Saturday, October 30, 2010

Speaking of All-Time Great Election Frauds!

From 1900 to 1930’s Archer Parr (1860-1942) established himself as the “boss” of Duval County, Texas. Archer eventually passed his political kingdom on to his son, George B. Parr. Together, they became known as the “Dukes of Duval.”

The elder Duke (Archer) was elected county commissioner and rose in the ranks of the Democratic Party after a prominent tax collector met a shotgun blast. The poor fellow had unwisely chosen to eat lunch, in the middle of the day, in a public restaurant. With a power vacuum to exploit, Parr immediately undertook the business of bribing voters, inflating voting turnout statistics and, if necessary, creating voters and votes. In 1914, he won a seat in the state Senate, but soon found himself under the eye of investigators. Parr was re-elected in 1918 when Duval County provided him with thirteen hundred votes and a one hundred and eighteen vote victory. The sheer closeness of the race was stressful in itself, but the cynics were overly occupied by the seemingly trivial fact that Duval County had less than a thousand eligible voters.

Young George (or “B,” as his family called him) attended several colleges before graduating and moved on to the University of Texas Law School. He wound up passing the state bar exam without a degree. After spending some time driving his father around and selling real estate, George landed a position as Duvall County judge in 1926 (replacing his own brother). The new position appeared to make him the logical successor of Archer. But life soon got complex for “B.”

In late 1931, a federal investigator visited George and asked questions about some cancelled checks. George’s response (if he is to be believed) was to simply blurt, “I don’t give a goddamn who you are or where you are from, you don’t interest me. I am busy right now.” On March 9, 1932, a federal grand jury (with a little more time for the investigator) indicted George for income tax evasion. The honorable judge found himself accused of having failed to report $25,000 that he had received from a highway contractor and $17,000 from other sources. After more than a few delays, he plead “guilty” on May 21, 1934, and, on May 23, was sentenced to two years in prison. Judge R.J. McMillan also hit Parr with a $5,000. Under the plea agreement, however, the two-year sentence was “suspended.” So, George would simply have to pay the fine and remain under supervised probation.

Judge McMillan warned Parr to “stay out of politics” and “behave” himself but, on June 3, 1936, Parr’s probation was revoked. He was a mere eight days from the end of the assigned two-year period when a U.S. Attorney accused him of physically assaulting a State Representative, committing fraud in an oil and gas lease, having ownership in a company that distributed alcohol illegally, accepting illegal payoffs from gamblers and failing to report to his probation officer. It was not stated whether all of these things were discovered at once, or some sort of breaking point had finally been reached. On July 19, Parr was sent to a reformatory in El Reno, Oklahoma where he stayed until May 6, 1937. He was then paroled and, finally, discharged on January 9, 1938.

Parr applied for a presidential pardon in 1943, nine years after his conviction. Congressman Dick Kleberg agreed to support the application, but Franklin Roosevelt denied the request. Parr showed his gratitude for Kleberg’s assistance, by both selecting and supporting his opponent in the next election. John E. Lyle, Jr. (a war hero) won the seat and Parr enlisted his newly elected representative to support a second clemency request. The second request (filed February 28, 1945) included a packet of letters from prominent Texas Democrats (including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the treasurer, the comptroller, the state superintendent of education, and two state senators).

Obviously, the hope was that the previously unmoved president would be a bit more impressed. But President Roosevelt died before Parr’s materials reached his desk. The new President of the United States, Harry S Truman, granted a pardon on February 20, 1946, the first time he was asked. But that is hardly the end of the story! George S. Parr went on to become associated with one of the most legendary election frauds ever committed in the history of American politics.

In 1948, Lyndon Johnson and Coke Stevenson vied for the Democratic nomination for a seat in the United States Senate. As Texas was a one-party state, the November election would be a mere formality. The nomination itself was the decisive event of the election season. In July, Stevenson outpolled Johnson by seventy-one thousand votes, but failed to attain a necessary majority due to a presence of a third candidate. So, Texans voted in a run-off election on Saturday, August 28. At the end of the evening, Coke Stevenson led Lyndon Johnson led by eight hundred and fifty-four votes. But votes continued to be counted well into the following week. By Thursday, Stevenson’s lead was reduced to three hundred and fifty-one votes. On Friday, the lead vanished. Lyndon Johnson was the new winner, by a mere eighty-seven votes.

