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EDITORIAL Extreme Makeover Craddick Edition 11111 om and Nadine Craddick make their home most of the year in Midland, where Tom is a well-connected businessman with close ties to the oil industry. Tom, of course, also serves as speaker of the Texas House, and with the job comes a unique residence that offers the easiest commute around. When in Austin, the speaker resides in a free, 2,000-squarefoot apartment inside the Capitol, just behind the House chamber. Every Texas Speakerperhaps as far back as 1903has lived there, and according to the Texas State Preservation Board, the state agency that maintains the place, it’s the only private residence within a state capitol in the nation. The Craddicks recently decided that the apartment needs a major renovation. The Preservation Board has agreed to replace the 12-year-old carpet. But Tom and Nadine have a lot more in mind. Among the upgrades under way: replacing the floor, countertops, cabinets, and plumbing fixtures in the kitchen and two bathrooms; replacing appliances and lighting fixtures in the kitchen; removing the loft and its stair case; installing a cooking exhaust system in the kitchen; and putting an exhaust system in the master bathroom to eliminate steam. The renovation’s initial estimated cost was $441,000, according to state records. In 2005, the Legislature appropriated $1 million to the Preservation Board that the agency can use for upkeep and renovation of the speaker’s residence. But the Craddicks decided not to use public money. Instead, they turned to a much more selective source of private fundingcampaign contributors. In February, the Craddicks mailed out to select donors a fundraising brochure that featured a picture of the speaker and his wife, and a letter signed by both of them asking for contributions to the renovation. “Your support of the renovation of the Speaker’s Residence will be a lasting gift to all Texans,” the brochure read. \(But since the speaker’s residence is one of the few places in the Capitol that’s off-limits to the public, the donations are more accurately a gift to two So far 38 donors have sent in more than . $1 million, according to state records. Some of them are simply allies and friends of Tom Craddick, including Texans for Lawsuit Reform cofounder largest contributions, which come from special interests with business before the state, give off the whiff of influence peddling. Private water speculator Boone Pickens wrote a $250,000 check. The horse track operator MAXXAM Inc. owned by Charles Hurwitz, a major proponent of legalizing slot machines at tracksgave $25,000. AT&T Inc., which seemingly has a pet bill in the Legislature every session, donated $250,000. That was the same total handed over by Dallas businessman Harold Simmons and three companies under his control. The Simmons-owned Waste Control Specialists LLC operates a nuclear waste dump in far West Texas. The company is trying to get an expanded permit from the state to store more waste for longer periods. Another Simmons outfit, NL Industries Inc. \(formerly known as in Texas and around the country from potential lawsuits over lead poisoning. That’s just to name a few of the donors. The money isn’t subject to campaign finance regulations. And because the donations are technically for preservation of state property, they’re tax deductible. The method the Craddicks chose to fund their renovation is emblematic of how the Texas House functions under current leadership. Too often for the past three years, only a select group of well-connected special interests has had access to power, and too often for their own gain. THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 98, NO. 14 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Associate Publisher Julia Austin Circulation Manager Lara George Art Director/Webmaster Matt Omohundro Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Rusty Todd, Laurie Baker Staff Writers Forrest Wilder, Tim Eaton Editorial Interns Rachel Mehendale, Victoria Sanchez, Kelly Sharp, Richard Whittaker Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum, Steve Satterwhite Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Molly lvins, Susan Hays, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocanas, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Sharron Rush, Ronnie Dugger In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040-4519/ righted 2006, is published biweekly except during January and August when there is a 4 week break between non-profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page www.texasobserver.org . Periodicals Postage paid at Austin, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Books & the Culture is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. JULY 14, 2006 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3