Tuesday, November 26, 2019

William A. Clark: A "Copper King" fails to buy a Senate seat

As the mining ventures in the West gained steam, the businesses of three Butte men grew powerful enough that they were popularly dubbed Montana's "Copper Kings." One, F. Augustus Heinze, had been born into wealth and managed to establish the multi-million dollar United Copper Company. The other two - Marcus Daly and William A. Clark - shared a similar background: hardscrabble beginnings followed by success in the mining industry that allowed them to establish a foundation for their empires.

The two men also despised each other. It's unclear what sparked the feud between Daly and Clark, though several theories have been advanced. The most likely story seems to be that Clark interfered with the business of the Anaconda Company, Daly's business, by buying up the water rights Daly needed to operate a copper smelter. It was also suggested that Clark had offended Daly by making a racist remark about his Turkish-American business partner, James Ben Ali Haggin.

Regardless of what started the fight, the two titans would find themselves pitted against each other on a number of state political issues. One pitched battle occurred after Montana gained statehood in 1889. As the state government was organized, Daly sought to have the capital located in Anaconda, a community he founded; Clark was a vociferous advocate of Helena for the state capital. Clark would later estimate that more than $1 million had been poured into the capital fight, and that his spending had accounted for about $100,000.

The unchecked spending in the matter spurred the state legislature to try to reign in campaign finances. A newly minted law held that a candidate couldn't give more than $1,000 to any committee in one county, or pay more than $1,000 out of their pocket for any lawful campaign purposes.

About a decade later, Clark would be accused of blatantly disregarding this law in an attempt to win a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Early life

Clark was born near Connellsville, Pennsylvania, on January 8, 1839. He attended the common schools, as well as the Laurel Hill Academy, and demonstrated his entrepreneurial qualities at a young age. Toting farm produce from Connellsville to the community of New Haven in the west, he bargained with customers in an effort to secure the highest prices.

In 1856, Clark moved with his parents to Van Buren County, Iowa, after his father sold the struggling family farm. He studied law at Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant, but never practiced. He also taught school, moving to Missouri to do so between 1859 and 1860. Some accounts suggest that he briefly joined the Confederate military during the Civil War, though these claims appear dubious.

Clark first got into the mining business in 1862, when he drove a team to Central City, Colorado, and stayed to work in the quartz mines near this town. A year later, he purchased and drove another team with three companions and wound up in Bannack, Montana, where he found work in the gold placer mines.

In one of his early successful enterprises, Clark found that he could realize more success in supplying the mining operations rather than working in them. He started by traveling to Salt Lake City, returning to Montana loaded up with groceries and supplies such as tobacco that he could sell at a profit. In 1869, on a trip east to establish additional supply lines, he stopped off in Pennslyvania and ended up marrying childhood friend Kate Stauffer.

An empire grows

By 1872, most of the easily accessible gold in the Butte region has been mined. What was left of the precious material was locked up in quartz ore. Clark responded by purchasing a foreclosed mill, with which he was able to reap significant profits processing the quartz. He then purchased four mining claims at a deep discount. These actions formed the nucleus of what would become a vast fortune.

Clark followed numerous mercantile pursuits in Blackfoot and Helena. His name would ultimately be associated with 28 companies, none of which were publicly traded. A glowing biographical sketch declared that this arrangement left his businesses "entirely untrammeled by boards of directors, stockholders with their numerous interests and constant liability to produce embarrassing situations, and of all stock market conditions." He purchased copper, coal, and silver mines in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Utah. As his mining interests grew, he was said to be the largest individual owner of copper mines and smelters in the world.

As he became more invested in this business, Clark studied at the Columbia School of Mines. One of his more profitable mines was the United Verde copper deposit in Jerome, Arizona. He acquired 70 percent of the stock after the Phelps Dodge Corporation concluded the claim was too remote to yield much revenue. Just a few years later, Clark had reaped $60 million from it.

The empire forged by Clark went well beyond mineral wealth, though. He secured a mail contract between Missoula and Walla Walla, Washington. He opened a newspaper and bank in Butte, worked with two partners in wholesale and retail merchandising, bought up gold dust from panners to sell to banks on the East Coast, and acted as the purchasing agent for several Helena merchants by extending loans with 2 percent interest. Clark's holdings would eventually spread nationwide, including a blasting powder plant in Pennsylvania, a wire plant in New Jersey, and a beet sugar plantation near Los Angeles.

A contentious Senate race

Clark's first became involved in politics in 1884, when he served as president of a state constitutional convention. He supported the Democratic Party's desire for lower tariffs, and in 1888 the party chose him as their nominee for Montana's territorial delegate seat in Congress.

The feud between Clark and Daly was already underway at this point, with both men using newspapers they owned to lash each other in editorial broadsides. Daly was credited with sabotaging Clark's bid by having his own employees oppose the candidate, even if they agreed with his positions. The secret ballot was not yet in place in Montana, so it was a simple matter for the shift bosses at the Anaconda Company to inspect the ballots and make sure the workers had complied with Daly's wishes. In the final tally, Clark earned 17,360 votes to the 22,486 that went to his Daly-backed challenger, Republican candidate Thomas Henry Carter.

Marcus Daly (Source)

Clark didn't have to wait long for a larger prize to be available. While Congress had rejected Montana's attempt at statehood in 1884, it accepted it five years later after another constitutional convention that Clark again presided over. The Montana legislature at the time was firmly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The split was so bad that the house of representatives effectively broke into two separate chambers, with the parties meeting and acting separately. The state senate failed to pass any of the laws submitted by either half of the house, effectively preventing the state legislature from accomplishing any business in its first session.

This deadlock didn't bode well for the legislative responsibility of appointing two U.S. senators. Each party named its two picks and sent them to Congress in 1890 for the Senate to sort out; the partisan divide was just as pronounced in the nation's capital, and the Senate kept the Republican nominees while sending the Democratic ones (Clark included) back home.

Both Daly and Clark ran for the Senate in 1893, but neither was able to get the necessary majority support in the legislature. As a result, Montana simply didn't name a senator that year.

Again running for the Senate in 1899, Clark was finally appointed to a seat with his six-year term set to begin in March of that year. Fifty-four legislators voted for him, while 39 voted against. However, accusations of bribery quickly emerged. One of the most dramatic examples came when state senator Fred Whiteside brought $30,000 in cash into the legislature, announcing that the sum had been advanced to him and three others to win their support for Clark. Whiteside declared, "I know that the course I have pursued will not be popular, but so long as I live, I propose to fight the men who have placed the withering curse of bribery upon this state."

Fred Whiteside (Source)

Clark launched a vicious offensive against Whiteside, saying the accusation was part of an attempt by Daly and his cohorts to undermine his appointment to the Senate. He and his allies than challenged Whiteside's own close election to the legislature, managing to invalidate it by having any ballots where an X was marked after his name instead of before it thrown out.

Before departing, Whiteside delivered a speech which included a sarcastic toast to crime. The Senate matter, he said, reminded him of "a horde of hungry, skinny, long-tailed rats around a big cheese." He invited the legislators who had switched their votes to support Clark to stand up and explain why they had done so. However, he suggested it would be "much more clear and to the point if they would just get up and tell us the price and sit down."

"I never bought a man..."

When Clark arrived in Washington and presented his credentials, he was seated in the Senate without delay. However, his opponents filed a petition on the same day accusing him of winning the election though outright bribery. Clark, they said, had also far exceeded the $2,000 cap on campaign spending set by the 1895 state law in Montana.

The matter was referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections, which held hearings on the issue between January and April of 1900. Ninety-six witnesses would be heard, including Clark, Daly, Whiteside, and Montana state legislators who had voted in favor of Clark's appointment to the Senate.

The investigation uncovered a scheme, overseen by Clark's son, to funnel bribes of between $240 and $100,000 to support Clark's election bid. A committee had been set up with the understanding that Clark would provide them with unlimited sums of money to be used to sway legislators to his side. In some cases, the bribes had been subtle measures, such as paying mortgages and debts or purchasing land from a legislator at a vastly inflated price. Other bribes had been more straightforward, including instances where a recipient was simply handed an envelope full of cash. The larger bribes were usually paid in $1,000 bills.

It was estimated that Clark has spent about $431,000 to nail down 47 votes in the legislature, including 11 crucial Republican ones. Clark himself admitted to only paying $139,000 toward his campaign, though of course this vastly exceeded the state cap. He reportedly quipped, in private, "I never bought a man who wasn't for sale." He didn't help his case before the Senate committee when he admitted that he had destroyed all records of his campaign finances, raising doubts as to the honesty of his Senate run.

The testimony of Whiteside and three other legislators who directly accused Clark of attempted bribery proved damning. The committee ultimately determined that their testimony could only be false if they had entered into a lengthy "conspiracy of the basest character, to be followed up by perjury of the worst sort," with the sole purpose of depriving Clark of his seat in the Senate.

On April 10, the committee unanimously concluded that Clark was not entitled to sit in the Senate. It declared his election null and void due to "briberies, attempted briberies, and corrupt practices by his agents," as well as violations of Montana state law. The committee noted how Congress had previously refused to seat elected members in cases of bribery even if the beneficiary was unaware of these efforts. It cited a similar case from 1873, when the Senate had reviewed the elections of Samuel C. Pomeroy and Alexander Caldwell in Kansas. In the Pomeroy case, the Senate had concluded that a candidate should not be seated if they had clearly participated in any one bribe or attempted bribe, even if it didn't change the result of the election.

