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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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