“$500 and a Case of Scotch:”

The 1947 Florida Legislative Bribery Scandal

 

Michael Hoover

Seminole Community College

 

Introduction

The 1947 Florida legislative session was one of the most productive and, up to that point, progressive sessions in the state's history. Leading the way was a comprehensive general education act intended to repair and improve an educational system that had been ignored following the collapse of the 1920s "land boom." A second important accomplishment was the appropriation of $2,000,000 to purchase land to create Everglades National Park in South Florida. Legislators passed other noteworthy legislation including measures establishing co-ed education at the University of Florida in Gainesville as well as at the Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee, renamed Florida State University, and granting women the right to sit on juries for the first time.  Additionally, the legislature substantially increased funding for both "aid to dependent children" and public health programs, earmarked money for forest conservation and fire protection, and extended the state's bribery laws to cover attempts to influence not only members of the legislature, but also legislative staff and candidates for office.  

If the 1947 Florida Legislature was historic because of the magnitude of legislation that was passed, it was eventful because of an allegation of bribery leveled from within the House of Representatives. There were three weeks remaining in the biennial 60-day session (April 8 to June 6) when the incident occurred during the afternoon session of May 14. Floor debate had begun on a number of important bills, among them a so-called "bookie bill" (H.B. 590) intended to prevent telephone and telegraph companies from leasing private wires used for transmission of gambling information.[1] Proponents asserted that the legislation would cripple off-track bookmaking operations that they claimed did more business than legalized horse and dog tracks.  Legal pari-mutuel facilities would attract more customers if the bill passed, thereby enhancing the tax revenue that the state received from racing.  Opponents of the bill argued that it would do nothing to increase track-site business because individuals who placed their bets with bookmakers were unlikely to attend the racetracks. In a deceptive turn, they maintained that the only effective means of stopping off-track betting would be a prohibition on newspaper publication and radio broadcast of race results.  The opposition even claimed that, if approved, the bill would result in declining state tax receipts because bookies bet heavily at the track to hedge their outside bets and this business would be lost if they were put out of operation.

 

Revealing the Bribe

The House had unanimously approved an “anti-bookie” bill two years earlier that never came up for a vote in the Senate.  In 1947, the Senate passed a version of the bill with only two dissenting votes; the House, however, rejected H.B. 590 by a vote of 41-37.[2]  Seventeen legislators, a number of assembly leaders among them, did not vote on the measure.  Following the bill’s defeat, Rep. Brailey Odham (Sanford/Seminole County) came forward with the charge that he had been offered a bribe to vote against the bill.  Speaking on personal privilege, he did not identify the member who had allegedly made the offer; he asserted, however that

 

a bunch of unscrupulous racketeers are trying to influence the vote of this House.  They're in this legislature today and there's money on the line.  This is a grave issue.  It's a cancer.  I was approached and I'm hot about it.[3] 

 

The gallery, filled with spectators who had come to watch the floor debate and vote on the gambling legislation, erupted into applause when Odham made his allegations. Hand clapping also broke out among some legislators on the floor. When several members challenged the claim, Odham indicated that he would "call names" even though doing so would "embarrass members of this house."[4]

The youngest member, at age 27, of the 1947 Florida Legislature, Brailey Odham had no political credentials, little political background, and few political contacts.  He had been in Tallahassee a mere five weeks representing a county that was no major player in the general scheme of state politics.  As Odham remembers,

 

I was so impressed in those first few weeks.  At church one Sunday morning in Sanford, I told people what a good bunch there was up there [in the legislature] and how good and clean politics was. A week later we had the piece of legislation that changed my view forever.[5]             

 

Odham had distinguished himself in committee work and day-to-day activities of the assembly in the short time that he had served. Having quickly developed a reputation as a high-minded and sincere individual, he was not suspected of having political motives for the charges he leveled nor was he thought the type to sound off in order to gain personal publicity. As one newspaper editorial commented, Odham’s "only interest" was "constructive public service" and, therefore, he had gotten into politics with the "idea of cleaning it up."[6]