Two committee members agreed with the conclusion, but sought to blunt the seriousness of the matter. They noted that Daly had also violated Montana's state law by channeling unlimited amounts of his own cash into the race to oppose Clark. Daly had even spent about $40,000 in lawyer's fees and other expenses to assist in the prosecution of the case before the Senate. The committee report acknowledged Daly's machinations, but said there was no evidence to support Clark's charge that Daly had concocted a conspiracy against him.

On May 15, on the eve of a vote before the full Senate, Clark rose to deliver a speech listing his grievances. He criticized the committee procedures, charging that the Senate had not granted him the presumption of innocence and had withheld certain evidence. He also said the committee had not proved any bribery sufficient to alter the results of the legislature's appointment and denounced Daly, saying his rival ruled the town of Anaconda like a despot and wasn't above trying to control politics on a larger stage.

But Clark said he was aware that he likely didn't have the support to keep his seat and thus resigned on the spot. In a letter to the governor of Montana, he said he was convinced his supporters did not result to corrupt means to secure his election. Nevertheless, he was "unwilling to occupy a seat in the Senate of the United States under credentials which its Committee has declared rest for their authority upon the action of a legislature which was not free and voluntary in its choice of a senator."

As it happened, both the governor and lieutenant governor of Montana were not in the state at the time of Clark's resignation. In a bizarre illustration of the state's divided loyalties, Lieutenant Governor Archibald E. Spriggs traveled 800 miles to get back within state lines and name Clark to fill the vacancy created by his own resignation. Governor Robert B. Smith, a Daly supporter, returned to Montana three days later. Outraged by Spriggs' action, he telegraphed the Senate to tell them that he would be naming Martin Maginnis, a former territorial delegate, to the Senate.

The Senate was presented with the credentials for both men. Exhausted, they tabled both of them and left one of Montana's seats unfilled. The sordid affair would be just one more piece of evidence reformers would use to argue that U.S. senators should be chosen by popular vote instead of legislators; this change would finally come about with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913.

Senate and sex scandals

Clark could easily fall back on his burgeoning business empire. By 1900, his fortune was estimated at about $50 million and he was considered one of the richest men in the world.

The Montana legislature convened again in January 1901, and again were tasked with choosing a senator. Clark had financially supported the campaigns of many of the legislators to help improve his goodwill in the body. He had won the support of the miners' union for promising to support an eight-hour day as well as legislation allowing miners to sue the company for damages caused by a coworker's negligence and to shop freely instead of being obligated to purchase goods at overpriced company stores. Perhaps more importantly, a major roadblock to his political ambition had been removed: Daly had died in November of the previous year.

The legislature again named Clark to the Senate, and this time he was seated without issue. His six-year term was unremarkable. He favor the construction of a canal through Nicaragua instead of Panama. He also supported a policy allowing mining companies to cut timber on federal lands without reimbursing the government; Clark and others used this policy to enrich themselves through logging as well as mining.

The famous humorist Mark Twain was none too impressed with Clark. In a 1907 essay, he declared, "He is as rotten a human being as can be found...he is a shame to the American nation, and no one has helped to send him to the Senate who did not know that his proper place was the penitentiary, with a ball and chain on his legs." He added, "By his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell."

Clark's romantic life also gained attention during his Senate term. He had maintained a distant relationship with his wife and children; since 1878, they had been living in Europe and Clark had traveled to visit them every winter. Katherine had died in 1893. Clark later started a relationship with a young actress named Anna Eugenia La Chapelle; he had sent her from Montana to France when she was 16 years old to study music. Anna became pregnant in 1901 and again in 1903.

Anna Eugenia La Chapelle (Source)

The Anaconda Standard, a paper that Daly had owned, gleefully exposed this relationship with an article headlined "They're Married and Have a Baby" on July 12, 1904. Clark claimed that he and Anna had secretly been married on May 25, 1901. It was a dubious claim, since it conveniently put Clark in France at the same time as Anna and more than nine months before the birth of her daughter, Louise Amelia Andree Clark. No newspapers in Europe had mentioned a wedding, despite extensive coverage of Clark's trip; his itinerary also failed to mention such an event. The "secret" wedding was widely regarded as a flimsy excuse to try to sidestep any scandal.

Throughout 1904, Clark would be buffeted with charges that he was fond of seducing young women. Hattie Rose Laube, a noted campaign speaker, claimed that Clark had promised to marry her while the two traveled in Europe. There were questions over Clark's "sponsorship" of Kathlyn Williams, a Butte woman 40 years his junior whom he had sent to New York City to study opera; Clark had also supported her decision to switch to acting, where she became a well-known star. A woman named Mary McNellis sued him for $150,000, claiming that Clark had seduced and impregnated her and falsely promised her marriage; a judge later ruled against her, though the matter also included a questionable transaction where McNellis's lawyer sold his interest in a Canadian mine to Clark.

After serving one term, Clark retired from the Senate.

Later years

Clark's business ventures had continued apace while he was in the government. One of the more prominent accomplishments was the 1,100-mile San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Rail Line. He had financed the construction of this line, although its construction was largely overseen by younger brother J. Ross Clark. The railroad, completed in 1905 and now part of the Southern Pacific Railroad, is credited as the only railroad to be built with funding from a single person rather than a corporation.

One unintended consequence of this railroad was the creation of Las Vegas. Clark purchased and subdivided a ranch in the Nevada desert to create a community where the trains could be serviced and his employees could live. The small settlement eventually grew into the modern day gambling mecca, while Clark County was named in the tycoon's honor.

Meanwhile, Clark has been working to establish an opulent mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The home itself would not be completed until 1911, following 14 years of construction and planning. The rambling 121-room residence included four art galleries as well as an underground railroad line to bring in coal for heating. As part of the construction, Clark has purchased a quarry in New Hampshire to supply stone and a bronze foundry to cast its fittings.

Clark's mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City (Source)

Clark would live the rest of his life in the mansion. Despite his diminutive political career, he had made numerous charitable donations supporting organizations such as the YMCA and First Presbyterian Church. He helped establish a Girl Scout camp in New York and numerous organizations in Butte, including an orphanage, homeless shelter, and a 68-acre amusement park called Columbia Gardens. Clark also established an electric trolley line to this site, which children were permitted to ride for free on Thursdays.

On March 2, 1925, Clark died of pneumonia. His children received assets worth about $200 million, all of which has been sold off by 1935. La Chapelle received $2.5 million. Clark's vast art collection was donated to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., after the original recipient, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, balked at the requirement that exclusive galleries be maintained in perpetuity for the works. The paintings were transferred to the National Gallery of Art after the Corcoran dissolved in 2014.

The immense New York City mansion briefly remained as a monument to Clark's wealth while struggling to find someone willing to buy it. Finally, in 1927, it was purchased and quickly demolished to make way for luxury apartments. His comparably modest 34-room residence in Butte survives today as a bed and breakfast called the Copper King Mansion.

Some of Clark's children also earned recognition. William Andrews Clark Jr. was a notable philanthropist who founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1919. A daughter, Huguette Clark, was a reclusive heiress who preferred to live the last 20 years of her life under assumed names in hospital rooms despite owning a palatial 42-room apartment on Fifth Avenue. She also owned mansions in California, Connecticut, and New York which she kept in good repair but never visited.

Huguette died in 2011 at the age of 104, leaving behind an estate worth $300 million. Her will quickly became the subject of a prolonged court battle. Despite the stipulation that her relatives wouldn't receive a cent, her heirs were eventually granted $34.5 million. One of the main results of the probate process was the establishment of the Bellosguardo Foundation, which is located within Hugette's former estate in California and aims to be an arts and cultural destination.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Museum of the City of New York, Online Nevada Encyclopedia, The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA, The Copper King Mansion Bed & Breakfast, "The Right and Title of William A. Clark to a Seat as Senator from the State of Montana" report from The Committee on Elections and Privileges, "The Election Case of William A. Clark of Montana" at Senate.gov, "William Andrews Clark" in the Las Vegas Review Journal on Feb. 7 1999, "Daughter of Connellsville's Controversial Billionaire Dies" in the Tribune-Review on May 28 2011, "Huguette Clark's $300 Million Copper Fortune Is Divided Up" on CNBC on Sep. 24 2013, "A Familiar Scandal: Teenage Girls, A U.S. Senate Hopeful and a Century-Old Montana Story" in the Billings Gazette on Nov. 16 2017, McClure's Magazine Vol. 28The Battle for Butte: Mining and Politics on the Northern Frontier 1864-1906 by Michael P. Malone, Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917 by Michael Punke, Copper for America: The United States Copper Industry from Colonial Times to the 1990s by Charles K. Hyde, The Cyclopaedia of American Biography Vol. VIII,

Monday, August 19, 2019

William Adams Richardson

Throughout the two terms Ulysses S. Grant spent as President of the United States, his administration was beset by various scandals. Several officials were accused of wrongdoing, with lax oversight contributing to the general air of corruption and wrongdoing.

Although it attracted less attention than some of the other Grant Administration scandals, the Sanborn Incident would ultimately end the Cabinet service of William Adams Richardson, the Secretary of the Treasury. While Richardson had enjoyed a sound reputation before this matter wasn't accused of directly benefiting the questionable actions in this affair, he was strongly condemned for failing to stop the scandal in its tracks.

Early life

Richardson was born on November 2, 1821, in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1843, and three years later he was admitted to the bar. He began practicing law from a firm he established in Lowell; he would move it to Boston in 1860.

