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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
University of Florida
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Florida Politics Project
Interviewee: J. Emory Cross
Interviewer: Dr. R. T. King
Date: November 3, 1978
J. Emory "Red" Cross
This is a summary of the interview with Judge J. Emory Cross, conducted by
R. T. King on November 3,1978, in the Alachua County Courthouse in Gainesville,
Florida. The interview is part of the Oral History Program of the University of
pp. 1-3: Cross begins the interview by giving a brief biographical sketch of his early life.
He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville during World War II, receiving his
law degree in 1945. During these student years at UF, he also worked in a downtown
drugstore. Immediately after graduating, he worked in Tallahassee as assistant
attorney general. He held this position for less than a year and then returned to
Gainesville to open up a law practice.
pp. 3-7: Cross states that his interest in politics stems from the many people he
befriended at the drugstore who urged him to run for office. He ran for prosecuting
attorney and won in 1948--but he had no opposition in the general election. During the
primaries, Cross recalls running against two well-known men who liked to emphasize
the familiarity of their family names. Cross says that is when he decided to use one-
upmanship and say, my name is more familiar than either of yours--my name is "Red"
Cross. He feels that tactic won the election for him. He also believes the personal
contact with Gainesville and rural Alachua County residents helped him win the
election. Cross, as with other candidates in the late 1940s, did not solicit the black vote
because, as he remembers, they did not register. Today , Cross believes the
"value of the black constituency is very high on the political circuits."
pp. 8-9: Cross talks about why he decided to run for office [as a Democrat] in the state
House of Representatives in 1952, and then again in 1954 and 1956. In 1958, he ran
for the state Senate when Senator William Shands retired. He recalls that again he had
no opponent. He was re-elected for two more terms. He lost the 1968 race due to his
poor showing in five small rural counties that had been added to his district. Cross
recounts that after losing that election, he stepped out of politics from 1968 to 1972 at
which time the judicial system was revamped. He ran for county court judge in 1968
and won and was re-elected in 1976 [he is currently serving his second term].
pp. 9-10: When running for the House and Senate seats in the Florida Legislature,
Cross enlarges upon his campaign platforms: improving Florida's educational
processes and providing more monetary assistance in the fields of mental health and
pp. 11-13: Regarding his campaign victory in the 1952 election, he attributes his win to
the personal touch with Alachua County constituents--and, he says, campaigning can
no longer be done on a personal, one-to-one basis. His strongest support came from
Gainesville, and he also received support from the outlying rural communities. Those
citizens, he claims, did not support the Pork Chopper politicians of North Central
Florida. He also remembers having strong support from the University of Florida. In all
his campaigns, he says he never had a Republican opponent.
pp. 13-16: As to some of his accomplishments of which he is most proud, Cross cites
securing the med school at the University of Florida in the mid-1950s and his position
on the Senate Appropriations Committee in securing funding for other University of
Florida institutions. He claims he tried to be fair to both Alachua County residents and
also other residents in the state of Florida by trying to represent all the people, not just
special interest groups.
pp. 17-19: Cross then talks about jumping on a "sacred cow" issue: introducing a tax
on the phosphate industry, a huge business which had been producing and shipping
phosphate and polluting the air without any reclamation program. Other industries he
proposed for taxation were sand and gravel and pulpwood. Cross remembers
encountering heavy lobbying on those industries' behalf against proposed taxation; he
also made a lot of enemies in the legislature concerning this issue. He speaks about
The Gainesville Sun's support in his efforts on imposing these taxes, without which he
might not have been re-elected. Cross is almost certain that these big industries, such
as Associated Industries, financed his political opponents in elections, but he always
managed to defeat them.
pp. 20-22: Cross speaks about his support of the State University System's growth,
feeling expansion was needed, but perhaps the SUS "overreached a little bit." In
building so many new universities, "you might have diluted the quality." He discusses
the controversy surrounding the new Med Center being located in Gainesville in the late
1950s. Some of the bigger cities had wanted the center and thought a larger urban
area would better attract the necessary clinical and technical personnel, as well as the
best physicians. He states that time has proven these arguments false. Gainesville
has thrived with the Med Center. Cross is proud of introducing a bill that created Santa
Fe Junior College in Gainesville and overcoming opposition to its placement in
pp. 22-25: Cross recalls the problems he had in introducing the controversial
Government in the Sunshine Bill over several sessions. He felt that the people of
Florida had the right to know what public officials were doing and how their money was
spent--and why it was spent. He realized that the public did not know what was
happening behind the closed doors. Cross finally got the bill pushed through in 1967,
but no other legislator put his or her name on it as "co-introducers" until after it was
pp. 25-27: His campaigns running for the Senate were not as easy as those campaigns
for the House. He says the legislative reorganization of 1967 added five counties to his
constituency where it was difficult to win, and Associated Industries "definitely played
and went into those small counties." His first election defeat came in 1968. When
asked about a remark he made in 1967 that he was proud to be called a "Pork
Chopper," he says it was possible that he made it, but he does not recall making such a
statement. He remembers voting with Pork Choppers on certain issues, however, over
J. Emory "Red" Cross
This is an interview with Judge J. Emory Cross, conducted by R. T. King on
November 3, 1978, in the Alachua County Courthouse in Gainesville, Florida. The
interview is part of the Oral History Program of the University of Florida.
K: Judge Cross, does the University of Florida have your permission to place a copy
of this interview in its library and to make it available to all interested parties?
C: Yes, it does.
K: Now, I would like to start the interview by asking you to give me a brief
biographical sketch. Tell me where you were born and when and how you came
to Gainesville, Florida.
C: I was born in a little country community of Orange City, Georgia, sixty miles north
of Tallahassee on January 26, 1914. I attended the public schools of Seminole
County, Georgia, at Donnisonville, and graduated [from high school] in 1934.
Then we moved across the river into Florida to Chipley and the Marianna area
[of the Florida Panhandle] where I sold automobiles until 1938. Then I came to
the University of Florida to attend school. I remained here until December of the
first semester. Because of lack of funds, I had to drop out of school. I went back
to Marianna to my old job of selling automobiles and made arrangements then to
come back to the university in 1940. I remained until I graduated in 1945 with a
degree in business administration and law.
K: Were you here at the university through World War II then?
C: Yes, sir. I was here through World War II. I married in 1941 and lived in
Melrose, Florida, for eighteen years. During the war, I worked at the local
drugstore [in Gainesville] and commuted from Melrose [to Gainesville] to attend
the University of Florida.
K: I understand that in your senior year at the University of Florida, or at least in
1945, you were elected president of the student body. Can you go into that?
C: Yes. Back then, we had a president of the student body in the regular winter
term, fall term, and then each summer schoolteachers attended summer school.
That was before it became co-educational [in 1947]. In summer school, we had
a pretty good enrollment because of the influx of teachers. We had a full slate of
student officers for summer. I ran for president of the student body in the
summer of 1945 and was elected by 15 votes. And, of course, they called me,
and later I was elected for another office by six votes in a run-off. So I became
known as "Landslide Cross."
