Bobby Baker

Bobby Baker

Robert (Bobby) Baker was born in Pickens, South Carolina in 1929. At the age of 14 Baker became a page at the Senate. He was befriended by Lyndon B. Johnson and eventually became secretary to the Senate Majority Leader. At this time he obtained the nickname Little Lyndon. Harry McPherson, another Johnson aide, described Baker as: "He was very smart, very quick, and indefatigable. Just worked all the time. He was always running someplace to make some kind of a deal."

Johnson also used Baker to obtain political information. He told Jenkins that it was very important to "read" politicians. He constantly told him: "Watch their hands, watch their eyes. Read eyes. No matter what a man is saying to you, it's not important as what you can read in his eyes. The most important thing a man has to tell you is what he's not telling you. The most important thing he has to say is what he's trying not to say." Robert A. Caro (Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate) quotes Baker as saying: "He seemed to sense each man's individual price and the commodity he preferred as coin."

In the early 1950s Baker had also been involved in helping that Intercontinental Hotels Corporation establishing casinos in the Dominican Republic. Baker arranged for Ed Levison, an associate of Meyer Lansky and Sam Giancana, to become involved in this deal. When the first of these casinos were opened in 1955, Baker and Lyndon B. Johnson were invited as official guests.

In 1960 Johnson's was elected as vice president under John F. Kennedy. Baker remained as Johnson's secretary and political adviser. He continued to do business with Levison, Giancana and Ben Siegelbaum (an associate of Jimmy Hoffa) in the Dominican Republic. Baker argued that Dominican Republic could be a Mafia replacement for Cuba. However, these plans came to an end when the military dictator, Rafael Trujillo, was murdered on the orders of the CIA. President Kennedy now gave his support to Juan Bosch when he was elected to office in December, 1962.

Bobby Baker, Senate Pageboy, with Leslie Biffle (c.1945)
Bobby Baker, Senate Pageboy, with Leslie Biffle (c.1945)

Baker had already arranged another source of income. In 1962 he had had established the Serve-U-Corporation with his friend, Fred Black, and mobsters Ed Levenson and Benny Sigelbaum. The company was to provide vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs. The machines were manufactured by a company secretly owned by Sam Giancana and other mobsters based in Chicago.

The president of Serve-U-Corporation was Eugene A. Hancock, who was a business partner of Grant Stockdale and George Smathers at Automatic Vending Services. Questions were asked about Stockdale's business involvement with Baker. In an interview he insisted he was "absolutely not" a stockholder in Serve-U-Corporation. He also pointed out that he had disposed of his holdings in Automatic Vending Services, more than a year earlier. However, under pressure from President John F. Kennedy, he resigned as Ambassador to Ireland in July, 1962.

Rumours began circulating that Baker was involved in corrupt activities. Although officially his only income was that of Secretary to the Majority in the Senate, he was clearly a very rich man. Baker was investigated by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. He discovered Baker had links to Clint Murchison and several Mafia bosses. Evidence also emerged that Lyndon B. Johnson was also involved in political corruption. This included the award of a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the F-111, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. On 7th October, 1963, Baker was forced to resign his post. Soon afterwards, Fred Korth, the Navy Secretary, was also forced to resign because of the F-111 contract.

According to Anthony Summers (Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover) Bill Thompson asked Baker if he would arrange a meeting between Ellen Rometsch and John F. Kennedy. Baker later said that: "He (Kennedy) sent back word it was the best time he ever had in his life. That was not the only time. She saw him on other occasions. It went on for a while."

J. Edgar Hoover discovered that Kennedy was having a relationship with Ellen Rometsch. In July 1963 Federal Bureau of Investigation agents questioned Romesch about her past. They came to the conclusion that she was probably a Soviet spy. Hoover actually leaked information to the journalist, Courtney Evans, that Romesch worked for Walter Ulbricht, the communist leader of East Germany. When Robert Kennedy was told about this information, he ordered her to be deported.

The FBI had discovered that there were several women at the Quorum Club, run by Baker, who had been involved in relationships with leading politicians. This included both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. It was particularly worrying that this included Mariella Novotny and Suzy Chang. This was a problem because they had both initially came from communist countries and had been named as part of the spy ring that had trapped John Profumo, the British war minister, a few months earlier. President Kennedy told J. Edgar Hoover that he "personally interested in having this story killed".

Hoover refused and leaked the information to Clark Mollenhoff. On 26th October he wrote an article in the Des Moines Register claiming that the FBI had "established that the beautiful brunette had been attending parties with congressional leaders and some prominent New Frontiersmen from the executive branch of Government... The possibility that her activity might be connected with espionage was of some concern, because of the high rank of her male companions". Mollenhoff claimed that John Williams "had obtained an account" of Rometsch's activity and planned to pass this information to the Senate Rules Committee, the body investigating Baker.

The following day Robert Kennedy sent La Verne Duffy to West Germany to meet Ellen Rometsch. In exchange for a great deal of money she agreed to sign a statement formally "denying intimacies with important people." Kennedy now contacted Hoover and asked him to persuade the Senate leadership that the Senate Rules Committee investigation of this story was "contrary to the national interest". He also warned on 28th October that other leading members of Congress would be drawn into this scandal and so was "contrary to the interests of Congress, too".

J. Edgar Hoover had a meeting with Mike Mansfield, the Democratic leader of the Senate and Everett Dirksen, the Republican counterpart. What was said at this meeting has never been released. However, as a result of the meeting that took place in Mansfield's home the Senate Rules Committee decided not to look into the Rometsch scandal.

According to the president's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Kennedy had decided that because of this emerging scandal he was going to drop Lyndon B. Johnson as his running mate in the 1964 election. He told Lincoln that he was going to replace Johnson with Terry Sanford.

On 22nd November, 1963, a friend of Baker's, Don B. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his Senate Rules Committee that Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for this business. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson.

Don B. Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

Life Magazine (November, 1963)
Life Magazine (November, 1963)

As soon as Lyndon B. Johnson became president he contacted B. Everett Jordan to see if there was any chance of stopping this information being published. Jordan replied that he would do what he could but warned Johnson that some members of the committee wanted Reynold's testimony to be released to the public. On 6th December, 1963, Jordan spoke to Johnson on the telephone and said he was doing what he could to suppress the story because " it might spread (to) a place where we don't want it spread."

Abe Fortas, a lawyer who represented both Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Baker, worked behind the scenes in an effort to keep this information from the public. Johnson also arranged for a smear campaign to be organized against Don B. Reynolds. To help him do this J. Edgar Hoover passed to Johnson the FBI file on Reynolds.

Nancy Carole Tyler moved back to Tennessee but returned in 1965 to work with Baker as his bookkeeper at the Carousel Motel. Tyler believed that Baker would leave his wife. When he refused, she became very angry and according to Baker, made scenes. This included threats to commit suicide.

On 17th January, 1964, the Senate Rules Committee voted to release to the public Reynold's secret testimony. Johnson responded by leaking information from Reynolds' FBI file to Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson. On 5th February, 1964, the Washington Post reported that Reynolds had lied about his academic success at West Point. The article also claimed that Reynolds had been a supporter of Joseph McCarthy and had accused business rivals of being secret members of the American Communist Party. It was also revealed that Reynolds had made anti-Semitic remarks while in Berlin in 1953.

A few weeks later the New York Times reported that Lyndon B. Johnson had used information from secret government documents to smear Don B. Reynolds. It also reported that Johnson's officials had been applying pressure on the editors of newspapers not to print information that had been disclosed by Reynolds in front of the Senate Rules Committee.

On 10th May, 1965, Baker's secretary, Nancy Carole Tyler, died in a plane crash, near Ocean City, Maryland,. Her roommate, Mary Jo Kopechne, died in road accident when a passenger of a car driven by Edward Kennedy.

Despite the efforts of his lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, in 1967 Baker was found guilty of seven counts of theft, fraud and income tax evasions. This included accepting large sums in "campaign donations" intended to buy influence with various senators, but had kept the money for himself. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison but served only sixteen months. Baker later wrote about his experiences in the book Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator (1978).

Joachim Joesten, an investigative journalist, wrote: "The Baker scandal then is truly the hidden key to the assassination, or more exact, the timing of the Baker affair crystallized the more or less vague plans to eliminate Kennedy which had already been in existence the threat of complete exposure which faced Johnson in the Baker scandal provided that final impulse he was forced to give the go-ahead signal to the plotters who had long been waiting for the right opportunity."

