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Rules vomits it out Austin Members of the House Rules Committee spent five hours on March 23 listening to witness after witness tell them that public confidence in state government would be irreparably harmed if the committee reported out a bill to create an investigative committee that had no teeth in it. The Rules Committee proceeded to do exactly that. The committee had a slew of bills to choose from, including some that would have permitted the speaker to name the members of the investigating committee. The speaker, of course, is among those to be investigated. Also among those to be investigated is Rep. Tommy Shannon of Fort Worth, who sits on the Rules Committee. The other members of the Rules Committee are close allies of Mutscher. No one ever thought the Republican bills had much of a chance and committee members showed their hostility to them upon presentation \(with the exception of Maurice Angly’s superbly-researched presentation of why a separate committee is needed to look into the money-storing The strongest of the resolutions was the Farenthold resolution: it provided for a 10-member, bi-cameral investigative committee with provisions to insure a wide spectrum of points of view among the committee members and it gave the proposed committee subpoena power. As Mrs. Farenthold tactfully said, “The bill would relieve the speaker of having to choose the committee members himself.” THE THRUST of the Farenthold resolution was to assign the proposed committee to determine just how House bills 72-73 got zipped through the last session. Those were the bills, later vetoed by Governor Smith, that would have exempted state banks from FDIC regulation. “The press has heavily criticized the `indecent haste’ with which this important legislation was passed through the House,” Mrs. Farenthold said at the hearing. “It took just three days for these bills to go through the House in the special session. But I submit that the need for a bi-cameral committee is evidenced by the fact that the same bills went through the Senate in approximately three hours.” Mrs. Farenthold said that the purpose of her proposed investigation is to determine if there are any changes needed in the legislative process to prevent such questionable legislation from getting through in the future. But any such investigation would necessarily have to address itself to the role of the governor, the speaker and Reps. Bill Heatly and Tommy Shannon in getting those bills through. Former Rep. Bill Klugle of Henderson County was quite blunt about it in his testimony to the committee. “Until somebody explains these things, this is corruption of the rankest sort,” he said. “For the governor and the speaker of the House to profit like this is the thinnest veneer of bribery and you know it.” Jim Nugent of Kerrville, chairman of the Rules Committee, apparently expected to win praise for moving quickly on the bills. He didn’t. He sent the bills to. a Photo by Robert Rohr Speaker Gus Mutscher exercising that ol’ savoir faire. subcommittee composed of Paul Longoria of Edinburg, DeWitt Hale of Corpus and Hilary Doran of Del Rio. The committee reported out at 5 p.m. the next day with the Parker resolution. Introduced by Rep. Carl Parker of Port Arthur, the bill charges the attorney general, the State Banking Board, the State Insurance Board, the president of the. Texas Society of CPA’s and the chairman of the Investment Bankers Association with responsibility for investigating the whole mess. Those worthies are then instructed to compile a report “in an orderly manner” and make it public. THE STATE Banking Board was in the big, fat middle of the whole scandal, of course. One assumes the State Insurance Board, through its department, also had some knowledge of the activities of National Bankers Life and the other insurance companies involved. Until Feb. 10, the state Investment Bankers Association retained as its lobbyist Eugene Palmer, who was John Osorio’s law partner and the man who actually wrote House bills 72 and 73 in the first place. The Parker resolution states that the House “realizes the necessity and need [Parker is often redundant] for a full, fair, complete and thorough [same] disclosure of all relevant facts.” By way of obtaining such disclosure, the Parker resolution does not recommend subpoena power for the investigators or any special power to enable them to obtain records and testimony; it makes no provision for an investigative staff \(one has visions of Crawford Martin dropping everything to gumshoe around problems in the legislative process evidenced by the passage of those bills. Parker is known in the House as Captain Tuna, the Chicken of the Sea. “It’s because he’s just like Charlie the Tunafish,” explained a House member. “Always wrong but never at a loss for words.” Captain Tuna had a little trouble with his resolution on the House floor on the 25th. Angry liberals dumped on amendment after amendment. Mutscher finally postponed the whole problem until Monday, leaving the libs to gear up for stronger battle. Some liberals said that since the Farenthold resolution apparently could not be got through, they’d settle for a general investigating committee appointed by Mutscher. “He couldn’t stand the exposure of having to name that committee,” said one. “It’ll put his back against the wall: he’ll have to stack it and then the public will know.” M.I. April 9, 1971 5