During the recent presidential campaign, some of the biggest businessmen in the U.S. publicly supported Lyndon and Hubert. All during the campaign the pro-Lyndon newspapers and columnist described this unprecedented support of a Democratic ticket by big business as the final testimony to Lyndon's political genius. Lyndon was all things to all men and the enlightened businessmen of the country knew it.
Well, now things are clearing up a bit. It seems there was a more substance to the big business support for the Lyndon ticket than was visible during the campaign.
In 1961 the General Electric Corporation and five other electrical manufacturers were convicted to the crime of conspiring to fix prices on heavy electrical equipment. Under the terms of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, this conviction made GE and the others liable for damages to all firms they had cheated by fixing prices. The specific provisions of the Sherman Act make it possible for those so damaged to collect three times the amount of the damages from the culprits, General Electric., and others.
At least two of the directors of GE, George H. Love and Ralph Lazurus were among the most eager supporters of Lyndon and Hubert from the ranks of big business. Just recently Lyndon's Internal Revenue Bureau has issued a ruling which provides that corporations found guilty of criminal violations of the Sherman Act and required to pay triple damages to those injured by the violation, may deduct from their taxable income the amount they have to pay in such damages, as well as the cost of defending themselves against suits to collect the damages.
The Bureau, in ruling number TIR-615, says that such damages and costs are "ordinary and necessary business expenses." In other words, according to the Bureau's ruling, one supposes, the commission of a crime against the laws of the United States is an ordinary and necessary business practice, and, therefore, the costs resulting from such crimes are ordinary and necessary business expenses. We've never doubted this was true, but we never expected corroboration from so authoritative a source.
Only one of the triple damage suits against GE and the other five companies has come to trial. The jury awarded damages of a bit more than 28 million. There are more than 1,000 such suits pending or anticipated.
Since General Electric and the others can now deduct the $28 million from their taxable income, their federal income tax will be reduced, as a result of that one case, by almost 14 million. It is difficult to say how many hundreds of millions of dollars the U.S. Government will eventually lose through Lyndon's friendly ruling for General Electric.
But perhaps General Electric just got confused in the maze of the federal laws? Maybe GE didn't know anything about that law. Maybe Lyndon was taking this into consideration when his men at the Internal Revenue issued the ruling?
Here is General Electric criminal record:
1911 — guilty of controlling the sale of incandescent lamps.
1932 — guilty of conspiring to monopoly radio communication.
1936 — guilty of conspiring to fix the price of power cable and rubber covered building wire.
1937 — guilty of conspiring to fix the price of turbine generators.
1941 — guilty of paying two Dutch companies not to compete in the US in the sale of glass light bulbs.
1942 — guilty of trying to monopolize incandescent lamps, tubing, bulbs, and other equipment.
1947 — participation in cartel arrangement to fix prices, allocate orders, and eliminate competition.
1948 — guilty of conspiring to monopolize hard metal alloys.
1948 — guilty of conspiring to fix prices on drop-out fuse cutouts.
1949 — guilty of conspiring to fix prices on electric switches and equipment sold to utility companies on the West Coast ( essentially the same activities convicted of again in the 1961 case.
1949 — guilty of conspiring to fix the price of rigid conduit.
1952 — guilty of conspiring to fix prices on street lighting equipment.
1953 — guilty of conspiring to divide world market on all type of electrical equipment.
1953 — guilty of conspiring with German interests to allocate trade territories on electrical equipment.
1954 — guilty of conspiring to monopolize fluorescent lamp trade.
Thus, far from being the corporate innocent, deserving of some consideration, General Electric is actually a criminal conspiracy with a long record of conviction — long enough indeed, to qualify for habitual criminal status as defined in most states. On another occasion we shall speak of the honorable men who have guided the corporation during this long career of crime. But for now we do know that Lyndon is a part of that distinguished career.
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Another of those businessmen who thought so much of the Lyndon- Hubert ticket was James Ford Bell, Jr. Bell had Hubert down for a bit of a bird-shooting on his (Bell's) 7,500 acre plantation in Thomas County, Georgia, last weekend. It's interesting to see what kind of chap this Bell is, since he's apparently such a chum of Hubert's.
Bell is the Chairmen of the Board of Directors of Red Owl Stores, Inc. which owns 172 retail supermarkets in Iowa, Minnesota, Wyoming, Illinois, and Colorado. It also operates a chain of 21 drug stores in the St. Paul-Minneapolis area and radio station KRSI in Minneapolis.