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Robert A. Caro, Lyndon Baines Johnson: Master of the Senate (2002)

The waiter who brought them sandwiches at their first meeting had felt that Baker seemed "drawn to LBJ by some invisible magnet," and thereafter the attraction had only increased. "I found him fascinating from that first talk in 1948," Baker was to recall. "I was, indeed, beguiled by him." He flattered Johnson unmercifully, implored him to give him chores to carry out. Says one of Johnson's staff: "He was an unabashed lackey, a bootlicker. He'd think of all manner of excuses to come in the office and see Johnson, and he'd tell him about all the things he was doing for him, all the little ways he was helping him." "A bootlicker, but an agile one," Evan Thomas was to call him. He carried out Johnson's errands efficiently, and as quickly as he could - often at a trot. "He would scurry around the Capitol corridors, often scribbling notes as he walked " his biographer would write. "He hunched a bit as he moved, and as a result some people began to call him 'the mole,' " a description made more exact by his face, which was narrow, with a very large nose (which he later had altered) and a forehead and chin which both receded sharply, giving him a pointed-face look. He tried, somewhat unsuccessfully because he was much shorter and stooped, to stand in Johnson's commanding attitude, and to walk as he walked; he had better luck talking like Johnson: "His voice seemed to take on a bit of the Johnson twang," his biographer wrote. He was to name not one but two of his children - Lynda and Lyndon John - after him. Johnson's response was all that Baker could have wished: "You're like a son to me, because I don't have a son of my own," he told him.

(2) Milton Viorst, Hustlers and Heroes (1971)

Bobby Baker, like many other Senate Democrats, did everything he could to get the nomination in 1960 for Lyndon Johnson, the Majority Leader. But his influence lay in a body which - to Johnson's particular dismay - had very little to do with picking the Presidential nominee. What distinguished Baker from the rest of Lyndon's entourage, however, was that he, almost alone, argued that Johnson, failing to get the top spot, should agree to run with Kennedy as the Vice-Presidential nominee. Johnson's other friends, aware of the power of which the Majority Leader disposed, felt this was nonsense. Why Bobby persisted in this argument is by no means clear. After all, his whole orientation was toward the Senate. He knew the Vice-Presidency was an impotent office. He had no great fondness for Jack Kennedy. Yet perhaps he understood better than Lyndon that, from the parochial power base of Texas, the prospects of his becoming President were remote. Baker regarded a Kennedy-Johnson ticket as unbeatable and he thought, perhaps, that only through the Vice-presidency did Johnson have a hope of getting to the White House. But whatever the reasons, Bobby Baker, exercising his powers of persuasion long before anyone else in the entourage, was undoubtedly an important influence in Johnson's ultimate acceptance of second place on the Kennedy ticket.

(3) Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator (1978)

It was a story in the September issue of Vend magazine, a trade journal for the vending machine industry, that blew the lid off. The story told of my investment in Serv-U with lobbyist Fred Black, said that we'd gained many contracts while still a paper company, that we'd replaced many experienced vending companies where government contracts were the primary source of income, that we'd received liberal and instant credit from an Oklahoma bank controlled by Senator Kerr and his family, and cited Serv-U's spectacular growth. Suddenly, journalists came running in a pack. I went running to Abe Fortas and hired him to be my attorney.

Mike Mansfield sent for me; I gave him a report on the Ralph Hill Melpar situation and filled him in on how Serv-U had come about. Then I said, "If you think this will embarrass you personally, or embarrass the Senate or the Democratic party, I'm prepared to resign. I don't want to, because some might take it as an admission of guilt, but I'll do it if you think it's best." Mansfield quietly said that I was doing an excellent job for him, he had faith in me, and he wouldn't think of asking me to quit before I'd had my day in court. He issued a statement to the New York Times saying much the same.

The spate of newspaper stories set off a Pavlovian reaction in Senator John J. Williams, the Delaware Republican who liked to be labeled the "Watchdog of the Senate"; he had made a reputation by exposing the "mink coat and deep freeze" scandals involving General Harry Vaughan in the Truman administration and had contributed to the downfall of Sherman Adams, President Eisenhower's top White House assistant, when it developed that financer Bernard Goldfine had paid for vacation trips for Adams and gifted him with expensive furs. Senator Williams virtually declared open season on me, asking people who knew of my operations to come forward. One who did was my former partner in the Carousel, Geraldine Novak, whom my Serv-U Corporation had bought out with two promissory notes, the second of which was to be paid from future profits of the Carousel. Don Reynolds, the insurance man, came forward with his story of the hi-fi gift to LBJ and the advertising he had to buy on Johnson's TV and radio stations as a condition of writing a life insurance policy on him. Senator Williams was happy to announce such stories to the press.

He also presumably enjoyed breaking the story of how I'd bought the $28,000 town house Carole Tyler lived in. Lurid newspaper accounts spoke of "$7,500 worth of French wallpaper, wall-to-wall lavender carpets, and all-night parties of Washington's powerful and mighty." A great deal of hyperbole was involved. It was a nice enough house, but the furnishings were vastly inflated as to worth and style, as were the reports which sounded as if orgies occurred there with the setting of the sun.

There was an embarrassment involved, however. I had incorrectly and improperly listed Carole Tyler as my cousin when I applied for the loan, in order to satisfy the Federal Housing Authority's regulation that anyone buying an FHA-underwritten home must either live in it or have a relative living in it. At the time I gave the matter little more serious thought than would a groundhog; indeed, Carole and I had shared a laugh about it. "Well," I said to my lover, "at least you're my kissin' cousin. So it's only a little white lie."

(4) Bobby's High Life, Time Magazine (6th November, 1963)

Out of the hearing room and into the arms of waiting newsmen stepped Arizona's Democratic Senator Carl Hayden, a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. "No comment," grumbled Hayden. Next out was Nebraska's Republican Senator Carl Curtis. "I can't tell you a thing," said he.

The remaining members of the nine-man committee were equally uncommunicative about what they had found out so far in their investigation of Bobby Gene Baker, 35, who last month precipitously resigned from his $19,600-a-year position as Secretary for the Senate Majority. Indeed, not even Delaware's Republican Senator John Williams, who appeared before the committee as a witness against Baker, would say what was going on.

Why this sudden affliction of senatorial lockjaw? The answer seemed obvious: Baker is involved in a scandal of major proportions, and the Senate plainly feared that some of its own members are in it with him. Yet the Senate's self-protective silence had an unintended effect, creating a climate in which talk and speculation flourished with tales of illicit sex, influence peddling and fast-buck financial deals.

One subject of considerable curiosity was Carole Tyler, 24, a shapely (5 ft. 6 in., 35-26-35) Tennessee girl who won the title of "Miss Loudon County" before she turned up in Washington in 1959. Three years later she was Baker's private secretary at $8,000 a year. Chain-smoking, martini-drinking, party-loving Carole also became a favorite in Baker's high-flying circle of acquaintances.

Last December Carole took up housekeeping in a cooperative townhouse at 308 N Street S.W., just a short ride from the Capitol. It was a well-furnished apartment, with prints on the walls, silk draperies in the bedrooms, lavender carpeting in the bathrooms. The parties there were lively. The twist was danced both inside the house and on the patio outside; the convivial drinking and animated chatter lasted long into the night. Some nearby residents noted that visitors appeared in the daytime as well as the evening. "A lot of people used to come through the back gate," recalls one neighbor. "That struck us as strange. Most of our guests come through the front door."

Carole shared the house for a time with another girl, Mary Alice Martin, a secretary in the office of Florida's Democratic Senator George Smathers. But neither girl owned the heavily trafficked house they lived in. The owner was Bobby Baker, who bought it for $28,000 on a down payment of $1,600. On the FHA forms that he signed, Baker listed both girls as the tenants of the house, said that Carole was his "cousin." She resigned from her job as a Senate employee at the same time Baker did, and has not since been available to inquiring newsmen.

Investigators were also sifting through stories that concerned several call girls who operated in this rarefied atmosphere. Among these was a young German woman who was asked to leave the U.S. after FBI agents showed her dossier to other interested authorities. She was Ellen Rometsch, 27, a sometime fashion model and wife of a West German army sergeant who was assigned to his country's military mission in Washington. An ambitious, name-dropping, heavily made-up mother of a five-year-old boy, Elly was a fixture at Washington parties. In September, five weeks after the Rometsches were shipped back to West Germany, her husband Rolf, 25, divorced her on the ground of "conduct contrary to matrimonial rules." Last week, while Elly hid out on her parents' farm near Wuppertal, Rolf spoke ruefully of his Washington experience, said that he "had no idea what was going on behind my back. It's a case of a woman who falls for the temptation of a sweet life her husband can't afford."

One repository of the sweet life was the Quorum Club, located in a three-room suite at the Carroll Arms Hotel, just across the street from the new Senate Office Building. Elly is remembered as a hostess there.

Bobby Baker was a leading light of the "Q Club." He helped organize it, was a charter member and served on the board of governors. The club, so its charter says, is a place for the pursuit of "literary purposes and promotion of social intercourse." Actually it was open to anyone with a literate bankroll: initiation fee, $100; yearly dues, $50. Among the 197 members are many lobbyists and several governmental figures, including Democratic Senators Frank Church of Idaho, Daniel Brewster of Maryland, J. Howard Edmondson of Oklahoma and Harrison Williams of New Jersey. Among Republican members are two Congressmen, Montana's James Battin and Ohio's William Ayres.

Many members were quick to point out that the club is a handy place to dine ("My wife is fond of the steak and sandwiches," said Bill Ayres) as well as a convenient spot for cocktails. Decorated to the male taste, the club's dimly lit interior sports prints and paintings of women with imposing façades, leather-topped card tables, a well-stocked bar, a piano and, most convenient of all, a buzzer that is wired to the Capitol so that any Senator present can be easily summoned to cast his vote on an impending issue.

