Phil’s Alibi

When we revealed his soft spot for middle-class drug dealers, Gramm went looking for an excuse.

Image: Richard Thompson

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A month after we broke the news that the GOP’s premier parole-basher had lobbied to get three felons out of jail early (“Phil’s Felon,” July/August), presidential candidate Sen. Phil Gramm showed up at a Young Republican convention to tout his newest anti-crime proposal: If you’re victimized by a twice-convicted felon who’s been put back on the street, you should be allowed to sue Uncle Sam.

If Gramm manages to pass such a bill, he’d better open his own wallet: He might be sued by parents in California whose kids, as we reported, were victimized by Bill Doyle, the twice-convicted drug dealer Gramm helped get out of prison in 1980.

Our story prompted follow-up articles by media such as the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Associated Press. Later, tipped off by our disclosure of Gramm’s secret archives at Texas A&M University, the Dallas Morning-News and the Houston Chronicle unearthed additional embarrassing documents, including letters to the Air Force requesting that John Weaver be released early from active duty to work on Gramm’s 1984 Senate campaign. (Weaver is now Gramm’s deputy political director.)

When Mother Jones first broke the story, Gramm told reporters he had never intervened in a parole case. When we released signed letters from his office, his staff tracked down Mary Fae Kamm, a 60-year-old former aide, and extracted a statement in which she claimed to have forged his name without his knowledge in the case of one of the three felons. Gramm’s spokesman has tried to pin blame for the other two on her, but she has yet to accept it.

Startled at Gramm’s complete refusal to accept any responsibility, we asked his office to clarify numerous inconsistencies in his statements. Instead, Gramm’s press secretary issued a written statement addressed to “Mrs. Jones,” which read: “I am at a loss to remedy your newest difficulties. (I imagine that your difficulties have been many since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and I regret to add to them.)” Then Gramm stood up at a press conference and falsely accused the Democratic National Committee of having given us the story.

No word yet from Gramm on whether the Jews or the Queen of England were involved.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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