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Ben Barnes and the welfare memos A case study of practical politics 4. Need to monitor a policy seminar on Child Development currently being conducted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, Note: It is important to keep this confidential so I can keep my lines of communication to the Governor’s Office open. Harry Ledbetter to Robert Spellings, Nov. 15, 1971. Austin The Observer has obtained a series of documents concerning the utility of certain welfare problems and programs to the gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes. The documents indicate not only that Barnes is using ,a state employee to do campaign research for him, but also that he is to obtain the exclusive benefit of research done by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Although most of the plans discussed in the documents are by no means close to fruition, they include using state money to reach at least 50,000 voters, who are the parents of children in day care centers across the state, for Barnes’ campaign purposes. The memos also discuss structuring child development programs so they will fall under Barnes’ political patronage, trying to put pressure on Welfare Commissioner Raymond Vowell to make a “deal” for the allocation of certain funds and cutting Gov. Preston Smith off from information which would be of assistance to him in trying to run the state’s welfare programs. MANY OF the documents in the series are memos written by Harry L. Ledbetter, an employee of the Legislative Budget Board. Ledbetter’s title is budget examiner, Welfare Research Office, and he is paid $12,408 a year by the state. The memos are addressed to Robert Spellings, Ben Barnes’ executive assistant, to Rep. Ralph Wayne of Plainview, Ben Barnes’ campaign manager, and to George Christian, a partner in the political public relations firm of Christian, Miller & Honts. The firm is handling Ben Barnes’ campaign. According to Robert Spellings, Harry Ledbetter is not on Barnes’ campaign payroll. The Legislative Budget Board is comprised of five House members and five Senate members. Barnes is the chairman of the Board. The Board has a staff which is to assist it in research needed in the budget-making process. The Board’s funds are transferred from the operating expense funds of the House and the Senate. According to Article V, Section 4 of the appropriations bill, no state facilities, equipment, cars, time, etc. \(anything used to influence the outcome of any election. State employees are free to work for a political candidate on their own time, unless their salaries are paid in part by the federal government, in which case they come under the Hatch Act. Article V, Section 5 of the appropriations bill says: “None of the moneys appropriated under this Act shall be used by any agency of the State Government for the purpose of publicizing or directing attention to any individual official or employee of any agency of the State Government.” According to Bob Johnson, executive director of the Legislative Council, the state’s executive and legislative officers, for example, the governor and the lieutenant governor, are counted as “agencies” for the purposes of the act. “They get around it the same way they get around everything they need to get around here,” said Johnson. “They ignore it.” In point of fact, the appropriations riders are not only ignored, they are flouted. The governor’s press secretary is paid from state funds, as is Robert Spellings, who has functioned in that role for Barnes. Both Smith and Barnes have recently had their correspondence card files copied at state expense. Although both camps officially deny it, such files are used in campaigns. The staff members of state officials who are running for office almost invariably do double duty as assistants on state affairs and as campaign workers. However, it is more rare to see a state employee who is not on the staff of a campaigning official working for that official during business hours. Ledbetter’s memos show clearly that that is precisely what he has been doing. In a Feb. 11 memo addressed to George Christian, Ledbetter not only outlined the status of the Vendor Drug Program and why it is going awry, he also suggested “Possible Courses of Action” to Christian that would demonstrate Barnes’ interest in the problem. He attached to that memo a copy of a Feb. 1 memo to Spellings that begins, “When the L.G. is in Brownwood Thursday, he should consider the following replies to pharmacists’ questions:” Ledbetter thereafter listed a series of suitable replies. Ledbetter also attached, for Christian’s edification, the draft of a letter TO ALL PHARMACISTS signed, “Sincerely, Ben Barnes.” LEDBETTER HIMSELF told the Observer, “I do not report to the lieutenant governor. I have two roles: I provide information on welfare problems to the Senate side and I am staffing the House Committee on Medical Welfare. According to employees in the state welfare department, Ledbetter is considered Barnes’ special assistant on welfare problems. Another state employee whose role is placed in question by the memos is Dr. June Hyer. Hyer, who seems to have been highly regarded by everyone who worked with her on welfare problems, left her job at the capitol in June, 1971, to take another state job as academic dean of the new University of Texas at San Antonio. She is engaged in planning the curriculum for the new school. During the last session, Hyer’s title was special assistant to the Senate Finance Committee. She had previously been executive director of staff of the Senate Interim Committee on Public Welfare Reform. She worked closely with Barnes on welfare problems. In a Dec. 6, 1971, memo to Spellings, Ledbetter mentions having gone with Hyer to the LBJ School to discuss child development programs. Again in a Dec. 13, 1971, memo, Ledbetter proposes using part of Hyer’s salary to gain federal matching funds for child development programs. There was some confusion among the sources the Observer consulted on the legality of that proposal. It seems that if Hyer is indeed taking time from her job at March 17, 1972 3