The Q Club was a useful spot for meeting influential people in business and politics. Such people, in turn, were useful to Bobby Baker in his breathless pursuit of a buck. It was, by any standard, a successful pursuit, for Baker's net worth rose to something around $2,000,000. That income, presumably, enabled Baker and his wife Dorothy, who has an $11,000-a-year job with a Senate committee, to move recently into a $125,000 house near the home of Bobby's friend and longtime Senate sponsor, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, in Washington's Spring Valley section.

Though he was well liked by many people, Bobby unquestionably left behind him a roiling trough of bitter enemies. One man who thinks that Bobby did him dirt is an old friend named Ralph Hill, president of Capitol Vending Co. Hill is suing Baker for $300,000. He claims that through Bobby he got a contract for the vending-machine concession at Melpar Inc., a Virginia electronics firm. Hill charges that Baker thereafter demanded a monthly cut from Hill in return for his good will.

Hill claims that for 16 months he appeared regularly at Baker's Capitol office with envelopes containing cash - $5,600 all told. Last March the Serv-U Corp. - a competing vending-machine firm, of which Baker's law partner Ernest Tucker is board chairman - moved to buy Capitol Vending's outstanding stock. Hill resisted, and Baker warned him that he would see to it that Melpar canceled Capitol Vending's contract. Sure enough, in August 1963, Melpar said it would.

Baker's dealings with the Novak family of Washington started out pretty well. Builder Alfred Novak and his wife were friendly with the Bakers. Early in 1960, Novak agreed to lay out $12,000 so that Baker could cash in on a good stock tip. They agreed to share fifty-fifty in the profits. And they did just that. The investment brought in $75,321, and Baker got his 50% - $37,660 - without having invested a cent of his own money.

It was with the Novak family that Baker launched a $1,200,000 motel, the Carousel, in Ocean City, Md. For the Novaks the experience was a painful one. Baker, who initially invested $290,000, borrowed on promissory notes from the Serv-U Corp., began campaigning for more money from the Novaks; he wanted to build a restaurant addition to the motel, then a nightclub. The Novaks could not afford the extra investment, sold some of their shares to Baker. The Novaks were disillusioned in their partner, and Novak became deeply depressed. Five months before the Carousel opened for business, he died at 44 of a heart attack. Says Gertrude Novak of Baker's handling of financial matters: "We felt we were being pushed up against the wall."

In any event, the Carousel, billed as a "high-style hideaway for the advise and consent set," opened with a merry party. Two hundred Washington big shots traveled to the event in chartered buses. Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were there, and Entrepreneur Baker was all over the place.

Baker also had a variety of other financial interests. Apart from his law firm, he was an agent for the Go Travel agency of Washington and invested in a Howard Johnson's motel in North Carolina. But he did not restrict himself solely to million-dollar enterprises. On at least one occasion, he showed an interest in the money problems of his Senate page boys. Young Boyd Richie was a $403-a-month telephone page in Baker's office. Richie, a 17-year-old Texan, roomed with another page, Walter J. Stewart, and paid Stewart $50 a month rent. Stewart, it seems, was on temporary military duty and so was not on the Senate payroll. One day he told Richie to give him an additional $50 a month - on orders of Bobby Baker.

For three months, Richie dutifully forked over the extra money, but the more he thought about it the angrier he became. It happened that Richie was dating Lucy Baines Johnson, L.B.J.'s 15-year-old daughter. So one evening when he came to call for Lucy, Richie confronted the Vice President in his den and told him what was going on. Next day Lyndon informed the boy that he need not continue the payoff and would be permitted to live rent-free for three months at Stewart's place to make up for his losses. Baker himself admitted that "some of Boyd Richie's money had been deferred. After all, he was just a teen-ager and making a good salary."

Another good Senate friend of Baker's was Oklahoma's millionaire Democrat Robert S. Kerr (Kerr-McGee Oil Industries Inc.). Before he died last January, Kerr was one of the Senate's most powerful members. At one point, Baker got a $275,000 mortgage on Serv-U Corp. from Oklahoma City's Fidelity National Bank, of which the Kerr family owns 12%.

A couple of weeks ago, Baker journeyed to Oklahoma City to see Kerr-McGee's President Dean A. McGee and the late Senator's son, Robert Jr. He said he wanted to find proof of the fact that Senator Kerr had once handed him $40,000 as a gift, told McGee that the Senator had said, "I want you to have the money. Be sure and report it on your income tax." But both McGee and young Kerr denied that the Senator had given Baker any money, insisted that there were no records of any gift. "I think I would know it if Dad had given him $40,000," says Kerr. Adds McGee: "There's only one person who really knows, and that's the Senator, and he's dead. Baker seemed to be concerned about it. He gave me the impression it was a problem."

Obviously, a lot of deep-digging investigating remained to be done before the scandalous skeins of Bobby Baker's high life could be untangled and strung back together in a definitive way. But it was just as certain that the U.S. Senate was doing itself no service by its closed-door, clam-mouthed handling of the case. For the way things were going, instead of only a handful of members suffering embarrassment or worse, the Senate and almost all its members were being subjected to suspicion.

(5) Silent Witness, Time Magazine (6th March, 1964 )

With the exaggerated gestures of a man who feels the eyes of scrutiny, the short, fox-faced witness removed his serious blue fedora, took off the velvet-collared overcoat with the laven der silk lining, and with well-manicured hands smoothed back a wisp of brown hair. His bright eyes stole briefly across the gathered crowd and looked away again. Then, clutching a black attache case imprinted with his silver initials, Robert Gene Baker, 36, the whizbang from Pickens, S.C., hurried into a hearing room in the old Senate Office Building.

Hot-eyed TV lights glared down at the overflow of spectators lining the marble walls. Photographers jostled and cursed as they tried to get close to Baker, who himself had some difficulty squeezing through to the witness table. Bobby Baker grinned, waved to familiar faces, and, for the moment at least, appeared to be enjoying himself hugely. Finally seated, he extracted a pack of Salems from his coat pocket, laid it carefully alongside the Bible upon which he would soon be sworn in. Next he produced a typewritten sheet of paper and positioned it on the table just so.

Call It Off? His props in place, Baker nodded to some of his old employers - members of the Senate Rules Committee - who sat facing him. He also had a little joke with reporters, whom he had been assiduously avoiding. "Why don't you fellows call this whole thing off," he stage-whispered to the nearby press table, "so we can all get a rest?"

Bobby Baker was not the only one who would have liked to see the whole thing called off. His presence was a source of intense embarrassment to Democratic Senators. Up to five months ago, when he became the central figure in the gamiest Washington scandal in years, Baker was secretary to the Senate's Democratic majority.

As such, he was beyond question the U.S. Senate's most influential employee. He had been a particular protege of the Senate's two most powerful Democrats - Oklahoma's late Senator Robert Kerr and longtime Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Baker made it his unending business to know things - and what he didn't know about the Senate and its members probably was not worth the trouble. He knew who was against what bill and why. He knew who was drunk. He knew who was out of town. He knew who was sleeping with whom. He influenced committee assignments. He influenced legislation. He came to be known as "the 101st Senator." And he indulged in some vast moonlighting schemes that helped him parlay his $19,612-a-year Government salary into a fortune of up to $2,000,000.

It was the public disclosure of one of those schemes that led last October to Baker's forced resignation as Senate majority secretary. Ever since, the Rules Committee, chaired by North Carolina's colorless, cautious Senator B. Everett Jordan, has been investigating the Baker case.

(6) W. Penn Jones Jr, Texas Midlothian Mirror (31st July, 1969)

Bobby Baker was about the first person in Washington to know that Lyndon Johnson was to be dumped as the Vice-Presidential candidate in 1964. Baker knew that President Kennedy had offered the spot on the ticket to Senator George Smathers of Florida... Baker knew because his secretary. Miss Nancy Carole Tyler, roomed with one of George Smathers' secretaries. Miss Mary Jo Kopechne had been another of Smathers' secretaries. Now both Miss Tyler and Miss Kopechne have died strangely.

(7) G. R. Schreiber, The Bobby Baker Affair (1964)

Once the cat was out of the bag that Bobby Baker, a married man, had bought a townhouse for his beautiful young secretary, it was inevitable that girls would begin to figure in the Senate's much heralded investigation of Bobby's outside activities. As it happens, girls figure in much that goes on in Washington, both because there are so many of them in the myriad government offices and because Washington is a city on a perpetual party. And what are parties - cocktail or otherwise - without pretty girls?

Single girls outnumber other people by a wide margin in Washington. A passably attractive girl in a government office can go off to a party seven nights out of seven if she is so inclined. She can go with a male fellow worker who prefers not to take his wife. Or she can be window dressing (more if she prefers) at the parties given by the free spending lobbyists. There are always business executives from out of town who hate to eat alone.

A girl in Washington, like most girls anywhere, can go out as often and as far as her schedule and her scruples allow. The difference between Washington and other cities is that there are so many more opportunities.

