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supply of power, all of which will be immediately consumed, and a part of which will be distributed in connection with the national defense program in the San Antonio area. . . ” The President, who much admired Johnson and only one year earlier had offered him the position as Administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration, acceded to his wishes, and clever politics once again had won out. Ultimately the high Marshall Ford dam, as it was called, was finished at a cost of nearly $30,000,000. There were cost overruns, delays, and other such things, all of which worked to the financial benefit of Brown and Root. Johnson had become their boy in Washington, and he worked hard on behalf of their financial gain. Early in 1940, the Brown brothers were much worried about continuing work on the dam, inasmuch as costs were higher than anticipated. Johnson kept them informed about his own work, and in a most revealing letter, of February 3, 1940, informs George of his work and us of his relationship to George: Imagine my surprise when I called you in Houston and learned that you had taken the train to Mayo’s. Besides not having fully recovered from the shock, I am pleased with your decision. For a long time I have realized that you should slow down some and quit taking life so seriously because I want to live and play with you and love you for a long time yet. . . . I am on my way now to see the Director of the Budget on a little five million dollar item involving a dam down in Central Texas with which you have had some little connections. Affectionately, Lyndon B. Johnson Throughout the history of the construction, an observer must wonder, how was it that Brown and Root, which at times appeared to be unable to complete work on time, was able to continue to secure contracts from the federal government with little competition. Bidding for the government funds was an open and competitive process, although Lyndon Johnson was doing his best to make sure to keep the brothers in business. How did all of this work? How did Brown and Root secure such a favorable position? What kind of hanky-panky was going on in Austin? Or in Washington? There exists no single document to show us the inner workings of this process, to show us how the details of politics worked here. There are, however, two documents that inform us how people in Austin, and fellow contractors, 16 JANUARY 11, 1985 perceived Brown and Root, and the millions they seemed so easily to secure. One letter is from Carl White, a member of the Board of Directors of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and a friend of Johnson. The letter concerns a discussion White had with Robert “Bob” Alsop, who was the construction superintendent for the Authority, and who had supervised the rebuilding of the Austin Dam. By all accounts, Alsop was a person of considerable integrity and honesty, as well as being a fine engineer. that he had never seen a poorer or more inadequate set of specifications. He said it was extremely difficult for any legitimate contractor to prepare an intelligent bid from any such specifications. He said contractors did not mind bidding in the face of the physical advantages enjoyed by Brown and Root if they could have any assurance that the cards had not been previously marked and cut for Brown and Root. He said that in many places in the specifications there was evidence that we were using every means at our command to make certain that Brown and Root got the job. He pointed out the bonus feature of the contract as a flagrant example of such effort. He assured me that if we could give contractors some assurance that they would get a square deal that there could be plenty of legitimate competition in the bidding. All of this was news to me. I told him I would get with Fritz members and see what we could do to correct the situation. We sent out letters to all board members asking them to protest this bonus feature of the contract, and Bill wired Senator Wirtz in Washington, asking him to get P.W.A. to remove this feature. I talked to George Harley, and he told me that several changes, including this one, had been made in the specs after they had been sent to Washington. He said Brown and Root had a physical advantage, but not an impossible one. He thought a good contractor could overcome this advantage and make a legitimate profit out of the job. I soon found that I was treading on hallowed ground. I got plenty of, “Shu.!, better lay off this. It’s hot.” kind of talk. “Well, what do we care, just so we get a good job and it is under our estimate.” I asked for and got our estimate, and Bob gave me his estimate. I found that letters had been sent to fifteen contractors and that three had taken out specifications. Two of these had been brought back. At that time it looked like there was going to be one bid. Two days before the bids were to be opened, a San Antonio contractor whom Bill classifies as a first class house mover, came in and got a set of specs. He turned in a bid which Brown and Root beat by about $100,000. When the bids were presented to the board for approval I made a motion that all bids be rejected and the job readvertised, because it was my conviction that we had not received competitive bids. The motion was seconded by Bill Arnold. I asked George Harley and Mac \(McDonough, General Manager of if they thought a contractor could figure a job of this kind in two days and make an intelligent bid. Harley said he thought it would take any good contractor at least a week to estimate the job. Practically everyone on the board admitted that there was much evidence One wonders how Brown and Root was able to continue to secure contracts from the federal government. January 10, 1940 Dear Lyndon: . . . About ten days ago I got a call from Bob Alsop asking me to come to Austin as soon as possible. I dropped everything and took out that night and was in Bob’s office the next morning. He had a set of specifications for Marshall Ford power house on his desk, and he asked me what I knew about the situation in regard to this proposed contract. I told him I knew nothing whatever. He then told me that he was interested in it for two reasons because it was to become an integral part of a project he had put his heart and soul into building, and because under certain circumstances it could prolong for a few months the employment of many of the men who now constitute his crew at Austin dam. For the purpose of helping these men get jobs he had consulted with several reputable contractors and had offered his services to help at least one of these estimate the job and prepare a bid with the understanding that if he was successful that the contractor would give jobs to men in his crew. He explained that if Brown and Root got the job that none of his men could expect to get a day’s work out of it. That seemed to me to be a perfectly legitimate and laudable interest. Bob knew that I had been battling with Max Starcke \(Operating Manager of the select as many of his permanent operation employees as possible from the ranks of our own construction forces, and he knew that I was interested in anything that would help or benefit workers who had proven their loyalty to us and their ability to do good work. He said that in all his experience in the contracting and building business