Revealed: The alleged secret plot to sabotage Jimmy Carter's reelection by delaying hostage release
Then-President Jimmy Carter came to Kansas for a 1978 rally featuring John Carlin, a candidate for governor, and Senate candidate Bill Roy. (Submitted by John Carlin)
A “prominent Texas politician” has come forward to allege a shocking four-decade secret: that foes of President Jimmy Carter sabotaged his 1980 re-election by urging Iranians not to release 52 American hostages until after that election.

The New York Times reported yesterday that Ben Barnes, a major figure in Texas politics in the 1980s, says he now wants to set the record straight about having “unwittingly (taken) part in a 1980 tour of the Middle East with a clandestine agenda.”

In that tour, Barnes says, he traveled that summer with his mentor, former Texas Governor John Connally” to one Middle Eastern capital after another meeting with a host of regional leaders to deliver a blunt message to be passed to Iran: Don’t release the hostages before the election. Mr. Reagan will win and give you a better deal.”

Some 43 years later, “With Mr. Carter now 98 and in hospice care, Mr. Barnes said he felt compelled to come forward to correct the record,” the Times reported.

“History needs to know that this happened,” Mr. Barnes, who turns 85 next month, said in one of several interviews, his first with a news organization about the episode. “I think it’s so significant and I guess knowing that the end is near for President Carter put it on my mind more and more and more. I just feel like we’ve got to get it down some way.”

The Times report stated confirming Barnes’ account “is problematic after so much time. Mr. Connally, Mr. Casey and other central figures have long since died and Mr. Barnes has no diaries or memos to corroborate his account. But he has no obvious reason to make up the story and indeed expressed trepidation at going public because of the reaction of fellow Democrats.”

Barnes claims that after returning from the Middle East, “Connally reported to William J. Casey, the chairman of Mr. Reagan’s campaign and later director of the Central Intelligence Agency, briefing him about the trip in an airport lounge.

“Mr. Carter’s camp has long suspected that Mr. Casey or someone else in Mr. Reagan’s orbit sought to secretly torpedo efforts to liberate the hostages before the election, and books have been written on what came to be called the October surprise. But congressional investigations debunked previous theories of what happened.”