Early in his career, Richardson dabbled in banking and politics. He briefly served as the president of a Wamesit bank, and held the role of director at other banks in the area. He was elected to the city council of Lowell in 1849, re-elected in 1853, and made president of the council a year later. Initially a Whig, he later joined the Republican Party.

Richardson also held a number of judicial roles, serving as a justice of the peace for Middlesex County from 1847 to 1854. He became a judge for the county's probate court from 1856 to 1858, and its probate and insolvency court from 1858 to 1872.

Richardson also found time to compile and publish the state statutes for Massachusetts, completing this project in 1855 and revising it annually through 1873. He would launch a similar undertaking for the legislation of the U.S. Congress, issuing supplements on these laws from 1874 until his death.

Treasury Department

In 1869, Grant named Richardson as Assistant Secretary of Treasury. The appointment was made at the request of Treasury Secretary George S. Boutwell, a former Massachusetts congressman. Richardson had been offered a judicial role on the Massachusetts Superior Court, but turned it down in order to join Grant's administration. Richardson also briefly served as the acting Attorney General in 1870.

When Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts became Vice President on March 3, 1873, Boutwell resigned his post to fill the vacancy in the Senate. Richardson moved up to become Secretary of the Treasury, though he continued Boutwell's policies aimed at reducing the public debt and building up a federal reserve.

One of the most significant transactions Richardson handled while at the Treasury was the Geneva Award, which in 1872 transferred $15.5 million from British coffers to the United States. Several Confederate raiding ships, most notably the CSS Alabama, had been constructed in British shipyards during the Civil War and gone on to wreak havoc on Union shipping during the conflict. The "Alabama Claims" sought to collect damages for the British role in the matter, and the settlement was finally agreed upon after an international commission met in Switzerland.

The award caused some nervousness in the financial sector, since the transport of such an extraordinary amount of money over the Atlantic Ocean carried a good deal of risk. Richardson instead managed the transaction through a process of receiving and canceling bonds to move the money in a safe manner.

Richardson also played a key role in the federal response to the Panic of 1873. This recession occurred when the European stock market crashed, prompting a selloff of American investments. Railroad bonds were a particularly popular item in these transactions, and as a result the market was flooded with bonds. The railroad companies weren't able to find lenders willing to extend them loans, and many went bankrupt. In the United States, about one in four railroads (89 out of 364) failed.

An illustration of the Panic of 1873. (Source)

The full force of the Panic hit the U.S. on September 18, 1873, when Jay Cooke & Company in New York City collapsed. The bank had overextended itself, with heavy investments in railroads sealing its fate. Two days later, the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading for the first time in its history after economic conditions failed to improve.

A day later, Richardson and Grant traveled to New York to meet with several prominent businessmen. The federal government had promised to buy $10 million in bonds to try to restore confidence in the financial system, and quickly increased this sum to $13 million. The businessmen said it wasn't enough; money was in tight supply, thanks to several commercial banks calling in their loans. To avoid plunging the entire nation into ruin, they argued, the government would need to increase currency in any way possible. Richardson was pressured to release the Treasury's entire reserve of $44 million in order to ease the money market.

Richardson resisted these calls, saying it was unclear if he had legal authority over the disposition of the reserve. He asked Congress to make a judgment, but legislators dithered on the issue. In the last two months of 1873, receipts fell below expenditures and Richardson was forced to act. Although he didn't release the entire reserve, he issued $26 million in greenbacks to help meet the budget.'

While the move was of questionable legality, Congress didn't intervene to challenge it. The cyclical expansion and contraction of the economy, with its accordant panics, would persist for several decades until the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

Richardson was generally praised for his action. The injection of cash into the economy was seen as helping to ease the crisis, while the decision not to empty the reserve was seen as a prudent way to keep the government from getting too heavily involved in the financial sector's woes. Secretary of State Hamilton Fish wrote him, "I assure you and he reached on Sunday last. I hear from every one, except those interested in speculative stocks or bonds, one universal approval of the 'heroic action of the President and Secretary of the Treasury.'"

Nevertheless, the economy would remain depressed for another four years. The bankruptcy of Jay Cooke & Company caused a nationwide run on banks, and more than 100 financial institutions failed. This caused a ripple effect of business crashes; about 18,000 closed their doors in the two years following the start of the Panic, with the unemployment rate reaching 14 percent. A collapse in farm prices hurt the agricultural sector as well, while skyrocketing interest rates made it harder for Americans to get a loan or escape debt.

The Sanborn Incident

One year before the Panic, Congress has passed legislation ending the practice of allowing private individuals to pursue the collection of delinquent taxes. However, Representative Benjamin F. Butler, a Republican from Massachusetts, managed to add a rider allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to employ not more than three men to assist the Bureau of Internal Revenue with its duties.

Four people had secured contracts under this rider, but they only managed to collect about $5,000 over a two-year period. Another private collector, John D. Sanborn, would be much more successful. Sanborn had been working as a special agent with the Treasury Department since 1869; a Massachusetts resident, he was personally acquainted with both Boutwell and Butler. He had also been an agent in Butler's cotton speculation around the time of the Civil War, and the congressman strongly supported his appointment.

Richardson was the Acting Secretary of Treasury when he approved Sanborn's contract on August 13, 1872, with a mandate to collect illegally withheld excise taxes and other revenue from 39 whiskey distillers and entities. Whiskey had a steep excise tax, but it was often evaded. In his work with the Treasury Department, Sanborn had been credited with helping to secure indictments against several tax dodgers, including a small whiskey ring operating in New York City, in the spring of 1872.

Sanborn started his work by pursuing the delinquent taxes recorded at the Boston office of the Bureau of Internal Revenue. On October 25, he asked that his contract be expanded so he could go after 760 people who were delinquent on their estate or income taxes. This request was approved five days later, and in early 1873 this mandate was further enlarged with another 2,000 names. On July 7, he was approved to collect delinquent taxes from 592 railroad companies. As stipulated in his contract, he was able to keep half of whatever revenue he collected.

By entrusting Sanborn with tax collection on such a large number of people and entities, the Treasury Department had essentially flipped the intended relationship between private tax collectors and internal revenue authorities on its head. Instead of assisting the Bureau of Internal Revenue with its work, agents frequently found themselves helping with Sanborn's duties. This began to attract some negative attention among the agents, who feared that the scope of Sanborn's work had grown too large. They also noted that his work was essentially unnecessary, since they would have been able to collect the full value of the delinquent taxes without Sanborn's intervention; his involvement merely ensured that the amount going to the government would be halved while Sanborn would be able to enrich himself. A formal complaint was sent to the Treasury Department, but it was ignored.

Sanborn ultimately collected about $427,000 - a minor sum compared to the $102 million in total internal revenue in 1874, but a vastly greater amount than private collectors had typically been able to collect. Not all of the money had been collected in the most above-board way. He was often abetted by corrupt Treasury officials who encouraged those with tax liabilities not to pay up, giving Sanborn an opening to collect and take his fee. Sanborn also reportedly went after some entities that weren't actually delinquent at all.

The questionable practice eventually resulted in Sanborn's indictment for revenue fraud and the scrapping of his contract. The House Committee on Ways and Means opened an inquiry into the matter between February and May of 1874. The investigation was eagerly supported by Boston financiers and others opposed to Richardson's policies. The Treasury was nearly bankrupt at the time, and had allowed Sanborn's conduct to proceed unchecked; the sordid affair had the look of a conspiracy to defraud the government and enrich a select few. The incident offered the prospect that Richardson would be ousted and replaced with someone more in light with the financial sector's views.

The committee investigation included testimony from Sanborn himself. Since he was entitled to half of what he collected, he said he had received $213,500 for his work; however, he agreed that the citizens he collected from would have likely paid on their own, or that revenue agents would have collected the money as part of their regular duties. Sanborn claimed that more than $150,000 of his share went to Richardson, with much of the rest going to various campaign funds.

Richardson also appeared before the committee, but proved less than helpful. He said he couldn't recall signing Sanborn's contract, and admitted that he often signed documents without actually reading them.

The committee issued its report on May 4, concluding that the Treasury Department had utterly failed to supervise Sanborn's activities. Boutwell had followed the law in requiring that Sanborn set forth a written oath for each claim he proposed to recover, including the specific violation and the person or entity he wished to collect money from; he just hadn't enforced this rule. Richardson had been even more lax, demonstrating "an entire want of knowledge" on the laws regarding private collectors and their contracts. "His only connection, so far as he could remember, with these transactions, was in affixing his signature to the various papers presented to him as a mere matter of office routine, without knowing their contents," the committee declared.

Sanborn, meanwhile, had used his contract to go after a wide range of targets and bilk the country of revenue. The committee concluded that Sanborn's last contract was "substantially the entire list of railroads within the United States." He had simply gotten the 592 names from a register of railroad companies, and only 150 were actually delinquent on their taxes. Moreover, "a very large percentage, if not all" of the money Sanborn raked in would have been collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue in their usual duties; as a result, the Treasury had gotten only half of what it should have received, with Sanborn pocketing the other half.

The committee was highly critical of Richardson as well as the Treasury Department's assistant secretary and solicitor. The three officials had essentially passed the buck among themselves. The assistant treasury also admitted that he signed documents without reviewing them, and said these had been prepared by the solicitor. The solicitor testified that he was simply a law officer acting on the directions of his superiors, which naturally would include Richardson and the assistant secretary. All three officials, the committee said, "deserve severe condemnation for the manner in which they have permitted the law to be administered."

