Interview with Julian M. Carroll, November 16, 2011

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:03 - Early political aspirations

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former governor and current state senator, Julian Morton Carroll for the University of Kentucky's Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.

Segment Synopsis: Julian Morton Carroll is introduced, and an overview of his political career is given. He talks about the leadership positions he took during his youth, and talks about how he became involved in politics as an adult by campaigning for a referendum in Paducah, Kentucky. He talks about his decision to run for state representative, and the support he received from his family.

Keywords: Democratic leaders; Experience; Family; Kentucky Bluegrass Boys State Governor; Leadership roles; Opposition; Political careers; Referendums; Resignations; Speaker of the House of Representatives; State Representatives; Struther Melton; Student body president; Support; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Elections; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; House of Representatives; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Kentucky. Governor (1971-1974 : Ford); Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Paducah (Ky.); Political campaigns--Kentucky

00:09:14 - Political philosophy / state income tax issue

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Partial Transcript: Well when you went to the General Assembly, what was your political philosophy going in?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his family's political background and how their lifestyle and his religion influenced his political philosophy, particularly on government assistance. He talks about making a speech on behalf of Bert Combs against John Y. Brown on the issue of state income tax.

Keywords: Bert T. Combs; Christianity; Church; Conservatives; Democrats; Education; Factions; Government assistance; Grandparents; John Y. Brown, Sr.; Political philosophies; Republicans; Role of government; School systems; State income tax; Values

Subjects: Brown, John Young, 1900-1985; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Politics and government; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky

00:15:30 - Path to becoming governor / voting philosophy

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Partial Transcript: I wa, I was a good speaker.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his decision to run for Speaker of the General Assembly. He outlines the rest of his career, first becoming lieutenant governor, then acting governor when Ford left office, then being elected governor. He talks about his philosophy regarding voting and whether he always voted according to his constituents' wishes.

Keywords: Acting governors; Bert T. Combs; Campaigning; Constituents; Lieutenant governors; Philosophies; Senate; Speaker of the House; Speaking; Voting; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Elections; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate; Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns--Kentucky

00:19:39 - Legislators / Kentucky governors' power

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Partial Transcript: Now back then, was being a legislator a part-time job compared to today?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about the responsibilities of legislators, and how many days per year were actual legislative days. He talks about the power that was once held by Kentucky governors regarding the General Assembly, the budget, and other matters.

Keywords: Budgets; Funds; General Assembly members; Hiring; Legislative days; Lobbyists; Part-time; Power; Turnover; Votes

Subjects: Governors--Kentucky; House of Representatives; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. General Assembly. Senate

00:25:39 - Bert T. Combs and other political figures

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Partial Transcript: Well describe Bert Combs' administrative and governing style.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll discusses Bert Combs' leadership style, his role in creating the community college system in Kentucky, and the issues that arose from his increase in the state sales tax. He talks about Combs choosing him as his running mate in the race for governor and lieutenant governor. He talks about Bill Cox as his campaign manager in that race. He talks about his relationship with Lieutenant Governor Wilson Wyatt, and describes the personalities of Combs' assistant Fontaine Banks, and Governor Ned Breathitt.

Keywords: "Mountaineer"; Advertising; Bill Cox; Bill Curlin; Candidness; Federal judges; Fontaine Banks; Funds; Kentucky Community College System; Leadership styles; Ned Breathitt; Personality; Political careers; Running mates; Truthful; Veterans bonus; Wilson Wyatt

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Community colleges--Kentucky; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky Community & Technical College System.; Kentucky. Governor (1959-1963 : Combs); Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Sales tax--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Wyatt, Wilson W. (Wilson Watkins), 1905-1996

00:34:37 - Leadership style

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Partial Transcript: How long did it really take you to learn how the General Assembly worked and what it took to get things done?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll discusses his own leadership style and way of getting things done which often involved circumventing bureaucracy and other regulations. He talks about the personnel changes he made when he became governor in order to increase effectiveness.