The bribery allegation quickly swept aside all other legislative business.  The state Senate voted to call for appointment of a joint committee from both houses to investigate the charges.   The House rules committee adopted a motion to hear statements that any legislator wished to make on the matter and also appointed a committee to determine the assembly's legal responsibilities.  Legislators talked of little else as numerous “sub-current” conversations took place in the Capitol corridors and in the hotel rooms where most stayed while the legislature was in session.  As St. Petersburg Times reporter Stan Cawthorn wrote "the significant part of the story was that no legislator was heard to say he believed that Odham was lying or was even mistaken about the bribe offer."[7]

Questions did arise about Odham's judgment in making statements so difficult to prove, but rumors also circulated about other legislators having received bribe offers. Perhaps most serious were concerns expressed about the behavior of the seventeen legislators who failed to vote on the anti-bookie legislation. Members who were considered models of integrity and independence were looked at with suspicion. Explanation by those who failed to vote on the measure included not understanding the bill, having to go to the restroom, and requiring medical attention at the time of the final vote. The most forthright of those who did not vote stated that bookmakers in his county had given him substantial unsolicited support in his election campaign and, while they had not asked for any favors, he felt that he owed it to them to leave the chamber before the roll call.[8]  Most legislators agreed that those who "took a walk" were responsible for the defeated bill.

 

The Story Unfolds

Brailey Odham and Representative Archie Clement (Tarpon Springs/Pinellas County) met with Governor Millard Caldwell who, when asked directly whether he planned any investigation into the charges, commented "that is a matter for the legislature."[9] Personally reserved and philosophically conservative, Caldwell could nevertheless exhibit active and energetic leadership. In this instance, he favored prohibiting the use of telegraph and telephone lines to transmit gambling information, but his focus at the time was on funding a new statewide public school program.[10] Interestingly, Caldwell declined to comment on a proposed bill to legalize and tax slot machines (pending on the senate calendar with finance and taxation committee endorsement), stating that he would maintain his policy of not speaking about ways for the legislature to raise the money he estimated was needed.

            When Odham was out of town on family business for a day and a half after meeting with the governor murmurs surfaced about his absence, but permission had been granted prior to the alleged incident.  Odham recalls the chronology of events: "I made the charges on Wednesday.  I went to see the governor on Thursday.  I was out of town on Friday.  And, I returned on Saturday to a stack of messages waiting for me at the Cherokee Hotel where I was staying in Tallahassee."[11] Little went on in the state capital on weekends as both legislators and reporters took time off from their regular activities and, on that Saturday afternoon, Odham was unable to contact anyone who had requested further comment on the bribery matter. He did, however, run into respected political columnist Allen Morris near the capitol building. Odham told the scribe that the story was available only if Morris would make copies to distribute to other reporters.

Brailey Odham revealed to Allen Morris that the person involved was a member of the House of Representatives and he indicated that he was prepared to name the person for legislative investigators. Morris, who agreed to withhold the briber's name, quoted Odham as saying that he was returning from lunch when

 

I was approached just outside the house chamber and asked to vote against the bill.  The man who approached me is a member of the House. He asked me to help him kill this bill. I told him, I think it is a good bill and one needed.  He then said, “Do you mind if I get personal?” Before I even answered, he said either I'll give you $200 or I'll get you $200. I told him that I would not consider this. On the next morning, as I walked into the chamber, this same member approached me and said, “I'll make it five and a case of Scotch whiskey if you'll just take a walk. Some of the best members of the House are going to do so.” I told him again that I was going to support the bill and would speak for it on the floor. Then I walked off.[12]

 

Odham would be criticized in some quarters for disclosing his story to the press before providing a full accounting to the House of Representatives. Defending himself, he asserts that doing so was a kind of insurance policy.[13]  The action is understandable given his lack of status in the assembly, the fact that several long-standing members accused him of insulting the integrity and dignity of the body, and the desire by some to brush aside the incident as innocent vote trading enabling opponents to defeat a bill. 

