Lydon B. Johnson prepared a statement in 1948 categorically denying he had gone to Duval, Jim Wells or Zapata counties or had confered with officials in those south Texas counties about ballots cast in his runoff election with Coke R. Stevenson Sr.
The Johnson statement, unsigned and undated but clearly prepared for his delivery; contradicts the claim made last week by Luis Sales of Alice, Texas, that the former President went to Alice, in Jim Wells County, to make a deal with political boss George Parr for a more than 200 fraudulently cast late ballots.
Salas was the precinct election judge for the county's Box 13, which reported late an additional 202 votes for Johnson.
With those votes, Johnson gurged ahead and defeated Stevenson by 87 votes for the Democratic nomination that advanced him for congressman to Senator and that paved the way for his ascendancy to President 15 years later.
Discovery of the Johnson statement came today, as 16 reporters and a bevy of television news crew examined some 5,000 documents contained in eight boxes in the archives of the LBJ Library on the University of Texas campus.
The eight boxes of material relate exclusively to the 1948 Senate campaign, the election and the numerous investigations relating to alleged election fraud.
The text of LBJs denial which apparently was delivered, reads:
"I am without knowledge concerning the ballots in either Duval, Jim Wells or Zapata counties, or any of the other counties in Texas, except what I have seen in the press. I have not been to any of those counties and have not conferred with the officials in those counties.
"I assume that if ballots were destroyed in Duval County, this occurred after the grand jury investigation in that county, and that the grand jury went into the ballot boxes and made a thorough investigation, and, having reported that everything was regular and having commended the election officials, they must have concluded to clear the boxes for use in the general election.
"If this was done, I regret it. I hope that the ballot boxes will be preserved intact in all the counties in Texas, for if there is a contest I want to be able to go into all of them; and if this is done, I know that my lead will be several thousand votes ad his will furnish a complete answer to the political smears of my former oppenent (Jack Porter of Houston).
"I have challenged my opponent to an election contest in the stage courts and tried to get him to institute such a contest in sufficient time to permit impounding of all the boxes. He has studiously avoided such action.
"The evidence so far adduced simply shows that he and his ex-Texas Ranger [Frank Hamer], now assigned to protect the propoerty of a major oil company, have been diligently trying to get election officials in some of the border counties to change the returns as legally and properly canvassed by proper election officials. Beyond that, he is trying to create sufficient smear in the hopes that the Republicans may be enabled to control the next Senate."
The statement by Johnson presumably was to be used to answer charges by Stevenson and others that the election had been stolen for Johnson in three counties controlled by Parr, often described as "The Duke of Deval." Parr shot himself to death in April, 1975, while he was still embroiled in charges of political corruption.
Salas said a story reported last Sunday by the Associated Press that LBJ met with Parr, Salas and two other county election officials in Parr's office to solicit more votes three days after the August. 28 runoff election.
Sales quoted Johnson as saying "If I can get 200 more votes, I've got it won."
Continuing his story, the 76-year-old Salas said: Parr said to me in Spanish: We need to win this election. I want you to add those 200 votes.'"