Keywords: Attitudes; Bureaucracy; Bypass; Commissioner of Health; Communication; Effectiveness; Engineers; High school; Impatient; Initiative; Leadership styles; Legislative Research Commission; Permits; Personnel changes; State Representatives; Tunnels

Subjects: Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky

00:44:37 - Ed Prichard / John F. Kennedy's assassination

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Partial Transcript: Well did you get to know Ed Prichard during the Combs administration?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his relationship with Ed Prichard, speechwriter for governors Combs and Breathitt. He talks about where he was when he learned of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Keywords: Admiration; Advisors; Assassinations; Benton (Ky.); Combs administration; Court of Appeals; District judges; Ed Prichard; Felons; Lyndon Johnson; Ned Breathitt; Political appointments; Speaking styles; Speeches; Speechwriters; Vice presidents

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Kentucky--Politics and government; Politicians--Kentucky; Prichard, E. F., (Edward Fretwell).

00:49:15 - Ned Breathitt / J. R. Miller

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Partial Transcript: Now during your second session of the General Assembly in 1964 Ned Breathitt was governor.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about Breathitt being chosen as Combs' successor as governor over John Palmore. He talks about J. R. Miller, a businessman in Owensboro and chairman of the Democratic Party. He speaks briefly about Earle Clements, and talks about the connection between Clements, J. R. Miller, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson.

Keywords: Big Rivers Rural Electric; Chairman; Combs' successor; Contacts; Earle C. Clements; Factions; Happy Chandler; J. R. Miller; John Palmore; Lyndon Johnson; McCracken County (Ky.); Ned Breathitt; Political candidates; Relationships; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Chandler, Happy, 1898-1991; Clements, Earle C. (Earle Chester), 1896-1985; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Politicians--Kentucky

00:57:16 - Civil Rights Act

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Partial Transcript: During the early 1960s the civil rights movement really began to pick up steam with demonstrations, sit-ins at lunch counters, the marches on Selma and Birmingham took place...

Segment Synopsis: Carroll discusses the reactions in Western Kentucky to the passing of the Civil Rights Act, which he says was unpopular in that area. He talks about his own views on civil rights and race relations.

Keywords: Acceptance; Attitudes; Bert T. Combs; Civil Rights Act; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Executive orders; Protest marches; Railroad workers; Unpopular; Voting; Western Kentucky

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights movements--United States; Civil rights--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Protest movements.; Race discrimination.; Race relations--Kentucky; Racism

01:02:57 - Personalities of Louie B. Nunn, Henry Ward, Ned Breathitt, and Bert T. Combs

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Partial Transcript: Well in the, uh, '67 gubernatorial campaign Louie Nunn took advantage of those attitudes, did he not?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about Nunn's personality, as well as his opponent in the 1967 gubernatorial election, Henry Ward. He compares the personalities of Ned Breathitt and Bert Combs. He tells personal anecdotes about each politician.

Keywords: Campaigning; Candidness; Commissioner of Highways; Finances; Funds; Gubernatorial campaigns; Honesty; Leadership styles; Marlow Cook; Personality; Success; Wengo (Ky.)

Subjects: Breathitt, Edward T., 1924-; Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Cook, Marlow W. (Marlow Webster), 1926-; Governors--Kentucky; Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Sales tax--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Ward, Henry, 1909-2002

01:10:35 - Becoming Speaker of the House

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Partial Transcript: Well let's talk about that. At what point did you begin thinking about running for Speaker of the House in the General Assembly?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll discusses Shelby McCallum, Speaker of the House under Ned Breathitt. He talks about the committees that existed in the House of Representatives at the time, most of which he says were non-functioning. He talks about passing Breathitt's budget. He talks about his decision to run for Speaker of the House, campaigning across the state, and how this experience assisted him in his later campaign for lieutenant governor. He discusses his attempts to convince Toyota to start a plant in Kentucky.

Keywords: Administration bills; Budgets; Committees; Contacts; Donations; Governor's committees; Gray Construction Company; Influence; Mr. Gray; Ned Breathitt; Opposition; Political campaigning; Political connections; Shelby McCallum; Speaker of the House of Representatives; State Representatives; Toyota

Subjects: Elections; Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns--Kentucky

01:20:32 - Reforms made as Speaker of the House

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Partial Transcript: Describe the reforms you instituted in the House as Speaker. And who helped you design those changes?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll discusses the changes he instituted during his tenure as Speaker of the House, including a change in how bills are introduced for consideration, a change in the adjournment of the House, and a decrease in the chaos and noise within the chamber.