Nancy Carole Tyler had come up to Washington from Lenoir City, Tennessee, a town of five thousand citizens some twenty miles from Knoxville. She had big bright eyes, a good figure, a determined chin, and a certificate to prove she had been named Miss Loudon County of 1957. Her first job was on the secretarial staff of a congressman from Delaware. Miss Loudon County got her picture in the Washington newspapers for the first time when she was photographed in 1960 at a statue raising ceremony at the Capitol. The newspapers reported that Miss Tyler had posed for the arms of the statue "Peace." It may have been that Bobby saw the photograph of Miss Loudon County, her long brown hair tumbling to her shoulders, a wide smile crinkling her eyes and showing her beautifully even teeth. Whether Bobby saw the picture or not, Nancy Carole moved over from the House of Representatives to the office of the secretary to the senate majority in February, 1961, and ever after where Bobby was, there was Nancy.

Nancy Carole joined Bobby's staff with the title of telephone page for the majority, a job which paid her $:i,687.56 to start. Her work was more than satisfactory and she was rewarded with a fast series of pay raises. Almost two months to the day after she joined Bobby's staff she got her first increase to $6,052.11. Four months later, in August, 1961, her salary was boosted to $6,538.19 and that October - eight months after she joined his staff Bobby promoted Nancy Carole to clerk for the secretary to the majority, a kind of administrative assistant, and raised her pay to $7,753.34.

October 16, 1962, one month before she moved into the townhouse Bobby purchased, Nancy Carole's salary was boosted again, this time to $8,296.07. All in all it was a history of consistently good merit increases and the take home pay was not at all bad for the twenty-three-year-old Miss Loudon County. Bobby wrote out a check to cover the down payment on the $28,800 townhouse and wrote checks for the $238 monthly payments, so Nancy Carole had enough left over from her salary to give lots of parties on her own in her attractive patio.

(8) Time Magazine (6th March, 1964)

With the exaggerated gestures of a man who feels the eyes of scrutiny, the short, fox-faced witness removed his serious blue fedora, took off the velvet-collared overcoat with the laven der silk lining, and with well-manicured hands smoothed back a wisp of brown hair. His bright eyes stole briefly across the gathered crowd and looked away again. Then, clutching a black attache case imprinted with his silver initials, Robert Gene Baker, 36, the whizbang from Pickens, S.C., hurried into a hearing room in the old Senate Office Building.

Hot-eyed TV lights glared down at the overflow of spectators lining the marble walls. Photographers jostled and cursed as they tried to get close to Baker, who himself had some difficulty squeezing through to the witness table. Bobby Baker grinned, waved to familiar faces, and, for the moment at least, appeared to be enjoying himself hugely. Finally seated, he extracted a pack of Salems from his coat pocket, laid it carefully alongside the Bible upon which he would soon be sworn in. Next he produced a typewritten sheet of paper and positioned it on the table just so.

Call It Off? His props in place, Baker nodded to some of his old employers—members of the Senate Rules Committee—who sat facing him. He also had a little joke with reporters, whom he had been assiduously avoiding. "Why don't you fellows call this whole thing off," he stage-whispered to the nearby press table, "so we can all get a rest?"

Bobby Baker was not the only one who would have liked to see the whole thing called off. His presence was a source of intense embarrassment to Democratic Senators. Up to five months ago, when he became the central figure in the gamiest Washington scandal in years, Baker was secretary to the Senate's Democratic majority.

As such, he was beyond question the U.S. Senate's most influential employee. He had been a particular protege of the Senate's two most powerful Democrats —Oklahoma's late Senator Robert Kerr and longtime Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Baker made it his unending business to know things—and what he didn't know about the Senate and its members probably was not worth the trouble. He knew who was against what bill and why. He knew who was drunk. He knew who was out of town. He knew who was sleeping with whom. He influenced committee assignments. He influenced legislation. He came to be known as "the 101st Senator." And he indulged in some vast moonlighting schemes that helped him parlay his $19,612-a-year Government salary into a fortune of up to $2,000,000.

It was the public disclosure of one of those schemes that led last October to Baker's forced resignation as Senate majority secretary. Ever since, the Rules Committee, chaired by North Carolina's colorless, cautious Senator B. Everett Jordan, has been investigating the Baker case.

Finally, last week, came Bobby Baker's time to testify. It was plain that he did not intend to be helpful. Now smirking, now looking serious, he sat silently as his attorney, famed Trial Lawyer Edward Bennett Williams, argued successfully to have television cameras removed from the room. A fascinated TV audience watched as the cameras withdrew and then focused on the closed door. When questions started coming his way, Bobby steadfastly refused to answer them, invoking not only the familiar Fifth Amendment, but the First, Fourth and Sixth as well. Reading from the typewritten statement that he had placed in front of him, he insisted that the hearing had no "true legislative purpose," and was "an unconstitutional invasion by the legislative branch into the proper function of the judiciary."

Seldom did Baker deviate from his prepared statement. One time was when Committee Counsel Lennox Polk McLendon, 74, a self-described "country lawyer" from North Carolina, noted that Baker had previously refused to turn his records over to the committee, hopefully suggested that by now Baker might have changed his mind. "You don't know me," snapped Baker. "Whatever reputation I made in the Senate, my word was my bond. When I told you I was not going to testify, that ended it." Again, Rhode Island's Democratic Senator Claiborne Pell asked if Baker, who had begun his career as a Senate pageboy, had any ideas about improving pageboy hiring practices. To a fatuous question, came a gratuitous answer. Advised Bobby: "There are many fine orphan boys in the District.

It would be fine if you tried to utilize these young men."

Aside from those occasions, Baker remained obdurate during 2½ hours and 125 questions. Still, the questions themselves gave some indication of the extent of Baker's wheeling-dealing activities. And in many instances those questions had already been answered or partly answered by previous committee witnesses or by other evidence uncovered during the Baker investigation.

Had he used his Capitol office to transact private business, such as dispensing large amounts of cash?

Gertrude Novak, a Senate clerk who, with her late husband, was a partner in Baker-inspired motel and stock ventures, testified that she frequently went to Baker's office to pick up sums ranging from $1,000 to $13,300, always in cash. She said that the money was for operating expenses at the Carousel Motel in Ocean City, Md. Baker and the Novak family built the $1,200,000 motel in 1962, later sold it to Serv-U Corp., a vending-machine firm in which Baker is a major stockholder.

Had he identified his secretary, Carole Tyler, as a "cousin" for purposes of buying a Washington townhouse?

To get around a stipulation that houses in the development be occupied by the owner or his family, Baker said his "cousin, N. C. Tyler," would live there. "N. C. Tyler" was Nancy Carole Tyler, 24, a sultry, shapely brunette who, whatever her relationship to Baker may be, is certainly no kin.

Had he received monthly payments from Ralph Hill, president of Capitol Vending Co., in return for getting Capitol a contract with Melpar, Inc., a Virginia aerospace subcontractor?

Last September Hill filed a $300,000 damage suit against Baker, Ernest C. Tucker, Baker's Washington law office associate, and Fred Black Jr., a Baker buddy who, like Baker, is a big Serv-U stockholder. Hill's suit, with the publicity it generated, was the pin that popped Baker's soaring balloon. In the suit Hill charged that Baker negotiated to get Capitol's machines into Melpar, then demanded a monthly kickback. Hill said he paid Baker $5,600 over 16 months. He also charged that when Baker wanted Hill to sell out to Serv-U and he refused, Baker talked Melpar into dropping its Capitol contract.

Had Baker used his position as majority secretary to get Serv-U into North American Aviation plants?

Hill's suit further contended that Baker told North American Lobbyist Black he could help North American get Government contracts through his Senate post. This, Hill claimed, led Black to assist Serv-U in getting North American's business. North American President John L. Atwood told the committee that Serv-U vending machines did $2,500,000 worth of business annually in North American installations.

(9) Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator (1978)

The fat was in the fire, of course, when the ever-bellicose senator John J. Williams (chairman of the Rules Committee investigating Baker), an avid reader of Jack Andersen's column, learned there that I was an official of the Quorum Club and that Ellen Romesch - who'd once had an affair with a Soviet embassy attaché - had been seen in that club. Suddenly, Ellen Romesch was the greatest threat to national security since Alger Hiss. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had her rush-deported to Germany - sending as her escort, oddly enough, a trusted aide with whom the lady fell in love, causing her to write a series of embarrassingly intimate letters to him, which now are in my possession - in order to save the Republic. What the newspapers did not say, possibly because I've never admitted it before - but which Robert Kennedy definitely knew - was that Ellen Romesch had been one of the women Jack Kennedy had asked me to introduce him to. I accommodated his request.

(10) Merle Miller, Lyndon: An Oral Biography (1980)

The Senate investigators that day agreed that since Reynolds' testimony was so fascinating, they would not adjourn for lunch, and thus they did not learn until late afternoon that Jack Kennedy had been assassinated and Lyndon Johnson had become president, which changed things considerably. It is, or was then, one thing to look into the affairs of a vice-president, and quite another to examine those of a president, particularly when he had become president under such adverse circumstances.