 

Naming the Alleged Briber

The rush of events over a six-day period culminated on May 19, 1947 when Brailey Odham named Bernie Papy (Key West/Monroe County), the senior member of the House of Representatives, as the person who offered the bribe. Several minutes later, Representative Clarence Camp (Ocala/Marion County) accused Papy of offering him $100 to vote against the "bookie bill."  Papy took the floor maintaining that he had told both his accusers: "I'd heard they are offering $100 for a vote against this bill."[14]  Papy also indicated that Odham's brother had recently asked his help in getting a job at one of the Miami racetracks, saying that he believed "a friend could return a favor” and so he had “asked him [Odham] to support my side to kill the bill."[15]

Generational lines were quickly drawn; old-line House members rose on Papy's behalf while younger members, many of them World War II veterans, spoke to the issue of clean government.  The assembly voted 50-39 to request a grand jury investigation of the charges, but not before the resolution (H.R. 26) was amended allowing Papy to retain his membership rights to speak and vote.[16] In fact, several of the "old guard" pushed to have the matter dropped entirely on grounds that it was a misunderstanding. The debate reached its nadir when one legislator shouted: "there isn't a man who could sit on any jury and convict the sorriest nigger on this kind of testimony."[17] The capitol press criticized the House for refusing to deal with a controversial internal affair. Several columnists even alluded to the appearance of a "whitewash" after several assembly members professed the view that a subpoena from a local grand jury was not binding on a legislator while the body was in session.

A Leon County (Tallahassee) grand jury was quickly convened and newspapers around the state were quick to call for a forthright investigation of the charges.[18] Editorial writers expressed concern, however, that the local state attorney, Orion C. Parker, had neither the experience nor the staff to successfully try such a case if an indictment was handed down. The only precedent in Florida legislative history for the charges leveled by Odham and Camp had occurred during Reconstruction when black senator Charles H. Pierce was expelled from the upper house and convicted of bribery in circuit court.[19] Over time, the state assembly had developed a reputation of indifference to racketeering and legislative observers were not so naive as to presume that an alliance of crime and corruption never influenced the institution's business.  Still, after several days of testimony, a grand jury indicted Bernie Papy on three counts of attempted bribery.[20]

Papy had been a leader in the fight against the "bookie bill"; serving his seventh term during the 1947 session, he was a wealthy man and power broker who entertained lavishly in the $500 a month house that he rented during the legislative session.[21] Papy's personal influence and popularity contributed to the House sending the matter to a grand jury rather than carrying out its own ethics investigation. Throughout the affair, he referred to the incident as "horse-trading"; he displayed both confidence and arrogance by appearing in public with a dog track representative as well as with an individual who had been indicted in an election fraud case.[22] Papy actually voted against his own suspension on a motion that restored him to full membership in the assembly.[23] While he eventually resigned from the House, Papy spent most of the day on which he was indicted in the cloakroom outside a door of the House chambers, even appearing before a committee in opposition to a bill.[24] 

On the eve of Bernie Papy's indictment on bribery charges, both houses of the Florida legislature unanimously passed a bill (H.B. 1323) extending the state's bribery laws to cover attempts to influence legislative attaches and candidates as well as elected members.[25] Prior to the vote on that measure, House Speaker Thomas Beasley disclosed that he had been offered $5000 to appoint Papy to chair the Committee on Public Amusements which customarily considered bills on racing and gambling. Legislators also learned from House Clerk Dewey Hooten that Papy had offered him $100 to help defeat a bill.[26] Neither instance violated then-existing state law; Hooten was a staff member while Beasley was technically a candidate because the alleged incident occurred after he was named Speaker-elect at the close of the 1945 session, but before he was re-elected to his House seat.

