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Famous Texans Kay Bailey Hutchison

"Would these documents reside anywhere else on any kind of backup? Well, I never authorized the personal or political work to be out there, and I don't want to be criticized for it being out there. And so I want you to go to those backup tapes and remove it all from the backup tapes." --the quote attributed to Hutchison by grand jury testimony of Deputy Treasurer Michael Barron that ultimately led to Hutchison's September 28, 1993 indictments, including felony counts of tampering with government documents and evidence.

Best known for: First woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, first Republican since1875 to hold the senate seat previously occupied by Lloyd Bentsen, and first U.S. senator from Texas to come under criminal indictment.

Born: Senator Hutchison was born in 1944 and grew up in La Marque, Texas.

Family: Ms. Hutchison lives in Dallas with her husband, Ray, a former state representative. He is a partner in the powerful, influential law firm of Vinson and Elkins. Her great-great grandfather, Charles S. Taylor, was an earliest settler of Texas who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Education: Graduated from the University of Texas and UT Law School (1967). In college, she was a member of the cheerleading squad.

Profession: Local Houston television political reporter (1967-1971).

Career: Ms. Hutchison switched from television journalism to politics in 1971 when Republican National Committee co-chair Anne Armstrong offered her a job as her press secretary. The two met when Hutchison interviewed her for a story. Armstrong also served on Nixon's President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). The PFIAB is a little known, very powerful group of presidential appointees whose approval is required for all U.S. covert operations worldwide.

While in the Texas House of Representatives (1972 to 1976), Hutchison worked with Sarah Weddington, the attorney who won the Roe v. Wade case, to protect rape victims from having their names published. She has since supported some abortion rights, but not federal funding for them.

Hutchison was appointed vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board in 1976, during Gerald Ford's last year as president. She lost a bid for Congress to future Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett in 1982. In 1990, she was elected Texas State Treasurer, defeating Democrat Nikki Van Hightower. In politically expedient actions, Hutchison trimmed the treasury's budget and increased returns on state investments. She spearheaded a successful fight against an income tax in a state where even the suggestion of one is ridiculed and despised.

In 1993, Hutchison and her team of attorney's - led by Dick DeGuerin, the $700-an-hour hotshot criminal lawyer and defender of Branch Dividian David Koresh - were fighting charges that she had abused her office as state treasurer. The evidence portrayed Hutchison as a termagant who verbally and physically abused her staff, including testimony that while in a tirade, she hit executive assistant Sharon Connally Ammann, the daughter of former governor John Connally, on the shoulder with a notebook binder. Another deputy had been Warren Idsal, the son-in-law of Hutchison's best friend and mentor, legendary ultra-right-wing Texan and Nixon adviser Anne Armstrong. She fired Idsal and later cited his removal as a threat to a frustrated staffer of her tough approach to personnel management. The evidence also showed she ordered a purge of backup computer tapes containing personal and political documents her executive staff produced for her. Conviction for the Nixon-like charges would have ruined her politically. Hutchison claimed the chief prosecutor, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, was part of a sinister conspiracy against her.

She was acquitted in February 1994, when Earle declined to proceed with the case. The jury selection had gone badly for Earle. Jurors were exposed to news media which was pressured, according to former Fort Worth Star-Telegram capitol reporter Joe Cutberth, to slant coverage in Hutchison's favor. Her own press secretary Dave Beckwith (former Dan Quayle spokesman), and Republican consultant Karl Rove (former Hutchison campaign manager and later top handler to George W. Bush) were heavily quoted spinning the tale of a politically motivated prosecutor. Finally, presiding judge John Onion refused to make a pretrial ruling on whether he would allow the incriminating tapes into evidence. Stripped of the certainty of using key evidence, the prosecution dropped the charges in the hope of starting over later before a less restrictive judge. Judge Onion outmaneuvered Earle, however. He swore in a jury and immediately ordered them to acquit Hutchison. She then proclaimed the forced verdict proof of her innocence.

In an appearance with her friend and senate college, Senator Phil Gramm, at the 1999 re-dedication of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Museum in Austin, Gramm joked, "When people introduce us, they introduce us as the beauty and the beast. Which is always confusing to me because I never know which is which."

Twice elected to the Texas House of Representatives, Hutchison won her first full, six-year term to the Senate in 1994, following her victory in a 1993 special election to replace Lloyd Bentsen. Bentsen had been appointed President Clinton's first treasury secretary. In the 1994 election, Hutchison defeated Dallas businessman Richard Fisher with sixty-one percent of the vote, and vowed that she would serve only two full terms.

In 1996, Hutchison devised the federal welfare funding formulas used for welfare reform legislation. She shaped defense policy on the defense and military construction subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee. She also served the Senate Commerce Committee, chairing the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine. In that position, she drafted and passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 1998.

Hutchison led senate fights for legislation preventing states' tobacco settlement funds from federal seizure, and a bill strengthening health-care benefits for veterans and military retirees. She sponsored and passed the federal anti-stalking bill, and legislation that expanded retirement funds for stay-at-home spouses.

During 1999-2000, Ms. Hutchison was a deputy majority whip. She also served as chairman of the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, co-chair of the Congressional Oil and Gas Caucus, and is a U.S. delegate to the Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe).

In the final week of September, 1999, Hutchison got enough votes to end a Senate filibuster and pass a rider that would stop the Department of the Interior from collecting full royalties from big oil companies drilling on public land. Small companies pay royalties on the market price of crude. Big Oil "sells" crude to their own refineries $4 to $5 per barrel lower than market price. That lowers their royalty payment, saving them millions.

Ms. Hutchison has received $1.2 million in political contributions from the oil industry since becoming a senator. An attempt by Wisconsin Senator Russell Feingold to put that fact into the Congressional Record was ruled out of order by the Chair, who declared campaign finance was "not germane" in a debate about oil royalties. John McCain, Republican presidential candidate in the 2000 campaign, co-sponsored Feingold’s campaign finance legislation, but that did not stop him from casting the sixtieth vote required to end the filibuster and protect the oil subsidy. Hutchison declared, "It was a victory for America."

Considered to have a successful future in national politics, Hutchison, during the 2000 election year, was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2002. She entered her Senate re-election campaign with funding over $6 million - the most any senator had raised for a 2000 race. She also expressed no interest in a Cabinet position or presidential appointment in any Republican White House in 2001.

Her editorials on tax and defense issues have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and every Texas daily newspaper.


Sources: United States Senate Biography, http://www.senate.gov/~hutchison/bio.htm; ABC News Biography, http://www.abcnews.go.com/reference/congress/TXS1.html; Miriam Rozen, "The Case Against Kay," Dallas Observer, June 23, 1994 (reprinted in The Austin Chronicle, July 15, 1994, pp. 15-16, 18-25); Catalina Camia, "Hutchison won't rule out future run for governor," The Dallas Morning News, 01/05/2000, http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/14346_KAY05.html; The Texas Observer, October 15, 1999, http://www.texasobserver.org/10_15_99/dinosaurio_1015.html; Sam Attlesey, "'Beauty and the Beast' tout their road show," The Dallas Morning News, December 12, 1999, http://dallasnews.com/texas_southwest/columnists/5840_TEXPOL12.html.