This 01′ Hound Dog He works for the Texas Observer. There’s nothing, but nothing, he’d rather do than sniff and snoop around the state, then come back to our office and bark about it. And believe 01′ Hound Dog, he’s got something to bark about. You won’t want to miss any of our hot summer issues. 01′ Hound Dog sniffs and snoops and just won’t take “no comment” for an answer. He’s a real churl, even on dog days. Subscribe now, won’t you? You’ve been reading Aunt Minnie’s paper long enough. The Texas Observer Address Drawer F, Capitol Station, Austin, Texas Name Street Address City and State The Texas Observer, one year $4.00 THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 5 May 23, 1955 lature down two years ago for Buccaneer Days. They flew the senators. charted special buses for the House members. One representative reconstructed it this way: “Royal entertainment. Anything you wanted. The single men were well provided for with anything under the sun …. It was a horrible temptation.” Apparently similar release from the worrisome chores of legislation occurred on two other recent jaunts to Port Isabel, when some of the members went down as guests of one side in a sports-versus-commercial fishing controversy, and to El Paso, on an inspection trip of Texas Western College. Both of these occurred during the 1953 session. From Port Isabel, one member indicated, five cars of legislators went across the border to Matamoras and came back with as much money as they had when they left. In El Paso, the same member said, there was “a free trip to Juarez with all the whoring paid for.” Less exotic trips do occur. This session some farmers sponsored a junket to Dumas, Texas, to illustrate their point that they were not being permitted to use any of the natural gas that was being taken out of their land to pump their irrigation wells. West Texas legislators were invited to Pecos for a homecoming, and the West Texas Chamber of Commerce provided air transportation, it is understood. It is also a common but undiscussed practice for leading state officials to use the airplanes of private companies for their official trips. These are ready whenever a big shot for the State wants to use them. Recently an aide to the Gov , ,ernor admonished an Observer reporter not to make much of this, for, after all, he said, the planes are there, the Governor has to go somewhere, and he’s too big a man for such a small favor to influence him. railroad lobby here, said: “I’ve been here eleven years and my sole effort during all that time has been to appeal to reason and logic and operate in no other manner. I try to adhere \o the written and unwritten laws of what is right. All we’re after is a square shake, but sometimes there’s a difference of opinion on what that means. “Of course, we do the usual entertainingnot lavish, nothing permanent,” he said. “Railroads have always been particularly careful not to keep any place where anybody could get hurt, or get too much to drink and get out of line. But we try to keep our relations with legislators on a very high plane, and I think we do. Even though we are not always successful, we maintain the members’ respect.” Roy Harrington, CIO lobbyist, says that his lobbying consists of legislative workshops at the Capitol for members of CIO, talking to members, testifying before committees, and limited entertainment. “Guys that would take money from us would take it from others, so there’s not much point in us trying to buy votes even if we subscribed to that theorywhich we don’t … If people were willing to buy votes for or against, say, a twocent gas tax, which would mean $30 million a year, we couldn’t match the people who would stand to save that much money.” On the other hand, he said, “we do what we can for our friends in an election.” Stanley Hornsby of the Texas Legal Reserve Officials Association said that he testified before committees orally and wrote them letters this session. He also gave a dinner for members of the House Insurance Committee. The Texas Medical Association lobbyist, Phil Overton, said that his office tries to act as an information center for members and to take “a progressive approach.” “Sometimes you’re. forced into things in open fights, as you know, and which we don’t like,” Overton said. Asked what these might be, he replied: “We just notify the county \(medthem a copy of the bill, answer any legal questions, and get them \(the bers. “We do, contrary to what some of them might think, try to make it strictly an information agency,” Overton said. “I think most of ’em honest people.” Fred Meredith, one of the lobbyists for the Trinity River Authority and a former House member, was asked in the Capitol rotunda what methods lobbyists use to influence members. He laughed and said: “Well, that’s the $64 question.” He paused, said: “There are numerous ways that we in the Third House can influence the members. I’ve run a lot of water and done a lot of legal workon