Keywords: "Notwithstanding the rules"; Adjournment; Amendments; Bills; Chaos; Clerks; Committee chairman; Committees; Decorum; Families; Jim Fleming; Lobbyists; Petitions; Procedures; Quiet; Reforms; Rules; Speaker of the House of Representatives; State Representatives; Turkey

Subjects: Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives; Politics and government

01:33:16 - Relationship with Louie Nunn and Wendell Ford

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Partial Transcript: Now Louie Nunn, a Republican, was elected governor in 1967 and Wendell Ford, a Democrat, was elected lieutenant governor...

Segment Synopsis: Carroll says that when he was Speaker in 1967 he did not discuss with Lieutenant Governor Wendell Ford, a fellow Democrat, how they could work together to handle Governor Louie Nunn, a Republican. He discusses his strained relationship with Ford, possibly due to Carroll's friendship with Bert Combs. He talks about how Nunn was able to pass legislation raising the state sales tax despite the Democrats' control of the House and Senate. He talks about his own relationship with Buela Nunn.

Keywords: Bargaining; Beula Nunn; Bill Cox; Bribes; Chiding; Community colleges; Consulting; Divided government; Friendships; Larry Forgy; Louie B. Nunn; Political campaigning; Power; Relationships; Russ McClure; Strategizing; Votes

Subjects: Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Kentucky; McCracken County (Ky.); Nunn, Louie B., 1924-2004; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Sales tax--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky

01:45:03 - Running for lieutenant governor

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Partial Transcript: Now during the Nunn administration the Open Housing Bill was introduced by Mae Street Kidd, uh, an African American fro--uh, legislator from Louisville.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his position on the Open Housing Bill. He talks about his decision to run for lieutenant governor in 1971, and discusses J. R. Miller's role in creating the partnership between Carroll and Bert Combs as running mates, though Miller later switched his support to Wendell Ford. He discusses Miller's influence on his own political career. Carroll talks about the election of 1971 in which he was elected lieutenant governor.

Keywords: Abstaining; Bert T. Combs; J. R. Miller; Jim Host; Mae Street Kidd; Open Housing Bill; Political campaigning; Political candidates; Relationships; Senate; Support; Tom Emberton; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Combs, Bert T., 1911-1991; Elections; Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Voting

01:58:03 - Relationships with political leaders

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Partial Transcript: Well, I was--that was my next question. Um, were you involved in planning the Wendell Ford budget?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his relationship with Wendell Ford who was governor when Carroll was lieutenant governor. He talks about having separate staffs and little contact with the Ford administration. He talks about the changes he made to the Lieutenant Governor's Mansion, including the addition of a large garden. He talks about inviting political leaders to events, especially supporters of Wendell Ford, in order to gain their support.

Keywords: Budgets; Circuit judges; Derby parties; Events; Gardens; Jim Gray, Sr.; Leadership meetings; Lieutenant Governor's Mansion; Owensboro (Ky.); Political leaders; Relationships; Staff; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky

02:09:29 - Wendell Ford running for Senate

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Partial Transcript: And, uh, so then--and I'm not sure if you wanted me to move on to the United States Senate selection next but--

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his meetings with Wendell Ford to find a candidate to run for Senate for the Democratic Party. He talks about the decision to make Ford the candidate and how Ford was convinced to do it. He talks about the commitments he made to Ford in regard to keeping his staff members when Ford left office as governor.

Keywords: Bill Cox; Bob Strauss; Charlie Pryor; Commissioner of Finance; Commitments; J. R. Miller; Marlow Cook; Political candidates; Resignations; Staff

Subjects: Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Political campaigns; Politicians; United States. Congress. Senate.

02:16:29 - Legislation on bail bonds

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Partial Transcript: How big an advantage i--was it for you to be in the governor's office a year before actually running for a four-year term of your own?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about the issue that once existed in Kentucky regarding bail bondsmen charging people for getting them out of jail, and the corruption present in the system between bondsmen and judges. He talks about creating legislation which made it illegal to pay for someone's bail bond in order to make a profit, and talks about the threats he received in response to passing this legislation. He talks about how the media and other politicians reacted to the increase in security due to these threats.

