Sixty-three years ago, in the midst of the red scare inspired by Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from Texas was worried.
A tax-exempt, non-profit group called Facts Forum, an anti-communist organization, was spreading its conspiratorial philosophy on TV and radio, in the guise of “public service” programs.
Facts Forum was bankrolled by H.L. Hunt, the Texas oil man and very conservative GOP political figure. (Your game-day link: His son, Lamar Hunt, is credited with naming the Super Bowl.) That U.S. senator, a traditional and centrist Democrat named Lyndon Baines Johnson, feared that he was about to become one of Facts Forum’s targets. It was an election year.
The future president was a wily legislator. On July 2, 1954, LBJ quietly slipped in an amendment to a vast congressional rewrite of the tax code that barred non-profit, tax-exempt organizations operating under section 501(c)3 of the code from endorsing political candidates.
Republicans, including McCarthy, might have had their own motives for supporting Johnson. They suspected the Rockefeller and other private foundations of pushing left-wing propaganda.