Page 23


Political Intelligence Mary Kay & the ERA It’s uncanny how often Mary Kay Cosmetics is mentioned in conjunction with opposition to the equal rights amendment. Last week the Observer got calls from reporters in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Mo., who had heard about Mary Kay’s alleged campaign against the ERA. New Mexico Sen. Consuelo Kitzen Burrell of Santa Fe recently told UPI that the anti-ERA letters she has received “stem from a single source in Dallas, the Mary Kay Cosmetics Co., which has apparently mailed out vast volumes of literature to all religious organizations and groups on its mailing lists.” Mary Kay Ash, chairman of the board of the cosmetics firm, says it ain’t so. The pink sheet written by Women Who Want to Be Women did happen to get included in Ms. Ash’s Director’s Memo with everything except the WWWW I.D. intact. And a WWWW newsletter did happen to thank Mary Kay for her help. But Ms. Ash says she has given no money to anti-ERA forces and she denies any knowledge of her saleswomen selling WWWW propaganda along with their cosmetics. Marjorie Schuchat of NOW managed to finagle a meeting with Ms. Ash recently. Ms. Schuchat recounts that there was a fleet of pink Cadillacs in the firm’s parking lot \(each director gets one along with a has pink furniture and a white carpet. The inner office is French blue. Schuchat said she dropped hints that Texans for the ER .A might have to institute a boycott of Mary Kay Cosmetics if the 8 The Texas Observer company continued supporting the opposition whereupon Ms. Ash and her lawyer agreed to print a clarification of the firm’s position in a company publication. The ensuing clarification, printed in Applause, a magazine that is mailed to 30,000 people involved in selling Mary Kay Cosmetics, said in part: “Neither Mary Kay, individually, nor Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc., either opposes or supports the equal rights amendment, nor has either taken an active part or contributed funds in either supporting or opposing the amendment.” “While all of you are independent salespersons and not employees of Mary Kay Cosmetics subject to our will or control, we suggest it is your individual responsibility as citizens to consider both sides of the question, make up your own minds, and then lend your efforts, if so led, to which either side you choose BUT, totally, separately, and apart from your Mary Kay Business and careers.” The message was signed by Mary Kay herself. The H ouse Committee on Constitutional Revision will hear HCR 57, Bill Hilliard’s resolution to rescind Texas’ ratification of the federal equal rights amendment, on April 14. Ray Hutchison, chairman of the House committee, is swamped with letters concerning the ERA, more of them anti than pro, and a number of other legislators confirm that their ERA letters are continuing to break mailroom records. No brave soul has yet come forward in the Senate to sponsor Hilliard’s resolution. It took a while, but the Women Who Want to Be Women finally got around to registering their lobbyists 18 of them so far with the secretary of state. Also registered for the antis are representatives of the Committee to Restore Women’s Rights \(Mrs. Bob Edmondson of that group says she’s a “proud” member of the John Birch Society but that the JBS has provided no ERA; and Women Activated to Rescind/Motorede \(i.e., Movement to On the national front, more and more ERA spokeswomen are conceding that there’s little chance the amendment will be ratified this year. Four more states need to ratify before 1979 if the ERA is to become the 27th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to the count being kept by Texans for the ERA, defeats have come this year in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Utah. It’s not looking too good in Illinois or Missouri. Chances are better in South Carolina and perhaps North Carolina. The issue is still before legislatures in Arkansas and Mississippi. Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama legislatures will convene later this spring. Allegations concerning unisex toilets seem to be standard fare in most state debates. There are major recision movements in five states, with Texas being one of the most important. Tennessee and Nebraska have already voted to rescind, but ERA proponents maintain that recision doesn’t count. Candy man official who saves the state nearly $5 Alas, poor Bullock. Any other state million gets his name on the front page, right? Well Comptroller Bob Bullock announced on March 10 that his office had completed tax audits in February that determined that various taxpayers owed the state an additional $4.9 million, including $3 million from one gas production company, and the news got buried. The next morning’s papers reported that the Campfire Girls had sued Bullock for $13,248.13. The money represents the sales taxes paid by the organization on its candy sales for 1971, 1972, and 1973 taxes that were paid under protest. Now the Campfire Girls want their money back, because “other organizations sell products for human consumption, the same as Campfire Girls, namely the Girl Scouts of America, which sell a product . . . it defines and calls a ‘cookie.’ ” And the Girl Scouts don’t pay sales taxes. Bullock staffers point out, rather . tiredly, that the law makes a pretty clear distinction between cookies and candy. One’s taxable, one isn’t. In the meantime, the comptroller’s office was whipping out a couple more press releases. One referred rather pointedly to the previous day’s announcement of the $4.9 million worth of audits and plugged Bullock’s budget request, which asks for additional auditors and tax compliance officers. The other relayed the information that the comptroller had discovered the state employees’ training institute operated by the Department of Community Affairs of the governor’s office, and that 25 employees from the comptroller’s office all women, mostly minority-group and lower-paid workers will take training in secretarial skills and use of office machines. The second day’s releases did not make the front pages, either. Top ten The capital press corps’ biannual balloting on the Top Ten Dumb in the House of Representatives has once again produced some furious photo finishes. The usual surplus of deserving solons produced so many ties that we have the Top 11 this year. Acing out the entire field was the great mind of Rep. Bill Hilliard of Fort Worth. Hilliard finished one vote ahead of Rep. John Whitmire of Houston and two votes ahead of Rep. Greg Montoya of Elsa, who also happens to be