K: [laughter]. Can you remember what your platforms were? Or was there such a
C: The name of my party was the Dixie Party. We changed party names each
election, but I really do not recall what my platform was. It was worked up by a
committee and I ran on it, whatever it was. I did my best to carry it out.
K: Were the fraternities associated with political parties then?
C: Oh, yes.
K: And did you belong to a fraternity?
C: I joined a fraternity after I was elected president. I was one of the working
fellows and one of the poor fellows on campus. The fraternities did not seek me
strongly until I was elected president of the student body. I suppose that [my
election] got them interested. But it was the summer that I was elected president
of the student body, and I joined the SPE [Sigma Phi Epsilon] fraternity. Three
or four years before that I had been rushed by the ATO [Alpha Tau Omega], but I
could not afford to join a fraternity back then so I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon in
K: In the summer of 1945, were there any returning veterans on campus?
C: No, sir. That was before the war was over. It had not ended anywhere ...
K: It had ended in Europe by then [on May 8, 1945].
C: It ended [in Japan] in August [Emperor Hirohito announced that Japan had
surrendered; the official surrender took place on September 2, 1945], right after I
graduated. But [the GIs] were not released from the service by then. I think they
began returning to campus around 1946. My law class had about eight or ten
graduates in it. That was all.
K: So you were not here during the period of the great veteran influx.
C: No, I was here in Gainesville, but I had graduated and was practicing law here
when they all came back. I was here [in town] throughout the influx.
K: Is that what you did as soon as you got your degree? Did you begin private
C: No, I was immediately employed by the attorney general of Florida, the
Honorable J. Tom Watson, and I accepted employment in his office in
Tallahassee as assistant attorney general. I served there for seven or eight
months. Then I had the opportunity to return to Gainesville and form a
partnership with the late William B. Watson, Jr. I practiced here with the firm of
Watson and Cross when I came back.
K: When you were with the attorney general's office, were you involved in any case
that might be remarkable?
C: No, I would not say so. I was just a young law school graduate and did not have
too much experience. I [have one outstanding memory], though, shortly after I
went into the attorney general's office. The attorney general, J. Tom Watson
[1941-1949], had an appeal before the Florida Supreme Court that he was to
argue. So he called me in and two or three weeks before the argument, he told
me that he wanted me to go over and argue the case with him. You can imagine
how frightened I was, a recent law graduate going over with the attorney general
himself to argue a case before the Florida Supreme Court. I had never argued
one before a justice of the peace let alone the Supreme Court. But I prepared
and went over and, as frightened as I was, I came out of it pretty well. That was
a very memorable occasion. I will never forget that.
K: How did you become interested in politics? Or at least in entering politics?
C: I mentioned that I worked at a local drugstore here, the corner Walgreen store,
which was the Canover Drug Company on the square. I worked there all during
World War II while I was attending school. I met a lot of people, not only from
Alachua County but surrounding counties. Over that period of time, I got to know
many people personally. I suppose when I came back from Tallahassee to
begin private practice, people just began to say, Red, why don't you get into
politics? You know everybody. Well, I did not know everybody, but I knew most
of them back then. [Many acquaintances] just kept on until I said, maybe I
should do that. At that time, I discussed it with U.S. District Judge A. B. Long,
with whom I had become acquainted during my work in the drugstore; he visited
there often. I had a very high regard for his opinion. I talked to him about [going]
into politics and he advised against it. He said, now you are going to have to
make up your mind. Are you going to be a lawyer or a politician? You have
been trained in the law. But I said, Judge, you served as prosecuting attorney in
Bradford County, you served in the Florida House from Bradford County, and
you served in the Florida Senate from Bradford County. So he finally said, all
right. I was talking to him about running for prosecuting attorney. He said, well,
that will not hurt you. But he added, I do not think you ought to stay in there but
one term. He said you will get some experience. After talking to other people, I
decided that I could use my education in [that position] as prosecuting attorney,
and I thought it would be good experience, so I ran for the job. I was in a run-off,
and I won it by six votes in the run-off. So that was my second campaign.
K: What year was that?
C: That was in 1948 when I was elected. I was nominated in the spring of 1948.
The general election was in November, but I had no opposition in November so it
was tantamount to [winning] an election when you won the nomination. But
around July 1948, the prosecuting attorney, Zack Douglas, moved out of the
county to Jacksonville. He left the office vacant six months before I was to take
office under my four-year term. So Governor Millard Caldwell [governor of
Florida, 1945-1949] appointed me to that [position]. So I actually served four
and a half years as prosecuting attorney.
K: When you say you had no opposition, I take it that you were a registered
C: I was a registered Democrat. I had no opposition in the general election.
K: And was that the rule in those years?
C: Yes, sir.
K: Did Republicans ever elect a candidate to these offices?
C: Yes, sir. He was a "curiosity," as they said out in West Florida.
K: [laughter]. Yes.
C: We just did not see Republicans much. That was a term I never knew exactly
what it meant, but it was used frequently. If something was strange, they would
say, that is a curiosity. And a Republican was a curiosity back in those days.
K: Can you remember who your opponent was?
C: Yes. I had two opponents, two fine gentlemen. Bill Graham who is with Dell,
Graham, Wilcox & Barber here. He is a very fine lawyer. And Barton Douglas,
who was from a pioneer family, the brother of the former prosecuting attorney
who had moved away. Mr. Douglas and I ran it off in the second primary and I
won by six votes.
K: And what were the sources of your support? Your political support in the 1948
C: Just people I had met in the drugstore. Both of these gentlemen and their
families practically ran the Indians out of here--the Grahams and the Douglases.
Their families were well known and that became an issue in the campaign pretty
much. They kept talking about how well known the name Graham was in this
community and how well known the name Douglas was. That was sort of getting
to me, so finally I began to say, now you are talking about familiarity of names?
Both of my opponents talked about how familiar their names are, and I said I
believe mine was more familiar than either one of theirs. My name is "Red
Cross"! And they quit talking about their names. Of course, they had a right to
talk about their names because they are very honorable names. But the only
way I could stop that was just say, my name is Red Cross. My name is more
familiar than any of theirs. I thought it might slow them down, and it did stop
them. That might have won me the election.
K: Do you think having personal contacts, then, won the election for you?
C: Yes. Back then, this was the important [part of politics]. You had to go out.
Have you ever heard of the term "shake the bushes"? We went out and shook
the bushes because the population was located pretty much out in the country,
not in Gainesville, but in the outlying towns and in the country. The majority of
the population was out there. Today, [most residents live] in Gainesville, and
you cannot shake hands with all of them like you used to. About the only way
you can reach them now is through television and the press. But back then, it
was [that] personal contact that did the job.
K: Did any percentage of the black population of Gainesville or Alachua County
vote in 1948?
C: Very, very small. Just a handful, here and there.
K: Can you tell me the sort of restrictions that were placed against them for voting?
I realize that much of this is not recorded anywhere. Perhaps you can describe
to me the barriers in the way of blacks voting.
C: I think it was strictly custom then, and [the blacks] know of the custom. Of
course, they had been mistreated for years and prohibited [from voting], actually
in many instances by force. But the saying back then was, they knew their
place. I certainly have never mistreated one or would never have denied one the
right to vote, even back then. I never have condoned it, but they frankly never
went to register. If they did, they would usually run into some problems.
