The Curious Congressional Campaign and Life Of LaMarr Bailey

In 1944, a World War II veteran and father of five named LaMarr Bailey announced a run for United States Congress in Texas’ 18th district in the Texas Panhandle. He was seeking to unseat incumbent Eugene Worley in the Democratic Primary.[1]

Bailey,an Amarillo radio announcer[2], running as an anti-New Dealer, actually campaigned in parts of his district on horseback, claiming he didn’t want to be beholden to any New Deal agencies for gas rations. His horse was named Bureaucracy.[3]

Bailey on horseback during the 1944 campaign.

“Bailey was given a medical discharge after serving 22 months in the South Pacific war zone against the Japs.”

“‘The old army horse gets peeved at times over his new name,'” Bailey told The Canyon News.[4]

Bailey, 28, at the time, had traveled 165 miles in one week and anticipated riding 700 more before his campaign concluded.[5]

He was running on platforms including six-year tenure of office for members of Congress, and lifting of differential freight rates, and states’ rights. His slogan was, “Send another Bailey to Congress,” and he claimed familial relations with the late Joseph Bailey, a longtime U.S. Senator representing Texas.[6] It is unclear if he is actually related to Bailey.

One sources that he received a Purple Heart and Presidential Citation for bravery in the Southwest Pacific;[7] whether that is accurate or not is unknown. However, by the time Bailey entered the military, he already had one major brush with the law.

Bailey ultimately lost to Worley, but that wasn’t the end of his notoriety, nor was it, really, the beginning.

By the time Bailey launched his campaign, and, in fact, before he enlisted in the Navy in 1943,[8] he had already been convicted in Andrews County for illegally carrying a pistol. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed his appeal for lack of sufficient notice filed with the trial court.[9]

After his run for Congress, he was one of the founding members of AmVets, an organization still in existence today and originally founded to aid World War II veterans.

1944 publicity photo of LaMarr Bailey, Sr.

In 1945, as the American Federation of Labor was making strike talk, Bailey, speaking for AmVets, was highly critical of the organization and said he was personally heading north to lobby against the strike in cities where it was most likely to start. He called the CIO, “an un-American [sic] political party threatening the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States.”[10]

During this time, claiming to be National Vice Commander of AmVets, Bailey also assumed its presidency, as the presidency of the organization was vacant. It was later declared this action was completely unlawful, as Bailey had been dismissed from the organization after his CIO remarks.[11]

These two incidents riled up AmVets chapters in Houston and Dallas such that there was eventually a schism within the organization, with some members in Dallas[12] leaving to become part of United Yanks, a short-lived World War II Veterans organization,[13] and Houston members refusing to show up at meetings.[14]

The Life Of LaMarr Bailey

Bailey was born in Calico Rock, Arkansas, on October 25, 1916.[15] The family ultimately settled in the panhandle, but it isn’t clear exactly where. Bailey provided multiple answers during his own lifetime. By 1940, Bailey was living with his wife, Donna Jean, and sons LaMarr, Jr., and Billy in Seagraves in Gaines County in the far southwestern portion of the Texas Panhandle, having lived in Wink, in Winkler County, prior to locating in Seagraves. The 1940 census listed him as engaged in the oil business.[16]

By 1941, he was in Andrews County, where he was charged with unlawfully carrying a pistol.[17] During his later campaign for governor of New Mexico, Bailey also claimed that he’d shot a man in the leg and was given three years in prison, but that it was overturned by a higher court, but no record of that case can be located.[18]

After his congressional campaign and the AMVETS scandal, in 1945, Bailey went on to move to Abilene[19] and ran a flour sales company in Abilene[20] for a while before getting in to the oil business, which he’d worked in before the war. He moved to Kermit in 1946.[21]

He had several minor scrapes with the law for fighting and speeding in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Bailey in the oil fields near Big Spring, May, 1951.

At various times in his life, he was affiliated with different oil and ore companies,[22] one of which was working in New Mexico and gave up its efforts after a hill it was examining was “salted” with gold.[23]

In 1947, he was engaged to purchase a chain of jewelry stores from Orien Neil Justice Sr. and his son, Orien Neil Justice, Jr., which resulted in federal criminal charges including a federal indictment that landed him in prison for a little over a year. The jewelry store chain owned by the Justices had Texas stores in Andrews, Crane, Kermit, and two stores in New Mexico, one at Eunice and one at Jal.

Bailey was indicted in April, 1948, alleging “he concealed certain money and property of the Justrite Jewelers from creditors, the receiver, and trustee.”

A voluntary petition for bankruptcy for the stores was filed May 2, 1947. “Federal officials said Bailey had entered in to a contract with the Justices, before the bankruptcy proceeding, to purchase their holdings.”[24]

He was arrested in late September, 1949, in San Angelo, after allegedly jumping the $1,500 bond set on his federal indictment.

