Tea Q itittet for 15 and in ’69 he went one for 18. By 1971, the last Gus Mutscher session, Clayton was zip for 15 with one absent. In 1969, the Observer analyzed some tricky tax votes taken during some hellacious special sessions. On tax questions alone, the Observer put Clayton at 24 wrong, four right and one absent. By 1973, Clayton knew he was going to run for speaker and cleaned up his act a trifle. The famous 80 new head, the 80 reform freshmen elected in the aftermath did get to see Clayton at his reactionary best, which is probably the chief reason why he now seems a cinch to win the speakership next January. Too bad they missed such great moments as his 1969 observations on a bill that would have raised the minimum wage. “I am not only against this bill, ” Clayton declaimed, “but I would be against a minimum wage of five cents an hour.” Even so, Clayton’s ’73 performance was not in the least out of character. On straight reform issues, the former committee chairman under Gus Mutscher voted for one reform proposal and against the other seven. He carried a bill for the loan sharks, HB 569, which would have allowed an effective interest rate of over 20 percent on the first $1,000 of a consumer installment loan. He voted for the amendments that crippled the two worthwhile environmental bills of the session and then added insult to injury by successfully passing an amendment to give Hugh Yantis, that peerless non-leader of the Texas Water Quality Board, his full salary. The environmentalists had moved to cut Yantis’ salary on the grounds that he worked as a fulltime lobbyist for polluters anyway. On the issue of school financing, which is expected to dominate the 64th session, since the 63rd piddled around and wound up doing nothing about it, Clayton has, as usual, a miserable record. Clayton is not a big rancher in the Dolph Briscoe tradition he estimates his net worth at between $600,000 and $700,000 but he definitely has that same rural, landowning orientation. He voted to gut Rep. Dan Kubiak’s school financing bill last session and even sponsored a flat-out anti-urban amendment to it. Clayton’s most publicized extra-legislative endeavor was his stint as the executive director, at $20,000 a year, of Water, Inc., a private West Texas water-lobbying organization. The dues-paying members of Water, Inc., include corporations and utilities as well as individuals. Clayton was the principal House sponsor of the Texas Water Plan, the billion-dollar boondoggle finally defeated by the voters in 1969. Clayton signed on with Water, Inc., within a month after his water bill had passed the Legislature and he stayed on in that position until 1971 While he was being paid $20,000 a year by a private lobbying group, Clayton was second vice-president of the interstate Conference on Water Problems, a member of the executive board of the Southern Water Resources Conference; chairman of the National Resources Task Force Committee of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee of the Council of State Governments, on the advisory committee of the Water Resources Council Chamber of Commerce Water Committee and the West Texas Advisory Committee of the Texas Water Development Board. During this time, Clayton lobbied for federal water legislation and, of course, carried his own water program in the House. Billy Clayton told the Observer in 1971 and tells the Observer now that he sees no conflict of interest in that situation. His pleasant, light-blue eyes openwide \(“candid,” “frank,” his supporters as he explains that there was no conflict of interest because all of his constituents agreed, you see, with his stands on water issues. Billy Clayton does not suffer from post-Watergate morality. Clayton explains his role as one of Gus Mutscher’s lieutenants by saying that Mutscher was not his first choice for speaker the first time he ran. No, indeed, Clayton favored Gene Fondren, who, alas, left him high and dry by going off to become a bigtime lobbyist. Clayton went on to become chairman of the committee on counties, a big biggie in those days, and vice-chairman of the committee on banks and banking. He voted with Mutscher down the line during the 62nd session, after all the Sharpstown stuff had come out. AND HOW IS it that this paragon of 19th-century yahooism is about to be elected speaker? Why, sports fans, it was done by the liberals, a great many of whom decided to pledge their support to Clayton after Fred Head dropped out of the speaker’s race on Sept. 3. If you ask them why they went with Clayton, rather than with Rep. Carl Parker of Port Arthur, who is an actual labor-liberal, they will tell you it is because they feel that Billy Clayton is candid and frank and they think he will be fair. Gonzalo Barrientos, a liberal chicano whom opponents have accused of being the next best thing to Castro, is about to be elected to the Lege from Austin as soon as he clears up the little matter of his Republican opposition. Barrientos has pledged to Billy Clayton, because he feels that Clayton is candid and frank and will be fair. Clayton did not candidly tell Barrientos, who is a tiger of a fighter for chicanos, that Clayton has voted against bi-lingual education bills whenever they have come up. He did not frankly tell Barrientos that after a bi-lingual program was finally gotten through he carried a bill to cut off bi-lingual ed after the third grade. He did not fairly inform Barrientos that he led a vicious fight in 1971 to defeat a resolution, a mere resolution, commending Cesar Chavez. He didn’t mention to Barrientos, who could not have been elected without student help, that he was against 18-year-old rights. As a matter of fact, Barrientos only met Clayton one time and spent all of five minutes with him. But Barrientos is of the opinion that Carl Parker took liberals for granted. That he just expected them to be on his side and he didn’t make any push to get them, didn’t woo them, wine them or dine them and Barrientos resented it. So he went with Clayton. Most liberals can offer far more concrete reasons for not going with Parker. Parker’s chief problem was simply lack of credibility. Almost no one believed him. He told the Observer months ago that the speaker’s race would come down to a fight between him and Clayton and we didn’t believe him. He had that reputation just a little slimy, just a little too cute of a deal cutter. The old Dirty Thirty have never Parker sat in on some of their early anti-Mutscher strategy sessions in 1971 and then toddled off to tell Mutscher what the liberal game plans were. Parker, at his best, is a go-along, get-along liberal pol. He always scorned the purist, kamikaze libs because they never got anything done. But Parker got things done. He played all kinds of footsie with Mutscher, he had to, he says, but he got bills through. Good bills, he says. And many of them were good bills. But Parker and Fred Head cut each other, slashed each other, hacked at each other until the liberals, who were evenly divided between them, carried hopeless grudges, yawning resentments that could not be paved over by ideological consanguinity. Sherman F ricks, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, gave a classic summation of the race’ in his own inimitable fashion. Speaking of Head and Parker, he observed, “They done done it to theirself.” And it was true. “Every day,” said a liberal now with Clayton, “there would be some fresh piece of dirt circulating about Fred, started by Carl. Vicious rumors, phony press releases, all this kind of stuff. I remember one that Carl’s people were spreading that Fred had been flown to Acapulco that weekend by a bunch of lobbyists and the question was, to me, well, if you’re as close to Fred Head as you think you are, how come he didn’t September 20, 1974 3
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.