Bell is also a Director at General Mills, Inc., one of the nations largest food possessing firms (it's the 95th largest corporation in the U.S. as measured by sales.) His brother, Charles Heffelfinger Bell, is the Chairmen of the General Mills board. General Mills produces and sells many products familiar to all American householders — Gold Medal flour, Wheaties, Bisquick, Betty Crocker cake mixes, etc. General Mills also has an electronic division, which makes various components for the Armed Forces. It has large grain storage elevators in Minneapolis and elsewhere, which it rents to the U. S. Government for the storage of "surplus" grain. In 1962 the U.S. Government paid General Mills $1,245,985 for storing grain during that year. The Bell brothers are related through their mother, (Louise Heffelfinger) to the Heffelfingers who own the Peavey Co. a grain firm with headquarters in Minneapolis. Peavey and Co. was paid, in 1962, $4,064,223 in grain storage fees by the U.S. Government.
It is also interesting to note, in light of the above comments on General Electric, and what Lyndon's Bureau of Internal Revenue did for them, that Walter B. Wriston, director of G.E., sits on the General Mills board with the Bell brothers, those great friends and admirers of Hubert.
James Ford Bell is a director of a Northwest Bancorporation, as are the three other members of the board of directors of Red owl Stores, Inc. Northwest is the nations 3rd largest bank holding company. It has total deposits of more than 2 billion. It controls, through the 77 banks it owns, 6% of the total bank deposits from Iowa, 26% of those in Minnesota, 13% of those in Montana, 10% of those on Nebraska, 15% of those in North Dakota, and 24% of those in South Dakota.
Hubert, the Great Liberal, has close friends among the biggest businessmen in the country. He accepts their favors, their hospitality, and we don't now what else. The businessmen, we do know, are constantly, one way or another, milking money out of the great federal cow, which Hubert is helping Lyndon to herd. Is it likely that Hubert would urge Ford Bell away from the udder, after the two of them have spent the weekend palling around together on Bell's Georgia hunting preserve?
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In an earlier item we mentioned the textile subsidy bill which was passed in the Senate during the time Lyndon's civil rights bill of 1964 was waiting for the attention of the august body.
[See Civil Rights Act — Battle in the Senate for background.]
We suspected that Lyndon had used the textile bill to buy votes, or try to, from Southerners, when he obviously could have used it to threaten Southern senators if they gave the civil rights bill trouble. We've done some further checking and we're persuaded now that Lyndon used the Textile Bill to buy the campaign support of influential Southerners, and other businessmen —
On October 14, 1964, the Atlanta Constitution (and, presumably, many other papers around the country), carried a full page advertisement with a brief text indicating support of Lyndon and Hubert. The text was followed by a list of the names of some 125 prominent businessmen.
We've taken some of the businessmen's names and checked the companies they represent against a list of companies, which got the textile subsidy money we mentioned earlier. Here is the result:
M.B. Lane Jr., Director, Bibb Mfg. Co. $1,702,102.66
C.A. Cannon, Chmn. Cannon Mills Co. $4,155,447.43
J.M. Cheatham, Pres., Dundee Mills $660,912.81
R.B. Anderson, Dir, Goodyear T & R Co. $103,765.39
G.H.H. Emory, Chmn., Riegal Textile Corp. $1,508,449.97
R.H. Jewell, Pres., Crystal Springs Bleachery $338,280.52
D.W. Johnson, Pres., Abney Mills $1,165,242.42
H.M. Jones, Pres.., Waverly Mills $469, 786.41
W.S. Montgomery, Pres., Spartan Mills $1,834,273.55
C.F. Myers Jr., Pres. Burlington Ian. $2,151,564.97
R.S. Small, Pres., Woedside Mills $1,126,922.73
H. Werthan, Director, Werthan Bag Corp. $185,875.20
Is there any escape from the conclusion that Lyndon wanted passage of the textile bill to secure the support of the group of largely southern businessmen? It should be remembered, too, that Lyndon, gave up, in 1964, trying to get a decent minimum wage bill through the congress. The textile industry is one of the lowest paid in the U.S. Lyndon could not raise the wages of the textile workers, but he could give the textile owners a multi-million dollar gift of the public funds.
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It's a Great Society, Lyndon's is. Pity more people don't qualify to get it.
Feb. 18, 1965
Copyright © Jack Minnis, 1965