Before they learned they had a new president, however, the investigators were told by Reynolds that he had sent the Johnson family a $585 Magnavox stereo set chosen, he said, by Mrs. Johnson. And he had a copy of a receipt - he kept a copy of everything, as men of his kind often do - which showed that the set had in fact been charged to him and had been shipped in a government car to 4921 Thirtieth Place, where the Johnsons had lived.

Naturally, all of Reynolds' testimony was leaked to the press, but it might have made larger headlines had Lyndon Johnson still been a largely powerless vice-president. Now most newspapers were inclined to play down the stories.

Most of the new president's advisers told him to ignore Reynolds, but Abe Fortas counseled him to tell his story to the public. So Johnson called a press conference in which he said that the Baker family had given the Johnson family the stereo. He said the families frequently exchanged gifts; he said further that he and Lady Bird had used the stereo for a period. What happened after that was rather vague; apparently the set had been given to some other friendly family. Who, why, and whether or not the Baker family often sent such expensive gifts to the Johnson family would forever remain a mystery.

(11) Edward Jay Epstein, Esquire Magazine (December, 1966)

In January of 1964 the Warren Commission learned that Don B. Reynolds, insurance agent and close associate of Bobby Baker, had been heard to say the FBI knew that Johnson was behind the assassination. When interviewed by the FBI, he denied this. But he did recount an incident during the swearing in of Kennedy in which Bobby Baker said words to the effect that the s.o.b. would never live out his term and that he would die a violent death.

(12) Bobby Baker, interviewed in 1990.

Murchison owned a piece of Hoover. Rich people always try to put their money with the sheriff, because they're looking for protection. Hoover was the personification of law and order and officially against gangsters and everything, so it was a plus for a rich man to be identified with him. That's why men like Murchison made it their business to let everyone know Hoover was their friend. You can do a lot of illegal things if the head lawman is your buddy.

(13) Robert A. Caro, Lyndon Baines Johnson: Master of the Senate (2002)

Jenkins wrote Warren Woodward on January 11, "Ed Clark tells me that he has received some assistance from H. E. Butt. I wonder if you could go by and pick it up and put it with the other (we) put away before I left Texas Clark says that Brown's money was for the presidential run for which Johnson was gearing up that January, and that Butt's was for Johnson to contribute to the campaigns of other senators, but that often he and the other men providing Johnson with funds weren't even sure which of these two purposes the funding were for. "How could you know?" Ed Clark was to say. "If Johnson wanted to give some senator money for some campaign, Johnson would pass the word to give money to me or Jesse Kellam or Cliff Carter, and it would find its way into Johnson's hands. And it would be the same if he wanted money for his own campaign. And a lot of the money that was given to Johnson both for other candidates and for himself was in cash." "All we knew was that Lyndon asked for it, and we gave it," Tommy Corcoran was to say.

This atmosphere would pervade Lyndon Johnson's fundraising all during his years in the Senate. He would "pass the word" - often by telephoning, sometimes by having Jenkins telephone - to Brown or dark or Connally, and the cash would be collected down in Texas and flown to Washington, or, a Johnson was in Austin, would be delivered to him there. When word was received that some was available, John Connally recalls, he would board a plane in Fort Worth or Dallas, and "I'd go get it. Or Walter would get it. Woody would go get it. We had a lot of people who would go get it, and deliver it. The idea that Walter or Woody or Wilton Woods would skim some is ridiculous. We had couriers." Or, dark says, "If George or me were going up anyway, we'd take it ourselves." And Tommy Corcoran was often bringing Johnson cash from New York unions, mostly as contributions to liberal senators whom the unions wanted to support. Asked how he knew that the money "found its way" into Johnson's hands, Clark laughed and said, "Because sometimes I gave it to him. It would be in an envelope." Both Clark and Wild said that Johnson wanted the contributions given, outside the office, to either Jenkins or Bobby Baker, or to another Johnson aide. Cliff Carter, but neither Wild nor Clark trusted either Baker or Carter.

(14) Phil Brennan, Some Relevant Facts About the JFK Assassination (2003)

There's an explosive new book that lays out a very detailed - and persuasive - case for the probability that the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

I say persuasive because the author, Barr McClellan, was one of LBJ's top lawyers, and he provides a lot of information hitherto unknown to the general public - much more of which he says is buried in secret documents long withheld from the American people....

McClellan and others before him have discussed the fact that LBJ faced some pretty awful prospects, including not only being dumped from the 1964 ticket but also spending a long, long time in the slammer as a result of his role in the rapidly expanding Bobby Baker case - something few have speculated about because the full facts were never revealed by the media, which didn't want to know, or report, the truth...

Bobby Kennedy, called five of Washington's top reporters into his office and told them it was now open season on Lyndon Johnson. It's OK, he told them, to go after the story they were ignoring out of deference to the administration.

And from that point on until the events in Dallas, Lyndon Baines Johnson's future looked as if it included a sudden end to his political career and a few years in the slammer. The Kennedys had their knives out and sharpened for him and were determined to draw his political blood - all of it.

In the Senate, the investigation into the Baker case was moving quickly ahead. Even the Democrats were cooperating, thanks to the Kennedys, and an awful lot of really bad stuff was being revealed - until Nov. 22, 1963.

By Nov. 23, all Democrat cooperation suddenly stopped. Lyndon would serve a term and a half in the White House instead of the slammer, the Baker investigation would peter out and Bobby Baker would serve a short sentence and go free. Dallas accomplished all of that.

(15) Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993)

According to President Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, Bobby Kennedy was also investigating Bobby Baker for tax evasion and fraud. This had reached the point where the President himself discussed the Baker investigation with his secretary, and allegedly told her that his running mate in 1964 would not be Lyndon Johnson. The date of this discussion was November 19, 1963, the day before the President left for Texas.

A Senate Rules Committee investigation into the Bobby Baker scandal was indeed moving rapidly to implicate Lyndon Johnson, and on a matter concerning a concurrent scandal and investigation. This was the award of a $7-billion contract for a fighter plane, the TFX, to a General Dynamics plant in Fort Worth. Navy Secretary Fred Korth, a former bank president and a Johnson man, had been forced to resign in October 1963, after reporters discovered that his bank, the Continental National Bank of Fort Worth, was the principal money source for the General Dynamics plant.

(16) David E. Scheim, The Mafia Killed President Kennedy (1988)

While ignoring the Mob in his official capacity. Hoover was less exclusive in his personal relationships. He often stayed for free at the Las Vegas hotels of construction tycoon Del E. Webb, whose holdings were permeated with organized crime entanglements. Hoover and Webb also met frequently on vacations in Del Mar, California. During Hoover's annual trips to that city's luxurious Del Charro Motel, his bill was paid by its owner, Clint Murchison, Jr., Hoover's "bosom pal. Murchison, a Texas oil tycoon who backed Lyndon Johnson, was questionably involved with both the Teamsters and Bobby Baker, infamous LBJ aide whose misdeeds will be discussed. But Hoover continued to accept Murchison's hospitality, even while Murchison's dealings with Baker were being investigated by both the Senate and Hoover's own FBI.

(17) Bobby Baker, Wheeling and Dealing: Confessions of a Capitol Hill Operator (1978)

One Sunday evening I was consulting with Abe Fortas at his home when Lady Bird Johnson called... I hardly heard her. I was thinking: LBJ's right there by her side, but he won't talk to me because he wants to be able to say he hasn't. I knew that Johnson was petrified that he would be dragged down... LBJ was already nervous because of the Billie Sol Estes scandal and the resignation of a Texas friend, Fred Korth, who'd quit as secretary of the navy following conflict-of-interest accusations. So I'd not expected to hear much from him. In fact, from the moment I resigned in October of 1963 until I visited him at his ranch to see a dying man, almost nine years later, we spoke not a word and communicated only through intermediaries.

(18) Milton Viorst, Hustlers and Heroes (1971)

After a hard day at the Senate, when anyone else would be glad to get home to bed, Bobby Baker would be starting the evening's fun with the Mexican hat dance. The frolic might go on till dawn. Bobby's secretary was Carole Tyler, a Tennessee beauty with whom he was often seen in public. Carole's place in Southwest Washington, an upper-middle-class redevelopment area of closely packed high-rises and town houses, became the center where Bobby's friends, male and female, often met. How Bobby spent his off-duty hours was more or less common knowledge on the Hill, but those were the days when Bobby was on top, when there seemed nothing unusual about his diversions and when no one thought that, as Senate practices go, there was anything there to get excited about...

The... sex's arrow struck again, when a neighbor of Carole Tyler's, a newspaper reporter, discovered, in scanning the list of eligible voters in the residential co-op, that Bobby Baker was actually the owner of Carole's house, now widely known for its lavender carpet (the same, by the way, with which the Baker bedroom in Spring Valley and the lobby of the Carousel are decorated). In explanation, Bobby has since declared: "She and her roommate were paying $250 a month for an apartment. I fussed at her. I said you're getting up old enough where you ought to be building up a little equity in a place. So they went and they found a place that they wanted. And because they didn't have the net worth to get it, I agreed to put a financial statement in whereby they could get it and build up some equity. Is that criminal or illegal or un-American to try to help two young ladies build up equity?" But the public was scarcely interested in looking at Carole's house as a token of philanthropy. It became a tourist attraction and dozens of gawkers passed it in their cars. But Bobby was undeterred. He continued to give parties there regularly. If he encountered an old Senate acquaintance, many of whom lived in the neighborhood, he didn't turn up his coat collar but, on the contrary, said in his usual friendly way, "Hello, how are you? Nice to see you again." On weekends he even washed Carole's car in the parking lot. If Bobby was, in reality, embarrassed by his publicity, he managed to conceal it very well...

