Haroldson Lafayette Hunt was born in Fayette County, Illinois, on 17th February, 1889. After a brief formal education he went travelling. In 1912 he settled in Arkansas, where he ran a cotton plantation.
In 1921 Hunt moved to El Dorado where he became a lease broker. He eventually discovered oil and by 1925 was extremely wealthy. He suffered some business reverses but in 1930 he obtained his own pipeline, the Panola, to run oil from the East Texas field. Two years later Hunt Production Company had 900 wells in East Texas.
Hunt established the Placid Oil Company in 1935. The following year he acquired the Excelsior Refining Company in Rusk County and changed the name to Parade Refining Company. He also established his headquarters in Dallas, Texas. In 1948 a newspaper reported that Hunt was the richest man in the United States. It estimated the value of his oil properties at $263 million and the daily production of crude from his wells at 65,000 barrels.
Hunt developed extreme conservative political opinions. In 1951 he launched the Douglas MacArthur for President campaign. Along with two of his sons, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Lamar Hunt, he set-up a right-wing intelligence network, the International Committee for the Defence of Christian Culture.
Hunt also funded two right-wing radio shows, Facts Forum and Life Line. He used these radio stations to support the anti-communist campaign of Joseph McCarthy. He also helped to finance the political career of Lyndon B. Johnson. A member of the John Birch Society, Hunt was a close friend of Edwin Walker.
A strong opponent of Fidel Castro, Hunt helped to fund the Cuban Revolutionary Council, a group that worked with the Mafia and the Central Intelligence Agency in an effort to remove Castro from power.
President John F. Kennedy became concerned about people like Hunt who used tax exemptions to spread right-wing propaganda. According to Joachim Joesten Hunt had an annual income of $30,000,000 but paid little in income tax. In 1963 Kennedy talked about plans to submit to Congress a tax reform plan designed to produce about $185,000,000 in additional revenues by changes in the favourable tax treatment until then accorded the gas-oil industry.
Some conspiracy theorists believe that Hunt was involved in the death of President John F. Kennedy. It was claimed that the day before the assassination, Jim Brading visited Hunt in his office in Dallas. Brading had links to Carlos Marcello, another figure suspected of being involved in the killing. Brading was arrested in the Dal-Tex building in the Dealey Plaza soon after the assassination took place, but was released soon afterwards.
Madeleine Brown later gave an interview on the television show, A Current Affair where she claimed that on the 21st November, 1963, she was at the home of Clint Murchison. Others at the meeting included Hunt, J. Edgar Hoover, Clyde Tolson, John J. McCloy and Richard Nixon. At the end of the evening Lyndon B. Johnson arrived. Brown said in this interview: "Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, reappeared. I knew how secretly Lyndon operated. Therefore I said nothing... not even that I was happy to see him. Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I'll always remember: "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat - that's a promise."
Brown's account was supported by former CIA agent Robert D. Morrow who wrote in the book, First Hand Knowledge: How I participated in the CIA-Murder of President Kennedy, "On the eve of the assassination, Hoover and Nixon attended a meeting together at the Dallas home of oil baron Clint Murchison. Among the subjects discussed at this meeting were the political futures of Hoover and Nixon in the event President Kennedy was assassinated."
Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, who was married three times and fathered 14 children, died on November 29, 1974.
The Hunts and the Murchisons present the images of different versions of right-wing politics, with the Hunts allied to opponents of Washington, particularly when they were supporting southern resisters to integration, and the Murchisons playing their connections to Washington, Johnson, and Hoover, for all they were worth. Nelson Bunker Hunt was behind the hostile ad that confronted Kennedy in the November 22 edition of the Dallas Morning News.
When District Attorney Garrison, in his statement of September 21, 1967, made the startling disclosure that the assassination of President Kennedy had been ordered and paid for by a handful of oil-rich psychotic millionaires, he didn't name any names. But I'm quite sure that all the good people of Dallas, if any of them were privileged to hear the news, instantly thought of their fellow-resident Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, the boss of the immensely rich Hunt Oil Company of Dallas.
Hunt is not only by far the richest of all the Texas oil millionaires but he is also, and more importantly, the one with the most pronounced and most vicious spleen. And, above all, the one who hated Kennedy most.
It so happens that H. L. Hunt is also a long-time friend, admirer and financial 'angel' of the most prominent Texas politician of our time, Lyndon B. Johnson, the man who was destined to become President of the United States automatically the moment Kennedy died. Perhaps this is the reason why Garrison preferred not to be too specific.
Robert Tanenbaum: What was the reason he told you about going to commit suicide?
William Oltmans: One of the reasons was, I found it in my notes, that he doesn't want his children to look upon, to their father for the rest of their life as having been involved, directly involved in the killing of President Kennedy. He would say - and I have notes - "I would rather kill myself than let my children" - and he called not only his daughter Alexandra, but also his brother, Professor de Mohrenschildt, who is in California. He said, "My brother and daughter, I don't want to have to live the rest of their lives by this thing." You know, that he was involved. "I would rather shoot myself." He told me that various times."