 

The Bribery Trial

Bernie Papy pleaded innocent to the charges that he offered cash bribes to Odham and Camp. His attorneys proceeded to file a series of legal motions, including requesting that the presiding judge, W. May Walker, dismiss the charges made by Odham on grounds that Papy attempted to influence him not to vote rather than to vote a certain way (omission rather than commission).  Failing in that maneuver, they asked that Walker require the state to specify exact times and actual conversations in the indictment papers and that he exclude all testimony regarding conversations that occurred in or near House chambers on the basis that such items were privileged and inadmissible as court evidence.[27] The judge eventually ruled against all defense motions, but Odham recollects that the prosecution

 

could not effectively do its job because it lacked the proper resources. [Governor] Caldwell had appointed a special prosecutor in the case, but he had me up half the night reading law books in order to be able to respond to defense points.[28]              

 

The legislators who earlier told Odham that they, too, had been offered money (in his words) “disappeared or developed amnesia” and the case, as many had expected it would, boiled down to one person's word against another's.

The trial lasted for five days during which Brailey Odham stuck doggedly to the account that he had told to both reporter Allen Morris and to the state assembly members. The defense paid less attention to Rep. Camp's charges, its strategy being to plant seeds of doubt in the prosecution's case by continually challenging Odham to respond to questions about the words "give” and "get" as they related to the alleged bribe attempt. While the defense was unable to shake Odham from his story, the jury may well have been affected by its attempt to create confusion over language. In a vigorous cross-examination, Papy attorney Pat Whitaker presented as evidence the House journal of May 19 that showed "no dollar marks" in relation to Odham's statement purporting an offer of money.  Whitaker attempted, also, to attach a political motive to the charges by asking Odham if he had been interested in the 1949 Speaker of the House position.  Rep. Camp, who had been less vocal and less visible than Odham from the beginning, testified that when he told Papy that he supported passage of the "bookie bill" even as he was voting to refer the legislation to a hostile committee, the latter indicated that "if you'll just vote that way, it will mean $100 to you."[29]

Meanwhile, Bernie Papy testified in his own behalf as the only defense witness called to the stand.  He stated that he opposed the anti-bookie legislation because it would mean a loss of tax revenue for the small counties and would provide news services with a monopoly on race result information.  Papy acknowledged a first conversation with Brailey Odham and admitted to saying that he had heard "they were paying $100 to vote."[30] He denied, however, having a second discussion with Odham, the instance when the offer of “$500 and a case of Scotch” was supposedly made. In his only reference to Camp, who had been called a "millionaire legislator" by defense attorney Weldon Starry, Papy stated that offering $100 to a member of one of Central Florida's wealthiest families would have been an insult.

In closing arguments, defense lawyers both narrowed and broadened the scope of the allegations while continuing to focus on the Odham charges. Starry began by calling him a "baby legislator" and a "self-styled dreamer." The attorney then suggested that Odham had a "Messiah" complex.[31] In his remarks to the jury, Starry noted that Papy's conviction would mean financial and social ruin for him and his family while bringing his political career to an "inglorious end." Attorney Pat Whitaker then asserted that the state's largest newspapers had sponsored the "bookie bill" and that the bribery charges were the result of a conspiracy controlled by those same interests. He spoke repeatedly of a chronology of events in which Odham made his accusation and spoke to the press before naming the alleged culprit. Whitaker told the jury that

 

after Odham saw his efforts to pass the [bookie] bill fail, he got his friends on the Miami newspapers to write up his charges in order to keep them under his pillow to avoid forgetting them...The newspapers knew they had him. They took charge of him. They helped him write his statement and they picked the name Bernie Papy.[32]

 