Johnson was put over the top by a “corrected” count from one precinct. The precinct was in Alice, a community located in Jim Wells County. More importantly, the precinct was under the control of the Duke of Duval. And the decisive votes came from precinct box 13.

On the evening of the election, the election judge of Precinct 13 reported the vote to the local paper as follows: Johnson 765. Coke Stevenson 60. These figures were also reported to the Texas Elections Bureau. A few days later, however, when the vote was reported to the Democratic Executive Committee, the number of votes for Johnson increased by two hundred. On September 15, U.S. District Court Judge T. Whitfield Davidson found himself hearing testimony and reviewing affidavits from several citizens who did not vote, but were recorded as having cast ballots in Box 13. Davidson issued an injunction against the placement of Johnson’s name on the November ballot and appointed a commissioner to investigate further.

By law, there were supposed to have been three official poll lists. Two were to be in the hands of select individuals and the third was to be placed inside the ballot box. The first list seemed to have gone from George B. Parr’s bank to some unknown place in Mexico. Parr, incidentally, could not have held the position that he held at the bank had he not received a pardon from President Truman. The second list was reported to have been stolen from an automobile while the owner was inside a bar. The third list was, thankfully, inside the ballot box ... or, it was supposed to be.

When Box 13 was opened, the “official” list required by law was nowhere to be found. A “copy” of the original lists was eventually produced and it was immediately recognized as an exceptionally curious document. At least three of the voters on the list were dead. The names of the two hundred individuals listed after voter 841 appeared in the same ink and the same handwriting. Most of the names listed after voter 841 also appeared in alphabetical order. Interestingly, voter 841 had informed Judge Davidson that he had voted right as the precinct closed down and that there was no one else in line attempting to vote after him. Voters 842, 891, 911 920 and 1041 all testified that they had not voted (or signed affidavits to that effect), but their names were listed and their votes were in Box 13!

As the oddities of Box 13 were coming to light, Johnson’s team filed suit in federal court to prevent further investigation of the election. The request made its way to the United States Supreme Court where fellow Southern Democrat Justice Hugo Black accepted Johnson’s argument that the federal courts had no jurisdiction over the matter. Black issued an order which prevented further investigation of vote fraud.

Parr told the Houston press, the election was “as clean an election as ever has been held.” Author John E. Clark notes however that, in 1973, Parr admitted to his attorney that he had been in “direct telephone contact” with Lyndon Johnson “during the critical days immediately after the 1948 election.” Parr claimed Johnson told him “how many votes to add to his total to pull the election out of the fire.” Clark also notes that in 1977, Luis Salas (who claimed one of the official poll lists was stolen from his car) told the Associated Press that he had lied under oath during the vote fraud investigation and confirmed that George B. Parr had “directed” the two hundred-vote increase. Salas also claimed that Johnson was in Parr’s office, three days after the election, when the Duke of Duval gave the order to create the new votes.

After Truman’s pardon and the infamy of Box 13, Parr went on to other indictments, convictions and appeals. On April 1, 1975, he committed suicide while appealing a five-year sentence for federal income tax evasion.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems thing have not changed that much since then! Look at what happened when George Bush (Jr) was 'elected' as president! His brother was the Gov of Florida, and that was where the "votes were counted" Right!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm.

How 'bout (among some others) checking out just who voted and just why they voted in Las Vegas...for Harry Reid.

The unions were massively - it is reported - into intimidation (jobs, mostly) for middle and lower level supervisiors and forcing them to talk to each worker and getting them to vote...and providing buses to polling stations.

Voter fraud isn't unique to Texas, nor does it appear to be done. Think ACORN and others.

Anonymous said...

Was in an union in late 70s early 80s in Texas. Union reps came around every election telling us how to vote. Democrat!!!!!!

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