“Bailey was being held at San Angelo on an indictment alleging his purchase of five jewelry stores with a bad check for $10,000. After the sale they were placed in Bankruptcy. He had been an object of a widespread manhunt in New Mexico. Near Ruidosa, N.M., he escaped, by dodging a roadblock.

At the time, he was also facing bad check charges in Kermit, Texas, and postal law violations in Santa Fe. He was accused of “conspiring to force R.H. Hollis, Radium Spring postmaster, from his office.”[25]

By 1956,  Bailey and his son, LaMarr Bailey, Jr., were in Nevada where they ran an oil stock scam.

In December, 1956, Bailey and his son arrived in Las Vegas, where they preceded to open the Maltese Oil and Gas Company, with the younger Bailey as president.

However, the two paid for pretty much everything associated with the business with worthless checks, although it appears no investors were defrauded.

An office supply store owner claimed he was the victim of a $1,800 worthless check from December 26, 1956. Their landlord, a dealership that rented them a brand new car, and even the city, which was paid for a business license by check, were all defrauded.

The short-lived company closed Jan. 14 after the Better Business Bureau started asking questions about their operations. The company had placed newspaper ads concerning the sale of stock, “capitalizing on publicity given oil drilling ventures.”[26]

LaMarr Bailey, Jr., heads in to court to testify against one of the members of the check forgery ring he was allegedly involved with.

During the same period, LaMarr Bailey Jr. had legal troubles of his own in El Paso relating to a phony check scam involving two other people.

In 1957, LaMarr Bailey, Jr., was one of three people arrested as part of a check forgery ring that allegedly resulted in $25,000 in forged checks cashed. The ring also involved fake Social Security cards, and certificates of service from the Armed Forces. The trio had stolen checkbooks from the Continental Casualty Company and the Old Republic Insurance Company, and cashed the in amounts of $160 in five western states. Bailey appears to have been the first arrested in the scam, later implicating two others, including the ringleader, Jay Richard Ebsen, who pleaded guilty.[27]

Campaign for New Mexico Governor

In spite of his conviction, he later wound up in New Mexico, where he was living out of a hotel and announced a campaign for governor of that state. The press attention that gained, however, seemed to lead to his capture on other criminal charges related to bad checks. He had outstanding warrants in Texas for failing to show up for court dates, was arrested in Mexico, and extradited back to Texas. He never formally filed to enter the governor’s race.[28]

After announcing his entry to the Governor’s race, a New Mexico newspaper quoted him as saying, “of course I’ve been in a lot of fights and shooting scrapes, and in courts all over New Mexico and Texas.”

“But I was only convicted twice and one of those didn’t stand up. I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve ever got and I’m going to fight for this governor’s job,” he continued.[29]

He was open about his previous brushes with the law, including the prison time he served after the incident with the jewelry store purchase.

“I had to shoot an old boy in the leg and they gave me three years in district court but the supreme court reversed the verdict,” he said.[30]

Post-Gubernatorial Campaign 

After the publicity from his campaign, El Paso bad check charges came to light. Bailey was accused of passing a bad check to former deputy sheriff who wanted a refund for $750 he invested in an oil development deal with Bailey. He refunded $100 in cash and a check for $600. However, the El Paso bank upon which the check was draw had no account for Bailey.[31]

He did not object to extradition proceedings, and was extradited to El Paso May 20.

He later faced more fraud charges after he left bills at two hotels used for his nascent campaign for governor unpaid.[32]

He was ultimately arrested on those charges, and charges of jumping bond stemming from an assault during April of

Ad for an Albuquerque car dealer featuring Bailey.

1959, in September, 1960.  The assault charges alleged he took Jack Main, owner of the Navajo Lodge in Ruidoso, in to the woods and beat him with a pistol and tree branch. He was alleged to have jumped bond on those, and was arrested in September, 1960 in connection with those charges.[33]

Shortly after the legal fracas for outstanding warrants in his aborted 1959 gubernatorial campaign, he was working for a Houston oil company that abandoned options on a New Mexico tract after a hill it was examining for ore product was determined to have been salted with gold.[34]

By 1967, he had been working as a car dealer in Albuquerque for about four years.[35]

By 1968, Bailey can be found in Fort Worth, where he was one of three people who purchased a McKinney livestock auction company. Bailey was one of several men incited with theft and embezzlement by the Collin County Grand Jury in 1969 in connection with more than $60,000 in worthless checks held by area stockmen. D.G. Talbot sold the Collin County Commission Company, and checks were returned to the area ranchers after he sold the firm. Talbot ultimately made good on the checks, and was also among those indicted.[36]

Bailey wound up in Florida, where he died in 2007. [37]