Carole Tyler used to be a normal visitor to the Carousel. Her figure was familiar on the beach and in the bar. Then, in May, 1965, she was killed. Carole was joyriding in a Waco biplane, when the pilot made a flip, failed to pull out in time and plunged into the Atlantic directly in front of the motel. Bobby was there when they brought her body ashore. He knew that the assembled crowd, mostly townspeople in threadbare clothes, expected him to say something appropriate. But there wasn't much you could say about Carole, beyond noting that she was a very pretty girl from a small town in Tennessee who found zest in Washington and lived her life with more gusto than it required. Her friends agreed later that she had chosen a kicky way to go. "All I can say," Baker uttered finally to the bystanders, "is that she was a very great lady." Baker was more accurate than that in taking head counts in the Senate. Whatever Carole was, that wasn't it. But Bobby had style and he wasn't going to let Carole, who was dear to him, leave the world without some of it as adornment.

(19) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2003)

Baker went to great lengths in his own book to relate his business activities and even his financing to Senator Kerr of Oklahoma, merely mentioning that "additional" investment came from a "hotel-casino" man named Eddie Levinson and a Miami investor and gambler Benjamin B Sigelbaum.

He makes only brief mention that Fred Black had helped him with introductions to Levinson and Sigelbaum.

Baker describes Fred Black as a "super lobbyist" for North American Aviation, among other clients. We are already familiar with Black as a close friend and long time associate of John Roselli. Black's importance to both Baker and Johnson may be further indicated in an April 21 telephone call from President Johnson to Cyrus Vance, a call in which Johnson indicated to Vance that he was especially sensitive to charges of corruption.

He instructed Vance to ensure that the press should find no grounds for charges of bribery in his administration. The call had been prompted by newspaper coverage of the trial of Fred Black in which Black had been charged with taking $150,000 on behalf of the Howard Foundry Company to intervene with the Air Force in a $2.7 million claim against that firm. 360 The Chicago-based Howard Foundry was one of Black's two employers of record, paying him $2,500 per month while North American paid him $14,000 a month.

(20) Robert Kennedy was interviewed by John Martlow Martin in April 1964. The interview appeared in Robert Kennedy: His Own Words (1988)

John Martlow Martin: The Bobby Baker case broke in November. Do you want to go into the Bobby Baker case?

Robert Kennedy: I can go into it. I really didn't follow it particularly or get into it very much. The newspapers had a number of articles, The Washington Post particularly. I had always heard stories about Bobby Baker, about all his money and free use of money. My relationship with him always had been reasonably friendly, although I didn't have much to do with him. Even though he was opposed to President Kennedy - he was working for Lyndon Johnson - he was always quite reasonable about it. He certainly didn't create any bitterness on our part. So I was reasonably friendly toward him. Our first involvement in it came, I suppose, in a conversation I had with Ben Bradlee (then the Washington Bureau Chief of Newsweek), who had some information. I can't remember exactly what it was, but they printed it in Newsweek. He asked me if we would look into it, and I said we would look into it.

Subsequently, there were a lot of stories that my brother and I were interested in dumping Lyndon Johnson and that I'd started the Bobby Baker case in order to give us a handle to dump Lyndon Johnson. Well, number one, there was no plan to dump Lyndon Johnson. That didn't make any sense. Number two, I hadn't gotten really involved in the Bobby Baker case until after a good number of newspaper stories had appeared about it. There really wasn't any choice but to look into some of the allegations, which were allegations of violations of law. Some weeks after that, I called (Baker) - I suppose sometime in November - and said that I just wanted to assure him that he'd get a fair shake. If there were any problem, he could send his lawyer to the Department of Justice and he would be fairly treated. Abe Fortas was his lawyer. There were a lot of stories then, after November 22, that the Bobby Baker case was really stimulated by me and that this was part of my plan to get something on Johnson. That wasn't correct.

(21) Robert Kennedy was interviewed by Anthony Lewis in December 1964. The interview appeared in Robert Kennedy: His Own Words (1988)

Anthony Lewis: Speaking of Mr. Hoover, did you ever have the feeling, in dealing with Mr. Hoover, that he knew a very great deal about you personally? I mean, did he ever make this evident? This is, at least by way of story, of legend, something he's supposed to do?

Robert Kennedy: I suppose every month or so he'd send somebody around to give information- on somebody I knew or a member of my family or allegations in connection with myself. So that it would be clear whether it was right or wrong-that he was on top of all of these things and received all of this information. He would do this also, I think, to find out what my reaction to it would be.

Anthony Lewis: What do you mean by that?

Robert Kennedy: I suppose that, if there were an allegation regarding a friend or something, whether I would ask to have it investigated. If it were an allegation regarding me, what I would do. I remember on one occasion that he said that my brother and I had a group of girls on the twelfth floor-he didn't say it; but Senators, somebody-a group of girls on the twelfth floor of the LaSalle Hotel and that, I think, the President used to go over there once a week and have the place surrounded by Secret Service people, and then go up and have assignations on the twelfth floor of the LaSalle. I suppose the idea was whether you'd have it investigated or what you'd do about it.

Anthony Lewis: Did you ever do anything?

Robert Kennedy: Yes, I always used to have them go over and find out what was going on, on the twelfth floor or whatever it might be. There was something else going on in the Georgetown Inn or something. A lot of it was so far-fetched that, even on the face of it, it didn't make any sense. I mean, if you were going to do that kind of thing, you wouldn't go on over to the LaSalle Hotel with the Secret Service surrounding the place. It was ridiculous on the face of it. But I think that the idea was just so that you would know that they [the FBI] were continuously getting this information.

Then, people that you knew: a report that somebody had been out drinking or something; you know, so-and-so's father is a member of the Communist party; or so-and-so's brother was picked up for strange activities or something like that. You'd have that kind of information so that it was quite clear that all of this kind of information was available to him and to the FBI. At the time of the Bobby Baker case and that German girl who was deported.

Anthony Lewis: Ellie Rometsch.

Robert Kennedy: Ellie Rometsch. Clark Mollenhoff wrote an article that she had been tied up with people at the White House, which was, in fact, incorrect. But in doing that I had looked into the files, what she had said - and she had been tied up with a lot of people at the Capitol!

Anthony Lewis: You looked into the FBI files?

Robert Kennedy: I got all the information she had. It was found out that she was associated with a number of other girls, all of whom had run operations up on Capitol Hill. This is a little bit off the point, but it's rather an interesting sidelight. In any case, I put together the information regarding all the girls and then the members of Congress and the Senate who had been associated with the girls-and it got to be large numbers on both ways.

Anthony Lewis: "Both ways" meaning girls and Congressmen?

Robert Kennedy: Yes. Also, all political parties.

Anthony Lewis: Oh, yes?

Robert Kennedy: They (the FBI) were started down that road at that time. I went to see the President, and I said that I thought that it was very damaging to the reputation of the United States. I spoke to the President about it - and it didn't involve anybody at the White House-but I thought that it would just destroy the confidence that people in the United States had in their government and really make us a laughingstock around the world. I suggested that maybe Hoover should meet with (Senate Majority Leader) Mike Mansfield and (Senate Minority Leader) Everett Dirksen and explain what was in the files and what information they had. So that was arranged at Mike Mansfield's apartment one noon for lunch. I guess it was a shock to both of them.

Anthony Lewis: Were you present?

Robert Kennedy: No. The President talked to them afterwards. From then on, there was less attention, up until the last week, on that aspect of the investigation. Some of the Senators had Negro girlfriends and all kinds of things which were not very helpful.

Anthony Lewis: You were convinced of the accuracy of the stuff?

Robert Kennedy: Well, a lot of that stuff, a lot of that material was accurate. Some of it wasn't accurate. Some of the girls just obviously told lies about it, which was brought out. Some of it I had to look into further to determine the truth or the falsehood of it. And some of it was all lies. But in any case, going back to your point, he has all of that information and that material. But we had it under control. At that time we weren't using it for any purpose. I would say the idea, really, now, is that you can use that information and that material.

Anthony Lewis: Why?

Robert Kennedy: I saw it during the time of the Walter Jenkins case. Lyndon Johnson was up here during the Walter Jenkins case, and I talked to him about the case. His response on the Walter Jenkins thing was to try to develop information on Republican Senators and to develop information regarding Barry Goldwater ... being involved in something-that Barry Goldwater was closely identified with Walter Jenkins. He gave me some information about certain Senators and Congressmen that [he thought] he should bring out, and I knew it had come from the FBI because it was the same material that I had had a year or fourteen months ago. I said that I didn't think that he should do that. My advice to him at that time was that he should answer Walter Jenkins by talking about foreign policy, that he should have a meeting of the National Security Council, that he should go on television and talk about the explosion in China-and not try to answer these things. He had prepared a statement that he was going to give-which he showed me in the car driving out-which hit, sort of indirectly, at Barry Goldwater because Barry Goldwater knew Walter Jenkins.

