NATIONAL NEWS

‘Window into history’: Tapes detail LBJ’s stolen election

Mar 31, 2023, 12:54 PM

DALLAS (AP) — The story was a blockbuster: A former Texas voting official was on the record detailing how nearly three decades earlier, votes were falsified to give then-congressman Lyndon B. Johnson a win that propelled the future president into the U.S. Senate.

The audio recordings from Associated Press reporter James W. Mangan’s interviews for the 1977 story were posted this week on the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum’s archival website, Discover LBJ. After Mangan’s death in 2015 at the age of 87, his family found the labeled cassette tapes at his San Antonio home and donated them last summer to the library on the campus of the University at Texas at Austin.

Luis Salas, the former South Texas election judge, told Mangan for the story: “Johnson did not win that election; It was stolen for him. And I know exactly how it was done.”

amplify baseless allegations blaming it for his 2020 loss, the tapes and story show what compelling evidence of actual fraud looks like.

Mangan’s son, Peter, said listening the tapes was like getting “a little window into history.”

On one cassette, he said, it sounds like his father is in his car, reciting what he’d just been told.

“You can hear cars going by and he’s kind of, you can tell he’s a little excited, because I think he finally got the goods,” Peter Mangan said.

Mark Lawrence, the library’s director, said the recordings are “deeply connected to one of the big mysteries and controversies that’s hung around LBJ for decades.” In a 1984 oral history that Salas gave to the library, he said one of the reasons he finally decided to talk was because he had been quite ill.

Mangan said in a 2008 AP story that as he worked to convince Salas to go on the record, he told him: “If you die, history will never know what happened.”

Lawrence said much is now known about Box 13, thanks to both Mangan’s 1977 story and research done later by LBJ biographer Robert Caro, who “essentially reaffirmed” Mangan’s story and built on it.

“The kinds of irregularities we can see were at work in the 1948 Senate race in Texas were, I think it’s fair to say, pretty widespread across American history and all regions of the country to one extent or another but certainly in the South and along the Mexican borderlands, as recently as the 1940s,” Lawrence said.

Salas told Mangan that the powerful South Texas political boss George B. Parr — who wielded control with favors and coercion — ordered that some 200 votes be added to Box 13. Salas said he then watched as the fraudulent votes were added in alphabetical order, with the names coming from people who hadn’t voted in the election.

The new votes gave Johnson the primary victory over then-Gov. Coke Stevenson by an 87-vote margin. Johnson — subsequently bestowed with the nickname “Landslide Lyndon” — went on to easily defeat the Republican in the general election, long before the GOP became the dominant force in Texas politics.

Johnson, elected to the U.S. House in 1937, had run for U.S. Senate in 1941 and lost to then-Gov. Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel in an election widely accepted by historians to have been corrupt, Lawrence said.

“The standard story that gets told, and I think there’s an awful lot to it, is that when LBJ’s second chance comes along in 1948, he’s determined not to have the election stolen from him again,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said the 1948 Senate victory “catapults” Johnson to national attention. Johnson became then-President John F. Kennedy’s vice president and was sworn in as president Nov. 22, 1963, after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Johnson was elected president in 1964. He decided not to run again in 1968 and died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of 64.

Lawrence said that while the Box 13 incident shows that “LBJ was willing to do what he had to do to maintain political power,” he was also a man who, “when he had the opportunity, he was more inclined to act on principle.” Lawrence noted Johnson’s efforts to “ensure that people were able to vote in fair and equitable elections.”

In 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which outlawed practices designed to disenfranchise Black voters by banning literary tests and poll taxes. The act also gave the federal government the authority to take over voter registration in counties with a pattern of persistent racial discrimination, although that is no longer the case after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the requirement in 2013.

James Mangan retired from AP on Jan. 1, 1989, after a 36-year career with the company that took him to cities across the U.S. and to Europe. With each move, Peter Mangan said, his father held on to the Box 13 tapes.

“He always kept these,” he said, “so I know they must have been important to him.”

National News

Associated Press

Sheriff’s deputies fatally shoot 2 people while serving a warrant in Georgia

ALTO, Ga. (AP) — Sheriff’s deputies who were serving a warrant in another county shot and killed two people in northeast Georgia on Tuesday. The Forysth County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were serving an arrest warrant on a sex offender for violating the conditions of his probation in the Banks County town of Alto. The […]

4 minutes ago

Associated Press

A meteor streaked across the NYC skyline before disintegrating over New Jersey

NEW YORK (AP) — A meteor streaked across the New York City skyline before disintegrating over nearby New Jersey, according to NASA. William Cooke, the head of the space agency’s Meteoroid Environments Office, said the fireball was first sighted at an altitude of 51 miles (82 kilometers) above Manhattan at around 11:17 a.m. Tuesday. The […]

18 minutes ago

A fire burns at the Warren Grove Air To Ground Range, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. in Bass River Townshi...

Associated Press

Forest fire at New Jersey military base 80% contained after overnight rain

BASS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — Heavy rain overnight helped firefighters gain more control over a forest fire burning at a military bombing range in southern New Jersey. Fire officials said Wednesday that half an inch (1.3 centimeters) of rain fell overnight at the Warren Grove Air to Ground Range, a training facility for the New […]

40 minutes ago

FILE - Former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro speaks to the media as he leaves federal cour...

Associated Press

Ex-Trump adviser Peter Navarro is released from prison and is headed to Milwaukee to address the RNC

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Former Trump White House official Peter Navarro was released from prison on Wednesday after completing his sentence for a contempt of Congress conviction and is expected to speak hours later at the Republican National Convention. Navarro, who served as a White House trade adviser under President Donald Trump, was freed from custody […]

52 minutes ago

Associated Press

A Texas school that was built to segregate Mexican American students becomes a national park

A west Texas school built in 1909 for Mexican and Mexican American students as part of “separate but equal” education segregation was designated Wednesday as a national park. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally established the Blackwell School National Historic Site in Marfa, Texas, as the nation’s newest national park and the seventh […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a 2024 Prosperity Summit Tuesday, July 16, 2024, in North Las Vegas, ...

Associated Press

Nearly two-thirds of Democrats want Biden to withdraw, new AP-NORC poll finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly two-thirds of Democrats say President Joe Biden should withdraw from the presidential race and let his party nominate a different candidate, according to a new poll, sharply undercutting his post-debate claim that “average Democrats” are still with him even if some “big names” are turning on him. The new survey by […]

1 hour ago

‘Window into history’: Tapes detail LBJ’s stolen election