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\(This is the Observer’s third special issue on the Austin lobbyists and influence in the capital. The first one appeared in 1955, Austin Lobbying in the state capital has become more sophisticated since the uninhibited merriments of the early 1950’s, but it is still fundamentally the same. If, as Atty. Gen. Waggoner Carr wrote last month in a review of the 1957 lobby control law, “The only manner in which a person is permitted to attempt to influence the vote on any legislation is by appeal to reason,” many Austin lobbyists must be construing reason to include gratitude, pleasure, camaraderie, and a sense of obligation. “It’s the subtle soft-sell,” says Rep. Honore Ligarde, Laredo. “It’s so vague like the wind,” says Sen. Franklin Spears, San Antonio : “It’s ever-present, it’s always there. You feel it, but you can’t put your finger on it many times.” The three B’s of the early fifties, “Bourbon, Blondes, and Beefsteak,” have been refined to exclude the blondes, and not since 1957, when a representative was caught getting a $5,000 bribe, has that fourth B been a subject of public concern, but Texas legislators this year still find themselves enveloped by pressures and blandishments difficult to perceive and almost impossible to keep free of. The legislators’ most fundamental commitments are made, implicitly or explicitly, in the spring and summertime of the even-numbered years. The reporting of campaign contributions in Texas is not strict, precise, or complete. Committees can be created to protect the identity of donors; politicians know as a practical matter that they can fail to report contributions with little or no risk. One Austin trade association executive believes 2 The Texas Observer that some politicians make money on campaigns; whether this is true or not, money in elections profoundly shapes the legislatures that convene in the odd-numbered years. A senator says that “In the Senate, I think it generally works on the basis of the support you had before you came to Austin. On these special interest bills, quite often a member lines up. On a question like the truck load limit, he commits himself beforehand. This is true on labor, oil and gas–a lot of things.” Of course many members refuse to accept strings explicitly attached to contributions. A representative says, “It seems to me that where lobbyists operate most effectively is in the campaigns. The die is cast on most of these things before the members ever get to Austin. The key is recruiting candidatesthe best thing is to get a man who leans your way in the first place. That’s the whole basis of lobbying. . It’s not necessarily corrupt. A lobby group will utilize local contacts to do that sort of thing. It’s the business community generally now in Texas that has those local contacts. Labor doesn’t have them except in certain districts.” After an election, a winner can be approached by lobbyists offering to pay off campaign debts still outstanding. One legislator tells of such an episode after his unexpected victory last spring. A well known lobbyist for interests theretofore indifferent to his candidacy apologized for his belated appearance, but his offer to pay some bills was turned down in this instance. Some members of the legislature take the position that they owe certain votes to certain groups almost as a matter of fair play. Lobbyists write many of the laws. When a senator was asked if a bill he was sponsoring agreed with a certain group’s wishes, he answered, “Well, if it’s any dif ferent, it’s because a typographical error was made.” Other members find such approaches to political reality objectionable. Paid $4,800 a year, most legislators regard their public service as parttime work. It is natural that election to office enhances a legislator’s earning power, yet lucrative arrangements that may or may not be attempts to buy his political influence raise questions the legislature in this state has not yet faced. About 20 of the 31 senators and about 61 of the 150 legislators are lawyers, which is to say that four out of every nine legislators can receive “retainer fees,” permanent fees on a year-round basis, from any of a variety of economic interests. The Observer has asked legislators, in a questionnaire on lobbying and influence, for their estimates of what portion of the lawyers in the legislature are paid retainer fees by “a party interested in legislation.” The average of the estimates ventured was 33% of the lawyers in the House and 49% of the lawyers in the Senate. More than half of the 45 respondents, however, did not answer the question, many saying they just don’t know. “This is a rather difficult question,” replied Rep. Maurice Pipkin, Brownsville, “as very often retainers are paid incidental to legislation.” No one knows the extent to which retainer fees influence the Texas legislature, because no one has an open record of such fees, yet it is obvious that legislator-lawyers are hired on occasion because of their political position. Even one senator who is not a lawyer says that a business group sought to put him on a retainer, thinking him a lawyer. It is a good lobbyist’s business to know a lot about legislators personally and politically. The Observer has stumbled upon a good example of the kind of research in which trade