bills, I mean. The only thing we can do is try to get to be as close friends as possible so that when they ask us a question they’ll trust us to give them a straight answer. It’s like you and me, if we hang around enough together, and exchange little favors, even if it’s nothing but me buying you a meal or a drink …” He broke off to go talk to Senator George Parkhouse, who is handling the Trinity bill in the Senate. After they chatted a while, he came back and said: “Now, you take Senator Parkhouse there, he’s handling our bill; well, we have to do everything we can, he’s got half a dozen others to worry about. We hold their hands, lift up their spirits, run messages to the Housewe’re everything from page to lawyer. “And, of course, we do as much entertaining as we can,” Meredith said. “My gosh, if there’s anybody who needs a little relaxation, it’s these members, and, of By BILL BRAMMER The Texas Observer A SHORT STORY Amos leaned back in his big red leather chair in the House chamber and tried not to think about all his troubles. He massaged his eyes with his fingertips. So many, many little troubles, he thought to himself. “How is the freshman from Jubal County?” Jake asked him. Jake was standing in the aisle. He was puffing a large cigar and he flashed a big grin between puffs. “The freshman from Jubal is lousy,” said Amos, looking up, at his visitor. “What you need is a drink,” said Jake. “Maybe I do,” said Amos, “but I don’t drink. My constituents wouldn’t go for a drinking man. You know that.” He reached over and pushed the “aye” switch on the voting board for a routine amendment to a very, very routine bill. “Mine neither,” said Jake … “Eighty-one’s coming up soon.” He shifted the cigar to the other side of his mouth. “We’re running with it this morning, and I hope you’re on the right side. It’s good as it stands now, and we don’t want any amendments.” “I don’t know, Jake,” said Amos, “I just don’t know.” “Think about it,” said Jake. “Just think about it and then vote your convictionsvote aye.” He turned and moved on up the aisle, talking to other members. Amos pushed up close to his desk and fiddled with a rather ornate letter opener some of the folks back home had given him when he left for his new job. That was more than four months ago and he remembered arriving in the Capitol with a white Stetson, a string tie, and some gaudy cowboy boots with a silhouette of the three counties he represented emblazoned across the front of them. Now, four months later, the string ties and Stetsons had disappeared, and so had the $25 a day. And so has my virginity, he thought. He wasn’t quite so naive, now. He knew, now, what was going on down here, and he didn’t like it much. Amos decided he would walk around a bit and talk to some of the fellows about H.B. 81. He hadn’t made up his mind, he told himself, but of course he really had. He knew it was a bad bill. All you had to do was ask yourself what it did for or to the peopleit was as simple as thatand Amos knew all about S.B. 81. Still, he was in trouble, and this could mean more of it. He enter course, that means we have to wait their pleasurewait till they get through here. “That’s what I hate most about this work, waitin’ around until you can be of some service. I’d rather workin’.” There is a man in Austin whose name means Lobbyist. Ed Clark of Looney, Clark, and Moorhead is the most powerful member of the Third House in Austin. He got to talking about the ethics of lobbying one day last week. “All we can do is present the facts and the law in the most honorable way we know how to present them,” he said. “I wouldn’t represent anybody for legislation I didn’t believe in myselfI have to convince myself first. “The same rules of God and man apply to lobbying as to the newspaper business, preaching, or the mercantile business. “You should have the same desire to be a Christian gentleman and true to your trust.” I mentioned to Clark that the Observer’s investigation indicated that many a lobbyist does not. “Well,” he said, “remember the Legislature is a fair cross-section of the people who send them here. There’s got to be both a giver and a receiver. When a man goes sour up here, why I know it …” he snapped his fingers “… usually before the man that compromised him. “It’s a dangerous thing for a young man to come up here,” he said. tamed a few brief thoughts of simply begging off, playing sick, and going back to his room and getting drunk. He hadn’t gotten tight since the first week of the session. When he passed the House Reception Room, Stephens, the fellow who had been pushing 81 and had succeeded in getting it through the Senate, called him over to the entrance. “Amos,” he said, “We’re ready to roll with our bill. We’ve got the votes, boy. and I hope you’ll be with us on it.” “I don’t know,” said AmOs, “There’re some things in it I don’t like.” “What?” asked Stephens. “Well, it looks like it’s written just for the benefit of a few people, for one