For its part, the prosecution hailed both of Papy's accusers as "men of moral courage" and asked the jury to display "guts and fortitude" by returning a guilty verdict. Special prosecutor Phil O'Connell from Palm Beach, challenging the defense's claim that newspaper interests were behind the anti-bookie bill, asked if the press would come under a provision prohibiting private wires used or intended for gambling purposes. O’Connell, responding to Papy's claim that he had said nothing to Odham and Camp other than the comment about $100 being offered to vote no on the legislation, asserted "all bribery starts that way."[33] But, neither legislator who said they were solicited had been able to produce a third party who was present when the bribes were allegedly made. Therefore, the prosecution had tried a case in which "reasonable doubt" hung like a cloud over the proceedings.[34]

 

Conclusion

Concerns about organized crime’s impact on politics in Florida emerged during the “roaring” years of the 1920s as the growth of tourism, particularly in the southern portion of the state, encouraged the spread of gambling, both legal and illegal. Miami’s Great Depression-era economy of the 1930s essentially sustained itself on gambling─horse racing, lotteries, slot machines, illegal hotel casinos. Al Capone was instrumental in transforming the latter; previously, local people had run such operations, however, he and his “out of town” colleagues took over because of the financial capacity they had to control both local law enforcement and elected officials in Dade County.[35] Just north in Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), Sheriff Walter Clark’s two-decade reign of illegal gambling, dirty money, and politics reached the state capital in Tallahassee. Clark’s relationship with many state legislators led to a Florida Senate reinstatement following Governor Spessard Holland’s 1942 suspension of him for failure to enforce gambling laws.[36]  By this time in the 1940s, illegal gambling had become an “open secret” in South Florida. Following World War II, then-Miami Herald publisher John Knight (a man who liked to lay down a bet and someone who had frequented many a gambling establishment) decided to use his newspaper to crusade against gambling operators. According to former Herald reporter Nixon Smiley, Knight had come to believe that bookmaking corrupted law officers and political leaders, resulting in the debasement of the public’s business.[37]    

The 1947 Florida legislative bribery scandal brought to public attention unseemly methods sometimes employed to influence legislative activities. One can only speculate as to how much─if at all─the case contributed to reducing the scope of such activities; after all, the extent to which corrosive legislative and lobbying techniques were common is not known. Two years later, Senator C. L. Alford (Grand Ridge/Jackson County) charged that John Scruggs, former Leon County legislator and a member of the Florida Democratic Executive Committee, had offered him $2000 to vote against a particular measure. Alford accepted the money and turned it over to police officers present at a pre-arranged meeting with Scruggs.[38] Thereafter, a 1950 federal investigation into racketeering created another furor over political corruption in the state; a special US Senate committee on crime chaired by Estes Kefauver (D-TN) found repeated evidence of official wrongdoing. Among other things, the investigation revealed that three men contributed over $400,000 to Fuller Warren's successful 1948 gubernatorial campaign, among them a racetrack owner with previous connections to Al Capone.[39]  Still, several years hence, the "going price" to vote against a racetrack bill was said to be $3000. A 1953 legislator is said to have taken that amount, told the briber that he could secure another member's vote as well, and doubled his money.[40] Many Florida legislators tended to believe bribery allegations when made because they knew of actual or supposed instances of vote buying. Unethical, but (at the time) not illegal, influence peddling included paying legislators' expenses while they attended sessions in Tallahassee and underwriting the cost of election campaigns. Another common practice was for lobby groups to maintain business relations with legislators via payment of legal retainers, insurance fees, and other monies for services rendered. Only the most naive would not recognize the implication of such activities.

