"Legislators hunt doves and chemical lobby pays," Dallas Times Herlad, September 29, 1981
"Legislators hunt doves and chemical lobby pays," Dallas Times Herlad, September 29, 1981. The Texas Chemical Council, a lobbying group, took a number of Texas representatives and senators on a hunting trip in Mexico in order to push their agenda. The trip is detailed in this article.
Texas. LegislatureTexas Chemical Council
"Texas Governor Term 1, 1979-1982"
Dallas Times Herald
Texas A&M University
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
"Governor William P. Clements, Jr. Official State Papers, 1st Term, 1979-1983"
PR Press Office | 1st term
Texas State library and archives commission
Clements Texas Papers
Legislators hunt doves and chemical lobby pays Le\ rt'A By VIRGINIA ELLIS Austin Bureau AUSTIN — Rep. Bill Haley al- most lost a foot. Lt. Gov. William P. Hobby Jr. did lose his pants. And both times it was at the expense of • the state's chemical lobby. • Haley and Hobby were among 30 • legislators who were treated this • month to all-expense-paid hunting trips in Mexico by one of the state's most powerful special interest groups — the Texas Chemical Council. On a sprawling retreat just out- side of Miguel Alernon, about 60 miles from Harlingen, the legislators were plied with meals, whiskey and shotgun shells. There were even Mexican "bird boys" to retrieve the fallen white-wing doves, which at- tract hunters to that part of Mexico and whose meat is known as a delicacy. But the pleasure outing was more than just for fun. Both guests and the host — a powerful lobby group with a vested interest in major leg- islation — agreed that it was also a game of influence. One legislator even admitted he liked the chemical lobby's trips so much that "I always try to be nice to them so I can go again." "We use every possible way to get to know them (legislators) better, and hunting and fishing is one of -1 the best ways," said Harry Whitworth, the council's lobbyist and chief host. The trips, annual events for the past decade, have spawned their own anecdotes and folklore. This year, Haley, a Democrat from Cen- ter, was the butt of the merriment when he accidently blasted off the toe of his boot. "I was so startled," Haley re- called. "I thought 'Oh my God, I just shot off my toes.'" Haley, an experienced hunter, said he was lifting his 12-gauge shotgun to aim at a flock of birds when he accidentally pulled the trigger. The blast tore off the toe of his leather boot and left a three- inch crater in the sand. For several minutes, Haley said he could only stare at the end his boot. He wig- gled his toes and finally realized he had missed his foot. Haley's colleagues were so amused by the incident, the chemi- cal council decided to have the boot bronzed. Before they broke camp, his fellow legislators declared Haley the winner of the first annual Mike Martin Marksmanship Award — named in jest for the East Texas re- presentative accused of having him- self shot to gain public attention. Lt. Gov. Hobby's problems on the hunt were less serious, but no less amusing. tiobby, who likes to tell the story on himself, was standing in a..field waiting for the doves to fly over when he felt a stinging sensation in his legs. "I looked down and I was stand- ing in a huge bed of red ants. There was nothing to do but drop my pants and run," he said. For days, the vision of the lieu- tenant governor of Texas prancing across a field without his pants kept his colleagues doubled over with laughter. Haley and Hobby were on two of the five trips for legislators spon- sored this month by the chemical council. During one trip, the lobby agreed to pay for House Speaker Billy Clayton to entertain all his counterparts in the southern part of the United States. When none of the speakers accepted Clayton's in- vitation, the lobby paid for a private hunting trip with his staff instead. Along with Haley, Hobby and Clayton, at least 27 other legislators accepted the lobby's largesse. House members who made the trip included Reps. Robert Davis, R- Irving; Bob Leonard, R-Fort Worth; Frank Eikenburg, R-Plano; Joe Hanna, D-Breckenridge; Terral Smith, R-Austin; Tim 'Von Dohlen, D-Goliad; Bill Messer, D-Belton; Walter Grubbs, D-Abilene; Robert Saunders, fl-LaGrange; David Lon- don, D-Gainesville; Pete Laney, Er- Hale Center; Charles Evans, D- Hurst; Ken Riley, R-Corpus Christi; John Sharp, D-Victoria; Bill Pres- nal, D-Bryan; Bennie Bock, D-New 'I don't see it as a buy, I see it as a learning experience.' —Frank Eikenburg Braunfels; Don Henderson, R-Hous- ton; Hamp Atkinson, D-New Boston; Tom DeLay, R-Richmond; and Rol- lin Khoury, R-Waco. Senators went on a separate trip. Those who took the trip included Sens. 0. H. "Ike'. Harris, R-Dallas; Tati Santiesteban, D-El Paso; Buster Brown, R-Lake Jackson; E. L. Short, D-Tahoka; Ed Howard, D- Texarkana; Grant Jones, D-Abilene; and Carl Parker, D-Port Arthur. Although the trips will cost the chemical council thousands of dol- lars, state law does not require legis- lators to report their hunting expe- ditions. Nor is the council required to report which legislators it enter- tained. In a quarterly report, it will only have to show the total cost of the trips. Despite the council's vested inter- est in some of the legislation consid- ered by lawmakers last spring, none of those who went on the trip thought there was any impropriety in accepting the council's hospitality. "I don't see it as a buy, I see it as a learning experience," said Eiken- berg, who like many other legisla- tors views the trip as an opportunity to get to know his colleagues better. "As far as I'm concerned it's just a friendship thing. They invite some of their friends. There's no special favors they expect of me," said Grubbs. Short insisted, "These things hap- pen after the fact. It's too late for them to lobby ur, on anything." But some legislators, who didn't get invited, said they had been shunned because they had opposed the council on some of its favorite issues. Others, however, such as London, said he had been invited even though he proposed a refinery tax, which is about as welcome to the chemical lobby as ants to a picnic. Whitworth said the council, which had invited about 70 legisla- tors to go on the trip, usually looks for legislators who have some inter- est in hunting. He said women legis- lators were not invited because they would have no privacy in the dor- mitory-type rooms on the retreat where the hunters are housed. "It's just a way of entertain- ment," he said. It's entertainment, some contend, that has helped make the chemical lobby one of the most powerful in- terest groups in Texas. Those who attend the trips concede that in the intimate atmosphere they usually develop, quick friendships with Whitworth and the other lobbyists who attend as well as with their own colleagues.