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VATRAWA.,?s i.ValMar+2, , t*, Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE V MONEY TALKS. How much is being spent to influence Congress in the health-care reform debate? Capital Eye, a newsletter of the Center for Responsive Politics, in its inaugural issue \(and, considnotes an April 19 New York Times report that as much as $50 million would be donated to members of Congress in 19931994. Citizen Action already has found a 22-percent increase since 1991 in contributions from the health and insurance industry, compared with a 2-percent increase from non-health PACs. Much of that money is promoting “managed competition,” which virtually guarantees that the nation’s five largest health insurance companies will run the health-care show. Coincidentally, the National Library on Money and Politics found that political action committees associated with those health insurance companies have been very generous in donations from January 1991 to December 1993: Aetna Life & Casualty Co., $230,380; Cigna Corp. PAC, $267,175; Metropolitan Life, $306,127; Prudential Insurance Co., $278,071; The Travelers Corp. PAC, $260,369. And O’Dwyer’s PR Services found that the 15 public relations firms had received $138 million in healthrelated fees over a 10-month period that ended July 31, 1993and the blitz has sped up since then. To get on the free mailing list for Capital Eye, call 202-857-0044. V KAY: NO LOBBY REFORM. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who spent more than $900,000 earlier this year to beat an ethics prosecution that alleged she used state employees and resources for personal and political purposes as state treasurer, announced her opposition to a lobby reform bill that would ban gifts from lobbyists. She claimed such a restriction could result in “the horrors of malicious prosecution” for other members of Congress, according to the May 6 Dallas Morning News. Hutchison raised more than $720,000 to help pay her legal bills and Sen. Carl Levin, DMichigan and the bill’s sponsor, said it would not have applied to her legal defense fund. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who dropped the case against Hutchison because of an evidentiary dispute, said, “The only thing malicious about the prosecution of Kay Bailey Hutchison was Kay Bailey Hutchison.” V PROFILE IN COURAGE. San Antonio Democratic Congressman Henry. B. Gonzalez will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, which “recognizes people who show political courage” and is conferred by a committee that includes the late president’s children, members of the Kennedy Administration, and activists and scholars. Gonzalez, 78, is being recognized for using his seat on the House Banking Committee to speak out against the Henry B. Gonzalez ALAN POGUE deregulation that ultimately led to the S&L collapse, and the sale of U.S. arms to Iraq before the Persian Gulf War. “With his wellknown insistence on ethical conduct, tireless pursuit of the truth, respect for the Constitution and opposition to powerful special interest groups, Congressman Gonzalez personifies the high purpose of public service,” Caroline Kennedy said in announcing that Gonzalez will receive the award. V NEEDY NEED NOT APPLY. The Hope Foundation for the Homeless sched uled a May 4 meeting in Dallas to develop long-term solutions for the homeless problem in that city, but no homeless person was allowed to attend. Nor were shelter operators, government officials or members of the media. To prepare for the May 4 forum, the non-profit foundation held a March 31 preview for representatives of NationsBank, Bank One, Northern Trust Bank, Lone Star Gas, Southwestern Bell, Crow/Billingsly Interests and the Greater Dallas Crime Commission, all “stakeholders” in the central business district attending. Because the media were excluded, reports on the May 4 meeting were hard to come by. V HOME INEQUITY. Now that interstate bankers have consolidated control over the Texas banking system, they have gotten the federal courts to do something that home-grown bankers over the past 152 years could not get the state Legislature to dooverturn the homestead protections embedded in the Texas Constitution ever since Republic days. Consumer organizations have resisted creditors who want to put homes at risk for consumer loans, fearing it will result in abuse of poor and elderly homeowners. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that federal thri It regulations override the state constitution. V VOLUNTARY TAX? Thousands of lawyers ignored the state’s $200 annual occupation tax in 1993 after finding there was virtually no penalty for doing so, Texas Lawyer reported May 2. The Lawyer figured nearly one-third of the state’s 56,561 lawyers were scofflaws, although the Comptroller’s office later reported 4,600, or 11.7 percent, of the 39,000 lawyers subject to the tax were delinquent. \(Government lawyers, lawyers over 70 years old and lawyers for charitable groups, among others, were exempted from tax on legal services in 1991, as the Legislature settled for an occupational tax but, unlike other professionals, who pay the tax through their regulatory agencies, with penalties for late payments and threats to pull the licenses of scofflaws, the State Bar declined to collect the lawyer tax, leaving the Comptroller to bill lawyers with no penalty for delinquency. 24 MAY 20, 1994