Settlement .. would be a candidate for re-election until the night of the Oct. 30 dinner. That was also Briscoe’s story in deposition. Had the suit ever made it to court, Farenthold’s attorneys no doubt would have used an agenda of an Aug. 29, 1973, meeting in the governor’s office to establish the purpose of the dinner and to describe the tenor of the governor’s fundraising efforts. Briscoe attended the meeting along with Secretary of State Mark White; Calvin Guest, chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee; Bob Hardesty, Briscoe’s press secretary; Joe Kilgore, the former congressman, who later was named campaign manager for the ’74 effort; Jess Hay of Dallas; Liener Temerlin, an executive with Glenn Advertising, the agency hired to work with the campaign; and other Briscoe supporters. According to the agenda, which is now part of the court record, the “primary goal” of the dinner was to “raise $1,250,000 in campaign funds; $400,000 to retire the remaining deficit from the 1972 campaign; and $850,000 to launch the 1974 campaign to re-elect Gov. Dolph Briscoe.” The dinner itself, with its $25 tickets, was described in the agenda as “a secondary fundraising device,” the primary device being “solicitation of contributions through a statewide finance committee.” Hay and Kilgore were listed as co-chairmen of the finance committee. Attached to the agenda were the names and addresses of 117 Texas fat cats, each of whom was supposed to come up with $10,000 in contributions toward the $1.25 million goal. These $10,000 assignments sounded suspiciously like a Maurice Stans-type quota system to Farenthold and her lawyers. When the suit was filed, Farenthold had to make some estimate as to the monetary damages she and the state had suffered because of the alleged illegalities of the Dinner Committee. \(The 1973 Texas campaign reporting and disclosure act prohibits any collection of campaign funds before the name of a campaign manager is filed. Hay filed as manager for the dinner committee at 4 p.m. Oct. 19, and Farenthold was contending that all monies raised before that point were illegally collected. She also suspected that some of the funds came from corporations, which is The civil remedy in the ’73 law provides that, “Any candidate, campaign manager, assistant campaign manager, or other person who makes an unlawful campaign contribution or expenditure in support of a candidate shall be civilly liable to each opposing candidate whose name shall appear on the ballot in the next election after such contribution or expenditure is 6 The Texas Observer made for double the amount or value of such unlawful campaign contribution or expenditure and reasonable attorneys fees for collecting same.” In addition, the law calls for triple damages to be paid to the State of Texas. Estimating that $500,000 was raised by the Dinner Committee before a campaign manager had been appointed, the plaintiffs asked for $2.5 million in damages $1 million for Farenthold and $1.5 million for the state. Because the suit requested damages for the state, John Hill was made an involuntary plaintiff in his capacity as state attorney general. His office received copies of all pleadings in the case and members of his staff sat in on depositions from time to time. \(Hill’s role or lack thereof in the suit will be discussed later in FARENTHOLD announced that she was filing suit against Briscoe the same day she filed to run for governor, and the suit generally was believed to be part of her 1974 campaign strategy. The suit would tie up the funds raised at the dinner and, with luck, depositions taken in the suit during the spring would reveal damaging information about the Briscoe campaign and force the attorney general to take action against the governor. It may be, however, that the 1974 campaign was actually part of Farenthold’s court strategy. At one point in her deposition she says that one reason she decided to run in ’74 was so she would have standing to sue Briscoe. At any rate, 1974 was altogether a disastrous year for Sissy Farenthold. There was wild disagreement among her supporters that year as to what she should run for and whether she should run at all. One contingent wanted her to run for the Railroad Commission. Another thought she should run on an independent ticket for governor. Some said she shouldn’t run for anything. Creekmore Fath, Farenthold’s longtime adviser and campaign manager, was one of the primary people who convinced her that she should challenge Briscoe once again in the Democratic primary. Fath also encouraged her to file the suit. It is the Observer’s understanding that Farenthold and Fath were the two people who believed most strongly in the suit’s potential. Farenthold went to Terry O’Rourke, an aide from the Dirty Thirty days, and asked him if he would be interested in handling the suit. O’Rourke was then with the attorney general’s office, but he was planning to enter private practice in Houston with Ray Needham. Needham is the one who filed the suit and O’Rourke joined in after he left his state job. They took the case on a one-third contingency fee basis, i.e., Needham and O’Rourke would receive one-third of the damages claimed by Farenthold, should they win their case. Farenthold and the attorneys signed an agreement drawn up by Fath which laid out the financial agreement between the parties. Farenthold was nominally responsible for raising funds to pursue the case. In many quarters the suit was dismissed as a “fishing expedition.” Farenthold affirmed in deposition that when she filed backed up by her understanding of how the game of conservative Texas politics is clippings that indicated that Briscoe was indeed raising money for something in 1973 before he announced for a second term and before he named a campaign former aide. The letter, Farenthold explained, was from Madelin Olds in Corpus Christi. “She told me that plans were underfoot or arrangements were being made to have four prominent Corpus Christians contribute $10,000 each to Governor Briscoe’s next race and it was being done early so that no reporting would have to be done,” Farenthold said in deposition. \(These allegations were never All in all, the suit didn’t look too hopeful. Deposition taking was successfully delayed by Briscoe’s lawyers and then State Dist. Judge Herman Jones in Austin slapped a gag rule on all the attorneys until after the Democratic primary. Farenthold’s race never really got off the ground and Briscoe, well-financed and incumbent, won an easy victory in the primary. Despite her miserable defeat at the polls, Farenthold and her attorneys harbored hopes that the suit would vindicate her. They continued the tedious process of investigating the details of various contributions to the Briscoe campaign. BILL BRICE came into the picture as Jess Hay’s attorney in late summer, 1974. “From my first two or three weeks in the case,” Brice said, “my idea was to get rid of it. I was the only one who had a non-political outlook. I wanted to take some sensible approach.” Brice says he never could get Briscoe or Kilgore to consider a settlement. “The governor’s lawyers wouldn’t even go to Sissy’s lawyers for fear that people would think there was something to it,” Brice remembered. “And there were people who kept saying to us, `Don’t pay that woman a nickel.’ ” But, Brice says, he kept arguing that the suit was simply too costly for either side to pursue. Needham and O’Rourke were also running up a hefty bill taking depositions and sending investigators out to query people’ about their campaign contributions. To determine whether illegal corporate contributions had been made, the plaintiffs had to contact hundreds of people listed as contributors. It was a long and costly process for Farenthold. And the suit was costing the Briscoe people even more. “On our side you’ve got three sets of lawyers,” Brice explained separate representation for Briscoe, Hay, and Kilgore.
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