Page 20


Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY found out the salubrious effect a post-Labor Day lead in the polls has on fundraising, as special interests that have long underwritten the Republican Party split their support this fall. An analysis for the Wall Street Journal of “soft money” contributions to the political parties, which are made outside of federal election laws, showed corporate money flowed to the Democrats following their convention in New York City. The study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics showed a shift in giving from five traditionally Republican groups: Investment and securities; oil and gas; pharmaceuticals and health, beer, wine and liquor; and insurance. An earlier study by the center found that, through August, 62 percent of contributions to Clinton were $200 or more, with lawyers and lobbyists the biggest supporters, while 86 percent of contributions to Bush topped $200, with finance, insurance and real estate the largest category of contributors. PAC-PLUNDERING INCUMBENTS beat angry voters as a rule this year, as the Center for Responsive Politics found that 87 percent of the winners in the U.S. House outspent their opponents, as did 82 percent of Senate winners. Of the 435 winning House candidates, all but 50 outspent their opponents and in most cases the spending margins greatly exceeded the differences in vote percentages. The average House winner spent $401,835 while losers averaged just 140,283. In 175 races, the winner outspent the loser by a factor of 10:1 or more. Common Cause found that 93-percent of incumbents were re-elected, down from a 98. percent success rate in 1990. V IN TWO PRIVATE DINNERS during his triumphal post-election visit to Washington, President-elect Bill Clinton dined informally with political and media figures who are getting used to the new regime. Noted TV hair-hat Ted Koppel received equal billing with Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and House Speaker Tom Foley, while many prominent Democrats are reported to have left town during the President-elect’s visit in mid-November so their absence from the guest lists would be less embarrassing. Two prominent Texans were among those attending one or both of the events. One was Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, the Senate Finance Committee chair who is frequently mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of the Treasury. The other was influence-monger Robert Strauss, fresh off the plane from Moscow, where he was George Bush’s ambassador to the Kremlin. Clinton’s new ethical code will be tested by whether Strauss gets another appointment. TEXAS LEGISLATORS may live modestly during their terms, but their retirement packages are the third most generous in the nation, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Legislators are limited by the state Constitution to a salary of $7,200, but they qualified themselves for a lifetime pension starting at $13,632 annually with eight years of service at age 60 or 12 years at age 50. The newspaper noted that after 16 years in the House, retiring Rep. Ernestine Glossbrenner of Alice will draw $65,000 a year, with credit for her 22 years as a teacher. Still, state lawmakers are pikers compared with Congress; the National Taxpayers Union found that four senior incumbents will retire from a regular salary of $125,000 to a pension of more than $89,500. The average Congressional pension for 88 new retirees as young as 54 is $49,550. V THE CHANGE OF PARTIES in power as well as turnover in Congress is expected to result in the change of approximately 50,000 jobs in the Washington, D.C., area. The Washington Post reports that President-elect is getting 30,000 pieces of mail a week. A sampling from the mailbag, as reported by AlterNet: Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, chair of the House Banking Committee, has urged Clinton to support H.R. 4073 as part of an “economic jump-start program.” The bill would provide $16 billion in funding for community development projects, including grants for streets, sewers, water systems and housing assistance. A group of 80 advocates and academics who banded together to form the Citizen’s Transition Project recently sent Clinton a 1,200-page report, Changing America: Blueprints for a New Democracy, which calls, among other things, for a strong tax hike on the wealthy, international human rights initiatives, new antitrust guidelines, low-income housing initiatives and more. OMB Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has sent a memorandum advising the incoming administration on how to improve coordination of government regulations and provide greater accountability of the regulatory review process after the OMB and the Vice President’s Council on Competitiveness politi cized regulatory and information policy. NEWS THAT HOUSE SPEAKER Gib Lewis of Fort Worth has organized a “sportsmen’s caucus” has alarmed the Fund for Animals. Lewis’ action reinforces the belief of the animal-rights group that Lewis does not belong on the Parks & Wildlife Commission, which he reportedly has in his sights after he quits the House in January. The animal-rights group noted that the 131 members of a similar Sportsmen’s Caucus in Congress compiled an average of 27 percent correct in League of Conservation Voters rankings while the Congresssional average was 45. Dana Forbes, director of the fund’s Houston office, said the interest of the Texas legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus would be “not conservation of wildlife, but merely conservation of wildlife killing.” CAREER MOVES. Senate Democrats are warning Wendy Gramm, chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, not to fill senior staff positions before Presidentelect Bill Clinton takes over, the Associated Press reported. A Senate committee is questioning the conversion of political appointments to civil-service positions in the waning days of the Bush Administration at 18 agencies. Gramm, wife of Texas’ junior senator, allegedly split a division to create two new career slots for which she reportedly was interviewing political appointees from other agencies. V MINORITY CANDIDATES made significant gains in the 1992 elections. A record 17 Latinos and 38 blacks were elected to five Latino and two black members of Congress. The 31-member state Senate will include two blacks and six Latinos while the 150-member House will include 14 blacks and 26 Latinos. Eddie Cavazos, D-Corpus Christi, was elected to a second term as chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, which includes 30 House members \(four of whom are nonV MORE HEADS ARE EXPECTED to roll at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after recent reports that Gov. Ann Richards and an aide have been subjects of prison internal affairs inves tigations. Kathy Fair of the Houston Chronicle reported that Richards was upset by reports she Continued on pg. 20 24 DECEMBER 11, 1992