Somebody would give them some trouble. So through fear and through custom,
they just did not register to vote and did not come [to town] to vote.
K: I am particularly curious about it as it applies to the attorney general's race
because, of course, a large percentage of people who appear before an attorney
general are black. That was your position ...
C: The attorney general--no, nobody appears before him. He handles all the
criminal appeals from all the courts in the state. He does not actually try any
K: I understand it was a prosecuting attorney. I know you do not ...
C: Oh, prosecuting attorney. County prosecuting attorney? Oh, yes. I thought you
said attorney general.
K: I meant prosecuting attorney.
C: You meant the county prosecuting attorney. Yes, sir. They were different. What
was the question? A lot of them in the election?
K: It is an elective office, as well, is it not?
C: Yes, it was. Yes, sir.
K: That is something that the black population of Gainesville is vitally concerned
C: Yes. Same as it is right now in my court.
C: We have a considerable number, and we did then. And probably had back then.
I would say probably a majority of them who appeared in the court where I
prosecuted were black.
C: And it may still be, but I do not believe it is now.
K: What I am getting around to, then, is that it seems that they would have some
interest in determining who was elected prosecuting attorney.
K: Were there any available means?
C: [They] did not only have an interest, they had a right to participate. Yes, sir.
K: Did any candidates make an appeal to the black vote?
C: Seldom, ever, back then in 1948.
C: In 1948. But they began about that time to exert themselves more and require
civil rights. And ever since then, they have steadily gained more and have come
a long way.
K: Of course, there was a civil rights plank in the 1948 Democratic [presidential]
platform [Harry Truman's plank].
K: What effect did that have on local Democrats here in Alachua County? How was
C: Of course, they were like the preacher when asked, what did he think about sin?
He said, he was aginn" it. And the people here, of course, the Democrats--the
whites--a majority even back then, were opposed to [the blacks] gaining
C: But that was soon overcome. People gradually accepted it because it is only
reasonable. For anybody to assume that where a person is affected by
something, there certainly is a right there to have some say-so in it. [The blacks]
gradually gained strength, and all the candidates then began to go out and beat
the bushes for the black vote. Today, I think the value of the black constituency
is very high on the political circuits.
K: When Strom Thurmond [U.S. senator from South Carolina, 1954--present]
separated from the Democratic Party to form the Dixiecrats [in 1948], was there
any sort of a splintering process among the Democrats here in Alachua County?
Did they hold firm as Democrats or...?
C: I think there was some splintering. We had so many of what they call "yeller-
dog Democrats"; they would stick with the Democrats. A yellow-dog Democrat
was defined as a person who would vote for a Democrat if he was a yeller dog!
C: And that became known as a "yellow-dog Democrat." That [term] was commonly
known down South. We had a lot of those, but we had some splintering when
Strom Thurmond pulled away. He ran on the Dixiecrat Party. Yes, we had some
K: Would that have affected local politics in any way? Or was it strictly a ...
C: No, but it was not to such an extent that it affected any of the elections.
C: It had some effect because we did not have any ground swell of people moving
out of the Democratic Party into the Republican Party because of Thurmond's
K: Yes. At this point, I would like you to give me a chronology, a rather sketchy
chronology, of the various offices you have held, following this one. I would like
to know why you decided to run for the state legislature, and then tell me the
years in which you were re-elected, and when you finally moved on to the Florida
C: I served as [Alachua] county prosecuting attorney. My term [was from 1948 to
1952]. In 1952, there was the election for legislature and state offices. I had a
law partner, if you want to know the truth now, who was a criminal defense
lawyer at that time, but he was ...
K: Excuse me. I take it that you had a law office at the same time that you were the
C: Yes, sir. [Being] a prosecuting attorney was a part-time job. County prosecuting
K: I see.
C: Of course, I could not represent any criminal cases, but I could carry on my civil
practice and do the prosecuting. And during my term as a prosecutor, I acquired
a law partner who was a very good criminal defense lawyer named Mark Hawes.
But Mark, of course, could not represent any criminal element in my court. He
had to stay in the circuit court; I prosecuted in the county court. So by the end of
that time, I promised if he would come with me, I would not run again and so he
could represent and defend criminal cases in all courts. So at the end of my
term, I ran for the [Florida] House of Representatives and kept my word to him so
he could be free to defend in all courts. So I ran for the House, and I was
elected for a two-year term. And then I ran two more times and was elected. I
served six years in the House. In 1958, Senator William A. Shands, who had
been in the Senate for eighteen years from the county, decided to retire from the
Senate. And I announced for the Senate. I was fortunate enough to be elected
to the Senate--the first time--without an opponent. I think that was a little
unprecedented. Up until that time, I do not know if anybody had ever been
elected from [Alachua County] for the Senate for the first time without opposition.
K: Did Shands endorse you?
C: Yes, he did. His endorsement, I am sure, had a lot to do with the fact that I did
not have opposition because he was a highly respected, highly qualified senator.
He did not publicly endorse me, but he told everybody that he was certainly
going to support me. I never asked him to publicly [endorse me]. I imagine he
might have done it. Sometimes that might be a little embarrassing to people to
come out publicly. But he did not hesitate to tell everybody that he was
supporting me for the Senate. He thought I would be the right man. So I served
in the Senate; I was re-elected twice in the Senate. Once for four years and
once for two years when reapportionment cut this district term for two years.
Some fell in the four-year, and we fell in the two-year [cut]. Up until 1966, this
district was only Alachua County. But in 1966, they added five of the smaller
counties to the district, and I managed to win in the 1966 election with the new
counties, although I lost all five of them. I carried with such a majority until I
overcame my deficit in the other five small counties. That was because I was
never known as a "Pork Chopper" [North Florida rural politicians who had
dominated the Florida Legislature until reapportionment in the 1960s]. I was
never a full-fledged Pork Chopper. These so-called Pork Chop counties did not
support me because they heard that I was not a Pork Chopper. But I managed
to win in the 1966 race, but lost in 1968. I lost three to one in the five little
counties, and I carried Alachua County by a pretty good margin, but it was not
enough to overcome the big vote that my opponent, Bob Saunders, got in the
five small counties. So I lost the Senate race. Then I stayed out of politics from
1968 to 1972 when Article Five of the Florida Constitution completely revamped
our judicial system in Florida. The present set-up was adopted in which we had
two trial court levels, the county court and the circuit courts, a district court of
appeals, and a supreme court. We have only four tiers of courts now. Until that
was adopted, some counties had fifteen or sixteen different courts. Even the
lawyers did not know which court to go into. But under our new system, we
eliminated all that hodgepodge system. We streamlined our system, and we set
up two trial tiers of trial courts and two appellate courts. I decided then that with
my prosecuting experience and sixteen years in the legislature, I felt qualified to
serve as a judge of this court. Since I felt I was not too popular in the other
counties out there where the circuit judges would have to run, I decided I would
stay in my own county where I had never lost a race in twenty years. So I ran in
Alachua County and was elected, and then I was re-elected in 1976 without
opposition, and, of course, I have two more years to go on my second term. I
am now in my second term as a county court judge.