Keywords: Bail bondsmen; Budgets; Corruption; Media; Pre-trial release legislation; Preparation; Threats

Subjects: Bail bond agents; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Law and legislation; Politics and government

02:23:29 - Preparation for being governor

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Partial Transcript: But before you could pass that legislation you had to get past the Republican candidate Bob Gable and his "truth bell."

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his opponent in the 1975 gubernatorial election, Bob Gable, who rang what he called a "truth bell" during a debate with Carroll. He discusses how his prior political career as Speaker of the House and Lieutenant Governor prepared him for his role as Governor, though he says there were some incidents (like natural disasters) which he could not have prepared for. He talks about reducing paperwork and regulations in state government, and discusses the position he took on the wine industry in Kentucky.

Keywords: "Truth bell"; Al Smith; Bert T. Combs; Beverly Hills fire; Bob Gable; Busing marches; Coal strikes; Debates; Experience; Gubernatorial campaigns; Information; Jack Hall; Lawyers; Overindulgence; Paperwork; Parole officers; Preparation; Protest demonstrations; Reclaimed land; Regulations; Responsibilities; Speaker of the House of Representatives; Sterns (Ky.); Technology; Tobacco industry; Wine industry

Subjects: Alcohol--Law and legislation--Kentucky; Governors--Election; Governors--Kentucky; Lieutenant governors--Kentucky; Political campaigns--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Politics and government

02:38:14 - Government budgets and funds

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Partial Transcript: You served under four different governors before co--becoming governor yourself.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his reputation as a "consensus builder" and his efforts to talk to state employees and make them feel like he was truly interested in them. He talks about the coal severance tax, and how he convinced the legislators representing coal counties to support this legislation. He talks about how the tax was initially used to fund roads in Kentucky, but later was used by legislators to fund projects in individual counties.

Keywords: "Consensus builder"; Area development districts; Budgets; Coal haul roads; Coal operators; Coal severance tax; Communication; Counties; Inclusive; Legislators; Louisville (Ky.); Raises; Reputations; Resolutions; Role models; State employees; Support

Subjects: Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Politicians--Kentucky; Taxation--Law and legislation--Kentucky

02:50:48 - Legislative independence

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned a blackboard in the basement of the governor's mansion. You used that on more than one occasion didn't you?

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about using a blackboard to explain his reasoning to legislators in order to convince them to vote a certain way on legislation. He talks about giving more power to legislative auditors to control the power of governors, though he says this has now gone too far.

Keywords: "Blackboard governor"; Bills; Budgets; Committees; Department of Transportation; Explanations; Legislation; Legislative auditors; Legislators; Power; Six-year road plan; Spending; State auditors; State government; Wendell Ford

Subjects: Ford, Wendell H., 1924-; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. General Assembly. House of Representatives; Politicians--Kentucky

03:04:50 - Relationship with the media and issues within his administration

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Partial Transcript: Well the press, especially after the 1976 session, which the press reported as a huge success for you. They labelled you as the next strong governor.

Segment Synopsis: Carroll talks about his relationship with the media, which he says was positive throughout his career until he became governor. During his tenure as governor he was accused of giving personal service contracts to people who had contributed to his campaign, as well as coming under investigation by the FBI for accusations of personally receiving funds from the government. He talks about members of his staff who were accused of corruption, and talks about being accused of corruption himself by various people including George Adkins and Tim Lee Carter, among others. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: "Black sheep squadron"; Budgets; Carroll Hubbard; Communication; Condemnation cases; Contributors; Dan Walton; Explanations; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Federal investigations; Friends; George Adkins; Howard Hunt; John Y. Brown; Legislative independence; Louie B. Nunn; Mike Maloney; Pepper Warehouse; Permits; Personal service contracts; Political candidates; Ralph Ed Graves; Relationships; Russ McClure; Staff; Strip mine owners; Tim Lee Carter; Transportation Cabinet

Subjects: Government and the press.; Governors--Kentucky; Kentucky--Politics and government; Kentucky. Governor (1974-1979 : Carroll); Mass media; Political corruption--Kentucky; Politicians--Kentucky; Reporters and reporting.