Senator A. R. “Babe” Schwartz

During the sixties and seventies the best entertainment the Capitol had to offer was the oratory of Galveston senator A. R. “Babe” Schwartz. “A bill written by liars, cheats, and thieves for the benefit of liars, cheats, and thieves” was his denunciation of an anti-consumer bill. Once he and Barbara Jordan tangled over a bill that he thought was too favorable to landlords. Schwartz, who is Jewish, said, “My people are landlords. Your people are tenants. Now, I can tell my people why I’m against this bill. Can you tell your people why you’re for it?” An old-school Democratic senator, Schwartz didn’t care whether lobbyists liked him (most of them did) or whether his colleagues liked him (many of them didn’t), and he told his legislative staff what to do, instead of the other way around. I know, because I was once one of his staffers. Whenever I met with a lobbyist, he would deliver a lecture for all to hear: “Remember, you are the aide. I are the senator.” After losing his reelection bid in 1980, Schwartz took up lobbying. Now 75, he and his wife, Marilyn, live in an Austin high-rise with a splendid view of the Capitol. He teaches a coastal management course at the University of Houston’s law school, still does some lobbying, and shows no ill effects from strokes in 1985 and 1986, despite an operation in which a portion of his brain was removed. Later, whenever a legislator asked how he was doing, Schwartz responded, “My doctor said I didn’t have enough of my brain to practice law—but it was all right to lobby.”

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