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Chapter XXI.

The Rule Against Lobbying.

Scandals of the Session of 1907 and the Dread of Pinkerton Detectives Led to a Rule Under Which Machine Lobbyists Could Work with Perfect Safety, While Advocates of Reform Measures Could Be Barred From Both Senate and Assembly.

One of the principal scandals of the Legislative session of 1907 was the openness with which machine lobbyists invaded Senate and Assembly chamber. They went so far as to move from member to member during roll-calls, giving Senator or Assemblyman, as the case might be, a proprietary tap on the shoulder, to direct his vote.

Word of the scandal got as far away from Sacramento as San Luis Obispo County, where A. E. Campbell became a candidate for the Senate against H. W. Lynch, largely on the machine issue. Campbell pledged himself ,to denounce such lobbyists as Jere Burke, the Southern Pacific attorney, if they appeared on the floor of the Senate, and to have them ejected from the chamber.

When Campbell reached Sacramento he let it be known that such would be his policy. Campbell is thickset and shaggy of eyebrow; his beard shows black on his face two hours after shaving. He has all the earmarks of a born fighter. He didn't look good to the machine, and his words didn't sound good. Incidentally, Jere Burke discreetly kept out of the Senate chamber while the Senate was in session.

Another thing which gave machine members of both Houses, as well as machine hangers-on, much concern, was the rumor started along in December that certain public-spirited citizens of Los Angeles and San Francisco would maintain at the Capital during the session a lobby to protect the interests of the people, just as the machine lobby looks after the well-being of machine-protected corporations and individuals.

This rumor caused great distress. It had all sorts of versions. One story was that a corps of Pinkertons would be employed to look for bugs in bills, boodle in sacks, and boodle-itching palms. Another account had it that the supervision was to be carried on by the San Francisco graft prosecution, and that Burns men would be in constant attendance. A report, started early in the session, that a Burns detective had secured a job as Assembly clerk almost threw that body into hysterics.

Campbell's threats and the anti-machine lobby rumors seem to have had their effect upon the Committee on Rules of each House. At any rate, both Senate and Assembly adopted rules that no person engaged in presenting any business to the Legislature or its Committees should be permitted to do business with a member while the House to which the member belonged was in session. Persons transgressing this rule were to be removed from the floor of the House in which the offense was committed, and kept out during the remainder of the session.

The rule was employed in one instance only. George Baker Anderson, of The People's Legislative Bureau, was ruled out of the Assembly, and, in effect, out of the Senate Chamber. Jere Burke kept away from both, but it was probably Campbell's threat more than the rule that influenced Burke. With these two exceptions, the lobbyists had pretty much the run of both chambers. It should be said, however, that while none of those lobbyists were threatened with expulsion from the floor of either House for advocating machine-backed measures and policies, persons advocating reform measures were threatened with the anti-lobbying rules. But Anderson was the only one to suffer because of them.

The curious feature of Anderson's case was that nobody seems to have been able to discover that he ever did any lobbying, or asked a member of either body to support or oppose any measure or policy, or that he even so much as spoke to a legislator while the House to which the legislator belonged was in session.

Anderson was in charge of a Legislative Bureau, one purpose of which was to keep the newspapers of the State which were not represented by correspondents at the Capital, informed of the votes on the various measures, and other items of importance or interest. Somebody early in the session called the bureau a "lobby," and somebody else improved the title by calling it "People's Lobby."

And then certain Senators and Assemblymen awoke to the startling discovery that in the Legislative Bureau, presided over by Anderson, was the People's Lobby that was to employ Pinkerton's or Burns' men to watch the Legislature. Anderson was a marked man from that moment.

Curiously enough this theory of Anderson's purpose didn't anger a single member of Senate or Assembly who, during the nearly three months that followed, voted against machine-advocated measures, and for measures which the machine opposed. Assemblymen of the type of Bohnett, Hinkle, Cattell, Callan and Drew, Senators like Bell, Black, Campbell and Holohan either treated the Pinkerton story as a joke or thought that a little Pinkerton watchfulness might be a pretty good proposition, all things considered.

On the other hand, many of the Senators and Assemblymen who were in constant opposition to reform policies, were very much exercised that anybody should have the audacity to have a watch kept upon the Legislature. This intense feeling found perhaps its best expression in Assemblyman McManus' denunciation of Anderson, when the question of having Anderson "investigated" was before the Assembly.

"It is a sad state of affairs," said McManus, "if a band of Pinkertons are here to follow the members up. We aren't everyday street-car conductors. We don't have to have spotters to watch us."

But perhaps the most astonishing feature of the whole astonishing Anderson incident is that nobody was ever able to connect him with a detective of any stripe whatsoever, Burns, Pinkerton, or unclassified. But this did not prevent his being ruled off the floor of the Assembly, and, in effect, of the Senate.

As the most amazing rumors about Anderson - many started as jokes[98] - multiplied, the indignation of certain Assemblymen and Senators increased. Matters came to a climax when Anderson sent a number of letters to members who had been absent from the chamber when the first vote was taken on the Walker-Otis Anti-Gambling bill, asking them if they would be willing to give the reasons for their absence.

The difference in the effect of the letters was astonishing. Assemblyman Prescott F. Cogswell, who had been favored with one of them, stated on the floor of the Assembly that he had been glad of the opportunity to make known the cause of his absence when the vote was taken. On the other hand, Assemblyman Wheelan, who had received a duplicate of the letter which Cogswell had welcomed, was very much cast down. Wheelan, arising to a question of personal privilege, read the letter, and wanted to know if he hadn't been "insulted[99]."