K: Can you recollect any of the platforms on which you ran for both the House of
Representatives and the state Senate? Begin with the first one. What was the
campaign based on?
C: The primary interests of this area and this county were the University of Florida
and the Sunland Training Center. At that time, we had the only school for
retarded children in the state, which was located here at Sunland. There was no
other school [of this kind] in the state, and, of course, we had the University of
Florida. These were--and still are--very, very important to the economy of the
state, as well as the University of Florida being the top educational system of
higher learning in the state. So the platform, which most everybody runs on in
this county, and, as far as I can remember, is that [the state of Florida] is going
to make every effort to improve the educational processes. [The state will also]
increase the money to provide the necessary needs to build a good educational
system and to help in the mental health field. Agriculture was also important. As
to my platform, it was not [the same] every time I ran. I was very much
interested in the fields of mental health and education. I felt very close to the
University of Florida, having attended it and was living here. My platform was
that I would do everything in my power to improve education throughout the state
at all levels, that I would work to provide treatment and training centers in the
field of mental health, and that I would work for an improvement in our
agriculture because the University of Florida, through its extension work, played
a great part in promoting agriculture. It still does and is responsible for Florida
being in the position it is in today in agriculture. So I was for agriculture, mental
health, and education, and also, of course, the economy.
K: There seems to be some contradiction. You cannot economize and ...
C: That is correct. You can economize and ask for more money, but you will [try to]
do it more efficiently. I was for efficiency in government and I still am. There is a
whole lot of inefficiency in all branches of government, and you cannot stop it,
but you can always work against it, that is, waste in government and inefficiency.
I think most everybody runs on the same [platform] except now we have
developed the environmental problems. Of course, we had health and welfare
back then, and also education, mental health, and agriculture were [the
programs] that I worked mostly for. I hope the record will show that I made some
accomplishments in those fields. I organized the Mental Health Association of
Alachua County and served the first two years as its president.
K: When was that?
C: That was about 1956. It is a very fine organization. It lent a very valuable
service to this community, and it still does. I am not as active as I used to be, but
I certainly keep up with some of the work that it currently [performs]. In my work
as judge, I have contacts with [the organization] often. We have people coming
before the court whom we ask to participate in some program for the emotionally
disturbed. Once in a while, I have, as have other judges, defendants examined
to determine their mental condition. We make every effort to see that they get
some kind of care if we feel that they should have it. If their problem is mental,
we try to help them get re-established and rehabilitated.
K: Who were your opponents in 1952? In the primary?
C: A local attorney named Jim Wershaw [of] Wershaw and Burell. He has a law
firm here. Fine gentleman, Jim Wershaw.
K: And was he the only one who opposed you?
C: He is a lawyer and a farmer. He was the only [opponent] I had at that time. The
second time, I did not have any [opposition]. The third time, Jack Bates, a local
attorney, ran against me.
K: How did Wershaw's platform differ from your platform?
C: I do not remember, but it was not a whole lot different. It could not be.
K: What do you think decided the campaign then?
C: I do not know. I worked harder than Jim did.
K: Went out and met more people?
C: Yes, sir. I shook more bushes and hands than Jim [did]. I ran hard. Very few
people would run as hard as I ran because I had to. As I said, I had no roots
here and no big family [connections] or ties with any wealthy people or
industries. I was handicapped as anyone [else] would be when you move into a
[new] community like I did. The only big asset [I had were] the people I knew
through my work in the drugstore. Without that [personal connection], I never
could have been elected. And, as I say, I probably worked harder than most
[other] candidates. I go harder. I still try to see as many people as I can,
knowing that I cannot even begin to touch a majority of people that way. I have
to do it by newspaper now.
K: How was your campaign financed? The primary, again, because I know that that
was the most important one.
C: The most I ever spent running for the Florida Senate in six counties was $8,000.
It was just financed through friends giving me $10, $15, $25. Some of my wife's
family were able to give me $100, $150. A few of them would help out, [even]
living in another county, Suwannee County. They were my biggest contributors--
my father-in-law, my sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law--folks like that. I had no
money--and still do not have any. I never was wealthy and I had no wealthy
parents. So I had to depend on my friends and small contributions to finance my
K: Did you direct your campaign toward any particular segment of the population?
C: No, I never did. I never did have a campaign manager. I always managed my
K: You have mentioned earlier that you did not get much support from outlying,
rural counties when you were in the state Senate. You relied primarily on
support from Gainesville--from metropolitan, urban Gainesville. Was that the
case when you were in the House, as well?
C: When I was in the House, I served only Alachua County then.
K: Yes, but I am talking about the difference in the rural and urban votes here in
Alachua County. Did you receive support from the ...
C: Oh, yes. In Alachua County, [the residents] in rural towns supported me
strongly. [None of the county's rural residents] had supported the Pork
C: I had the support throughout the county, always in all the outlying towns--the
strictly farming sections, as well as the city of Gainesville. Always had strong
support from the University of Florida. Because of...
K: Yes, I can well imagine that.
C: I just could not wish for any stronger support than [the university] gave me.
K: Were there any conflicting needs that the people might have had? Do you think
that the rural people of Alachua County needed what the urban people needed?
C: Yes, sir. I think they do.
K: Were you ever called to ...
C: I do not see any conflict in it. Never did. Our economy of the whole county
depended very much on the university, and, of course, the rural farming area
depended very strongly on IFAS [Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences]--
the agricultural program at the university. They benefitted tremendously from
funds that we could get for our agricultural college. I do not believe I ever ran
into any conflict of interest between the rural and city people in this county.
K: In the general election of 1952, did you have a Republican opponent? Or did
[the Republicans] still fail to ..
K: When was the first election that you had an opponent, a Republican opponent?
C: I have never had a Republican opponent whom I know of.
K: You have won re-elections then in primaries every time, I guess.
C: Yes. I ran as a Democrat. Of course, the judicial offices are nonpartisan. We
run as nonpartisans. We have the first primary, and there is no second primary.
If you do not get a majority in the first primary, then if there is a second primary,
the two highest people run it off at the general election then. So I was lucky. I
never had a Republican opponent.
K: You mentioned earlier that you became a state senator after William Shands had
resigned. Did you and Shands have any sort of friendship prior to his
C: We were friendly. I worked six years in the House with him, and naturally to
accomplish anything you must work very closely with your senator. He would
have had to work with the House. But I would not say we were ever really close
friends because we did not have too much in common. He was rich and I was
K: [laughter]. Did he take an interest in your career, though?
C: Yes, I think so. There were many times that he opposed me on certain
legislation. The one he opposed me the strongest on was my effort throughout
my legislative career to tax the phosphate industry or solid minerals in Florida.
Mr. Shands, of course, was in the sand and gravel and rock business. It is quite
natural that he would oppose me on that [issue]. He was the kind of man who let
you know if he opposed you. He would let you know in no uncertain terms. Of
course, I was the kind of man who was about that same way. So we understood
each other. There was no particular problem serving with him. Then after he left
the Senate, I stayed in the Senate ten years. We were good friends, but we
were not the closest of friends because we traveled in different circles and had
different types of friends. As I said, his [friends] were rich and mine were poor.
