Page 18


ALAN POGUE I have been the crisis manager for the state Jim Mattox Examine the Record Jim Mattox was born in Dallas on August 29, 1943. He attended Baylor University and Southern Methodist University Law School, where he received his law degree in 1968. From 1968 to 1970, Mattox served as a state prosecutor in Dallas County. In 1973, Mattox was elected to the state House of Representatives, where he served until 1976. In 1977, he was elected to the U.S. Congress. In 1982, Mattox was elected attorney general. He was re-elected in 1986, defeating Republican challenger Roy Barrera, Jr. General Mattox was interviewed in his Austin office, on the top floor of the Texas Supreme Court building. As a pre-condition to the interview, Mattox’s Press Secretary Steve Levine insisted that no questions related to a Texas Observer investigative report concerning several allegations of financial wrongdoing by the Attorney General be raised. It is a condition to which we agreed in the interest of hearing what the Attorney General had to say about public-policy issues in the governor’s race. The interview was conducted by Observer Editor Louis Dubose who was accompanied by photographer Alan Pogue. General Mattox agreed to a one-hour interview and extended that time by 30 minutes. It seems like for two years now you have had your sights on the governor’s mansion. Why this particular office? We have had a crisis of leadership [in Texas] for at least the last 11 years. We have not had a strong sense of direction. And we need to have the kind of planning that’s necessary to set Texas off on the kind of path it should be on to enter the next century. I think I can do that. We have what people call a crisis in the criminal-justice system. We have a crisis in the education system, a crisis in the mental health system, a drug crisis. What we really have is a crisis of leadership. And I think with strong leadership we can move this state forward. People say that the governor’s office is a weak office. It’s a weak office only if a weak individual holds that office. If a strong individual holds it, well then, it’s not nearly as weak an office. What in your experience as attorney general demonstrates the type of governor you would be? When I was sworn in as attorney general I said I would be the most aggressive attorney general in modern times. I think that when the history of this office is written, I don’t think anybody will challenge that kind of characterization of our performance. We have, we have not only had new ideas, but we have put those new ideas into action. Everywhere from taking on child support collection problems we were collecting less than $18 million a year when I took over the program, this year we’ll probably collect $200 million to setting up a debt collection program that more than pays for the office. We bring in $5 for every $1 spent on the agency. We have put together a very aggressive representation of the state on a great number of issues and I have in the last seven years basically been the, I guess, the crisis manager of the state. Because the Governor and the Legislature have refused to handle many of the problems that we have faced and as a result of that I have had to fight an assortment of lawsuits on behalf of the state. Lawsuits that should have been resolved by, or the issues should have been resolved by legislation rather than litigation . . . That experience makes it possible for me to understand and to deal with most of those problem areas without any difficulty. 4 JANUARY 12, 1990