T HE TEXAS server OCTOBER 15, 1993 VOLUME 85, No. 20 FEATURES Gender and Justice By Vicki Mayer Paycheck Gender Gap By Deborah Lutterbeck 11 Abuse in the Barrio, Still By Roberto Rodriguez 12 Civil Rights Comes Late to Tyler Court By James Harrington 14 A Bird in the Hand By Robert Kahn 15 DEPARTMENTS Editorials: Politics on Trial; Family Affair; Health Care Under the Knife 3-7 Molly Ivins 5 Las Americas Fighting for the Rainforest By Jo Clifton 16 Books and the Culture Andalusian Poems Book review by James Hoggard 18 `Bronx Tale’ and ‘Joy Luck Club’ Movie reviews by Steven G. Kellman 19 Afterword Family Reunion By Louis Dubose 22 Political Intelligence 24 Cover art by Michael Alexander CENATOR KAY BAILEY Hutchison’ s RPindictment by a Travis County grand jury in state district court was the most widely publicized court action of the week, but it was only one on the docket of cases in state and federal courts that involve allegations of misuse of politics and government. Republicans brought Governor Ann Richards into federal court with a civil lawsuit alleging that she engaged in a political purge of the Texas Commerce Department after she took office in January 1991, but a jury on September 28 rejected the claims of three former Commerce employees that they were fired because of their party affiliation. Richards, who was named with four other defendants in the lawsuit, replied that the plaintiffs were dismissed in a reorganization of the agency, which was rocked with charges of mismanagement when Richards took office in January 1991. “It was a goodtime partying machine,” Richards said of the agency, explaining her reasons for sending Richard Moya in March to clean house. A day before the jury verdict, U.S. District Judge James Nowlin, out of the earshot of the jury, told the plaintiffs’ attorney none of the witnesses had substantiated the claims that Richards and top aides conspired to replace Republicans with Democrats. Even the “circumstantial evidence” was “very weak,” said Nowlin, a former GOP legislator who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and who is best known for his role in drawing a Texas Senate redistricting plan that favored the GOP in 1992. The next day the jury reached the same conclusion. Three months earlier, a different federal jury rejected similar claims of six former Commerce Department employees who also said they were fired because of GOP affiliations. Several similar cases are reportedly in the pipeline. As the Travis County grand jury finished up its investigation of Hutchison, three former aides to former Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower went to trial in federal district court in Austin on criminal charges that they gave a state job and consulting contracts in exchange . for campaign contributions. The Republican Justice Department under President George Bush dragged an investigation of Hightower’s office through the 1990 election season after Hightower became a high-profile critic of Republican national farm policy. Rick Perry, then a Democratic state representative, was recruited to switch to the Republican Party and run against Hightower and Perry’s campaign apparently was kept informed of the progress of the investigation as he made the alleged “political scandals” part of his successful campaign. Hightower was not accused of wrongdoing in the case, but in January 1991, after the elections, indictments were returned against Mike Moeller, formerly Hightower’ s deputy commissioner, and Pete McRae and Billy Quicksall, former officials of the TexasFederal Inspection Service, a joint state and federal agency run by the state that inspects produce, citrus and peanuts. The defendants took the position that they were simply trying to jump-start the department, which had alienated many farmers, ranchers and rural legislators in Hightower’s populist administration. “He was not what we call an ag person,” Moeller’s attorney Bill Allison said of Hightower. “Jim Hightower was all hat and” no cowboy,” as the attorney turned one of Hightower’s own folksy phrases to the service of his client. FBI agent Greg Rampton, who led the Hightower investigation and also probed the affairs of Bob Bullock, who was then state comptroller, and Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, was transferred to Idaho, where his credibility was questioned this summer in the trial of white supremacists charged with the slaying of a deputy U.S. marshal. Rampton admitted that he and another agent removed shell casings from the site of a shootout and later returned them to be photographed, the Houston Chronicle reported. Defense attorneys, who won acquittal for their clients, cited Rampton’s admission in arguing government misconduct. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks dismissed a large portion of the case last year, but the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the charges in April. Texas Supreme Court Justice Craig Enoch also is the subject of an investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s Office of whether Enoch had his secretary do political work for him when he was on the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas. Enoch, a Republican, beat Democratic Justice Oscar Mauzy in 1992 with the theme of restoring confidence to the state’s highest civil appeals court. As Ken Herman wrote in the Houston Post, “All of the accused say they’ve done nothing wrong. In one form or another, they all say they are the victims of political vendettas launched by bad guys out to get them. “Political vendettas? In Austin? Shocking!” “‘”‘”jC Send a Friend The Texas Observer To get a free sample copy of the Observer to a friend, contact Stefan Wanstrom, subscription manager, TO, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78745. Or call 512-477-0746. EDITORIALS Politics on Trial THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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