K: During your career as a member of the Florida House and later as a state
senator, I know you had [many accomplishments] that many people were not
happy about, and you were delighted [that you accomplished these goals]. I am
not entirely familiar with your whole political career. I am sure there were many
high points that I know nothing about. Perhaps you could go over your career
and tell me what you think was important--the achievements you are proudest of.
C: I think we mentioned awhile ago that we became co-educational [at the
University of Florida in 1947] after World War II, and, of course, the enrollment
increased very rapidly. The needs increased correspondingly, as in the way of
buildings, faculty, professional schools, establishment of professional schools
such as the medical school. I am more proud of the contribution I made to
secure the med school here than anything else because it was the biggest
accomplishment while I was in the legislature.
K: That was 1953, was it not?
C: In 1955, we got the first money to start it. I believe we got $5 million that year. It
was designated here but I believe the first money we got was in the 1955
K: I thought that it was 1953 ...
C: I think you will check it [and see that] it was 1955 because I went to the
legislature in 1953.
C: Well, I was elected in 1952, but my first session was the 1953 session. The
reason I recall that year [was because] Representative [Ralph D.] Turlington was
charged with the responsibility of getting the bill passed in the House. So in
order to do that we drove from Pensacola to Key West to all the counties of the
95 members of the House to see them personally and had that bill drawn, the
appropriation bill, appropriating $5 million to put the building at the Med Center. I
remember it very well because I had a broken arm and cast up to the shoulder. I
drove a car with my left hand from Pensacola to Key West contacting members
of the House to get them to co-sponsor the bill and to get their signature on that
K: Every member of the House?
C: We got 85 of the 95 [members].
K: That is amazing.
C: We got 85 of the 95 members and had them committed to writing to support the
bill so we had it pretty well locked in the House. Senator Shands did the same in
the Senate. I do not know how many he got.
K: Are you the man who initiated the legislation?
C: No, there were a lot of people interested in it. The chamber of commerce and a
lot of doctors and others throughout the state had been working on establishing
a med school here. We introduced it in the House, Ralph Turlington and I, and
Senator Shands introduced a companion bill in the Senate. It passed that
session and we got our first $5 million. But thereafter for every session we were
faced with a great need of additional buildings and additional schools, such as
the dental school and veterinary school. So we had to make a continuous effort
to get additional funding. I had to do this for the next sixteen years [that I
served]. We later got the dental school established here and worked for that
money to put into it. Then, just before I left, we got the veterinary school
established here by law. I must give credit to Senator L. K. Edwards from Irving
in Marion County for the veterinary school because that was his primary interest;
he was the prime mover in that bill. Of course, we supported him. I supported
him in the Senate very strongly, but I must give him credit for taking the initiative
because of the racehorse industry down here [in Marion County].
C: He had a need for it. I want to give him credit for it. He carried the ball, so to
speak, on the veterinary college bill. But on the dental college, we got all the
additional buildings, millions and millions of dollars after the initial $5 million. I
am also proud of the work I did in the field of general education. We worked
hard to improve the facilities and programs and faculty. There was a continuous
effort year round to improve the general education budget. As a member of the
Subcommittee on Appropriations in the Senate, I got the funds necessary to get
our museum [Florida State Museum, later called Florida Museum of Natural
History] here which was of vital importance. If we got a certain amount of state
money, the federal government would make a contribution. If we did not get it
that session, we lost the federal funding, and it was just do or die on that. We
had the same [situation] on the Holland Law Center. Since I was a member of
Subcommittee on Appropriations, I was in a position to get the money when you
had to have it.
K: How did you become a member of that committee? Can you tell me the process
that one follows?
C: The fact that you have seniority and would have had experience. I had served
on the Appropriations Committee every session of the Senate. When we were in
the House, Representative Turlington served on that committee. We would have
one member serving on it because of the interest we had in state funds and
taxes. But when I went to the Senate, I served on the Appropriations Committee
every session, and I was chairman of the Subcommittee on Institutions. That
was how I got this. When I was in the House, I served as chairman on the Public
Schools Committee. Representative Turlington was on the Appropriations
Committee. I served as chairman of the House committee and served on the
Rules Committee. I served on the Education Committee every time. When I
went to the Senate, I served on the Education Committee and served as
chairman of the Rules Committee of the Senate, which is the most powerful
committee of either house. I served on most of the committees in both houses
and as chairman of Education, Rules, Calendar, and Judicial committees.
K: In which committee do you think you were most effective? In which one were
you able to achieve the most?
C: Appropriations, even though I served on the Rules Committee every time. [That
committee] performs a vital function in the last few weeks of the session. It
determines what goes on the calendar. If it does not get on the calendar, it is
dead. The chairman of that committee controls what goes on [the calendar]. In
spite of the power of that committee, I think I was able to perform my most
valuable function in the legislature as a member of the Appropriations
K: As a member ...
C: For many reasons, you have power there. I do not care what they say, you have
to be able to do a little trading. You are in a position that when somebody comes
to you [and] you have something like the medical school, and [that] somebody is
against you on it, he is going to want something before it is over. I tried not to
trade off--take something that I felt was not worthy of my support, but after all,
even though most of them have something that is worthy of your support, that is
good legislation. You can certainly sit down and talk with him if you want to talk
about your appropriations for your law school or your museum building or your
medical school or anything [else] like that. I think this put me in a position, being
on the Appropriations Committee, which I served on for every session in the
Senate. I was able to do my most effective work [on this committee].
K: As a representative of the residents of Alachua County, while you were in the
House, did you ever feel that it was necessary to vote for an issue that might
benefit the people of the state but might not benefit the people of Alachua
County--[or vice versa]?
C: Well, I am a peculiar kind of fellow. I do not believe I ever voted for something
that would just benefit Alachua County but was detrimental to the state of
Florida. I do not think I ever did. I would not do that. My conscience would not
let me do that. I tried first to serve the people of Florida and then I looked to
Alachua County to serve it. It just so happened that the needs of Alachua
County actually and vitally affected the whole state of Florida. I was fortunate in
being in that position. But I could not go in good conscience against what I
thought was best for the entire state. Now I know a lot of people would not [do
that]. They would say that is stupid for a man to go up there and not represent
his people, but I was a state senator. I was there to represent the state.
K: I know that. I am talking about during your tenure as a representative [in the
C: I tried not to do that. This is something that if I have not done anything else well,
I believe I have done a pretty good job of trying to be fair and straight and honest
in office--and trying to represent the people--all the people, not just any group. I
have run up against a lot of pretty powerful special interests who have given me
a lot of trouble. I never shirked my duty as a public official--[at least] I do not
believe I have--in fear of any special interest group. They finally got me out of
K: This might be a good time to discuss your struggle with the phosphate industry.
How did that come about? What got you interested in the fact that the
phosphate industry was not taxed?
C: In the House I learned [about] finance and taxation and studied the tax structure
of the state. Anyone would become aware of certain inequities, and when you
get in there and your needs are great for education, welfare, health, and mental
health, you begin to search for some money because it takes money to operate.