The committee advised that any contracts made with Sanborn and the other private collectors should be revoked, and that no further claims should be made on them. It also declared the outsourcing of delinquent revenue collection "fundamentally wrong" and advocated that it should be stopped immediately.

The report stopped short of advising punishment for any of the Treasury officials, saying there was nothing "impeaching the integrity" of either Boutwell or Richardson. Sanborn himself would ultimately be acquitted, since he had been under contract to collect delinquent taxes and hadn't actually broken any laws in the course of this work.

Nevertheless, the assistant treasury secretary would resign and the incident brought swift calls for Richardson to be removed from the Treasury. Representative James Burney Beck, a Kentucky Democrat, declared the collection contracts to be "reeking and buoyant with corruption." Wilson wrote to Grant saying, "Since I have been in Washington the past few days, I have heard the strongest condemnation of [Richardson's] unfitness."

Grant was reluctant to dismiss Richardson, going so far as to appeal to individual House committee members in an attempt to keep them from issuing a report condemning the Treasury Secretary. Though he finally asked Richardson to step down, he also made sure that Richardson would have a soft landing. On June 1, just three days before Richardson's resignation, Grant nominated him for a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Claims, a body settling claims against the United States. He was quickly confirmed by the Senate.

Later life

Benjamin H. Bristow, a Kentucky lawyer, succeeded Richardson as Treasury Secretary. Grant appointed him with some reluctance, since his opposition to inflationary policy and other monetary views were virtually opposite to Richardson's. However, he considered that the choice would help shore up Republican chances in the upcoming election.

It was not to be. Angered by the depressed economy and scandals in the Grant administration, Democrats more than doubled their presence in the House of Representatives in the 1874 midterm elections and regained a majority in the chamber for the first time since 1856; they would hold control of the House for another six years. The party also gained several seats in the Senate, although the Republican Party retained control.

Richardson would hold a seat on the U.S. Court of Claims for the rest of his life. In January of 1885, President Chester A. Arthur promoted him to the court's chief justice position to replace Charles D. Drake. He also busied himself with other work, including a plan for the enlarged jurisdiction of the Massachusetts probate courts which the state legislature subsequently passed. Between 1879 and 1894, he taught law at Georgetown University.

Richardson died in Washington, D.C. on October 19, 1896.


U.S. Department of the Treasury, The Miller Center at the University of Virginia, Federal Judicial Center, "The Panic of 1873" on American Experience at pbs.org, "Discovery and Collection of Monies Withheld From the Government" report by the House Ways and Means Committee on May 4 1874, "Historical Perspective: The Unhappy History of Private Tax Collection" at the Tax History Project on Sep. 20 2004, "New York and the Panic of 1873" in the New York Times on Oct. 14 2008, The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol. 53, The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal edited by George C. Kohn, Biographical Directory of United States Secretaries of the Treasury 1789-1995 edited by Bernard S. Katz and C. Daniel Vencill, Monetary Policy in the United States: An Intellectual and Institutional History by Richard H. Timberlake, A Sketch of the Life and Public Services of William Adams Richardson by Frank Warren Hackett, The Reconstruction Years by Walter Coffey, Grant by Ronald Chernow

Friday, June 21, 2019

Mike Lowry: Sexual Harassment Claims End Political Career of "Governor Mayhem"

While the #MeToo movement has recently spotlighted the issue of sexual harassment and encouraged victims to report it, a concerted effort to combat the problem began several decades earlier. Legislation in the 1960s prohibited employers from discriminating based on sex in their hires, and other laws helped codify sexual harassment and provide remedies for victims.

In the early 1990s, a memorable series of public service announcements marked an early effort to empower women to fight back against harassers. The videos show women enduring innuendos and lewd remarks from their boorish employers, but ultimately calling out the behavior as sexual harassment, adding, "And I don't have to take it!"

These PSAs were airing at approximately the same time that Governor Mike Lowry of Washington was under fire for sexual harassment claims. Several women accused him of unwanted touching and inappropriate remarks, although some did not want to come forward publicly.

While an investigation concluded that it was impossible to confirm the claims or exonerate Lowry, the accusations were enough to torpedo the governor's already ailing political career.

Early life

Lowry was born in St. John, Washington on March 8, 1939 and moved to Endicott as a child. He grew up in a family of "New Deal Democrats" who admired President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his relief efforts during the Great Depression.

In 1961, while attending Washington State University, Lowry signed up to join the Navy. He was rejected due to high blood pressure, and graduated from the university the next year.

Mike Lowry's senior year high school portrait (Source)

Lowry held a variety of jobs in the ensuing years, including brief stints working for a financial information company and a Seattle building contractor. He also spent three years working as a salesman for the textbook publisher Allyn & Bacon.

During the late 60s, Lowry volunteered on a number of political campaigns including Robert F. Kennedy's presidential bid and Karl Hermann's run for state insurance commissioner. He also worked on the gubernatorial campaign of state senator Martin Durkan Sr. While Durkan failed to win the office, he was impressed enough with Lowry's work to offer him a job on the senate's ways and means committee. Lowry worked as a chief financial analyst and staff director for this committee between 1969 and 1973.

Lowry also managed Durkan's 1972 bid for the governor's office, when he lost the Democratic primary. After leaving the state senate job, he served as the governmental affairs director for the Puget Sound Group Health Cooperative from 1974 to 1975. That year, he was elected to the Metropolitan King County Council, two years after an unsuccessful campaign for this agency. He was also elected president of the Washington State Association of Counties in 1978.


In 1978, Lowry won the Democratic nomination for Washington's 7th Congressional District and challenged Representative John E. Cunningham III in the general election. While the district leaned Democratic, Cunningham had captured it in a 1977 special election after the resignation of Brock Adams, a Democrat who resigned to become Secretary of Transportation.

The gay community of Seattle was starting to become a more powerful voting bloc, and Lowry's campaign wasn't averse to courting supporters at the city's gay bars. When the ballots were counted, Lowry had comfortably defeated Cunningham by about 7,500 votes out of nearly 127,000 cast.

Lowry's congressional portrait (Source)

Lowry would serve in the House of Representatives for the next decade, championing universal health care, the Woman Infants and Children program, and a variety of other liberal causes. Following up on a campaign promise, he introduced a bill to pay reparations to more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans and Aleuts who were imprisoned in federal camps during World War II. While this effort failed, it was credited with helping to launch the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. It also paved the way for a 1988 bill offering the former inmates $20,000 apiece and a formal apology declaring their imprisonment a "grave injustice."

The proposal rankled some who misunderstood the intent of the bill. Lowry was known for frequently holding community meetings in his district, as many as 50 a year, and at one such town hall he was confronted by angry World War II veterans. Staying more than two hours beyond the scheduled end time of the event, Lowry explained that his proposed bill would support Japanese-American citizens who had been rounded up as potential security risks and native Alaskans who had been evacuated in advance of a military effort in the Aleutians, not Japanese soldiers who had fought against the United States.

His visits to the district included also included an annual shrimp feed, which served as a Democratic fundraiser. It soon became a must-attend function for anyone hoping to seek office on the party's ticket.

Lowry's time in office roughly corresponded with Ronald Reagan's years in the White House, and he was a sharp critic of the President. He accused the White House of making budget cuts that he said would primarily harm the poor, criticized the administration's aid to Nicaraguan Contras, and opposed policies such as abortion restrictions and arms buildup.

In 1987, Lowry spearheaded a lawsuit joined by more than 100 congressmen against the Reagan Administration. The Lowry v. Reagan suit sought to compel the President to file a report under the War Powers Resolution after Reagan directed American ships to provide protective escorts to reflagged Kuwaiti oil tankers during the war between Iran and Iraq. The case was later dismissed in federal court.

Lowry championed environmental initiatives for his home state, including the Washington Wilderness Act in 1984. He also supported legislation to establish the Cougar Lakes Wilderness, create a wildlife refuge at Grays Harbor, and designate the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to forestall any attempt at offshore oil drilling near Washington. He opposed a proposal for a naval base at Everett, acknowledging that the development would be good for the region's economy but harmful to Puget Sound. Lowry was also part of a cooperative effort by the Washington and Oregon delegations that successfully contested the Department of Energy's efforts to restart the nuclear station at Hanford.

Since international trade was highly beneficial to Washington State, Lowry was supportive of measures that would assist it. He was credited with helping to save direct loans to buyers of international products, which were offered by the Export-Import Bank. These loans were especially helpful to Boeing, one of Washington's major employers, since the aircraft manufacturer was the bank's largest customer. However, the support also earned Lowry criticism among liberals who derided the loans as a form of corporate welfare.

At the same time, Lowry earned a reputation of having a strong commitment to his values, unlike other elected officials who were willing to sell them out for political expediency. He was one of just 16 Democrats opposed to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which allocated funding to fight narcotics trafficking and increased federal penalties for drug crimes. The legislation passed shortly before the year's congressional elections, in which the Democrats maintained their majority in the House and recaptured the Senate. Even some of the bill's supporters acknowledged that the legislation was not a viable solution to the problem of drug trafficking, but felt it was a good way to demonstrate that they were tough on crime. Lowry, by contrast, denounced it as "legislation by political panic."

Lowry was described as a "demonstrative politician," who engaged in various stunts to highlight certain issues. At one point, he hiked the Greenwater River to show how a proposed wilderness bill would exclude salmon spawning grounds. In another incident, he and a few other congressmen camped out on a D.C. subway grate to raise awareness of homelessness in the nation's capital.

