Wednesday, November 30, 2022 Nov 30, 2022
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SELECT COMMITTEE: SEN. GRAMM’S WORST-KEPT SECRET

By A.E. |

DALLAS-Sen. Phil Gramm is in the politically enviable position of recommending to Ronald Reagan just
who he thinks should fill life-tenured U.S. district court judgeships and U.S. Attorney posts in Texas. But Gramm
isn’t coming up with the names all by his lonesome. He’s relying on a hand-picked, 12-member selection committee
made up of top Texas attorneys -four of whom are from Dallas, none of whom are black or Hispanic.

Dallasites on the committee are Ray Hutchison of Hutchison Price Boyle & Brooks; Kay Bailey Hutchison
of the same firm, Ray Hutchison’s wife and the only woman on the committee; Tex Lezar, of Carrington,
Coleman, Sloman and Blumen-thal, who was formerly special counsel to William French Smith when he was
U.S. Attorney General; and Mark Martin, a senior partner with Strasburger & Price.

We know Gramm originally intended to keep the names of the selection committee members a secret to protect them from
overt lobbying efforts by potential candidates and their supporters. But all the names were leaked in April to the
Houston Chronicle. Despite that, one Dallas committee member said he had been lobbied, but not heavily so.

A member of Gramm’s committee, who asked not to be named, says criteria the committee uses to select a candidate
depends on the needs of a post at the time. For example, when state District Judge Henry Oncken of Houston
was nominated U.S. attorney, the needs of the office called for gaining control over drug trafficking and a growing
threat of terrorism.

According to Gramm’s press secretary Larry Neal, the committee began looking at candidates in late May to
fill U.S. Attorney James Rolfe’s Northern District post. Rolfe announced earlier this year his intent to
retire his federal post and become a private consultant for a local law firm. Neal said the committee nominating
process usually takes several weeks. After that, Gramm submits the nominations to Reagan for approval by the
Senate.