Anthony Lewis: He was his commanding officer.

Robert Kennedy: Yes. That was all going to be done on that basis. Every time I have any conversation in which there's any attack on Bobby Baker, the response always is: "We should bring this out about such-and-such a Senator." The night before he was up here, he told me, he had , spent all night sitting up and reading the files of the FBI on all of these people. And Lyndon talks about that information and material so freely.

Anthony Lewis: You think it's bound to?

Robert Kennedy: It's going to get out. Bob McNamara, who's having his problems with him now, is convinced that he tried to put a tap on his telephone because he's opposed to him.

Anthony Lewis: You mean because the President thinks McNamara is opposed to him?

Robert Kennedy: No, because Hoover feels that McNamara is opposed to him.

Anthony Lewis: That Hoover put the tap on?

Robert Kennedy: Hoover. To get information, because he thinks that there's a conspiracy by McNamara and me to get rid of Hoover.

(22) Phil Brennan, Some Relevant Facts About the JFK Assassination (19th November, 2003)

Sometime in early 1963 I was approached by a young lady with whom I had worked on Nixon's 1960 campaign staff. She asked me if I would meet with her fiancé, who was in great difficulty - and in danger of being murdered.

At the time I was on the staff of the House Republican Policy Committee, and one of my assignments was to keep my bosses up to date on what was going on behind the scenes in the Cold War, analyzing intelligence that came our way and otherwise engaging in a never-ending clandestine, backalley war with the Democrat majority.

I was also writing a Washington column for Bill Buckley's National Review magazine under the cover name Cato, a fact known only to the top GOP House leadership, which allowed me to do the column as long as I didn't use my byline or write it on government time.

Moreover, in my Cato column I had recently broken the story about the Billie Sol Estes scandal, which involved Estes' crony, Lyndon Johnson. The young lady knew all that, and that's why she came to me. I agreed to meet with her fiancé, a South Carolinian named Ralph Hill. We met at the Market Inn, had a couple of martinis, and Hill told me his tale of woe.

He had come to Washington some time before and was steered to a fellow South Carolinian, one Bobby Baker, the powerful secretary of the Senate and a very close associate of Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

To make a long story short, Baker advised Hill to go into the vending machine business and promised him he'd arrange to get some major defense contractors to install the machines, which vended soft drinks, sandwiches, cigarettes and the like.

There was only one catch - Baker wanted under-the-table payoffs for his part in setting up what would be a very lucrative business opportunity with tens of thousands of potential customers who worked in defense plants.

True to his word, Baker got a number of defense contractors to agree to allow Hill the exclusive right to install his vending machines on their premises. It was an opportunity to print money by the barrel, and with those golden contracts in hand, Hill was able to go to the bank and borrow all the funds he needed to buy the vending machines and go into business. For a while he prospered - as did Baker.

But whatever he was paying Baker was not enough to satisfy the man who, for all intents and purposes, had the Senate under his thumb. He saw that the members of the Democrat majority got whatever they wanted - money, bimbos, LBJ's help, you name it. They were all in his pocket.

He could arrange multimillion-dollar contracts for the defense industry or take them away if he wanted. He was LBJ's guy and was all-powerful and a very dangerous man to have as an enemy, a fact Ralph Hill learned when Baker put the bite on him for bigger payoffs.

The problem for Hill was that he had big payments to make on the loans he'd taken out to buy the equipment and set himself up in business, had some pretty steep overhead, and simply didn't have enough left over to boost his payments to Baker.

He tried to explain that fact of life to Baker, but the secretary of the United States Senate wasn't having any. He simply repeated his demands and threatened Hill that if he didn't pay up he'd see that Hill lost all those juicy defense plant contracts.

Bad went to worse, Baker made good on his threats, and Hill was facing bankruptcy. Moreover, it was made known to him that if he didn't simply fold his tent and go off without making trouble for Baker, he might meet with an unfortunate - and probably fatal - accident.

But Hill was facing bankruptcy and the loss of everything he had, and he simply would not give up. He was fighting for his life. And he had the guts to hang in there.

He asked me to help him. But I was completely a creature of the House side of Capitol Hill - the Senate side was foreign territory and, I hate to admit it, I didn't even have the vaguest idea of who this Bobby Baker, the Senate's imperial potentate, was.

I told Hill that his only way out was to expose Baker publicly, to get the story out - once it was public, Baker could not afford to retaliate. I advised Hill to file suit against Baker, laying out all the sordid details in the complaint, and once he had served Baker, to give me the complaint papers and I'd see that the media on the Hill got their hands on copies.

He did and I did - and I now found myself a potential target, not only of Baker's but of the media as well, but that's another story. I was able to get only two reporters to write the story - the late Clark Mohlenhoff, one of the best investigative reporters in Washington, and one other whose name I don't recall.

For the most part, the Washington press corps kept the lid on the story - until the late Bob Humphrey, then the GOP Senate leadership's spokesman, an incredibly gifted strategist and a mentor, asked me to tell the story to the late Delaware Republican Sen. John Williams, a crusader for good government and a crackerjack of an investigator.

Sen. Williams asked me to introduce him to Hill and I did. They got together with some Senate investigators for the GOP minority and Hill told them the whole story, including the part played by Vice President Johnson. Williams got his committee to launch an investigation and the lid came off.

A few days later, the attorney general, Bobby Kennedy, called five of Washington's top reporters into his office and told them it was now open season on Lyndon Johnson. It's OK, he told them, to go after the story they were ignoring out of deference to the administration.

And from that point on until the events in Dallas, Lyndon Baines Johnson's future looked as if it included a sudden end to his political career and a few years in the slammer. The Kennedys had their knives out and sharpened for him and were determined to draw his political blood - all of it.

In the Senate, the investigation into the Baker case was moving quickly ahead. Even the Democrats were cooperating, thanks to the Kennedys, and an awful lot of really bad stuff was being revealed - until Nov. 22, 1963.

By Nov. 23, all Democrat cooperation suddenly stopped. Lyndon would serve a term and a half in the White House instead of the slammer, the Baker investigation would peter out and Bobby Baker would serve a short sentence and go free. Dallas accomplished all of that.

Sometimes I wonder: If I had not met Hill and convinced him to go public with the story, and the Bobby Baker case and Lyndon's part in it had not come out as a result, would Dallas not have happened? I don't like to think about that.

(23) Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997)

In September newspapers and magazines began unraveling a seamy story of Baker's financial ties to a fast-growing vending machine company. Baker and a group of investors, it turned out, had been awarded many contracts while the new company was still being organized, and had also received instant credit from a bank controlled by Democratic senator Robert Kerr, of Oklahoma, and his family. By October the Baker scandal had turned into a newspaper tempest, and reporters were beginning to dig up dirt on a number of present and past senators - including Baker's mentor, Vice President Johnson. A Maryland insurance broker named Donald Reynolds met privately with Senator John Williams of Delaware, a Republican, and complained to him about advertising he had been forced to buy on the vice president's radio and television stations in Austin, Texas, as a condition of writing Johnson's life insurance policy. Johnson also demanded, and got, a television set and a new stereo from Reynolds as a cost of doing business. John Williams's best friend in the Senate was Carl Curtis of Nebraska, the senior Republican on the Rules Committee. As the scandal spread in the newspapers, alarming other Democrats - including senators who had received many thousands of dollars in campaign contributions through Baker - the Rules Committee announced an all-out investigation. Baker's personal life was soon thrust into the limelight, along with the mysterious goings-on at the Quorum Club. It took only days for the Republicans on the committee to find out all they needed to know about Ellen Rometsch.

(24) David McKean, Peddling Influence (2004)

In late 1964, however, Corcoran was preoccupied with a political scandal. Only weeks after Johnson was sworn in as president, Bobby Baker got into trouble for fraud and tax evasion. Baker had been LBJ's closest aide and most important adviser in the Senate. He and Corcoran had known each other for many years, and although never close friends, their mutual respect for Lyndon Johnson and the fact that they were both political operators meant that they saw one another often.

Tommy had actually helped Baker buy his house in the affluent section of Washington known as Spring Valley. Corcoran had learned that Baker and his wife, who was expecting their third child, were looking for a larger home. At the time, Tommy was representing Tenneco, and he knew that a house under construction - originally intended for one of the company's vice presidents, who had been recalled to Texas - was slated to go on the market for $175,000. Baker was encouraged to put in a bid of $125,000, which was accepted. Although Baker never recalled doing any special favor for Corcoran in return, Tommy always knew that he was owed one.

