Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson

Robert Bernerd Anderson was born in Burleson, Texas, on 4th June 1910. He graduated from the University of Texas Law School. He worked as a lawyer until he became a member of the Texas State House of Representatives in 1932. The following year he was appointed as Assistant Attorney General of Texas. In 1934 he became a Texas State Tax Commisioner.

Anderson purchased the KTBC Radio Station. In 1943 he sold it to the wife of Lyndon B. Johnson for $17,500. By 1951 the station was earning $3,000 a week.

A close friend of Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison, Anderson became president of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.

When Dwight Eisenhower won the presidency, Anderson, became Secretary of the Navy. In May 1954, Mr. Anderson left his Navy post to become Deputy Secretary of Defense. From 1957 to 1961, he served as President Eisenhower's Secretary of the Treasury. In this post he introduced legislation beneficial to the oil industry.

After leaving office, he was active in business, investment and banking affairs, and carried out diplomatic missions on behalf of President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was also reported that he worked as a consultant and lobbyist for Sun Myung Moon and his Church of Unification.

In 1987, Anderson was found guilty of tax evasion. This was related to possible money laundering involving an unregistered off-shore bank that he operated. He was disbarred and sent to prison.

Robert B. Anderson died in New York City on 14 August 1989.

Primary Sources

(1) Robert Sherrill, The Accidental President (1967)

Anderson's powerful influence over Lyndon Johnson, and the position Anderson was marked to play in directing the financial policies of the Johnson administration, were both known and predictable from the beginning. They have been intimate allies for thirty years of politics in Texas and Washington. They were especially intimate in the creation of an oil program which, without much public awareness, had developed to a controversial crisis that was effectively quashed only by Kennedy's death.

The seed of that program was really planted, more than a quarter of a century ago, on a passenger train clacking through the night. There are several accounts of what happened, but one goes this way: oil millionaire Sid Richardson, and President Roosevelt's son Elliott, and Bill Kittrell, a kind of protegy of Sam Rayburn's and a well-known man about Texas, were keeping each other company on a trip to Washington. But the conversation was beginning to droop, so Richardson sent Kittrell into the chair car to scout for a fourth for a round of bridge. By and by Kittrell came back with a young Army colonel in tow, an open-faced fellow by the name of Dwight Eisenhower.

From the train trip developed a strong friendship between Eisenhower and Richardson; after the war, when Eisenhower was being rushed by both political parties, his Texas oil pal showed up in Paris to tell him that if he ever did get into politics he could count on plenty of Richardson money.

Exactly what generosity Richardson showed has never been more than wildly hinted at, but it apparently was enough to make Eisenhower moderately grateful. When Richardson and other Texas oil men recommended Robert Anderson, Eisenhower named him Secretary of the Navy. The importance of this to Texas oil men is a matter of almost comical stress. Anderson, a resident of landlocked Fort Worth, knew nothing of naval affairs before he got the post, but that hardly matters; all he needed to know was that Texas is the largest oil-producing state and that the Navy is the largest consumer of oil as well as leaser of valuable lands to favored oil firms. From this producer-consumer relationship things work out rather naturally, and it was this elementary knowledge that later made John Connally (who had for several years, through the good offices of his mentor Lyndon Johnson, been serving as Sid Richardson's attorney and who later became executor of the Richardson estate) and Fred Korth, also residents of Fort Worth, such able secretaries of the Navy, by Texas standards...

Eisenhower, on the urging of Richardson and Lyndon Johnson, named him to the office of Secretary of Treasury, and on June 21 (1957), ten days after selling his gift oil property, Anderson was free and clear to tell the Senate Finance Committee that he held no property that would conflict with his interest in the cabinet post.

A few weeks later Anderson was appointed to a cabinet committee to "study" the oil import situation; out of this study came the present-day program which benefits the major oil companies, the international oil giants primarily, by about one billion dollars a year.

Although Standard of Indiana, one of the companies involved in Anderson's million-dollar windfall, used the resulting import program to great success, moving in a few years from a company with no foreign holdings to one of the largest overseas oil explorers, there was nothing illegal in this mutual benefit. Anderson could be charged with nothing more than poor taste.

Nor was Anderson held solely responsible for the oil import program's formula; not at all. Industry insiders believed-and their beliefs were printed in industry publications-that equally influential in the shaping of the program were Lyndon Johnson and his ally in all things pertaining to oil industry legislation, the late Senator Robert Kerr of Oklahoma. Kerr, an owner of the Kerr-McGee Oil Company, did very well under the new oil program, but his attitude toward conflict of interest was singularly easygoing. "Hell," he once remarked, "if everyone abstained on grounds of personal interest, I doubt if you could get a quorum in the U.S. Senate on any subject."

(2) Drew Pearson & Jack Anderson, The Case Against Congress (1968)

Fletcher Knebel in the Des Moines Register carefully listed the numerous gifts presented to the Eisenhower farm, including a John Deere tractor with a radio in it, a completely equipped electric kitchen, landscaping improvements and ponies and Black Angus steers-worth, all together, more than half a million dollars. Compare this outpouring to the $1,200 deep freeze-and the resulting uproar over it - given to President Truman by a Milwaukee friend of General Harry Vaughn. But no newspaper dug into the highly compromising fact that the upkeep of the Eisenhower farm was paid for by three oilmen - W. Alton Jones, chairman of the executive committee of Cities Service; B. B. (Billy) Byars of Tyler, Texas, and George E. Allen, director of some 20 corporations and a heavy investor in oil with Major Louey Kung, nephew of Chiang Kai-shek. They signed a strictly private lease agreement, under which they were supposed to pay the farm costs and collect the profits. Internal Revenue, after checking into the deal, could find no evidence that the oilmen had attempted to operate the farm as a profitable venture. Internal Revenue concluded that the money the oilmen poured into the farm could not be deducted as a business expense but had to be reported as an outright gift. Thus, by official ruling of the Internal Revenue Service, three oilmen gave Ike more than $500,000 at the same time he was making decisions favorable to the oil industry. The money went for such capital improvements as: construction of a show barn, $30,000; three smaller barns, about $22,000; remodeling of a schoolhouse as a home for John Eisenhower, $10,000; remodeling of the main house, $110,000; landscaping of 10 acres around the Eisenhower home, $6,000; plus substantial outlays for the staff including a $10,000-ayear farm manager.

