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Researching the Researchers A Special Report I: The Texas Research League: $258,000 a Year Imagine the political shock if the Texas A.F.L.-C.I.O. started advising state agencies, in expensively researched detail, how to run their business, or if the U.S. -Congress permitted George Meany and Walter Reuther to finance the federal government’s studies on tax loopholes out of their union treasuries and to hire a labor-oriented staff to do the digging and the writing. Yet this, inversely, is what Texas does now. Business finances the state government’s research with a quarter of a million dollars a year, and no Texas politician raises a serious protest. The instrumentality of the business community for this extraordinary endeavor is the Texas Research League, which has been wheeling and dealing in state tax and spending policy and among the most important agencies of the state government for ten years. The legislature has its own research arm, the Texas legislative council, which has produced quantities of solid research at state expense. Increasingly, however, the business-financed league’s “free” reports and recommendations, which have yet to displease conservatives on any serious count, haVe come to dominate the changes that are being made in the state agencies and in the services they provide. One doubts that the business interests of any other state, can claim a bolder coup than the league staff’s official assignment to do the research of the Texas legislature’s tax study commissions. The reports of these commissions helped condition the context in which the general sales tax was passed in 1961, and the current commission’s recommendations now argue toward broadening the sales tax while abandoning other state taxes, such as the state property tax, which fall largely on business. The league’s officers and directors are, it is safe to say, business-oriented; indeed, James McGrew, director of research for the league, says that “virtually all” of the 75 directors are businessmen. The only ostensible exceptions are a few lawyers, all of them business-associated, and one rancher, whose name is Robert J. Kleberg, and whose title is president of the King Ranch Company. The league’s directors do not include a single labor official, teacher, farmer, professor, housewife, Negro, or LatinAmerican. The closest thing to a working man on the list is D. B. Campbell, the plant manager in Orange for E. I. Du Pont de Nemours and Company. As of 1962, these directors represented the industrial and commercial powers in Texas with proportional fidelity. There were fifteen oilmen, nine bankers, seven utilities executives, six retailing executives, four executives from manufacturing, three from publishing and insurance; two from chemicals, telephones, and construction ; and one each from minerals, sulphur, trucks, railroads, lumber, food, beer, cotton marketing, cattle, and real estate. The five men listed as attorneys included the associate general counsel of Mobil Oil Co. in Dallas; Edward Clark, senior member of the powerful Austin law firm ; and Tom Sealy of Midland, one of the foremost leaders in the cam paign for the adoption of the general sales tax in 1961. The oilmen on the league’s board are associated with Texaco, Gulf, Humble. The bankers are presidents or board chairmen of, for instance, the Republic, Mercantile, and First National banks in Dallas and Bank of the Southwest and First City National Bank in Houston. The league identifies itself as a “non-lobbying educational corporation engaged in objective research into .. . Texas Government.” Contributions are tax deductible. One of the league’s bylaws prohibits it from accepting pay for its work from any state source. It has 1300 “members,” or contributors, and these, according to Alvin Burger, the executive director, include, in addition to businessmen, some ranchers, women, and professors. SINCE big bUsiness admittedly puts up most of the money for the league; since the league is concerned only with studies of the public’s business; since the league’s recommendations have ramified into most of the major state agencies and have led to countless complicated changes; and since the league’s staff has done and wants to continue to do the Texas legislature’s tax research, it would seem, reasonable to expect that the league would make full public disclosure of the sources of its $258,000, annual budget. However, the league’s policy keeps its members’ contributions a closely held secret. Some of the implications of this secret are unmistakable. For instance,