do with the bankruptcy,” Moore replied. “Other investigators have gone over all the records extremely carefully two congressional committees, the FBI, Internal Revenue. I’ve seen no indication of anything like that. I’ve never heard anything like this mentioned, nor have I seen any indication of anything like this.” Estes’ lawyer, John Cofer of Austin, refused to assist the Observer to find Estes for further interviewing this week on the grounds he has previously given when such inquiries have been made, by the Observer and by other papersthat Cofer’s policy is that his client should not make statements to the newspapers and that Cofer will not help newspapers get statements from him. Sen. Yarborough has acknowledged he received political contributions from Estes, as did many other political candidates, that he has used Estes’ plane in campaigns, and that Estes was one of many persons who helped defray costs of Yarborough’s weekly radio broadcasts. None of this, of course, postdated Estes’ arrest March 29, 1962. Sen Yarborough told a full-dress press conference in -Washington during the Estes scandal that he had carefully examined all his records and that the total amount of money Estes had contributed to him, from 1954 on, for his gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns and at fund-raising banquets was $6,900. Banks’ story Sunday stated without explanation that the total Yarborough had reported from the Estes family as political contributions was $3,526, but that Yarborough had said that he had received ” ‘not more than $9,000 and probably less than $7,000″ in campaign contributions from the Estes family. It is the Observer’s understanding that funds contributed through fund-raising banquets to pay off campaign debts do not have to be reported and that the $6,900 total included such funds. Recalling the November, 1960, barbecue that occasioned his presence at the Estes home, Sen. Yarborough says it was arranged by the state and national KennedyJohnson campaign committees and was a function not in Yarborough’s honor, but rather to boost the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. Yarborough did not speak because it was a Sunday but did stand in a reception line and shake hands, he remembers. This was the only occasion on which he ever visited in Estes’ home, he says. The day before he campaigned in El Paso with President Kennedy; the day after he campaigned for Kennedy in San Antonio. The Observer can further report that W. J. Worsham, a Pecos farmer, flew Sen. Yarborough into Pecos from El Paso for the barbecue and took up a collection of about $900 to help defray Yarborough’s expenses in campaigning around the state for Kennedy-Johnson. Yarborough said he was not reimbursed for such expenses by the state headquarters for Kennedy-Johnson. “I was campaigning all over the state at my own expense,” he said. Yarborough told the Observer that $400 of the money was put up by Estes, but that Worsham got this sum from Estes. “There wasn’t one penny of it delivered to me by Billy Sol Estes,” Yarborough said. Yarborough recalled that Worsham also gave the senator a list of the people who had contributed, and that this list is in Yarborough’s records in Washington. \(Incidentally, Yarborough said, it was Worsham who collected the sums Estes contributed to help defray costs of YarborContacted by the Observer by long distance in Taft, Worsham, referring to the reports he was hearing on the radio that Estes had said he gave Yarborough $50,000, said angrily that they were not true. “He [Estes] was always a helluva big namedropper,” and he liked to talk big about big men and big sums of money, Worsham said. Worsham said he was with Yarborough all the time at the barbecue. “He was never outa my sight,” Worsham said. Worsham said about eight or nine men, including Yarborough, met “just a moment in Estes’ office” to discuss with Yarborough proposals to require cotton pickers to be paid by the hour. The farmers argued with Yarborough that cotton pickers should be paid by the pound, Worsham said. Worsham, too, says he is quite sure Estes’ contribution to the collection to defray Yarborough’s expenses campaigning for Kennedy was $400. “I made him [Yarborough] a list of who gave money,” Worsham said. It included, he said, himself, his brother, L. G. Worsham, L. D. and Floyd McNeil, J. B. Kirkland, and Estes, and possibly also Ralph Burkholder, although W. J. Worsham was not sure about Burkholder. These men were all farmers in Pecos, he said. Sen. Yarborough said he has placed the Dallas News story in the hands of an attorney. It is known that the recent Supreme Court decision having to do with The New York Times is being considered. Estes has been known to be bitter now against Sen. Yarborough and responsible reports have reached the Observer in recent weeks that he has been seeking a way to make a statement about Yarborough. Estes has been sentenced to eight years iri state prison and 15 years in federal prison in cases growing out of his business career. His convictions have been appealed and he is free on bond.
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