In January 1964 Baker was indicted by the U.S. attorney in Washington for tax evasion. The former Capitol Hill aide sought out John Lane, whom he had known in the Senate and who by now had established a small but highly regarded law practice. Lane did not have a white-collar defense practice, but he knew that Tommy Corcoran's brother, Howard, practiced in New York with Boris Kostelanitz, a respected attorney who had handled several criminal tax cases. Lane and Baker went to see Corcoran in his office. As they sat and talked on Corcoran's leather couch, Corcoran's secretary came in and told Baker that Attorney General Robert Kennedy was on the telephone. Kennedy wanted to assure Baker that he had not personally ordered the case against him and that his knowledge of the case came only from newspaper clippings.

Baker retained Kostelanitz to defend him on the charges of tax evasion and retained Edward Bennett Williams, the renowned criminal lawyer, as his counsel. The case was assigned to judge Oliver Gasch of the district court after several judges reportedly rejected it because they personally knew Baker. Ironically, Gasch, a close friend of Howard Corcoran's, owed his appointment to Tommy Corcoran. But much to Baker's chagrin, Corcoran didn't intercede on his behalf, probably because Lyndon Johnson never asked him. The president, according to one lawyer close to the case, "didn't want to touch Baker with a ten foot pole."

(25) James DiEugenio, review of Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked (March, 2008)

The above production flaws accentuate the tilt in the book that I noted earlier. Although it's a bit difficult to discern, the conspiracy I see Hancock postulating here is a kind of rogue, loosely knit, willy-nilly operation. A set of Cubans is at the bottom committing the crime (he points toward Felipe Vidal Santiago). The supervisor of this plot is Roselli, who Hancock terms the "strategist". Since Roselli has connections to the CIA, the implication is this is where Phillips and Morales come in. To top the machinations as depicted by Hancock -- and in a rather original stroke -- he brings in Roselli's friend and super Washington lobbyist Fred Black. He says Black is the guy who saw President Johnson right after he took office and had some blackmail material on him and this is why LBJ went along with the cover-up.

Where does this information appear to come from? Newly declassified ARRB files perhaps? Nope. It's from another rather questionable book that the author uses. This is Wheeling and Dealing, by the infamous Bobby Baker. Now again, to go into all the problems with using a book like this and with someone like Baker would take a separate essay in itself. Suffice it to say, Baker had such a low reputation and was involved with so many unsavory characters and activities that RFK pressed then Vice-President Johnson to get rid of him before the 1964 election. The Attorney General was worried some of these activities would explode into the press and endanger the campaign. Liking the protection his position with Johnson gave him, Baker resisted. He then fought back. One of the ways he fought back was by planting rumors about President Kennedy and a woman named Ellen Rometsch. The resultant hubbub, with daggers and accusations flying about, is the kind of thing that authors like Seymour Hersh and Burton Hersh make hay of in their trashy books. (I didn't think it was possible, but Burton Hersh's book Bobby and J. Edgar is even more awful than The Dark Side of Camelot. It is such an atrocity, I couldn't even finish it.) Suffice it to say, Baker was forced out in October of 1963. Researcher Peter Vea has seen the original FBI reports commissioned by Hoover about Rometsch and he says there is nothing of substance in them about her and JFK. I am a bit surprised that Hancock would try and pin the JFK cover-up on information furnished by the likes of Baker and Black.

This is all the more surprising since the author includes material from John Newman's latest discoveries about Oswald, James Angleton, the CIA and Mexico City. To me this new ARRB released evidence provides a much more demonstrable and credible thesis as to just how and why Johnson decided to actively involve himself in the cover-up.

To make his Black/Baker theorem tenable on the page, Hancock leaves out or severely curtails some rather important and compelling evidence. In 1996, Probe published a milestone article by Professor Donald Gibson entitled "The Creation of the Warren Commission" (Vol. 3 No. 4 p. 8). It was, and still is, the definitive account of how the Warren Commission came into being. And it was used and sourced by Gerald McKnight in the best study of the Warren Commission we have to date, Breach of Trust, published in 2005. According to this evidence declassified by the ARRB, there were three men involved in pushing the concept of the Warren Commission onto the Johnson White House. They were Eugene Rostow, Dean Acheson, and Joseph Alsop. (There is a fourth person who Rostow alluded to but didn't name in his call to Bill Moyers on 11/24. Ibid p. 27) This trio sprung into action right after Oswald was shot by Ruby. And they began to instantly lobby Moyers, Walter Jenkins, Nick Katzenbach, and President Johnson to create what eventually became the Warren Commission. To say that Hancock gives short shrift to Gibson's seminal account is a huge understatement. He radically truncates the absolutely crucial and stunning phone call between LBJ and Alsop of 11/25. One has to read this transcript to understand just how important it is and just how intent and forceful Alsop is in getting Johnson to do what he wants him to. (The Assassinations pgs. 10-15.) By almost eviscerating it, Hancock leaves the impression that it is actually Johnson who was pushing for the creation of a blue ribbon national committee and not Alsop! (Hancock pgs 327-328) I don't see how any objective person can read the longer excerpts and come to that conclusion. So when Hancock states (p. 322) categorically that "President Johnson was the driving force in determining and controlling exactly how the murder of President Kennedy was investigated," I am utterly baffled at how and why he can write this. The sterling work of both Gibson and McKnight show that this is a wild and irresponsible exaggeration.

(26) Larry Hancock, Education Forum (26th March, 2008)

The above production flaws accentuate the tilt in the book that I noted earlier. Although it's a bit difficult to discern, the conspiracy I see Hancock postulating here is a kind of rogue, loosely knit, willy-nilly operation. A set of Cubans is at the bottom committing the crime (he points toward Felipe Vidal Santiago). The supervisor of this plot is Roselli, who Hancock terms the "strategist". Since Roselli has connections to the CIA, the implication is this is where Phillips and Morales come in. To top the machinations as depicted by Hancock -- and in a rather original stroke -- he brings in Roselli's friend and super Washington lobbyist Fred Black. He says Black is the guy who saw President Johnson right after he took office and had some blackmail material on him and this is why LBJ went along with the cover-up.

Where does this information appear to come from? Newly declassified ARRB files perhaps? Nope. It's from another rather questionable book that the author uses. This is Wheeling and Dealing, by the infamous Bobby Baker. Now again, to go into all the problems with using a book like this and with someone like Baker would take a separate essay in itself. Suffice it to say, Baker had such a low reputation and was involved with so many unsavory characters and activities that RFK pressed then Vice-President Johnson to get rid of him before the 1964 election. The Attorney General was worried some of these activities would explode into the press and endanger the campaign. Liking the protection his position with Johnson gave him, Baker resisted. He then fought back. One of the ways he fought back was by planting rumors about President Kennedy and a woman named Ellen Rometsch. The resultant hubbub, with daggers and accusations flying about, is the kind of thing that authors like Seymour Hersh and Burton Hersh make hay of in their trashy books. (I didn't think it was possible, but Burton Hersh's book Bobby and J. Edgar is even more awful than The Dark Side of Camelot. It is such an atrocity, I couldn't even finish it.) Suffice it to say, Baker was forced out in October of 1963. Researcher Peter Vea has seen the original FBI reports commissioned by Hoover about Rometsch and he says there is nothing of substance in them about her and JFK. I am a bit surprised that Hancock would try and pin the JFK cover-up on information furnished by the likes of Baker and Black.

This is all the more surprising since the author includes material from John Newman's latest discoveries about Oswald, James Angleton, the CIA and Mexico City. To me this new ARRB released evidence provides a much more demonstrable and credible thesis as to just how and why Johnson decided to actively involve himself in the cover-up.

To make his Black/Baker theorem tenable on the page, Hancock leaves out or severely curtails some rather important and compelling evidence. In 1996, Probe published a milestone article by Professor Donald Gibson entitled "The Creation of the Warren Commission" (Vol. 3 No. 4 p. 8). It was, and still is, the definitive account of how the Warren Commission came into being. And it was used and sourced by Gerald McKnight in the best study of the Warren Commission we have to date, Breach of Trust, published in 2005. According to this evidence declassified by the ARRB, there were three men involved in pushing the concept of the Warren Commission onto the Johnson White House. They were Eugene Rostow, Dean Acheson, and Joseph Alsop. (There is a fourth person who Rostow alluded to but didn't name in his call to Bill Moyers on 11/24. Ibid p. 27) This trio sprung into action right after Oswald was shot by Ruby. And they began to instantly lobby Moyers, Walter Jenkins, Nick Katzenbach, and President Johnson to create what eventually became the Warren Commission. To say that Hancock gives short shrift to Gibson's seminal account is a huge understatement. He radically truncates the absolutely crucial and stunning phone call between LBJ and Alsop of 11/25. One has to read this transcript to understand just how important it is and just how intent and forceful Alsop is in getting Johnson to do what he wants him to. (The Assassinations pgs. 10-15.) By almost eviscerating it, Hancock leaves the impression that it is actually Johnson who was pushing for the creation of a blue ribbon national committee and not Alsop! (Hancock pgs 327-328) I don't see how any objective person can read the longer excerpts and come to that conclusion. So when Hancock states (p. 322) categorically that "President Johnson was the driving force in determining and controlling exactly how the murder of President Kennedy was investigated," I am utterly baffled at how and why he can write this. The sterling work of both Gibson and McKnight show that this is a wild and irresponsible exaggeration.