Robert Tanenbaum: All right, sir. So, up until the time that you left New York City from John F. Kennedy Airport, did you have any other conversations with him with regard to the assassination of the President?
William Oltmans: Yes, repeatedly.
Robert Tanenbaum: Now, again in substance, tell us what, if anything George de Mohrenschildt told you - this is up until the time you were in New York City - about the assassination.
William Oltmans: Sir, pages and pages. I will...
Robert Tanenbaum: In substance, will you tell us what he said, please.
William Oltmans: Each time he would reveal something else....
Robert Tanenbaum: Did you have any conversations of substance with him in New York?
William Oltmans: Not at all. New York, talked a bit, but not in London.
Robert Tanenbaum: Up until this time, had he ever mentioned Jack Ruby or H. L. Hunt?
William Oltmans: Yes.
Robert Tanenbaum: Up until this time?
William Oltmans: Yes, I forgot all about that.
Robert Tanenbaum: Would you please tell us that, then.
William Oltmans: O.K. You see, in Dallas, in the many talks I had with him about going, I asked him point blank, "Did you know Ruby?"
"Have you been in Ruby's Bar?"
"Then what happened to Oswald. If Oswald set up the Kennedy Assassination, he must have had a lot of money."
De Mohrenschildt, with a devilish laugh said "He wasn't long enough around to get the money."
Then I said, "But who would pay?"
You see, he talked in circles. He was still talking in circles. He was coming around to talking, but when I asked him, who would put up that kind of money, he said, well, he would reply, "Well, did you see the letter of Oswald, was released by the FBI, to Hunt? Now, why do you think Oswald would write to Mr. H. L. Hunt?"
Then I said "Do you know Hunt, have you known him?"
He said, "I knew him for 20 years. I was very close with him. I went to all his parties."
You see, de Mohrenschildt clearly indicated that the money had come from, that his contacts were "upwards to Hunt, and downwards to Oswald."
On Thursday night, Nov. 21, 1963, the last evening prior to Camelot's demise, I attended a social at Clint Murchison's home. It was my understanding that the event was scheduled as a tribute honoring his long time friend, J. Edgar Hoover (whom Murchison had first met decades earlier through President William Howard Taft), and his companion, Clyde Tolson. Val Imm, the society editor for the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald, unwittingly documented one of the most significant gatherings in American history. The impressive guest list included John McCloy, Richard Nixon, George Brown, R. L. Thornton, H. L. Hunt and a host of others from the 8F group. The jovial party was just breaking up when Lyndon made an unscheduled visit. I was the most surprised by his appearance since Jesse had not mentioned anything about Lyndon's coming to Clint's. With Lyndon's hectic schedule, I never dreamed he could attend the big party. After all, he had arrived in Dallas on Tuesday to attend the Pepsi-Cola convention. Tension filled the room upon his arrival. The group immediately went behind closed doors. A short time later Lyndon, anxious and red-faced, reappeared I knew how secretly Lyndon operated. Therefore I said nothing... not even that I was happy to see him. Squeezing my hand so hard, it felt crushed from the pressure, he spoke with a grating whisper, a quiet growl, into my ear, not a love message, but one I'll always remember: "After tomorrow those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me again - that's no threat - that's a promise."
Madeleine has claimed over the years that she attended a party at Clint Murchison’s house the night before the assassination and LBJ, Hoover and Nixon were there. The party story, without LBJ, first came from Penn Jones in Forgive My Grief. In that version, the un-credited source was a black chauffeur whom Jones didn’t identify, and the explanation Jones gave was that it was the last chance to decide whether or not to kill JFK. Of course, Hoover used only top FBI agents for transportation and in the FBI of 1963, none were black. Actually, there is no confirmation for a party at Murchison’s. I asked Peter O’Donnell because Madeleine claimed he was there, too. Peter said there was no party. Madeleine even said there was a story about it in the Dallas Times Herald some months later (which makes no sense), but she had not been able to find it. Val Imm (Society Editor of the Dallas Times Herald) told Bob Porter (of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza staff) recently she had no memory of such an event and even looked through her notes - in vain.
Could LBJ have been at a Murchison party? No. LBJ was seen and photographed in the Houston Coliseum with JFK at a dinner and speech. They flew out around 10pm and arrived at Carswell (Air Force Base in northwest Fort Worth) at 11:07 Thursday night. Their motorcade to the Hotel Texas arrived about 11:50 and LBJ was again photographed. He stayed in the Will Rogers suite on the 13th floor and Manchester (William Manchester - author of The Death of a President) says he was up late. Could Nixon have been at Murchison’s party? No. Tony Zoppi (Entertainment Editor of The Dallas Morning News) and Don Safran (Entertainment Editor of the Dallas Times Herald) saw Nixon at the Empire Room at the Statler-Hilton. He walked in with Joan Crawford (Movie actress). Robert Clary (of Hogan’s Heroes fame) stopped his show to point them out, saying “. . . either you like him or you don’t.” Zoppi thought that was in poor taste, but Safran said Nixon laughed. Zoppi’s deadline was 11pm, so he stayed until 10:30 or 10:45 and Nixon was still there.