In any event, neither historians nor political scientists have paid attention to the 1947 scandal in their accounting of Florida political history. The obvious explanation rests with the fact that Bernie Papy was not convicted of the bribery charges. Rather, he was acquitted on all three counts after a thirty-five minute jury deliberation. Papy would be re-elected to the House of Representatives in 1948 and serve for another fifteen years. His fourteen terms (1935-1963) as a state legislator ranks as one of the longest tenures in Florida history. Long recognized as a champion of the small counties, he worked to see that racetrack pari-mutuel tax receipts remained divided evenly among the state's 67 counties rather than on a per-capita basis. His influence enabled him to have a part of the Big Cypress area south of the Tamiami Trail as well as several higher, more inhabitable, and heavily forested Florida Keys excluded from the 1947 Everglades land purchase.[41] A monument to his "pork chop" politics is a bridge in Monroe County that runs between Big Pine Key and a small, uninhabited place called "No Name Key."[42]

As for Brailey Odham, perhaps Florida's most colorful mid-twentieth century politician, his identification with fighting corruption left an indelible mark on the public consciousness.[43]  Eminently quotable because of his candor, he was a press favorite; columnists and pundits routinely mentioned his name as a gubernatorial or congressional candidate until the mid-1960s.  Odham served a second term in the Florida House in 1949 but declined to seek a third, he says, when


 

a member who told me in '47 that he had been offered a bribe and then lost his   

memory was chosen Speaker-elect for the 1951 session. I could never have worked in an environment where he had a leadership role.[44]

 

Relying upon radio “talkathons” in a 1952 campaign for governor, he lost a 1952 run-off election.[45] After finishing out of the running in the 1954 race for the state's highest office, his endorsement of Leroy Collins was credited with helping Collins in his run-off victory.  Odham returned to the spotlight in the late 1950s as a publicly popular and combative chair of the commission responsible for regulating Florida's dairy industry and he made headlines when, as a delegate to the 1960 Democratic convention, he backed John Kennedy instead of "favorite son" U.S. Senator George Smathers.  Odham's statewide political career closed with an ill-fated 1964 bid for the U.S. Senate campaigning as a "Kennedy-Johnson" Democrat in favor of civil rights, Medicare, and the minimum wage.

 



[1] Rep. Charles Luckie (Jacksonville/Duval County) introduced H.B 590. Journal of the House of Representatives, Tallahassee: State of Florida, 1947: 1998.

 

[Selected Annual Proceedings of the Florida Conference of Historians, Annual Meeting, 2004,]

©2005 by Florida Conference of Historian: 1076-4585

All Rights Reserved.

 

[2] A second "bookie bill" was submitted to the House in 1947.  An attempt was made to move that legislation out of a hostile committee two days before the session's end.  The motion to move, however, failed by a vote of 44-43.  Afterwards, a successful voice vote was taken to have all references to the bill removed from House records.  Tampa Tribune, 5 June, 1947.

[3] Sanford Herald, 15 May, 1947.

[4] Miami Herald, 15 May, 1947. Odham was not given an opportunity to identify the alleged culprit because the House adjourned for the day following Speaker Thomas Beasley's ruling that a motion to reconvene in a closed executive session was out of order. 

[5] Author’s interview with Brailey Odham, 5 February 1994.  Odham’s “campaign” for his legislative seat consisted of qualifying as a candidate and issuing a statement to the local newspaper thanking his erstwhile Democratic Party primary opponent, a several-term incumbent who decided against running for re-election, for his service in office.  Odham faced no Republican opponent in the general election.

[6] Ft. Myers Press News, 19 May, 1947.  This same piece issued a prophetic warning about the incident noting that there were no witnesses to the bribe attempt, so it was Odham's word against another person's word, which meant that "finding the culprit legally guilty is hardly possible."

[7] St. Petersburg Times, 18 May, 1947.   

[8] Ibid.

[9] Miami Herald, 16 May, 1947. Odham maintains that he was in Caldwell's office when the governor received a telephone call from an individual inquiring about the possibility of hiring Caldwell's law firm for legal defense. He says that the governor told the caller that the firm was not available and that the governor remarked the call had been from Bernie Papy. Odham would name Papy several days later as the perpetrator of the bribe offer. Odham interview, 5 February and 23 April, 1994.