How the money was paid is revealed in a letter dated January 28, 1958, and written from Gettysburg by General Arthur S. Nevins, Ike's farm manager. Addressed to George E. Allen in Washington and B. B. Byars in Tyler, Texas, it began, "Dear George and Billy" and discussed the operation of the farm in some detail. It said, in part:

"New subject - The funds for the farm operation are getting low. So would each of you also let me have your check in the usual amount of $2,500. A similar amount will be transferred to the partnership account from W. Alton Jones's funds."

In the left-hand corner of the letter is the notation that a carbon copy was being sent to W. Alton Jones.

During his eight years in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower did more for the nation's private oil and gas interests than any other President. He encouraged and signed legislation overruling a Supreme Court decision giving offshore oil to the Federal Government. He gave office space inside the White House to a committee of oil and gas men who wrote a report recommending legislation that would have removed natural-gas pipelines from control by the Federal Power Commission. In his appointments to the FPC, every commissioner Ike named except one, William Connole, was a pro-industry man. When Connole objected to gas price increases, Eisenhower eased him out of the commission at the expiration of his term.

On January 19, 1961, one day before he left the White House, Eisenhower signed a procedural instruction on the importation of residual oil that required all importers to move over and sacrifice 15 percent of their quotas to newcomers who wanted a share of the action. One of the major beneficiaries of this last-minute executive order happened to be Cities Service, which had had no residual quota till that time but which under Ike's new order was allotted about 3,000 barrels a day. The chief executive of Cities Service was W. Alton Jones, one of the three faithful contributors to the upkeep of the Eisenhower farm.

Three months later, Jones was flying to Palm Springs to visit the retired President of the United States when his plane crashed and Jones was killed. In his briefcase was found $61,000 in cash and travelers' checks. No explanation was ever offered - in fact none was ever asked for by the complacent American press - as to why the head of one of the leading oil companies of America was flying to see the ex-President of the United States with $61,000 in his briefcase. (438-440)

(3) Jonathan Kwitny, Endless Enemies (1984)

In 1961 John Foster Dulles was dead. Allen Dulles had been reappointed to head the CIA as the very first decision announced by President-elect Kennedy. And President Eisenhower retired to a 576-acre farm near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The farm, smaller then, had been bought by General and Mrs. Eisenhower in 1950 for $24,000, but by 1960 it was worth about $1 million. Most of the difference represented the gifts of Texas oil executives connected to Rockefeller oil interests. The oilmen acquired surrounding land for Eisenhower under dummy names, filled it with livestock and big, modern barns, paid for extensive renovations to the Eisenhower house, and even wrote out checks to pay the hired help.

These oil executives were associates of Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison, billionaire Texas oilmen who were working with Rockefeller interests on some Texas and Louisiana properties and on efforts to hold up the price

of oil. From 1955 to 1963, the Richardson, Murchison, and Rockefeller interests (including Standard Oil Company of Indiana, which was 11-36 percent Rockefeller-held at the time of the Senate figures referred to earlier, and International Basic Economy Corporation, which was 100 percent Rockefeller-owned and of which Nelson Rockefeller was president) managed to give away a $900,000 slice of their Texas-Louisiana oil property to Robert B. Anderson, Eisenhower's secretary of the treasury.

In the Eisenhower cabinet, Anderson led the team that devised a system under which quotas were mandated by law on how much oil each company could bring into the U.S. from cheap foreign sources. This bonanza for entrenched power was enacted in 1958 and lasted fourteen years. Officially, it was done because of the "national interest" in preventing a reliance on foreign oil.

In effect, the import limits held U.S. oil prices artificially high, depleted domestic reserves, and reduced demand for oil overseas, thereby lowering foreign oil prices so that European and Japanese manufacturers could compete better with their U.S. rivals. It is difficult, of course, for a layman to understand how any of these things is in the national interest.

Meanwhile, President Kennedy turned the State Department over to Dean Rusk, who had held various high positions in the department under President Truman. For nine years - the entire Eisenhower interregnum for the Democrats and then some - Rusk had been occupied as president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Has anybody stopped to think that from 1953 until 1977, the man in charge of U.S. foreign policy had been on the Rockefeller family payroll? And that from 1961 until 1977, he (meaning Rusk and Kissinger) was beholden to the Rockefellers for his very solvency?

(4) Joseph Trento, Secret History of the CIA (2001)

In April 1976, William Zylka, a New Jersey businessman' and operative for the CIA, escorted Colonel Contreas to Iran to meet with Ambassador Helms. Zylka had a long relationship with the CIA through Eisenhower Treasury Secretary Robert Anderson, who informally ran dozens of businessmen as Agency assets; another of them was Zylka's friend William Casey, who later became DCI during the Reagan Administration.