It’s Like This By Bob Palmer

The Shacklette gambit

Donnie Trump’s recent heartburn over election-time communications with someone who may or may not have been acting for the Russian government, put in mind my own troubles with hot tips and elections.

Listen my children and you shall hear about an experience that nearly cost me dear.

‘Twas the summer of ’76 with a Congressional election brewing out here in the sticks.

Hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year.

(As Longfellow might have written this story’s lead.)

US Rep. Wright Patman, D-Tex., announced his retirement in January after serving 47 years, then died in March at age 82. Patman’s death came before the Primary Election which ended with Sam B. Hall of Marshall and Glenn Jones of Jacksonville in a runoff. A Special Election also featuring Hall and Jones was called to fill the unexpired term. In the middle of these festivities, I decided to visit Washington, D.C. Sharon and I along with our six-months-old baby packed the best Chevrolet I every owned and pointed its nose East.

TRUTH MOMENT – I did enjoy my Suburbans that came later, but my affair with the Nova was something special.

Sharon wanted to visit an Aunt who lived in the D.C. area. I wanted to see the Capital in the bicentennial year. Visiting the dead congressman’s office and doing a story on the staff carrying on in his absence also would make the entire trip a tax deduction.

Patman’s chief of staff, Baron Shacklette (if my memory of 40 years ago has not failed) was gracious with his time. About 20 minutes into the interview when we began discussing the election back home. Shacklette dropped the lure in the water and I rose to it like a hungry Bass.

“Did you know Jones was arrested as a Communist sympathizer when he was a young man?” Shacklette asked. According to Patman’s aide, the congressman’s office helped extricate Jones from difficulties in Africa sometime in the past. I swallowed the hook.

I did not rush to print, but sat on the story for a couple of weeks until I could interview Jones. A week before the election, Jones made a campaign swing near me. We huddled in a corner of the reception room and I asked my questions.

“Were you ever arrested as a Communist sympathizer…

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