On two occasions, Lowry sought to leave the House to move over to the Senate. His first opportunity came in 1983, in a special election called to finish the term of Democratic Senator Henry M. Jackson, who had died on September 1. Lowry lost to Republican candidate Dan Evans, a former Washington governor.

Evans quickly became frustrated with the job. In a scathing article published in the New York Times Magazine on April 17, 1988, he said the Senate "had lost its focus and was in danger of losing its soul." He announced that he could not "face another six years of frustrating gridlock," and so would not seek re-election.

Lowry again sought the seat. Unlike the special election, Lowry had to give up a more secure bid at holding his House seat in favor of a statewide contest. While he was leading in the polls in the days leading up to the election, a last-minute negative ad campaign against Republican opponent and former senator Slade Gorton backfired. Facing criticism and accusations of mudslinging, Lowry lost the race by about 40,000 votes out of 1.85 million cast.

Governor of Washington

After leaving Congress, Lowry took a job as professor of government at Seattle University's Institute of Public Service. In a show of bipartisanship, he joined with Evans in the summer of 1989 to help found the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. The men served as co-chairs of the organization, which has a goal of preserving wilderness and farmland in Washington as well as founding new local and state parks.

Mike Lowry, at right, with Dan Evans (center) and Elliott Marks, co-founders of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (Source)

Lowry re-entered the political scene in 1992, when he joined the gubernatorial race to succeed retiring incumbent Booth Gardner, a Democrat who had served two terms. Lowry easily won the Democratic primary, defeating state house speaker Joe King in a 337,783 to 9,648 landslide. Having learned his lesson from his Senate defeat, he refused to campaign negatively and instituted a self-imposed $1,500 maximum on campaign contributions. In the general contest, he earned 1.18 million votes and bested Republican opponent and state attorney general Ken Eikenberry by about 100,000 ballots.

As governor, Lowry quickly committed himself to a slew of reform efforts. These included expanding aid to low-income families, protections for migrant workers, and a universal health care bill. He frequently issued press releases to avow his support for liberal causes such as gay rights, environmental initiatives, and abortion rights. On June 27, 1993, he became the first governor to address Seattle's annual gay pride parade. There, he called on the legislature to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in housing and employment, declaring that "if one persons's civil rights are being abused, then everyone's civil rights are endangered."

The onslaught of policy earned Lowry the nickname "Governor Mayhem" as critics, including some from his own party, charged that he was moving too quickly, angering too many constituents, and depleting too much of his political capital to effectively make change. Yet he also earned grudging respect from foes for his energy and unflinching devotion to his ideals. "When Mike Lowry says something, you always know exactly where he stands," said Clyde Ballard, a Republican who would serve as speaker of the house during Lowry's term in office.

One of Lowry's most controversial moves was an effort to close a $1.8 billion state budget gap by raising taxes. He supported a state income tax, despite an economic recession and the failure of previous administrations to put one in place. Lowry also favored a gas tax to fund a light rail system aimed at alleviating traffic in the Puget Sound region, and sought to extend the sales tax to professional services.

The taxes provided Republicans with an easy platform to contest the governor at the next statewide election. In 1994, the GOP made the strongest gains in the state legislature in nearly 50 years. The following year, they began working to undo the governor's work, including a rollback of the tax increase that passed over his veto. The legislature also repealed the central tenet of the health care bill, the individual health insurance mandate, which effectively neutered the reform. Lowry's accomplishments soon became limited to what he could stop by veto, which included Republican efforts to bar death row inmates from eligibility for organ transplants or other medical assistance.

In 1995, Lowry named Annette Sandberg to head the Washington State Patrol. Just 33 years old, she was the first woman in the country to lead a state police force. It was a controversial pick; Sandberg vowed to reform the agency by breaking up the "good old boys" network, promising that some officers would be demoted or reassigned. Her term resulted in a number of accomplishments, including the introduction of a K9 program, efforts to combat racial profiling, and a commitment to increasing the racial diversity of the force. Nevertheless, she was blamed for a drop in morale among the agency's patrolmen. Sandberg resigned in 2000; Lowry would later stick by his choice, saying he thought she had done a good job.

Lowry's rocky time in the governor's office was further complicated by his strained relationship with the Democratic Party and its traditional supporters. Many Democrats in the state house had gravitated to the right in order to weather the Republican surge, and some declared their outright refusal to support parts of Lowry's agenda. State unions were outraged when he backed reforms making it easier to fire under-performing public employees, and when he supported contracting out some state services to private companies.

A review of Lowry's time in office by the Spokesman-Review acknowledged that Lowry's tax increases were made in tandem with efforts to cut government spending. The growth of the state employee payroll slowed dramatically under his watch, while the growth of state spending fell by more than half between the start and end of his four-year term. He made cuts to travel expenses and workers compensation insurance rates for state employees. Lowry even extended the austerity to his own expenses, slashing his salary by $31,000 and covering several of his own expenses, including groceries, the telephone service at the governor's mansion, and $100 a month of his vehicle's gas and maintenance costs.

The newspaper's analysis also credited Lowry with supporting business tax breaks and overseas trade that helped spur the creation of 174,600 new jobs in the state, scrapping the waiting list for state-subsidized child care, and extending health insurance to 140,000 adults and 195,000 low-income children. He had also backed a successful effort to build a new stadium for the Seattle Mariners in 1995 after fears that the decrepit state of their field would cause the baseball team to leave the city. In a 2002 retrospective, Lowry said he was proud that he had helped maintain social services and environmental commitments in the midst of budget difficulties, while also working to build up a surplus of about $500,000 by the end of his term.

Despite these successes, Lowry remained a fairly unpopular figure as the 1996 election approached. He had a contentious relationship with the press, accusing them of being "unwitting subsidiaries of the right wing of the Republican Party" after several stories on his tax proposals, and had stopped granting one-on-one interviews with the media. A poll by the Spokesman-Review and TV station KHQ-TV found that only one in four voters in Washington approved of his performance, with just 14 percent say they'd vote for him again.

By this time, however, Lowry was facing a new challenge: several women, including his former deputy press secretary, had accused him of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment accusations

On March 29, 1994, Washington State Patrol employee Becky Miner complained that Lowry had inappropriately pressed his body against hers while she took his fingerprints for security clearance to the White House. Christine Gregoire, the state's attorney general, reviewed the matter and concluded that Miner's claim could not be proven or refuted. She recommended sexual harassment training for the governor, which he completed in September.

Two months later, Miner's complaint became public after it was leaked to the press. Lowry's deputy press secretary, Susanne Albright, was reportedly so upset by the accusation that she went on medical leave. It soon emerged that Albright, who would opt to resign her position, had her own claims against the governor.

Albright said she had been subjected to routine harassment, touching, and groping during her time in Lowry's employ. She also said the governor made frequent lewd or offensive comments, such as asking if she had brought along a bikini during a business trip and answering one of her phone calls by questioning whether she was the Susanne "with the beautiful long legs."

Two former Lowry aides would also say they were sexually harassed during Lowry's time in congress, though they would remain anonymous. One said that Lowry kissed her on the mouth on one occasion "in a matter that she felt was clearly sexual;" a friend corroborated this account and said Lowry had kissed her as well. The aide said Lowry had also engaged in touching she found offensive, including an unsolicited neck rub, a hug that touched her breast, and rubbing her knees and legs.

The other aide made similar allegations, saying Lowry's behavior had included lingering hugs, kisses on the mouth, a neck rub, and rubbing her leg while she was driving. In response, she asked that her office be relocated to a more open location and that she not be assigned to chauffeur Lowry.

The women's attorney, Judith Lonquist, said a Lowry supporter told her during the gubernatorial campaign that the women might bring up their accusations. Lonquist said she had initially supported Lowry's candidacy, but opted not to vote for him after hearing from the former aides.

On January 17, 1995, Lowry's lawyer wrote to chief deputy attorney general Kathleen Mix saying it was unlikely that Albright would file a lawsuit. The letter also said that Albright had "consistently declined to make a complaint under our office policy." Nevertheless, Lowry ordered an independent investigation into the matter. Two days later, Seattle attorney Mary Alice Theiler was appointed to head the inquiry.

While the investigation was initially conducted in private, Lowry disclosed it after the Seattle Post-Intelligencer made a public records request regarding the matter. Albright said she had not intended for her allegations to become public, but stressed that she had left her job because of "a clear, and I repeat, very clear, and persistent pattern of unacceptable behavior toward me." Lowry denied that he had ever done anything intentionally offensive to Albright, and that she had never voiced any concerns to him.

On February 16, 1995, Lowry sat down for a televised interview in which he apologized to any women he may have offended. "I have learned that some people are uncomfortable. I feel bad about that," said Lowry. "I don't want anybody to feel uncomfortable with me. Whoever that might be, anybody I have ever made feel uncomfortable, I apologize to."

He was joined by his wife, Mary, would prove to be a staunch supporter; he vehemently denied that he had ever been unfaithful to her in any way. Lowry also denied suggestions that the alleged conduct may have stemmed from a drinking problem, though he conceded that this had once been a concern and he had cut back on his alcohol consumption about a decade earlier.

