GAIL WOODS to the Morning News’s source, were “like a matter of life and death for the firm.” One bill, filed by Jerry Beauchamp, a San Antonio Democrat, would have allowed counties and cities to assess a 15-percent penalty on delinquent taxes, which would have encouraged taxing entities to do their own collection rather than hiring law firms. According to the Morning News’s source: “After the April 1987 trip to Las Hadas resort in Mexico with Mr. Lewis, a Heard Goggan lawyer said: ‘We don’t need to worry about the legislation anymore. It’s been taken care of.’ ” The bill filed by Beauchamp died in the House Calendars Committee, then chaired by Stan Schlueter of Killeen, who last year resigned after reports that the FBI was looking into his use of his officeholder account. Schlueter, who as a legislator maintained 4 JANUARY 11, 1991 close ties to Lewis, is now a lobbyist. Oliver Heard, a partner in the law firm alleged to have paid at least part of the Speaker’s property taxes, denied that the 1987 trip was an attempt to influence Lewis. Lewis also denied that the trip had any influence on legislation. He contends that the press has exaggerated the nature of the April trip to Mexico. “The word vacation has been misused quite a bit in this whole concept because all you have is an overnight or two-night trip,” Lewis said in an interview with the StarTelegram. The trip, which Lewis admitted was paid for by the San Antonio-based law firm, is reported to have cost $25,000. While it is conceivable that the trip to Mexico will not result in an indictable offense, anyone who reads a newspaper can figure out what’s happening. A law firm that performs a quasi-governmental function found its profit margin threatened by several bills filed in the House. It prudently spent $25,000 to take the most powerful member of that body on a trip. After the trip the bills died. If nothing else, Gib Lewis is guilty of the most egregious ethical insensitivity. Yet with ethics, Gib doesn’t get it. He believes he has done no wrong because the code by which he measures his conduct comes not from the ethical canons of a public servant, but rather from the situational ethical code of a Willie Loman. Lewis explained something of that ethical code in a interview published in the Star-Telegram on January 1: Do you think that when a lobbyistvays for a trip that they’re attempting to get some sort of influence with you? I’d hope that’s not the goal and purpose, and let me tell you why I say that. Our own firm, we do a lot of business with a lot of people. I encourage my salesman to entertain our customers. And I do that because I want them to get better acquainted with those people. I like for them to go play golf with them. I like for them to have dinner with them. I like to have their families together and socialize on that level. And the reason I want that to happen is that if they get mad because we happen to ship them a bad order of merchandise, I don’t want them to go to my competitor. I want them to feel like they have that relationship they can call my salesman and say “Joe, that shipment you sent us, there’s something wrong with it and I know you’re going to take care of it.” Now if I have that kind of relationship with that person, that’s what it’s going to be. I think you’ ll find the lobbying effort is somewhat in that same category, you’ll find lobbyists want to be associated with members to the point of trying to get to know them better. W hat they want to do is intermingle with members to get to know them, and when they have an issue they feel they can come and sit down and say, “Here’s my issue,” and you know the fellow. It’s not a cold face. As long as he confuses the tactics of business with the ethics of public service, Gib Lewis will remain convinced he’s done nothing improper. And he obviously believes it correct to use his officeholder’s account, most of which was raised in the lobby, to pay his attorneys and the public relations firm he retained to deal with his crisis. Yet not even Glenn Smith and Monte Williams, two Austin image makers who for a time worked for the Ann Richards campaign, can fool all of the people all of the time. In the end, Lewis’s constituents will know who influences the shape of public policy in this state. And it’s not them; it’s lawyers, lobbyists, and agents not about hotel-room morality, it’s about statehouse ethics. And anyone paying attention and taxes here should be appalled with two Ctrs. L.D.