[10] Caldwell, who had a long and prominent political career before becoming governor, was strongly committed to bettering Florida education and he remains noteworthy for the 1947 Minimum Finance Program (MFP) that substantially reformed the public school system.  R. L. Johns, The Evolution of the Equalization of Educational Opportunity in Florida, 1926-1976, (Gainesville: University of Florida, 1976).  Caldwell assumed office on the cusp of political modernization (in terms of improved and expanded public services) in the state. He was generally successful on both administrative and legislative fronts, proving to be an able executive during the immediate post-World War II period. Widely perceived to be forthright and honest, Caldwell would later be appointed to Florida’s supreme court, serving for a time as chief justice. David R. Colburn and Richard K. Scher, Florida’s Gubernatorial Politics in the Twentieth Century, (Tallahassee: University Presses of Florida, 1980).       

[11]Odham interview, 5 February, 1994. He missed the day because he took his pregnant wife to visit her family in Louisiana.

[12] Miami Daily News, 18 May, 1947.  Odham's account of the two specific incidents remained absolutely consistent throughout the process that ensued. He would tell the exact same story to the assembled House of Representatives, to a grand jury, and as a witness in a jury trial.  Forty-seven years did little to lessen his memory of what happened.  His recounting of these events had not changed. Odham interview, February 5, 1994.

[13] Ibid. Odham also maintains that self-defense led him to reveal the briber's name to a trusted and respected House member, a former Speaker who had been among those who left the chamber rather than vote on the anti-bookie bill.  Claiming that seventeen other legislators initially indicated to him that they, too, had been offered bribes, Odham was gaining confidence and was angered when he heard this influential member plead the briber's case.  First, this individual said that some people do not know any better because they operate by making deals. Secondly, he confessed that he had been approached a couple of times when he was younger and that he knew that it had happened to others as well. Finally, the visitor said that previous incidents had gone away because those involved had refused to pursue the matters.  According to Odham, "If I had listened to his advice, he would have sold me down the river for a debt he owed...They want you to compromise yourself so that you dare not disagree ... There are a lot of effective ways to silence someone ... camaraderie, social clubs."

[14] Sanford Herald, 19 May, 1947.

[15] Deland Sun-News, 19 May, 1947.

[16] The Committee of the Whole House introduced H.R. 26.  Journal of the House of Representatives, Tallahassee: State of Florida, 1947: 752, 757-758, 768.

[17] Rep. J. E. Stokes (Panama City/Bay County) delivered the racist epitaph remark. Tampa Daily Times, 19 May, 1947. As Robert Sherrill writes, it is a reminder that "those Tallahassee legislators [were] operating about twenty miles from the Georgia border." Sherrill, Gothic Politics in the Deep South (New York: Grossman Publishers, 1968), 141.

[18] Newspapers editorializing about the severity of the charges and the need for a thorough investigation included the Ft. Lauderdale News, Ft. Myers News, Glades County Democrat, Jacksonville American, Jacksonville Journal, Lake Wales Daily, Ocala Star-Banner, Pensacola Journal, Sanford Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, St. Petersburg Independent, Tampa Morning Tribune.

[19] Daytona Beach Examiner, 24 May, 1947. Pearce was an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) preacher who had previously been expelled, along with three other Black delegates, from Florida’s post-Civil War 1868 constitutional convention on grounds that he was not a citizen of Florida; legend has it that he was Canadian. The Florida Supreme Court upheld Pearce's conviction but he was granted a gubernatorial pardon and actually returned to the legislature for a time. William Watson Davis, The Civil War & Reconstruction in Florida  (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964).

[20] Odham and Camp were among a group of House members who testified before the grand jury. Others included: James McClure (St. Petersburg/Pinellas County), Charles Usina (St. Augustine/St. Johns County), Richard Simpson (Monticello/Jefferson County), Bourke Floyd (Apalachicola/Franklin County), Russell Morrow (Lake Worth/Palm Beach County), Jerry Collins (Sarasota/Sarasota County), and Farris Bryant (Ocala/ Marion Count y). Sarasota Herald Tribune, 23 May, 1947. 

