thing, I don’t know what. If we had a rule like that, we’d have to throw out the whole membership. . . . a mighty big portion of it.” Sen. Jim Bates, Edinburg, says that his law firm has a retainer from an Edinburg bank, but the t he supported the bill to have abandted bank accounts escheat to the state, contrary to the bank’s wishes. On the other hand, Bates says, he is retained by a creamery and once voted in a way favorable to the creamery’s interests. Bates’ point is that a lawyer can vote his conscience whether it contravenes or coincides with his client’s interest. Rep. Maurice Pipkin’s law firm, says the Brownsville legislator, has for many years represented a shrimp fishing co-op, and Pipkin has introduced legislation which, generally speaking, would be beneficial to his firm indirectly ; but his firm received nothing whatever for his legislative services. Pipkin himself is not on legislative retainer. Rep. Don Gladden, Fort Worth, who has represented small-small lenders under attack on usury charges, generally votes for 36% ceilings on loan sharks. Sen. Frank Owen, El Paso, who obtained continuances in such cases for 13 defendants in 1961, appeared to be opposed to any loan shark regulatory legislation this session, favoring the 10 per cent constitutional interest ceiling. Sen. Chick Kazen, Laredo, has adopted -the position that he will never take any retainer and will represent only interests in his geographical area. If he senses that someone is seeking his political influence through legal work, the senator says, he turns down the work. Sen. Parkhouse sat down at the Senate press table one day and began talking about the one thirty-thousandth of a Dallas bank he owns through a small stock ownership. He said he does not think this stock has 16 The Texas Observer “colored my thinking” on bank legislation, much of which he has sponsored. The practice of hiring legislators and then using the fact that they have been hired to force judges to grant delays in trials during sessions of the legislature has attracted much public notice. Reps. Joe Chapman, Sulphur Springs, and Robert Fairchild, Center, have been hired in slant-hole cases, and continuances granted in the cases. Sen. Bates has obtained continuances in the Houston probate court scandals. One senator says that offers of fees he has received for continuances have entailed smaller sums of money than would have been offered had the prospective clients intended that he do legal work. “They say it’s for a continuance, and there’s nothing else involved,” says this senator. He makes a practice of taking such cases only if it is agreed that he will be “the leading attorney.” Sen. Spears has been employed as defense counsel against an action by the state insurance liquidator seeking a permanent injunction to prohibit three insurance companies from doing ‘business. In this case Atty. Gen. Carr has filed a motion in Austin district court challenging the constitutionality of the statute requiring the courts to grant continuances in cases in which legislators have been hired. Spears says he is a working lawyer in this case. “I will not take a retainer to get a continuance,” he says. “I’ve been offered as much as $10,000 just to file in a continuance for a number of companies”small loan companies when they were under attack by Atty. Gen. Will Wilson. Spears refused the offer. Dist. Judge Herman Jones agreed with Carr last week, ruling that the continuance law violates the separation of the legislative and judicial branches of government. Reps. Bob Eckhardt, Houston, Travis Peeler, Corpus Christi, and Jim Nugent, Kerrville, have introduced an amendment to the code of ethics law of 1957 to define “conflict of interest” more explicitly, to prohibit legislators’ appearances before state agencies at times when the legislators are in positions to influence or vote on legislation or appropriations affecting the agencies, and to protect contenders in disputes before state agencies from outside the record communications from one side or another. Rep. Gene Hendryx, Alpine, wants the revision extended to prohibit legislators on retainers from fostering legislation on behalf of their clients. Rep. Henry Grover, Houston, proposed consideration of a stringent Massachusetts code of ethics for state officials. Late last week a House committee delayed action on the revision, 9-7. During a hearing on the revisions, Reps. J. Collier Adams, Lubbock, and Eckhardt engaged in an interesting colloquy. Adams said he had called the insurance board about a license for a constituent of his who was also a legal client of his, but that of course he did not receive a fee for the inquiry. Eckhardt thought there would be nothing wrong inquiring about what had happened to the application for the license. Adams rejoined that it was influence his client had wanted him to exert by making the call. Adams suggested prohibiting a member with a financial interest in a bill from working the floor for it or handling it in subcommittee. He said that on “this gasoline bill,”, \(in which “got very emotional” about it but might have been required to “sit down and leave us alone.” Eckhardt took the position, however, that the member in question probably knew more personally about the matter than anyone else, and that his explanations “are not going to wrongly convince a person who is not personally involved,” so that the prohibition against his voting was enough. Eckhardt suggested that disclosure of sources of income by legislators might be desirable; he said he did not see how anyone in his middle years could serve in the legislature without outside income. Adams suggested alternately the disclosure of net worth. Adams observed that from time to time Eckhardt had represented some labor unions and wondered if it would be a conflict for him to vote, say, on a right to work law. It would depend, Eckhardt said, on whom he represented at that time. “In situations of this kind, you have to simply use your judgment,” he said. Allen, chairman of state affairs, said that he hopes a revision of the code can be passed. He said the time has arrived in Texas again when the people are having serious doubts about the state government and that the law needs be made tougher and clearer against conflicts of interest. R.D.
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