Theiler's investigation concluded on March 23, when she released a 51-page report detailing her findings. Lowry said he often hugged, kissed, or patted his employees in what were intended to be friendly gestures, and that he was unaware that they had sometimes caused offense. Theiler also noted that Albright's story changed over the course of different interviews, and that she may have had a grievance against Lowry for other reasons. Some employees in the governor's office recalled that when she discovered she was not getting an expected promotion, Albright threatened, "If I don't get this job, he doesn't know what he's getting into." Theiler concluded that there wasn't sufficient evidence to support Albright's accusations.

The women who had accused Lowry were quick to voice their displeasure with Theiler's findings. Albright said the investigator had downplayed some incidents, taken others out of context, and ignored the allegations of other women since the investigation had only been called to look into Albright's claims. The two congressional aides also said they were disappointed with Theiler's report, believing that she had largely ignored them.

In response, Theiler stressed that her report had not exonerated the governor. She had concluded that Lowry "touched [Albright] in ways she found offensive," and that he "clearly engaged in conduct that offended one valuable employee and likely others." Theiler also suggested that Lowry's temper may have prevented Albright from confronting him about his behavior.

The investigation led to some scrutiny of Lowry's character in press reports, where associates suggested that the governor's affable public persona concealed a more volatile private one. One social service advocate recalled that when they met with Lowry in 1993 and suggested that his health care reform excluded migrant workers, the governor became livid and berated them for bringing up the criticism, saying he had long advocated for migrant workers on other occasions. Anne Fennessy, his former press secretary, said Lowry was quick to anger but also had a good sense of humor and recovered quickly.

Walt Crowley, one of the governor's advisers, said he was passionate about his beliefs, and sometimes stubborn or impatient. Other associates said Lowry was most likely to express anger if his advisers tried to manage him or steer him away from his principles. However, this also led to criticism that he was too cloistered, ignoring input from his aides or hiring loyalists who wouldn't challenge him. "Mike's inner circle is Mike," one former aide declared.

The press also found that Lowry's drinking had caused some concerns in the past, and that he was more likely to lose his temper when he was not sober. Lowry's potential alcoholism was reportedly worrying enough to his 1992 campaign staff that they held a meeting to discuss it.

Lowry maintained that the actions that had prompted the sexual harassment allegations were meant to be friendly. "I want people to feel comfortable with me," he said. "I don't want people to think that I think I'm a big shot." Tricia Wilson, Lowry's executive assistant, said she had never been offended by the governor's actions but could understand how it would make other women feel uncomfortable. "It didn't bother me and a lot of people just took it as the way he was," she said. "But maybe the younger generation is more sensitive."

Albright's case was the only one which would be formally resolved. In an agreement signed on July 14, 1995, Lowry agreed to pay her $97,500 from his own personal funds in exchange for Albright's promise not to file a lawsuit. Albright said she was satisfied with the settlement, suggesting that the sum indicated that Lowry's behavior constituted "more than a pat on the back."

The fallout from the scandal made Lowry's re-election prospects even more daunting. Several women's groups publicly declared that they would not endorse him if he ran again. Two top female aides, Fennessy and chief legal counsel Jenny Durkan, resigned while Theiler's investigation was underway, although both insisted that their departures were unrelated to the sexual harassment charges. Fennessy said she had been thinking of leaving her position for some time due to the stress of a job "that never ends."

Nevertheless, the turmoil gave Republicans an easy opportunity to score political points. "If the governor cannot maintain a stable office and put ethical questions behind him, he should consider resigning rather than spending the next year and a half as a lame duck," advised Eikenberry, who had become the GOP state chairman after his defeat in the 1992 election.

On February 22, 1996, Lowry announced that he would not seek re-election, in part so he could help care for his elderly mother and father-in-law. While he initially denied that the sexual harassment accusations played a role in the decision, he later admitted that they had been a "major factor;" he said he didn't want his family to see the issue brought up again during the race.

Lowry's term ended in January 1997. The Democrats held the governor's office by a comfortable margin, with party candidate Gary Locke taking 58 percent of the vote in the general election.

Later life

Lowry is introduced during Governor Chris Gregoire's State of the State speech on January 15, 2013. (Source)

Lowry made one more political bid after his time as governor, running for state lands commissioner in 2000. The commission oversees approximately five million acres of state-owned lands. Lowry lost to GOP candidate Doug Sutherland by about 100,000 votes out of roughly 2.32 million cast.

The bulk of Lowry's post-political career was spent volunteering. He worked with Washington Agricultural Families Assistance to help build homes for migrant farm workers, as well as Enterprise Washington to support job creation in the economically depressed parts of the state. He was also active in organizations dedicated to ending homelessness.

Lowry retired to a small ranch near Kettle Falls. In 2003, he brokered a deal to convert a former sugar beet factory to an ethanol plant.

He died on May 1, 2017 in Olympia following complications from a stroke.

Sources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Michael Edward 'Mike' Lowry" on HistoryLink.org, "Governor Mayhem?" in the Seattle Times on Apr. 25 1993,  "Lowry Accused of Sexual Harassment" in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Feb. 4 1995, "Lowry Apologizes For Behavior" in the Kitsap Sun on Feb. 17 1995, "Spokeswoman Lowry's Third Aide to Quit" in the Kitsap Sun on Feb. 18 1995, "Mike Lowry's Other Side" in the Seattle Times on Feb. 26 1995, "Friendly Touch or Grope? It's Hard to Know For Sure, Lowry Investigator Concludes" in the Seattle Times on Mar. 24 1995, "Ex-Lowry Aides Say Incidents Ignored" in the Spokesman-Review on Mar. 28 1995, "Lowry Agrees to Pay Ex-Aide $97,500" in the Seattle Times on Jul. 14 1995, "Lowry Declares He's Out of Running" in the Spokesman-Review on Feb. 23 1996, "The Liberal Legacy of Mike Lowry" in the Spokesman-Review on Jan. 15 1997, "Controversial State Patrol Chief Resigns" in the Daily Herald on Nov. 20 2000, "Former Washington Gov. Mike Lowry, Table-Pounding Liberal, Dies at 78" in the Seattle Times on May 1 2017, "Mike Lowry, Proudly Progressive Ex-Governor, Dies Early on May Day" on SeattlePI.com on May 1 2017, "Mike Lowry, Ex-Congressman and Washington State Governor, Dies at 78" in the New York Times on May 3 2017, "Former Washington Gov. Mike Lowry Remembered As Proud Liberal, Quietly Generous" in the Seattle Times on May 30 2017, The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America by Naomi Murakawa, The Intersection of Law and War Vol. 126, Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging by Gary Atkins

Monday, February 4, 2019

Byron (Low Tax) Looper: Killing The Competition


Uncontested races for the state legislature were a common sight in Tennessee in the 1998 election. In nine of the 18 races for the state senate, candidates were running unopposed. Fifty-six people running for the state house had the luxury of being the only name up for consideration in their district, meaning more than half of the 99 seats in the chamber would go to people who had not been challenged in their election.

Tommy Burks, the longtime state senator for Tennessee's 15th District, was widely considered a lock for his seat even though he had an opponent. Burks had been in the legislature for nearly three decades. The Democratic candidate had built up a reputation as an honest, hardworking, "salt of the earth" kind of fellow.

His challenger, by contrast, had done little to endear himself to voters. Although Byron Looper had managed to get elected tax assessor for Putnam County two years earlier, his tenure in the office had been marked by chaos, litigation, paranoia, and incompetence. Looper had also been indicted on several counts of official misconduct, and was scheduled to go to trial a month after Election Day. Although he appeared on the Republican ticket simply by signing up for the race, the local GOP apparatus (which had opted not to field a candidate against Burks) had no desire to endorse him.

As such, Burks had spent little if any time campaigning to keep his seat. He didn't take out any political advertisements, and no debates with Looper were scheduled. Burks' friends weren't even sure if he had met his rival. Burks instead spent his time working on his 1,000-acre hog and tobacco farm near the town of Monterey.

On the morning of October 19, 1998, Burks began preparing the farm for a visit from local schoolchildren later in the day. It was an annual ritual, with youngsters getting a chance to enjoy a hayride and take home a pumpkin from Burks' pumpkin patch.

A farmhand working on a trailer would recall that the attack on Burks had happened quickly. A black car drove up to the side of Burks' pickup truck, at which point the farmhand heard a loud "pop" sound. The car then sped off, leaving the farm.

When the farmhand went over to the truck, he found Burks sitting in the driver's seat, dead. The 54-year-old state senator had been shot just above his left eye and killed instantly.

Police investigating the murder soon ruled out a number of possible motives. The farmhand and Burks' wife were quickly discounted as potential suspects. There was no indication that anything in Burks' private life, or any of his sometimes controversial political stances, had prompted someone to kill him out of revenge or anger.

A few days later, police asked for the public's help in locating Burks' opponent in the state senate race. The implication was clear: Looper had the most to gain from Burks' demise, and  may have taken matters into his own hands to ensure that his race would be an uncontested one.

Early life

Byron Anthony Looper was born in Cookeville, Tennessee, on September 15, 1964. He spent only a brief amount of time in the area. The family moved to Georgia when he was still a child after his father, a school superintendent, took a job there. Looper's parents divorced soon after.

Looper began attending West Point in 1983, but had to withdraw from the service academy after he fell from a horse and injured his knee. He was honorably discharged and finished his studies at the University of Georgia.

Soon after returning to Georgia, Looper became politically active. He joined the Young Democrats and was elected president of the group but, in an early sign of Looper's abrasive personality, he was later urged to resign. He made his first electoral attempt in 1988, running unsuccessfully for the state legislature at the age of 23. He then worked as a legislative aide for three years.