Assemblyman Beardslee hastened to assure Mr. Wheelan that he had been. Furthermore, Beardslee thumped his ample chest a thump, and announced:

"I, too, am insulted, for my brother has been insulted, and who insults my brother, insults me."

That seemed to settle it. The Committee on Rules was instructed to investigate the letter incident.

The Committee on Rules consisted of Johnston of Contra Costa, Transue, Grove L. Johnson, Beardslee and Stanton, the Committee, by the way, of "gag rules" notoriety. The investigation was held behind closed doors.

Anderson was asked about the letter and his purpose in writing it, to all of which he replied directly and without hesitation. And then came the burning question of the hour:

"How many Pinkertons are there in your employ in Sacramento, Mr. Anderson?" asked Johnson.

Anderson refused to answer the question. His wiser course would perhaps have been to answer truthfully, "None at all," and end the joke. But that was Anderson's business. He declined to answer.

Anderson's refusal to answer was solemnly reported by the committee back to the Assembly. Some members when the report was read laughed, others were made very serious indeed. It was finally decided that the investigation of Anderson should be turned over to the Judiciary Committee, of which Grove L. Johnson was chairman.

The Judiciary Committee was solemnly authorized to send for persons and papers, and administer oaths. While the investigation was pending, Anderson was denied admittance to the Assembly chamber. As the press badge, admitting Anderson to both Assembly and Senate chambers had been taken from him, he was unable to enter the Senate chamber either.

And the Assembly Judiciary Committee failed to investigate. Although Anderson demanded that he be given a hearing, and the matter settled, one way or the other, the Judiciary Committee would not and did not act. Under the Assembly resolution ordering the investigation, however, Anderson was for nearly two months barred from both the Assembly and Senate chambers. The session closed without the investigation being held.

It may be said in this connection that neither in the State Statutes, nor in the rules of either Senate or Assembly, is there a word which prohibits the employing of detectives at a Legislative session. Even though Johnson's committee had investigated Anderson's case, and discovered that he was really employing detectives, it is difficult to see how his punishment could have been justified. The incident is certainly one of the most extraordinary of the session - of any Legislative session ever held in this State, in fact.

The most interesting point in the Anderson case was that when pinned down for a reason for excluding him from the Assembly chamber, the offended Assemblyman would invariably reply that he was excluded under the rule which prohibited lobbying.

Curiously enough, however, lobbying, in spite of the rule, continued on the floors of both Houses even during sessions.

When the Islais Creek Harbor bill was under consideration in the Assembly, for example, Carroll Cook, and others interested in the defeat of the measure as it had passed the Senate, appeared openly on the floor and in the lobby of the Assembly, even when the debate was going on, and worked for amendment of the measure to suit their aims. All this resulted in the greatest confusion. But Speaker Stanton seemed absolutely unable to cope with the situation. The lobbying and the confusion continued in spite of Stanton's efforts to enforce something of the appearance of order.

Such scenes were often duplicated in the Senate. When the fight over the Direct Primary bill had the Senate by the ears, Johnnie Lynch, George Van Smith, even President of the Senate Warren Porter, exerted themselves to compel concurrence in the machine-backed Assembly amendments. This was done in the Senate chamber, when the Senate was in session, and Johnnie Lynch and Van Smith in particular were conspicuous in the work in behalf of the machine's policy.

But it was noticeable, that those who advocated reform policies took no such liberties on the floor of either House. They knew better. The danger involved for the lobbyist for reform measures was emphasized the night the measure prohibiting the sale of intoxicants within a mile and a half of Stanford University passed the Assembly.

Charles R. Detrick of Palo Alto, during the call of the House ordered on account of the Stanford bill, was discussing the merits of the measure with Assemblyman Bohnett, who was leading the fight for its passage. It was not a case of lobbying at all, for both men were for the bill,

Nevertheless, Assemblyman Schmitt[99a], who overheard Detrick mention the measure, warned the Stanford man, that if he (Detrick) did not cease his "lobbying" for the bill that he (Schmitt) would have him (Detrick) excluded from the chamber.

Senator Walker, although a member of the Senate, had much the same experience. Walker was discussing the Stanford bill with a friend, when one of the opponents of the measure threatened him with expulsion from the floor of the Assembly if he did not desist.

And even while these threats were being made against the proponents of the bill, opponents of the measure were working openly on the floor of the Assembly chamber against its passage. No suggestion was made that the rule prohibiting lobbying be enforced against them.

[98] A party of newspapermen were in Anderson's office one evening, when two or three machine men came in. With a wink to Anderson one of the newspapermen asked - "The head of your detective bureau is that keen looking young fellow, with reddish brown hair and brown eyes, is he not, Anderson?" Anderson joined in the Joke and nodded. One of the machine men left the room immediately. Within an hour, a hunt was being made from one end of Sacramento to the other, for a "keen-looking young man with reddish brown hair and brown eyes."

[99] The communication which insulted Wheelan read as follows:

The Hon. Albert P. Wheelan,
Member of Assembly.

Dear Sir: -

The People's Legislative Bureau, organized chiefly for the collection and dissemination of accurate information regarding legislation, and the attitude of members of the Legislature thereon, notes that you are recorded as having been absent when the roll was called on the motion to refer the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill back to the committee.

As our record is intended to be permanent, and will be placed in the hands of all the newspapers and civic organizations throughout the State, we wish to ask if you have any objection to furnishing us the reason for your absence, so that we may enter it upon our record.
Respectfully yours,



[99a] This is the same Schmitt who objected so strenuously to professors of the State University being identified with reform movements.

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