So I was constantly trying, like everyone else in this county, to find sources of
revenue to take care of the needs of the people. I found that the phosphate
industry was tax-free, and it was producing, I believe, 76 percent of all phosphate
produced in the United States. [The industry] was shipping it out without paying
any taxes. It was polluting the air and not reclaiming any land back then. Now
they have a little program to try to reclaim. So I just felt that it was unfair to let
them go free without paying some part of the tax burden. Of course, I found out
that I had jumped on a sacred cow, sure enough!
C: I introduced a bill to tax, not only on phosphate, but we had sand and gravel and
other [industries of this nature].
K: I understand there was pulpwood also which was not taxed ...
C: Yes, I never did include pulpwood, but I talked about it. I was opposed to the
pulpwood industry and the paper mills and the DuPonts and the Ed Balls [Ed Ball
was the brother-in-law of A. I. DuPont of the chemical family fortune fame who
came to Florida with Ball in the 1920s; Ball headed the DuPont billion dollar
interests in Florida and was a major figure in Florida politics [1930s to around the
1970s]. I was bitterly opposed in every race I ran and everything I attempted to
do because they were afraid I was going to start on them. I should have started
on them because you either ought to pay on the tree when you cut it or you
ought to pay on it when it is growing. Now I know it takes [around] twenty years
to grow a tree, but somewhere along the line they ought to be taxed. The land is
taxed as agricultural land, very low. There is an inequity there, but I had my
hands full with solid minerals and I never actually included pulpwood, but I might
as well have because they fought me just like the solid mineral people [fought
me]. I introduced a bill, five or six sessions at least ...
K: Beginning when, what session?
C: I believe in 1955. To put a 5 percent [tax] on the gross sales of pulpwood. It
would not have hurt [the industry] at all, but it brought in a lot of money to us. A
good little bit. But I fought that battle and [the industry] defeated me every time
because I would jump on a ...
K: Did [the industry] do some pretty heavy lobbying?
C: Oh, yes, sir. They had the most powerful lobby and had one of the finest
fellows--a classmate of mine at the university, Homer Hooks. There is a long
write-up in The Gainesville Sun about him recently , a full-page with his
picture. He is the most powerful man up there. [The industry] had Homer Hooks
and [also] Chesterfield Smith, the former president of the American Bar
Association from Bartow. We used to kid each other up there. I would tell them,
you fellows ought to cut me in. I keep you in a job. Just as the time the
legislature opens, you will have to run up there because I will introduce my bill for
the first time. They said, we sure do appreciate it. In a kidding way, you know.
That was a fact. I was trying to pass that bill, and they had to stay up there and
work because they did not know what might happen on it.
K: And what sort of support were you getting from your colleagues?
C: I got more support on the phosphate bill, or the solid mineral tax than I did on my
Government in the Sunshine Law, which I was introducing at the same time. I
never could get any consideration on the Government in the Sunshine Law for
many years in any session. But I made an enemy not only of the solid mineral
people and the pulpwood people, but I also found that back then on the sales
tax, that all heavy equipment and machinery were exempt from taxation above
the $5,000 tax. In other words, they could buy $10 million worth of locomotives
on the railroad within six months but did not have to pay [taxes]. You could lump
it all together and pay $5,000 tax and exempt all [else] above it. This went on for
many, many years. Telephone companies were exempt on their millions of
equipment--the road builders, the railroads, the power companies ..
K: And that was still going on when you were in office?
C: Oh, yes! I tried to remedy it. I tried to remove it and put [in a] 3 percent [tax],
just like on automobiles. [For] these people, of course, it would not cost them
anything because they would guarantee a 6 percent return on their investment
by the Public Service Commission. But they thought of me like the devil thought
of holy water. They were not fond of me. I had a lot of enemies in the
legislature, but somehow I represented a county here that they did not have any
strength with. Alachua County was peculiar in that regard. You have some
pretty good people in this county, people who think for themselves. You have a
lot of intelligent people in this county [also], and they could see through that.
The Gainesville Sun always supported me in my efforts on these taxes, on solid
minerals, and also on the heavy equipment. That was a great help to me--the
newspaper getting the truth over to the people here, and that is the only way I
was re-elected in this county. The Pork Choppers were bitterly opposed to my
phosphate tax and all the other taxes on the special interests. So that way, out
in the little counties, they really clobbered me. The Associated Industries of
Florida is the most powerful organization in Florida and has been for many, many
years. It is composed of the railroads, the dog tracks, the small loan companies,
phosphate and solid minerals, and the pulpwood [industry]. There are about
fifteen big telephone and railroads, fifteen or twenty big industries that are
members, and then all the little folks are members of it. They pay a little but they
never have any say-so. You have about ten or fifteen that really work at it and
they are the ones. Winn-Dixie [and other such companies] are powerful. They
have all the money that they need to do anything, and they usually do it. I was
fortunate to survive as long as I did, sixteen years, because they fought me
every time. They would put money against me every time, trying to defeat me.
What saved me was the well-informed people of this county.
K: That is what I was asking you: Did [these industries] finance your opponents?
C: I did not see them give [my opponents] any money, but I am pretty well
convinced that they did. They would come in here and would have big war
chests. Everybody had four or five times as much money [as I had], and we had
to report it. [That was more money] than I ever had. The most I ever spent was
$8,000 in the six counties--which was nothing compared with some of them. But
I survived it because of the caliber of people and the press we had here that kept
people informed about the facts. That is what saved me as long as it did. Of
course, I am happy to say that in twenty or twenty-four years, I have never lost a
race in Alachua County, and I am proud of that.
K: What was the final outcome of your solid minerals bill?
C: Reubin Askew became governor right after I left the legislature . During
the next session, he succeeded in getting a 2 percent tax on the gross sales of
the solid minerals, and he went to work on it. He had earmarked [it] for
reclamation work. I tried it every way. I would earmark a portion for
schoolteachers' pay. Back in those days, we needed money for schoolteachers.
I would earmark one session, part of it for teachers' pay, then I would earmark
some of it for the county commission where it is mined for reclamation, and the
rest of it the state treasury received. I tried all kinds of formulas, but I never
could get it passed, but [Askew] succeeded in getting a small tax passed. They
pay a little bit but not much now. They are still up there, Homer Hooks; he
moves up there every session, and he is one of the finest fellows you ever met
and a very, very capable fellow. He does an excellent job. So does Chesterfield
Smith. They have the best. They have the money that they can have the best.
As it stands, I believe the solid minerals are paying if they have a 2 percent tax.
And that is going, maybe all of it, for reclamation. But I keep reading in the
paper about contamination of the land, the lakes, and the Peace River, so I do
not know if a 2 percent tax is cleaning up much.
K: As a member of the Appropriations Committee, were you involved in the
expansion of the State University System?
K: Not just here at the University of Florida. I am talking about the various
campuses that have grown up in Florida. Did you support that growth?
C: Yes, sir. I supported it. I felt we needed it. [The number] has increased some
since I left there. At the time, they might have overdone it a little bit, but I am not
sure. I am not as well informed about it since I left [the legislature] ten years
ago. And since I was in the legislature, I think they might have overreached a
little bit. As a result of building so many universities, you might have diluted the
K: I see that you have had that suspicion for a long time now.