[21] Miami Herald, 25 May, 1947. Papy, who boasted of having "made a success and retired at a very young age," owned an oil distributorship, a hotel, an apartment complex, a service station, and an insurance company in Key West.  Jacksonville Journal, 24 July, 1947. Mid-twentieth century Florida legislators were paid six dollar per day, or $360 per session, and they received a  $10 per diem for expenses.

[22] Miami Herald, 25 May, 1947.

[23] Ibid.

[24] St. Petersburg Times, 3 June, 1947.

[25] Future Florida governor Farris Bryant (Ocala/Marion County), Jerry Collins (Sarasota/Sarasota County), Russell Morrow (Lake Worth/Palm Beach) R. B. Gautier (Miami/Dade County), Bill Lantaff (Miami/Dade County), and Brailey Odham introduced H.B. 1323. Journal of the House of Representatives, Tallahassee: State of Florida, 1947: 1353. 

[26] Palm Beach Times, 2 June, 1947.  Both Speaker Beasley and Clerk Hooten had testified before the grand jury that indicted Bernie Papy.

[27] Miami Daily News, 8 and 14 June, 1947; Pensacola News, 22 July, 1947. With respect to the issue of omission versus commission, special prosecutor O'Connell successfully argued that not voting has the effect of voting against a bill that requires a majority to pass. As to the matter of excluding testimony, Judge Walker ruled against the defense after sending the jury from the courtroom and listening to Odham testify for an hour under cross examination.

[28] Odham interview, 26 March, 1994.

[29] Tampa Daily Times, 23 July, 1947. Camp, a wealthy cattle rancher and phosphate mine owner, did not return to the legislature in 1949.       

[30] Jacksonville Journal 24 July, 1947; Sanford Herald, 24 July, 1947. 

[31] Jacksonville Journal, 24 July, 1947.   

[32] St. Petersburg Times, 25 July 1947.  Attorney Whitaker's tirade against the press included references to out-of-state ownership of Florida newspapers and personal attacks on individual reporters.

[33] Sanford Herald, 24 July, 1947. 

[34] Even Odham has acknowledged that the case boiled down to "my word against his.  I guess when it can't be more substantiated than that, you should not convict.” Odham interview, 26 March, 1994.

[35] Gene M. Burnett, Florida’s Past: People and Events that Shaped the State, (Englewood: Pineapple Press, 1986), 90-93.

[36] Burnett, Florida’s Past: People and Events that Shaped the State  (Sarasota: Pineapple Press, 1988), II: 91-94.

[37] Nixon Smiley, Knights of the Fourth Estate: The Story of the Miami Herald, (Miami: Seeman Publishing, 1974), 237-248.

[38] Sanford Herald, 29 April, 1949.

[39] Estes Kefauver, Crime in America (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968), 12-17.

[40] William Havard and Loren P. Beth, The Politics of Misrepresentation: Rural-Urban Conflict in the Florida Legislature  (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1962), 234-235.

[41] Luther J. Carter, The Florida Experience: Land and Water Policy in a Growth State, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), 113.

[42] Ibid., 43.

[43] Odham's name was linked to the issue of graft throughout his political career.  Never one to shy away from raising the specter of government corruption, the accolades that he received were always tempered by claims that he was reckless.  An anathema for many of Florida's entrenched powerful interests, even admirers raised questions about his propensity to "call out" individuals, allude to "backroom deals" and "under the table" activities, and refer to the proverbial "they" who were ostensibly responsible for tainting the public realm.

[44] Odham interview, 26 March, 1994.  Odham defeated a Democratic Party primary opponent by a 2-1 margin in his 1949 re-election.  He faced no Republican opponent in the general election.

[45] For discussion and analysis of Odham’s radio-based campaign strategy, see my “Turn Your  Radio On: Brailey Odham’s 1952 ‘Talkathon’ Campaign for Florida Governor,” The Historian 66:4 (forthcoming).