By Jon Christian Ryter
September 19, 2007
part two 192
According to the LBJ family legend, in 1943 Lady Bird invested part of her inheritance—$15.5 thousand—in a small Austin radio station that was losing money. She bought the station and turned it. In reality, the station was owned by Dr. James G. Ulmer. Ulmer applied and received an FCC permit to build and operate station KTBC in Austin. Once he got KTBC on the air, he discovered that getting a revenue stream sufficient to keep the station solvent was more than he banked on. Over-extended and hard-pressed for cash, Ulmer received an attractive offer to sell KTBC and asked former US Senator Alvin Wirtz—a close Johnson confidant—to help get FCC approval for the sale. Ulmer was broke. His two partners in KTBC were also broke. Because they couldn't pay Ulmer the money they owed him, they gave him a note for $15,500.00. Even with Wirtz supposedly pushing the deal, the FCC sat on the application until Ulmer's buyer—who promised to pay $150 thousand for the station—died in Dec., 1942.
That same month Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson suddenly "discovered" the radio station was for sale. The FCC quickly approved the sale of KTBC to the Congressman and his wife in January, 1943. Broke and desperate, Ulmer sold the station to Johnson for $15,500.00. Johnson used his high office to snag the first TV license for KTBC in 1952, KWTX-TV in 1955 and KRGV-TV and KTBC-TV in 1956. Lyndon Johnson leveraged his way to wealth by using the muscle of the FCC to kill legitimate applications for licenses for radio and TV stations. When he launched his own bid for the White House in 1959 Johnson was a millionaire who claimed the "family wealth" came from Lady Bird's inheritance.
The Rise of "Little Lyndon"
Bobby Baker, the former page boy turned in-between "go-to" guy for unscrupulous people wore the official title as secretary and political adviser to Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson. To the rank and file members of the Senate he was known as "Little Lyndon." When International Hotels wanted to open a casino in the Dominican Republic in the early 1950s as the political situation in Cuba heated up, Baker arranged for Ed Levison, an associate of mobsters Meyer Lansky and Sam Giancana to become a partner in the deal. In 1960 Johnson—through Baker—was still doing business with the mob which was establishing an offshore gambling paradise in the Caribbean. In fact, most of the deals put together by Baker carried the stench of the crime syndicate or mobster money.
In 1962 Baker—still the front man for LBJ's nefarious moneymaking schemes and congressional pimp for powerful Congressmen Senators and even more powerful corporate leaders reportedly linked President John F. Kennedy up with Ellen Romesch, a regular "escort" at the Quorum Club—Baker's private club in the Carroll Arms Hotel on Capitol Hill. In his own memoirs, Baker noted that Kennedy sent him word later that Romesch was the best he ever had. The affair between Kennedy and Romesch continued for quite some time. J. Edgar Hoover uncovered Kennedy's romance with Romesch—who was married to a West German Air Force sergeant who was assigned to the West German military mission in Washington. Ellen Romesch, who was a member of the Communist Youth from her early teens, was believed by the FBI to be a communist agent. Bobby Kennedy had her quietly deported. As Hoover investigated the Quorum Club, he discovered a litany of famous men lined up at the sexual feeding trough—including not only the President but his brother as well. The three names that were connected to the Kennedys were Romesch, Maria Novtny and Suzy Chang. All of them came from communist countries. Hoover suspected all of them were spies. He fed the story—and Bobby Baker's name—to columnist Drew Pearson who, at the urging of Lyndon Johnson, used the material.
Bobby Baker formed Serv-U-Corporation in partnership with his lobbyist friend Fred Black, and mobsters Levision, Giancana, and Ben Siegelbaum—a close friend of Jimmy Hoffa. Serv-U, which was operated by the mobsters, provided vending machines. The clients of Serv-U were public and private corporations who received government grants—and who were made to feel obligated to provide a small quid pro quo for the gratuity they received from Uncle Sam. LBJ made sure Baker insulated him from direct ties to the mob, even though Johnson—now the Vice President of the United States—profited handsomely from Baker's dealing with them. Because he knew where all the bodies were buried—probably with the eventual exception of Jimmy Hoffa—Baker became a very powerful man in Washington—and, secretly, the target of the Senate Rules Committee. Baker knew just a few too many secrets. A lot of people on Capitol Hill would breathe easier if Baker was gone.
Hoover reported most—but not all—of what he knew about Baker's mob ties to the Attorney General. Armed with ammo he could use against Johnson, Bobby Kennedy launched a full-fledged Department of Justice investigation of the Mafia. He also fed most of what he knew to McClellan and Jordan. So did Hoover—who also confided what he knew about Baker to Johnson. Hoover was a man who covered all bases. Regardless who won this dog fight, Hoover knew he would remain in control of the FBI.
Johnson was convinced that Robert Kennedy told Hoover to tap his phone in 1961 after LBJ agreed to meet with an Israeli leader that JFK refused to see. In Jan. 1963 a friendly Senator told the Vice President that anti-Johnson Senators planned to use Rule 22 to dump him from the ticket in 1964. Johnson confronted the Kennedy brothers who assured him they had no plans to drop him from the ticket. (After the assassination of JFK, Johnson himself fanned as fact that his relationship with Kennedy was rock solid.)
JFK told members of the Democratic leadership that dumping Johnson was "...preposterous on the face of it. We've got to carry Texas in '64—and maybe Georgia." When Sen. George Smathers [D-FL] told JFK that everyone on the Hill was talking about Bobby Kennedy wanting to dump LBJ, JFK responded: "George—you have some intelligence, I presume? Who's Bobby putting on the ticket—himself? I don't want to get licked. Lyndon's going to be my vice president because he helps me."
Yet, on Nov. 19, 1963—three days before JFK went to Dallas—Kennedy told his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, that he intended to replace LBJ with North Carolina Gov. Terry Sanford as his running mate in 1964. Kennedy believed Sanford could deliver the Southern vote as well as Johnson. But more important, Sanford wasn't carrying the dirty laundry LBJ was toting . Johnson knew if he was dropped from the ticket his political career would be over. Whatever else happened, Johnson intended to be the President of the United States in 1968. His long term career plans did not include being bounced from the ticket in '64.
Kennedy's decision to replace Johnson was based on LBJ's mob ties with several Mafia dons through Baker and Serv-U Corporation. Since Hoover leaked Bobby Baker's ties to the mob to Sen. John Williams, Kennedy knew it was just a matter of time before the GOP connected the dots. Once Johnson was tied to Baker, the GOP would have all of the ammo they would need to kill JFK's reelection The evidence produced by Hoover revealed that Fred Black and Bobby Baker's partner in Serv-U was mob boss Sam Giancana. Companies receiving free money from Uncle Sam were made to feel obligated to use vending machines recommended by Baker—the Vice President's right hand man. Johnson's link to the mob, through Baker, seemed to be significant. As the Senate Rules Committee, using information supplied by Hoover, launched a full-fledged investigation of Baker they also began building a dossier on LBJ. As the scandal broke in the media in the fall of 1963, Bobby Baker, with Johnson's attorney, Abe Fortas at his side, resigned his position believing it would end the problems for his boss—and take the heat off him. For part three click below.
© 2007 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights
[Read "Whatever Happened to America?"]
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.
Hoover gave the Attorney General enough evidence to hang Johnson. But, understanding that politics was more important to the Kennedy's than justice, Hoover also handed copies of the files to Sen. John Williams [R-DE].