C: Yes. I see now that they are trying to establish a policy of setting up one or two
flagship universities. They want to build them into great centers of learning by
attracting some of the best known and highest paid faculty in the country, and
[also] get the internationally known people. There is no question about that.
K: Of course, this is nothing new. This was something that was going on when you
first took office. And somehow it all got sidetracked. Can you explain to me how
C: I think they got too interested in expanding the number of universities and the
K: It is like you trying to come in and debate more?
C: Yes, when [the state was] reapportioned, that accelerated it. [With]
reapportionment, the big urban areas began to get a little clout. They began to
want some institutions of their own. [Florida has] the biggest junior college in the
world, I believe, in Dade County, Dade Junior College, since reapportionment.
We built a big mental health hospital in Hollywood. When I was in [the
legislature], we needed it. Then they built a school for the retarded in Miami, a
big one. We built a retarded institution in Lee County. We built one in Marianna,
and we converted the TB hospital for retarded children, and we did that with
mental institutions, institutions for retarded children, institutions for higher
learning, junior colleges, and it just took all the money to [accomplish] this. Then
the big urban areas began to want these institutions. They want to make [these
schools] the flagship schools down there. Gordon wants to close the Med
Center [in Gainesville] and move it down there--where the people are.
K: When the Med Center was built here [opened in 1958], was there any opposition
from the urban areas?
C: There was opposition from the urban areas, such as Tampa and Miami, saying
that they needed it in the population centers and that [Gainesville] could not
attract the technical people to a small town and that you could not get your
clinical people to [perform] the clinical work. You could not get clinical material
without being in a big urban areas. I think we had a lot of reliable information
that this was not true, [that is], medical centers could operate successfully in
small population areas, as [evidenced] in other places. I think it is proven here
that they have not suffered for clinical material and that we have attracted some
of the finest doctors in the country. But we have grown now. Back then, when
we put it here, we probably had 28,000 [Gainesville residents], and now it is
close to 100,000. But that helped bring them here--that and all the affiliated
medical [departments] that come with the Med Center--an active Veterans
Hospital. I think we have become the medical center of the Southeast. So I
think you are going to see a very strong push now by the legislature to build up
those areas down there in education and in medical care. Miami is going to be
the one that is really going to work for it. Of course, we have built a medical
school in Tampa since then because of the pressure of the populous areas and
the strength they have up in the legislature. Until they reapportioned,
Tallahassee and Gainesville had to fight among themselves. Now they have to
fight nine or ten ways. I introduced the bill to create the Santa Fe Junior College
here; it was Senate Bill Number One. The legislature reference bureau informed
me that that is the first time it could find that a Senate bill Number One ever
became law. It became law and created the Santa Fe Junior College [now
Community College] here. I did that with opposition from Senator [Charley]
Johns. He tried to kill that bill although it covers Bradford and Alachua counties.
He wanted [the college] in Bradford County [Johns was from Starke, which is in
Bradford County]. He made every effort to kill it, but I succeeded in getting it
passed [with the help of] Ralph Turlington who was over in the House and also
Fagan. With their help we got it passed even over Senator Johns's
opposition. [The school] has just grown bigger than my [expectations]. I never
imagined it could ever grow like it did. I do not know how many we [have
enrolled] out there--[maybe] thousands of students.
K: In return for their votes on Santa Fe Junior College, were you expected to vote
for junior colleges in other districts?
C: No, we had a junior college board whose function it was to establish centers and
make location recommendations, and, as best I remember, the legislature pretty
much agreed to follow [the board members'] recommendations. However,
individual senators and House members would come in and push for their
location, whether or not it was recommended by the board. But the legislature
was pretty much committed to following the Junior College Board's
recommendation. We had the man who did all the work for the junior college
system here now, Dr. Wattenberger. He was pretty powerful there. He was very
much an authority on [the subject of junior colleges] and was highly respected by
the legislature. He had a lot of influence on the original locations of junior
colleges. But I did not commit myself in advance on one exchange for locating
one here. We got one first, though.
K: You indicated earlier that coincident with your struggles with the phosphate
industry, you were also trying to introduce the Government in the Sunshine Bill
and not meeting with much success. What brought you to introduce that bill the
first time? What motivated you to bring that issue up?
C: Well, of course, having served in the House for a term or two, and being a
practicing attorney, it just appeared to me that there were some [practices] going
on throughout the state that the people did not know about, such as the boards,
bodies, and commissions that had authority to locate institutions and roads,
highways. [Public officials] were able to do this and get this information in
advance, and either attorney would organize clients to go out and buy up all the
land where 1-75 comes through or they are going to build Sperry-Rand. Friends
would go buy that land selling it to Sperry-Rand. I always believed the people
had a right to know about, that is, what the public officials were doing and how
their money was spent--and why it was spent. And then I happened to meet the
local journalism fraternity out at Dr. Manning Dauer's [University of Florida
political science professor] house. Buddy Davis was there. He is in the
journalism school. Buddy had covered the legislature for The Florida Times-
Union [Jacksonville newspaper] prior to coming here. I knew Buddy well. We
got in a group out there and began to discuss it one night. I brought it up. I think
they knew I was interested in trying to [establish] a law to require these meetings
to be open to the public. We talked about it and Buddy and the others agreed to
write many of the other states to see what kind of law [those states] had. We
had one but it did not have any teeth in it. You could not do anything to anybody
who violated it. There was no criminal penalty or any other [type of] penalty.
K: Might as well not have one ...
C: Yes. Well, Buddy and some of the others in the journalism fraternity got me bills
from other states, and, sure enough, none of [those bills] had any teeth. So I
went ahead and drafted one myself. That is maybe why it is so controversial.
C: But back then, I drew up one from all [the information] I could gather. My bill
says that any meeting of any board, body, commission, agency of any city,
county, or any municipality, or state shall be open if final action is to be taken at
that meeting. Now that means that a quorum has to be present. [You] cannot
take final action without a quorum. I thought that would mean anything less than
a quorum could meet as a fact-finding group for the board, body, or commission
and report back in public what [that body] found out or recommended. But the
[Florida] Supreme Court said, no. One of them cannot even go out there and get
it now. I have discussed this with Justice Adkins who has been very friendly
toward the Government in the Sunshine Law, and the Supreme Court of Florida
expanded it a little more than I actually intended.
K: How do you feel about that now? Are you happy with the interpretation that the
Supreme Court has given to the Government in the Sunshine Law or do you
C: I am happy that [the Supreme Court] has taken the position that it feels that the
people have a right to know. Senator [Richard] Stone, who is a U.S. senator
now [U.S. senator, Democrat, 1975-1980] and Senator [Lawton] Chiles [U.S.
senator, Democrat, 1971-1989] were in the [Florida] Senate when my bill
passed. The governor [Reubin Askew] was also in the Florida Senate then.