Looper's resume becomes somewhat muddled at this point. He reportedly enrolled in the Stetson School of Business and Economics at Mercer University. He spent some time in Puerto Rico, and one former member of the Georgia house of representatives recalled that Looper called him up in the early morning hours one day, saying he intended to sue a law school on the island because it refused to teach one of his classes in English. He settled the matter for a small sum. Looper would also claim that he worked for a Bear Stearns affiliate on Puerto Rico and as an assistant to the president of a university, although the latter institution proved nonexistent.

While Looper's political activities were more limited during these years, he still managed to work on the 1988 presidential campaign of Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee. Four years later, he also worked on the successful campaign of Bill Clinton where Gore was the vice presidential pick. Looper's associates would later say that he was disappointed that he hadn't been rewarded for his work with a job in the administration.

Putnam County assessor

In the early 1990s, Looper reappeared in Cookeville, switched to the Republican Party, and immediately threw himself into local politics. In the 1994 election, he challenged incumbent state representative Jere Hargrove for his seat. Looper's campaigns would be characterized by blunt attacks and negativity; he frequently vowed to break up what he saw as a "good ole boy" clique of politicians, and publicly accused his opponents of crime and corruption.

At the same time, Looper made some efforts to try to ingratiate himself with these politicians. Hargrove claimed that despite Looper's "undignified" campaign, he later contacted the state representative asking for his help securing a job in the Farmers Home Administration or some federal agency in Puerto Rico.

Two years later, Looper set his sights on the assessor's office for Putnam County. At first, it seemed like another quixotic effort. The incumbent assessor, Bill Rippetoe, had been in office for 14 years. But Rippetoe was facing criticism for recent property reappraisals, and Looper's campaign efforts added raised further recriminations. Although the campaign did not include any public appearances or debates, Looper loudly accused Rippetoe of cutting deals for friends and vowed that he would lower taxes in the county. On Election Day, he earned about 800 more votes than his opponent to secure a narrow victory.

The voters soon discovered that not only was Looper unable to keep his campaign promises, he was also unable to effectively manage the office to which he had been elected. Despite his promise to lower taxes, he had little ability to affect voters' bills since he had no control over the tax rate. One former campaign worker recalled that Looper rarely showed up for work, and that he jetted off to Puerto Rico for a three-week jaunt shortly after taking office.

Others recalled that Looper was a biased, unlikable person in his official role. They said he talked down to Democrats, promised favors to Republicans, and treated the people of eastern Tennessee with a general condescension, acting like he had been sent there to save them from themselves. Employees in the assessor's office fared little better; Looper was prone to insulting them or terminating their employment if he suspected that they were disloyal to him. At one point, Looper became involved in a fistfight between a county taxpayer and one of the workers in the assessor's office.

Early in his term, Looper announced that he had uncovered $100 million in property that wasn't on the tax rolls. The county commission responded that this kind of backlog was not unusual and that the assessor should focus on doing his job instead of finding controversies.

Such grandiose announcements were not unusual for Looper. He had drawn up a list of hundreds of media outlets across Tennessee, and constantly fired off press releases to highlight the work of his office. These communications frequently railed against the alleged "good ole boy" network in the county and bragged that he was the "most educated" assessor in the state.

Looper also began to show signs of rampant paranoia. His employees recalled that he had a video camera installed to record visitors, and hired a security consultant to scour the premises for hidden microphones or listening devices. He also set up a barrier at the back of his office because he was worried that political enemies were recording his conversations. Forty employees were reportedly fired after Looper accused them of spying on him.

In his official capacity, Looper filed several lawsuits against other county agencies. He charged the Putnam County election commission with voting machine irregularities, a curious attack given his own electoral victory. He also sued to demand access to the phone records of the sheriff's office. Not surprisingly, Looper found himself targeted by litigation as well, including former employees suing for wrongful termination and an attorney who accused the assessor of libel.

Looper was also named in a paternity suit by a former girlfriend, who accused him of raping her and illegally transferring ownership of her home to his name by faking the deed. Looper responded with a statement deriding the woman, saying she "left me with heart palpitations, a small box of memorabilia, and a red G-string." When she threatened him with a $1.2 million lawsuit, however, Looper admitted that he was the father of her child.

In March 1998, an indictment charged Looper with 14 criminal charges including theft of services, official oppression for theft, official misconduct, misuse of county property, and misuse of county employees. Among other things, Looper was accused of arbitrarily reassessing the property of a person who refused to contribute to his campaign, soliciting campaign donations from developers in exchange for lower tax assessments, using county funds and workers for his incessant faxing of press releases, failing to assess some land parcels, and removing one taxpayer's property from the rolls in an attempt to make them ineligible for public office.

A trial was scheduled for December. Henry Fincher, a local attorney, immediately began an effort to remove Looper from office, charging him with neglecting his duties while pursuing a personal political agenda.

Murder of Tommy Burks

Tommy Burks had been in the Tennessee state senate for 28 years when he came up for re-election in 1998. He had long balanced his farming duties with his elected ones, waking up before sunrise to tend to his animals and crops before driving about 100 miles along Interstate 40 to the state capitol in Nashville. At the end of the day, he made the same trip home.

Fellow legislators remembered that Burks never missed a day in the senate, even when he had to navigate through treacherous snowstorms. The weather only prevented him from returning home on one occasion. After Burks' death, a stretch of I-40 would be renamed in his honor.

Although he was a Democrat, Burks had adopted a number of conservative positions which frequently put him at odds with his own party. He was opposed to gambling and the state lottery, and in 1991 sponsored a bill to criminalize abortion in cases where the mother's life was not in danger. He also sponsored a widely derided bill to dismiss Tennessee teachers who taught evolution as fact. Burks' less controversial stances included support for anti-drug programs, public television, and crime victims' rights.

Burks had also sponsored a bill which would publicly shame first-time offenders convicted of driving under the influence, requiring them to pick up roadside trash while wearing orange vests emblazoned with the message "I am a drunk driver." This may have rankled Looper, who had been convicted of DUI in Georgia in 1986 and 1987 and unsuccessfully tried to have the charges expunged from his record.

There was little reason to view Looper's challenge to the popular state senator as anything other than a farce. He had even taken the bizarre step of legally changing his middle name to (Low Tax), parentheses included, and proudly included this moniker on all of his advertising materials. Though he had filed to run against Burks, he had simultaneously joined the race to challenge Representative Bart Gordon, a Democrat, for his House of Representatives seat; Looper abandoned this race after finishing third in the Republican primary. He declared public service to be "the most noble of all pursuits" and voiced his opposition for "big government, high taxes, fast spending, and mollycoddling criminals."

Following Burks' murder, public attention quickly turned to Looper. As the case gained national attention, residents in eastern Tennessee questioned why he seemed to have gone into hiding. It was also considered highly suspicious that Looper hadn't bothered to call Burks' widow, Charlotte, to offer his condolences. The state senator's death had not only left Burks' three daughters without a father, it had also occurred on the birthday of his middle child.

State law spelled out a clear motive for the crime. If a candidate for office died within 40 days of the election, their name could not appear on the ballot. Since Burks had been killed within this window, his name would be removed and Looper's would be the only one legally eligible in the state senate race for the 15th District.

Soon after Burks' murder, local Democrats encouraged Charlotte to mount a write-in campaign to succeed her husband and ensure that Looper wouldn't win by default. Although Republicans needed to flip just two Democratic seats to take control of the state legislature, they backed Charlotte's candidacy and disavowed Looper. Brad Todd, executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, declared, "We did not recruit Mr. Looper to run for state senate or any other office. We have not assisted his campaign in any material way, nor will we."

On October 24, after a four-day absence, Looper returned to his home. He was promptly arrested, charged with first-degree murder, and held on a $1.5 million bond.

Byron Looper's mugshot following his arrest (Source)

The arrest did not disqualify Looper from the race since he had only been charged with a felony, not convicted. To further complicate matters, he was still the Putnam County tax assessor. From his jail cell, he fired his deputy tax assessor, leaving the office with no one in charge. Two more ouster petitions were filed against him, and the state finally stepped in to remove him in January 1999 after he attempted to keep doing his job while incarcerated.

The strange circumstances of the election generated strong turnout on Election Day. When the ballots were counted, Charlotte had won in an overwhelming landslide: 30,252 votes, or about 93 percent of the ballots cast in the district. It was said to be the first successful write-in campaign in Tennessee.

Charlotte Burks speaking at a legislative breakfast in 2012. (Source)

Looper still managed to collect 1,531 votes, although some of these were no doubt early votes that had been filed before his arrest. However, some of Looper's supporters questioned the motives of investigators, noting that Looper had publicly attacked them in the past. The police were also releasing little information on how they had tied Looper to Burks' murder; this evidence would be presented two years later, when Looper went to trial.


In the lead-up to the trial, Looper changed attorneys eight times. Although the murder charge was eligible for the death penalty, the Burks family declined to pursue it; they felt a life sentence would offer more closure than the ongoing appeals a death penalty case would generate.

The trial got underway on August 14, 2000. In the opening statement, District Attorney Bill Gibson declared, "Byron Looper is obsessed with the burning desire for power and public office. He is also a man who knew he didn't have a chance of beating Tommy Burks." The state argued that the murder had been motivated by Looper's desire to gain Burks' position and power, and that Looper was the only one with a motive for the killing. Prosecutor Tony Craighead deemed it an attempt to "win this election with a Smith & Wesson."