thing,” said Amos. “It will benefit a great many people,” said Stephens. “It’s not going to hurt anybody in your district is it?” Amos shook his head. “Well, then, go with us on this. It’ll certainly help you,” said Stephens, “and believe me, boy, you’re going to need some help.” He said goodbye to Stephens and walked back to his desk. Amos was in trouble, and he knew it allright. For one thing he was broke, or rapidly getting that way. He was not a rich man, but everything had looked rosy four months ago. He had a nice little insurance and real estate business back home, and there was money in the bank when he first came to the Capitol. Most of his campaign debts had been retired, too. He had lived pretty high the first month. He’d brought the wife and kids down, and the $700 monthly from the State had seemed like a lot at the time. Now, the family was back home and he had been sending them money. Almost all of his last $350 check had gone that way. At first he had lived in a rather sumptuous suite in one of the nicer hotels. Later he switched to a second-rate hostelry, and now he was in a rooming, house near the Capitol. In recent weeks he had been eating more and more off the lobbyists breakfast, lunch a n d supper sometimes. He had, he thought, played it cool, picking the free meals with discretion, but he was vaguely disturbed upon remembering that just the other day he’d had lunch in Stephens’ suite. Now he was broke, and it would be embarrassing to even talk about it with anyone. At one point he had considered capitulatingputting himself at the mercy of all of them. They could take good care of you, and some of the boys had lived the whole session that way. But now, so late in the session, it would be a waste of time even to try. Free meals were probably the limit they could go for a member who hadn’t been very sympathetic with them. He was in trouble back home, too. There would probably be some unpleasantness when he returned. Some very important people there had a way of checking, and they had let him know of their displeasurethat they didn’t like the way some of his votes had been going. “The Chair lays out Senate Bill 81,” said the Speaker. There was a little murmur over the House chamber. A murmur of members moved to their desks. A number of others got up and started walking up and down the aisles. Amos watched Jake and a couple of friends at the front of the House explaining the bill to the members. Several others were lined up near the Speaker’s desk to offer amendments. He listened to Jake’s arguments and thought about how nice it would have been to be that way. He would rather like to be him, for a while, at least. Jake was a happy man, perfectly adjusted. He would beat off all the amendments; he would get his vote and he’d be through for the day. He’d go back to his hotel suite, have a few drinks and get a little tight, maybe even go to bed with his secretary. Afterward there would be a good meal with good friends and a party later in the evening somewhere in town. It would probably be a lot of fun, and Amos would have liked to be in on it. There was a great deal of debate on the bill, some of it Amos didn’t understand, and all the amendments, except for one which provided for a minor adjustment in wording, were beaten down. Amos listened for a while and then got out of his chair. He went to the lounge; he made a phone call; he brought himself a Coke; he talked to a few newsmen. He was registered “present but not voting” on all amendments. Finally he took his seat when a motion to table the bill failed by a wide margin. When the vote on passage of the bill came, Amos leaned back in his red leather chair and watched the board light up with reds and greens. “Looks like a big green board,” someone said nearby. Amos had to agree. The green lights, those voting for passage of S.B. 81, were predominant. I could vote yes, he said to himself, and it wouldn’t hurt anyone. My one vote wouldn’t help the opposition. He noticed that the board now showed that some members who had previously talked against the bill were now voting “aye.” Amos leaned across his desk and voted no. He sat back and wondered if he would be re-elected. He also wondered where he would eat tonight. The Green Board Lobbyists Talk The lobbyists, themselves, are usually a little amused and not infrequently uncomfortable when a newspaperman asks them about their profession. “It’s not a business you just talk about all the time,” said lobbyist Claude Gilmer. One day on the House floor, the former House speaker told me: “Well, there are a lot of misconceptions. Lobbyin’ comes up for a little treatment every once in a while, and it should. But people let their imagination run away with them about a situation about which they have no knowledge. They pyramid one thing on anotherand of course there’s always enough factual background in each case …” We did not succeed in making
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