Senator Stone called me before he was elected to the U.S. Senate after I was
defeated. He called me from Miami before a session and wanted to know if I
had any recommendations for amendments to the Government in the Sunshine
Law. I told him, yes, and he said if you will draw me up some [amendments] and
send them to me, I will see if I can get them passed. One of the [amendments
being considered] was about any meeting where a quorum is present--not where
an official action is to be taken. And the other [amendment] was about any
regular meeting of any board, body, or commission being advertised in advance.
Only genuine emergency meetings were exempt under it. I sent it down there,
but he never could get anybody to mess with it because everybody was scared
of it, afraid that he would be accused of trying to weaken it. I believe this was the
story he told me that it was hard to get anybody interested because everybody
shied away. [These politicians] do not want to be accused of trying to weaken
the Government in the Sunshine Law. But they have Amendment Number One
which weakens it now, on the ballot ...
K: That is quite an amendment, that Number One.
C: Yes, it weakens it, of course. I am certainly voting against it. Got four or five
good [points] and eighty bad ones--but that is one thing--weakening of the
Government in the Sunshine Law. But I introduced it in four, five, or six
sessions, but I never could get it out of committee because it was killed in
K: On what grounds? Or did anybody give you a rationalization for it?
C: I can tell you what one senator said in a public meeting, but he regretted it
afterwards. A senator from down in Levy County was on the committee that I
went before with my [proposed] Government in the Sunshine Bill. He said, now
fellows, I hope you realize that your papers, your press back home, they are for
this bill. They are for open meetings. ... He also said, down in Levy County, we
are not for open meetings. We are for closed meetings. And his newspapers all
over Levy County wrote editorials against him. He was sorry he said that. Edder
Usher was his name.
C: [He] said their people were for closed meetings. They thought they were in the
little counties. But as soon as we got reapportionment, the urban areas became
strong. It was assigned to the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Mallory Horn,
who was Pork Chopper, was chairman of that committee, and had always
opposed it. But he helped me this time. He did not oppose it and he got it out of
his committee without a dissenting vote. It passed the Senate without a
dissenting vote. I had been asked, did I have any co-introducers? I never had a
co-introducer on it in all the times that I introduced it. Nobody would stick his
name on there with mine because nobody liked it except the newspapers--they
were helping me. But after it passed, I understand there were some ten or
twelve who stuck their name on it. You can up go and put your name on any bill
at any time.
C: And that included Senator Askew [now Governor Askew] and a fellow [named]
Jerry Thomas who ran for governor [in 1974]. Jerry put his name on it, and I
understand there were twelve or fourteen who say they were co-introducers, but
they had an opportunity for five or six times, and they never did put [their names]
on it until it passed the Senate. I know that for a fact. Their names were not on
it before it passed the Senate.
K: After you were elected to the Senate, after Senator Shands retired, it appears
from the reading that I have done that your political career no longer proceeded
on such a nice, even keel--that you began to meet some political opposition ...
C: Yes, sir.
K: Particularly in the campaigns for re-election. Can you comment on that? Tell me
why you found the going harder after becoming a senator.
C: I did not have it hard after becoming a senator. I had it hard after they
reapportioned and put five Pork Chop counties on me. I immediately had
trouble. These [companies] I have just mentioned, [such as] the Associated
Industries, are composed of people affected by my law to remove the exemption
from sales tax. They could not put the money in Alachua County effectively, but
in the rural areas you can put it in there effectively. When I ran out there the first
time, they worked on me, but I did not win by a big majority, but they saw right
then that they could get me. They said they could get me out there. They saw
where my weakness was now with these five counties. Two years later I ran for
re-election--and this is no reflection on Bob Saunders--and I do not know that
Bob even knew about it. But the Associated Industries definitely played and
went into those small counties, I am told. All you have to do is put the money in
the hands of the courthouse crowd in those small counties and say, you use
some of this for your election if you will carry our man along with you. They beat
me in all five of [those counties]. And this was my downfall. They finally got me.
But they got me after sixteen years.
K: Let us go back to 1967. There are a few [points] I would like to clear up. They
are confusing to me. And what I am about to tell you is something that I got out
of The Gainesville Sun. It was an editorial that was written February 26, 1967. It
came out very strongly in support of you and advocated your re-election. Here is
a quote that I gave you earlier before we began this interview. [The writer]
quoted you as having said in 1957: I am a Pork Chopper and proud of it. [The
writer] said that you later broke with the Pork Choppers, and it is because of that
break with them that they tacked on those five extra counties to your district and
tried to get you beaten, I believe, in the 1966 campaign. And, according to The
Gainesville Sun, you lost the first nomination in 1966 and that your political
career would have ended had it not been for the fact that a Federal court then
ordered a redistricting, which allowed you to run on a more even ...
C: Let me go back. I think I can clear this up. Now, that is not exactly right. What
they said was right, but I can give you some additional acts. In 1966, they put
twenty-four counties in here. That put me and Senator [Charley] Johns in the
same district. We had twenty-four and, of course, I ran for that. Senator Johns
and I both were defeated in that.
K: Do you think that was directed at you? See, The Gainesville Sun gives the
implication that it was ...
C: No, I do not recall ...
K: ... arranged that to get you out of office.
C: I do not recall ...
K: That the Pork Choppers had done ...
C: I might have, but I do not recall ever saying that I was a Pork Chopper and proud
of it. I might have long ago, though. But I do not remember that because I never
was a Pork Chopper. I started back in 1955, the first reapportionment session
that we had a hundred days into Governor [LeRoy] Collins's administration. We
stayed a hundred days, trying to reapportion. Throughout that session in 1955, I
was working for reasonable reapportionment against the Pork Choppers. I was
not voting straight with them strictly down the line. Sometimes I vote on some
program, trying to get it passed, maybe going along with them, but most times, I
was opposing them back in 1955. I went into the first session in 1953 so I do not
recall ever standing up saying I was a Pork Chopper and proud of it.
K: Sometimes the press gets things a little bit wrong ...
C: Yes, if I had been a Pork Chopper, I would not have been too ashamed of it
because they did a lot of good, and I usually voted with them, except on
reapportionment. I just thought it was grossly unfair the way we were
apportioned. So I do not recall having said that, but maybe they have some
place that I did, but I do not recall it. They put the twenty-four counties in there,
and Senator Johns and I were eliminated by a beginner from Quincy. He stayed
in there--Hal Davis. He stayed in three months and the Federal court
reapportioned him out, and the court put the other five counties onto Alachua.
That was not done by the Pork Choppers. That was done by Dr. Manning
Dauer. That was his plan that he submitted to the Federal court, and [the
justices] approved it. It was not initiated by any Pork Choppers so I was not
punished in any way by the Pork Choppers.
K: Do you think you were in the proceeding one?
C; In the first one, maybe I was.
K: Do you think it was directed at you?
K: Those are the twenty-four ...
C: In the twenty-four counties, I think they were correct. That I probably was being
punished on the twenty-four county deal, but not on the five counties.
C: But it turned out that it was a bad deal for me, too--the first time I won in the six-
county district. I did not win by too big a vote, but I had a good vote in Alachua
County. By the way, when I ran in the twenty-four counties against Senator
Johns and Hal Davis, I think I got about 85 percent of the vote of Alachua County
in that race against both of them. So I am always proud of my vote here where
the people know me.