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They Talk .. . bers taking bribes? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s a damn scandal … there’s some going on right now and it’s the damndest thing I ever saw.” \(He mentioned a controversy which within one vote now …. “I know who will and who won’t and some of those who will would astound you,” he said. Taking money to handlle a bill is one practice in currency, he said. “And let me tell you an old favorite trick when you’re gonna buy some votes,” he said. “That’s to get you a test vote. You have your supporters run with a test vote. This is a guide to who you’ve got to have and how you’ve got to get ’em. Some of ’em you get with a phone call from the home district. Then you’ve got a hard core you have to get.” This test vote isn’t necessary in the Senate. he said. “There are only 31 and you can find out quick.” This lobbyist thinks legislators should have to file their sources of income on public record. “I’d get along a lot better with 181 members who would listen to reason and nothing else,” he said fervently. “I’d love it!” Many representatives say off the record as well as on they know of no instances of bribery. Nearly all agree it is the exception in the House. The pay raise to $25 a day was supposed to reduce the incidence of legislators’ dependence on lobbyists’ gratuities, but there has been little slack-off in the gratuity system. Legislators are not paid anything after the first 120 days \(which came to an end May 10 this urally can’t be named told me that since then, “several of ’em have hit me up.” A representative said to me about lobbyists: “Some of ’em pay to get ’em introduced and pay to get ’em passed. I was offered money to push my bill after I’d already got it out of committee. `In case you incur any expenses’ was the words he used I asked him what expenses I might incur and he said, Well, I don’t know, I’m just telling you what’s available’.” Choosing his words carefully, he told of another incident: “In a discussion about a bill, several Members who had been asked to introduce it said it was understood that it came with a check of $500 annexed to it. In other words, you get an original, two copies, and a check for $500. That bill has been introduced, it has received normal legislative treatment, and it has passed the House.” One hard-working member of the House said at first that lobbyists never conducted themselves unethically that he knew of, but then he added that there was one thing. On one of the controversial bills this session, there was a hard committee fight and it appeared that it might not reach the floor if a vote could be changed. “One of the lobbyists for the bill offered me a remuneration for my vote to support it,” the representative told me. “That’s the only time such a thing has happened.” he said. “It was prior to the meeting of the committee. Pressed on the sum involved, which he first refused to mention, he finally said it was $5,000. He told them what they could do with the money, he said. “Most of ’em are ethical,” he said. “They go about their business in an above-the-board manner. I guess they know who they can talk to and who they can’t.” A lawmaker in the lower house told me over coffee that a lobbyist called him one night this session and asked him if he could come out with some material on a piece of pending legislation. The representative was leaving for a while and told the lobbyist just to send it out in an envelope. “When I got back,” he recalled, “there was an envelope there, with my name on it. The material was in it, all right, and so was $150 cash.” He sent it back in a plain envelope the next day, he said. Another representative told me at dinner one evening: “I was offered money in my race to support a candidate for speaker paign support’ from a friend of a candidate for Speaker.” This was not prior to the current session. “All during the campaign, too, the lobby offers you money if you’ are with them. He gets it by cash, never by check,” he said. This member also alluded to “one of the nicest crooks in the State Legislature,” as did a number of other sources. “He admits being what he is,” he said. “He told me himself on …” been paying my office expenses for years. Don’t tell me how to vote’.” This legislator recalled, too, an incident involving a former member of the House a few years ago. The member came storming in on my informant and another legislator one night and said: “They’re buying votes down at the Austin Hotel! Let’s get down there quick!” “I thought he was joking at first but he was serious,” the legislator said. One of the most revered conservative members of the House sat at his desk one evening when the chamber was practically empty and shook his head at what goes on. “A member came to me and told me he was handling a controversial bill, and that eighteen members of the House had come up to him and propositioned him that they’d support it for anything from $50 to $2,500,” he told me. I asked if all of them were cash propositions. . “No,” he said, “some of them were between those figures when you put a value on them. One of ’em wanted a boat, for instance …” This same legislator said that two solons told him they h a d been told by a sub committee chairman that he, the subcommittee chairman, h a d told the sponsor of a bill it would get out of the subcommittee for $250, and not in any other way. people that I know I can trust what they say,” the representative said. A wealthy representative told me on the House floor: “They’ve tried to entice me with tips on the oil business.” Asked if the tips were any good, he replied: Page 3 May 23, 1955 THE TEXAS OBSERVER “Oh, yeah, they’ll give you good ones.” Asked while sitting at his desk on the House floor to comment on improper legislative influence, another representative responded: “There’s probably a little bit of it. I have heard of it indirectly. At one time I had a man tell me that he had sold a vote … That’s the only time I ever heard of it directly. He’d been voting my way and he was telling me why he changed …. Actually, you can well understand the members don’t talk about it.” He continued: “Some of the operators in the House will probably get something for their trouble. We all have our suspicions. Now the big … companies in here, we figger somebody’s gettin’ compensated f o r stickin’ his neck out.” There are certain special interest bills, affecting only a given industry or profession \(and the peolegislator who has his palm turned heavenward. “You hear ’em say on the floor, ‘This is a money bill’,” one representative said. A well-to-do member of the lower chamber said to me at his desk on the floor: “I’ve seen money around but I can’t say who they give it to. I tell you this, one member … fifteen of us went out … and he signs this man’s name to the ticket; I asked him, and he said, ‘I can buy you anything you wantI’ve got the right to sign this man’s name.’ Now, I tell you,” the legislator said, “he can’t vote to save his neck like he wants to. He has forgotten his people.” Another representative said the main way lobbyists influence members is “entertainmentfood, liquor, beer.” Then he added: “Of course, there are key House members that get more than the entertainment.” What’s the “more,” I asked him. “That’s money,” he said. He has been around a long time. A representative said that the lobbies “don’t waste time feeding me.” “I sat there all last year and looked for it and waited for it,” he said. “I don’t know … Oh, one time, on a bill, a fella asked me, `Is there anything I can do for you?’ I said I wasn’t interested. He said he didn’t mean to offend me.” One representative, refusing to comment and then changing his mind, observed: “I wouldn’t say money hasn’t been passed around on billsI wouldn’t say that at all. It wouldn’t be the case. But I’d say it’s the exception, not the rule. There’s not very much skullduggery in the Third House. Of course, a lot of members have a personal interest. Generally speaking, you will vote for the benefit of your clients. That’s just natural.” One evening during the current session, I was sitting in a law office talking to two men who had very recently been in the Legislature. One of them, an ex-representative, said that when he first arrived in Austin, young and hopeful, he was accosted behind the brass rail at the back of the House by a man who is now a member of the House. This fellow gave him a piece of advice: “If you ever sell a vote, vote that way. If anything will ruin you up here, it’s in not keeping your word.” The ex-member related how lobbyists sometimes get to employees of the Legislature. In 1951, an employee of the House stopped him about a house bill to legalize a certain evasion of the usury laws and told him: “I’ve got some banker friends … and they need five or six votes, and they told me they’d pay $100 a vote for it, and they’d like you to vote for ’em.” The former legislator completed his recital of the instances he recalled when he said that he approached another legislator about a bill and was told, “Aw, my vote’s already bought on that.” The direct quotes growing out of this discussion are, of course, those reconstructed from memory by the informant. Another representative. rather quiet and conscientious, told me he had been stopped in the House lobby by a fellow who asked for his support for a certain legislative proposition. This man said to the legislator: “If you’ll go along with us, I have a little expense money for younot much, just a little.” A senator told me outside the Senate chamber late one afternoon that he had been offered what he thought of as direct bribes on two occasions. In one instance, a secondary lobbyist for one of the major interests came to his hotel room and offered him four $100 bills to cover his “filing fee” \(which is perienced a heavy financial setback, he came to his office one morning andto quote him directly on the matter “There were eleven of them \(loband every one of them practically with tears in their eyes. They wanted to help me with expenses all eleven of them offered me money, except one. He was a friend of mine and I stopped him before he could. I tell you,” he said, “it was fantastic.” On a certain “money bill” a few years back, a senator reminisces, a colleague of his in the upper chamber kept coming into his office asking him, “How much did ya get?” The senator laughed him off for a while, he said. Finally one day, he said, when there were a few people in the office, the other senator came in and the one telling the story told him he had received $1,500 or $2,000he didn’t remember which figure he had used. “What!” the other senator said. “Why they only gave me five hundred!” It was out before he could catch himself. The next morning the lobbyist in question raised cain with the prankster for telling his colleague such a thing. From another special interest, my informant told me, this same footin-mouth senator got $300 for helping kill a bill hostile to the interest and $200 for pushing one friendly to them. Money is taken, the senator said, “when they agree with the bill anyway. That’s the way most o f them rationalize it.” On another bill, concerned with one of the most controversial legislative subjects in recent years, he said, the foot-in-mouth senator told him he “got $2,500, and that five members of that committee got $2,500and I believe that’s true.” A troubled senator sat at the press table on the Senate floor one day a month or so ago and talked about the lobbies. “The reputable ones don’t do a bad job,” he said. “I guess they do perform a certain amount of service. But we do need somebody up here for the peoplewe don’t have anybody up here for the people. “It all needs regulation,” he said. “Some of it gets pretty shady. There’s probably been some shady work on this natural gas price fixing bill. They sort of dangle this stuff out in front of you …” He stopped at that and turned his attention absently toward the laconic debate that was going on. After a while he bent his head down and said: “They put up lots of money \(in and Lieutenant Governor and then get to help name the committees.” That was all he would say about it. An incredible story of the influence of one company in the Senate comes from two senators in separate interviews. As the first senator I talked to described his part in the story, a fellow senator approached him before last Christmas and asked him if he could use some Christmas moneythat if he did, he could get him $1,000, “$500 now and $500 later.” The senator said no. When the session started, a fellow senator came to him and started talking about this company, how brazen its representative had been in trying to get him to accept “a $3,000 retainer fee.” He, too, refused it. He told his colleague \(as me it didn’t really make any difference, they had enough votes anyway, they just thought I might like to go along. Then he named” “$3,000, a n d on through some others.” At this point, the senator telling me this story had begun to wonder if his colleague had a purpose in telling him all this, and he volunteered the information about the Christmas offer. “Well, I’m glad you mentioned that,” he was told. “I just wanted to warn you about him. He’s a bad customer.” Further conversation developed that the sum intended for the senator telling me the story had been $2,000, but somehow it had dwindled to $1,000 by the time the offer reached him. A few days after I was told this story, another senator told what he knew about the same situation. The fragments he related were different but the company and the situation were the same. He said that when he was offered the company’s retainer, he asked what work he would have to do for it. The company man replied there would not be anything particular except to represent the company’s interests in Austin. The sen