One witness recalled that Looper had mentioned the possibility of eliminating his opponent in order to win his election. William Lindsay Adams Jr. said he contacted Looper after spotting an advertisement for the position of his campaign manager. Adams said that Looper asserted that the campaign could be run at minimal expense, especially if his opponent wasn't in the race or if something happened to Burks before Election Day. He opted not to take the job.

But one of the state's most crucial witnesses was Joe Bond, a Marine recruiter and high school friend of Looper's. Bond testified that several months before Burks was murdered, Looper called him to say he was running for office. He also said that he planned to kill his opponent so he could be the only person on the ballot.

Bond said that he passed the remark off as a joke, but became more concerned after Looper began asking him about firearms, including recommendations for guns with reliable accuracy that could be easily concealed. A few months before the murder, Looper visited Bond at his home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, saying it was imperative that he acquire a weapon since the election was fast approaching. Bond said he would do so, even though he had no intention of getting his friend a gun. Looper persisted, repeatedly calling Bond and even sending a $150 money order to cover the cost of the firearm.

On the evening of the murder, Bond testified, Looper had shown up at his home and confessed to killing his opponent. "I did it man, I did it," Bond recalled Looper saying. "I killed that dude." When Bond asked who he was referring to, Looper responded, "That guy I was running against. I busted a cap in that dude's head." Looper told Bond that he had purchased a gun in a private sale, and thrown it out the window of his car after driving for about 10 or 15 minutes.

In March 1999, a man working with a construction company along I-40 had discovered a 9-millimeter Smith & Wesson handgun and turned it in to police. A firearms expert later gave his opinion that this was the weapon used in Burks' murder.

Byron Looper during his trial (Source)

Other testimony focused on the car that had been spotted on Burks' farm. Wesley Rex, the farmhand who had seen the car drive up alongside Burks' truck, recalled that it was a black car with circles on the back. He had also identified Looper as the driver after seeing one of his political advertisements on TV on the evening of the murder. A worker at a local fast food restaurant said Looper had shown up at the drive-thru in a dark car on the morning of the murder, nervous and in a rush, and had become extremely upset about a mistake with his order.

Investigators had managed to track down the vehicle Looper had briefly owned around the time of the murder. Two days before Burks was shot, he had purchased a used 1987 Audi sedan from a private seller in Lilburn, Georgia. The vehicle make matched Rex's description, since the Audi symbol featured interlocking circles. A mechanic in Tucker, Georgia, a community about five miles from Lilburn, said a customer who signed his name as "Anthony Looper" had brought the car in for repairs, estimating that it was sometime between October 11 and 20, 1998, and asked to leave it at the shop for a few weeks. Looper later called to say that he no longer wanted the vehicle, and it was resold.

The Audi's tires raised one point of contention. Once the car was discovered, an analysis of its tires found that they did not match the tracks left at the Burks farm. A test of the tires on the Chevrolet Beretta that Looper had been driving when he returned to Tennessee also failed to yield a match. But the man who sold the Audi to Looper still had the receipt for its tires; once these were mounted on the Audi, they left tracks that matched those at the crime scene. Prosecutors posited that Looper had simply changed the tires after killing Burks; Bond said Looper had told him he planned to do so.

A good portion of the defense strategy focused on an attempt to discredit the story put forward by Bond. Looper's attorneys, former Georgia state legislator McCracken Poston and former California legislator Ron Cordova, tried unsuccessfully to impeach Bond as a witness. They instead accused him of seeking revenge against Looper since the defendant had made advances against his girlfriend (later wife) when they were teenagers. One witness said Bond didn't have a reputation for truthfulness. The defense also called Bond's mother-in-law to the stand to suggest that Bond didn't have a good enough relationship with Looper to host him in the fall of 1998, since he had asked Looper to leave his residence during a visit in the summer after learning that his wife was uncomfortable with the defendant.

Several years later, Cordova would suggest that Looper may have helped set up Burks' murder, but didn't carry out the crime. He said he did not think that Looper was capable of killing Burks on his own, but may have recruited Bond to do so; however, he stressed that it was only a theory and he didn't have any evidence to back it up. The defense never presented an alternate suspect at the trial, and the prosecution pointed out that Rex had seen only one person in the car fleeing the scene.

Both Cordova and Poston believed that there was reasonable doubt that Looper had killed Burks. They had Looper's mother present an alibi, testifying that her son had been staying with her at the time of the murder; however, she had last seen him on the evening before the murder and had not seen Looper during the morning.

Poston later said that Looper had helped to sabotage his own case by withholding information from his attorneys. But Cordova and Poston felt that Looper did not have a legitimate motive for killing Burks, since they believed he would have known he would be caught and that Charlotte would likely be recruited to run in her husband's place. "The evidence is going to show that Byron Looper knows how to win an election," Poston said in his opening statement. "The evidence also is going to show that he knows how to lose one and move on. Mr. Looper's weapon has always been words, and that's never changed."

The defense positions failed to impress the jury. After deliberating for just over two hours, they returned a guilty verdict. On August 23, 2000, Looper was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Looper was held in the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary until this prison closed in 2009. He was then transferred to the nearby Morgan County Correctional Complex. He never went to trial on the official misconduct charges, which the state opted not to pursue since Looper had already been condemned to a life behind bars.

Throughout his sentence, Looper maintained his innocence and occasionally tried to appeal his guilty verdict. His cell was strewn with legal papers, and he targeted a variety of entities with civil suits. He sued a TV station, saying they had misrepresented their intentions when interviewing him and aired a program that portrayed him in a negative light, as well as the Tennessee Department of Corrections, which he said had failed to adequately treat him and other prisoners for health problems.

On June 26, 2013, Looper reportedly struck a pregnant prison counselor on both sides of her head, knocking off her glasses. The incident occurred during a discussion between the counselor and a prison unit manager about a request Looper had made; he apparently became upset after learning that he would be transferred from solitary confinement into the general population, since he was worried that he was a high-profile prisoner and would be hurt by other inmates.

Prison authorities said that Looper was restrained with "the least amount of force necessary." Two hours later, he was found dead in his cell.

An autopsy determined that cardiac issues were the primary cause of Looper's death, as he had experienced high blood pressure and the hardening of his arteries. This health issue was compounded by toxic levels of antidepressants he had been taking.

Looper's family and attorneys were suspicious of this conclusion. Poston declared the circumstances of Looper's death to be "extremely suspicious," saying he had seen Looper's body and thought it looked like he had been severely beaten while hogtied. There were abrasions and contusions around his head, arms, and legs, some of which were consistent with injuries that would be caused by shackles and handcuffs. Another prisoner had written to his girlfriend on the day of Looper's death and mentioned that guards had beaten "some chubby white guy" to death while he was restrained.

Poston also alleged that authorities from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation contacted Charlotte to let her know about Looper's death, while Looper's mother did not find out until she saw a news report on her son's demise. He said Looper's mother was initially told that her son would be charged with assault after touching a counselor on her arm, but that prison authorities later changed their story to say Looper had slapped the counselor. Poston said a nurse had treated Looper for a head wound about an hour before he was found dead.

The Tennessee Department of Correction responded to the allegations by simply referring to the conclusions of the autopsy. Looper's family commissioned a second autopsy, which determined that Looper's heart was not abnormally large at the time of his death. Poston and Looper's family never issued a follow-up on any other findings.

Charlotte, meanwhile, had proved popular in her own right. She continued to serve in the state senate until opting not to run for re-election in 2014.


Tennessee Secretary of State, "In Tennessee, A Lawmaker Dies and His Rival Vanishes" in the Washington Post on Oct. 23 1998, "Tennessee Senator's Killing and Opponent's Arrest Upend Small Town" in the New York Times on Oct. 24 1998, "Tennessee Lawmaker Killed; Election Opponent Arrested" in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 24 1998, "Candidate Jailed in Foe's Slaying" in the Washington Post on Oct. 24 1998, "Suspect Relentlessly Ran For Office" in the Associated Press on Oct. 24 1998, "Suspect in Death of State Senator Obsessed by Foes" in the Chicago Tribune on Oct. 27 1998, "Ex-Tenn. Politician Begins Murder Trial" on CBS News on Aug. 15 2000, "Politician Goes On Trial For Opponent's Murder" in the Journal Times on Aug. 15 2000, "Guilty Verdict in Campaign Murder Trial" on ABC News on Aug. 23 2000, "Looper Found Guilty in Murder of Sen. Tommy Burks" in the Rome News-Tribune on Aug. 23 2000, "Convicted Murderer 'Low Tax' Looper Sues Prison Medical Manager Over Health Care" in the Nashville Post on Jan. 9 2002, "Prison Incident Report Shows Assault Before Byron Looper Found Dead" in the Times Free Press on Jun. 28 2013, "Byron Looper's Attorney Crying Foul in Death of Politician Turned Killer" in the Knoxville News Sentinel on Sep. 13 2013, "Byron Looper's Family Seeks Independent Autopsy After 'Heart Event' Death Report" in the Times Free Press on Jun. 29 2013, "The Death of Senator Tommy Burks and Byron (Low Tax) Looper" in the Nashville Scene on Aug. 16 2018, "Byron Looper" episode of Dying to Belong on Oxygen on Sep. 16 2018, "Way Back When: Looking Back in History" by Bob McMillan in the Herald Citizen compiled on ajlambert.com, State of Tennessee v. Byron Looper, State Jones v. Looper