[1] “Candidate Travels by Horseback to Avoid New Deal,” The Canyon News, June 15, 1944.
[2] “Opposition Develops for Rep. Worley,” The Pampa Daily News, May 18, 1944, p. 1
[3] “Campaigns On Horseback,” The Eagle, Friday June 16, 1944, Bryan, Texas.
[4] “Campaigns On Horseback,” The Eagle, Friday June 16, 1944, Bryan, Texas.
[5] “Campaigns On Horseback,” The Eagle, Friday June 16, 1944, Bryan, Texas.
[6] “LaMarr Bailey in Race for Congress,” Claude News, Friday, June 2, 1944, Vol. 53, No. 40.
[7] “Campaigns on Horseback,” The Abilene Reporter-News, June 20, 1944, p. 14
[8] Registration Card, D.S.S. Form 1 for LaMarr Carlysle, Bailey, Serial No. 451, Order No 456, National Archives and Records Administration via Fold3.
[9] State v. Bailey, Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas Mar 12, 1941;  141 Tex. Crim. 303 (Tex. Crim. App. 1941); 148 S.W.2d 851.
[10] “Amarillo AmVet Creates Uproar in CIO Attack,” The Amarillo Daily News, February 27, 1945, p.1.
[11] “LaMarr Bailey Not an AmVet,” The Amarillo Globe-Times, March 16, 1945, page 2.
[12] “AmVets Will Disband, Organize New Group,” Amarillo Daily news, April 18, 1945, p. 12
[13] ibid
[14] Bolton, Paul. “Importance of ‘Land for Soldiers’ Plan Lessened,” Austin American, August 31, 1945, p.1
[15] Registration Card, D.S.S. Form 1 for LaMarr Carlysle, Bailey, Serial No. 451, Order No 456, National Archives and Records Administration via Fold3.
[16] United States Census for 1940, state of Texas, county of Gaines, Commissioner’s Precinct 1, Segraves, United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Enumeration District 83-1B, Sheet 9B, April 13, 1940, Margaret B. McCullogh, Enumerator.
[17] State v. Bailey, Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas Mar 12, 1941;  141 Tex. Crim. 303 (Tex. Crim. App. 1941); 148 S.W.2d 851.
[18] “LaMarr Bailey, Carrizozo Admitted ‘Outlaw’ Running for Governor,” Alamogordo Daily News, April 19, 1959, p. 4.
[19] “FBI Arrests Ex-Abilenian,” Abilene Reporter News, Oct. 1, 1949, p. 9
[20] “SALESMAN DISCHARGED VETERAN ONLY,” (classified advertisement) Abilene Reporter News, Nov 19, 1945.
[21] “FBI Arrests Ex-Abilenian,” Abilene Reporter News, Oct. 1, 1949, p. 9
[22] “Nine Wells On The Pump,” Abiene Reporter News, May 25, 1951, p. 9-A [photo caption]
[23] Harrison, Will. “Inside The Capitol,” Alamogordo Daily News, Nov. 24, 1959
[24] “El Paso Grand Jury Indicts LeMarr Bailey, El PAso Times, April 7, 1948, p.
[25] “FBI Arrests Ex-Abilenian,” Abilene Reporter News, Oct. 1, 1949, p. 9
[26] “Triple Charges Filed in Clark,” The Reno Evening Gazette, January 19, 1957, p.1
[27] “Accused Leader of Bogus Check Ring Pleads Guilty,” The El Paso Herald-Post, September 3, 1957, p. 1; “Blames Check Ring Role On Threats,” The El Paso Herald-Post, Thursday October 17, 1957
[28] “LaMarr Bailey, Carrizozo Admitted ‘Outlaw’ Running for Governor,” Alamogordo Daily News, April 19, 1959, p. 4.
[29] ibid
[30] ibid
[31] “Candidate Faces Hot Check Charge,” El Paso Herald-Post, May 14, 1959, p. 1
[32] “Bailey In Lincoln Hoosegow,” Alamogordo Daily News, Sept. 29, 1960, p. 1
[33] ibid
[34] Harrison, Will. “Inside The Capitol,” Alamogordo Daily News, Nov. 24, 1959
[35] “The Southwest Finest Sales Crew Says…” (advertisement), Albuquerque Journal, June 10, 1967, p. B-9
[36] “Bad Checks Redeemed As Promised,” The Corpus Christi Caller Times, April 11, 1968, p. 12-C
[37] Social Security Death Index, “Bailey, LaMarr C,” via Fold3.
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Vince Leibowitz

Publisher & Editor at Contemporary Texas History
Vince Leibowitz is a journalist, author, and historian. He is the Publisher and Editor of Contemporary Texas History.

He lives in Colorado County, Texas with his two dogs, Lyndon "Puppy" and Senfronia.

He serves on the Colorado County Historical Commission and as Managing Editor of The Colorado County Citizen.

He recently secured a Texas Historical Marker for Etta Moten Barnett. the first black woman to sing solo in the White House. In April, 2019, he was named South Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year for Division I.
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