To a friend and long-time associate who called on him the other day President Kennedy expressed considerable bitterness on the subject of top-bracket taxpayers who use tax exemptions to spread propaganda of the extreme right. The President talked about two men, each of whom is often referred to as 'the richest man in the world'. One was J. Paul Getty, an oilman who spends most of his time in England. The second was the Dallas, Tex., oilman H. L. Hunt. Both are billionaires. Both, according to the President, paid small amounts in federal income tax last year. These men, the President said, use various forms of tax exemption and special tax allowances to subsidize the ultra right on television, radio and in print.
There is no doubt that the right-wing is heavily subsidized. On radio and television stations across the nation free taped programs are run daily, assailing the United Nations, attacking the graduated income tax, foreign aid, social security and the other favorite hates of the extreme right. One of the biggest tax benefits oilmen enjoy is the 27.5 per cent depletion allowance. In his January tax message, the President proposed a sharp reduction in this benefit, which has been extended to cover a long list of minerals. The tax bill passed by the House made only a minor change, however. The right-wing is prepared to go all out to defeat Kennedy in 1964.
You would think that a man with $3 billion at his disposal and an active spleen would be willing to finance his own propaganda warfare. But Hunt prefers to let the federal government assume a substantial portion of his political crusades. Hunt has simply packaged his propaganda network under the head of the Life Line Foundation, Inc., and then had his business corporations - the Hunt Oil Company and its food-processing and canning division, the HLH Parade Company commercially sponsor Life Line propaganda throughout the country.
I have listened to communists and other groups that can only be called enemies, accuse us of the worst intentions, the most inhuman ways of doing things, as the most dangerous people on earth, to be stopped and destroyed at all costs... But nothing I have heard in or from those places around us compared with the experience I had in the Dallas home of an American, whose hate for this country's leaders, and the way our institutions worked, was the most vicious, venomous and dangerous I have known in my life. No communist ever heard, no enemy of this nation has ever done a better job of degrading or belittling this country. That American was one of this nation's richest and most powerful men!
It was a very special performance by a pillar of the American community, who influences things in his community. It was a very special performance because in that living room during his performance - in which he said things had reached the point where there seemed to be 'no way left to get those traitors out of our government except by shooting them out' during that performance, there were four teenagers in that room to be influenced. His views were shared on November 22, 1963.
Interestingly, the man accused of that crime claimed to be a Marxist, a communist. But my host assured me - when I objected to his remarks - that he believed as he did because he was anti-communist!
What happened in that home in Dallas, of one of America's richest and most powerful men, shashed that goal of America as a united country for the four teenagers in on that conversation that night.
In the weeks immediately preceding the assassination of President Kennedy, the commentators of Life-Line were daily warning their listeners that his tyrannical Administration was by-passing the laws of Congress, following a line ordered by Moscow, suppressing the chief spokesmen for freedom in the land and forcing American taxpayers to subsidize communism around the world. It was a time, Lifeline insisted, that cried out for 'extreme patriotism', and by a ghoulish coincidence, the programme broadcast in the Dallas area on the morning of the assassination prophesied a day when American citizens would no longer be allowed to own firearms with which to gun down their rulers. Under communism, which is seen as imminent in this country, "no firearms are permitted the people, because they would then have the weapons with which to rise up against their oppressors."
Mr. Hunt lists among those Americans whom he admires as patriots General Robert E. Wood, former chairman of Sears Roebuck & Co., a member of the Life-Line advisory board, and a strong Goldwater supporter; Gen A. C. Wedemeyer, former chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek, once a member of the John Birch Society advisory committee, and a Life Line advisory board member; Robert H. W. Welch Jr., founder of the John Birch Society; Maj. Gen. Edwin A.
Walker, the ultraconservative former officer; Governor Wallace, Senator Goldwater and President Johnson.'
He (H. L. Hunt) was shocked because Johnson had appointed Chief Justice Warren to head the Commission three days after the Communist Daily Worker, in a front-page statement, had suggested it. That Johnson did not follow this advice in order to accommodate the Communists, but for a truly Machiavellian purpose, was something bound to escape the limited intellect of an H. L. Hunt.
Hunt was scared to death, and for apparently good reason, for Earl Warren had, immediately after the assassination, publicly expressed the opinion that this foul deed was the work of right-wing extremists. His anxiety grew when investigators for the Warren Commission found out that one of his boys, Nelson, had paid for that despicable ad in The Dallas Morning News, while another, Lamar, maintained a cozy business and social relationship with the notorious pimp and murderer Jack Ruby.
What the old man didn't realize is that the Commission, in this as in a score of other cases, simply sought to establish the damaging facts in order to be better able to suppress them and to shield effectively those responsible for the assassination. How Lyndon B. Johnson ever managed to get a man like Earl Warren so abjectly to prostitute his great name and prestige, remains the only real mystery of Dallas. But he did it and thus managed to fool, at least for a few years, public opinion throughout America and the world.
After the Warren Report had been released, Hunt heaved a deep sigh of relief. When reporters asked him how he felt about it, Hunt replied, 'It's a very honest document.' And that, coming from H. L. Hunt, is about the most damning thing anybody has ever said about the Warren Report.