Jack Brooks (politician)

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Jack Brooks
Jack Brooks.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 9th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Clark W. Thompson
Succeeded by Steve Stockman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1953 – January 3, 1967
Preceded by Jesse M. Combs
Succeeded by John Dowdy
Personal details
Born Jack Bascom Brooks
(1922-12-18)December 18, 1922
Crowley, Louisiana
Died December 4, 2012(2012-12-04) (aged 89)
Beaumont, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Charlotte Collins Brooks (married 1960-2012, his death)
Children Jeb Brooks

Kate Brooks Carroll
Kimberly Brooks

Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Battles/wars World War II

Jack Bascom Brooks (December 18, 1922 – December 4, 2012) was a Democratic lawmaker from Beaumont, Texas, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 42 years. Defeated in 1994, Brooks was the most senior Representative ever to have lost a general election for the U.S. House.

Early life[edit]

Brooks was born December 18, 1922, in Crowley, Louisiana.[1][2] His family moved to Beaumont, Texas, when he was 5 years old.[1][2] He attended public schools and enrolled in Lamar Junior College in 1939 after receiving a scholarship.[2][3] He majored in journalism and transferred to the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a B.A. in 1943.[1][2] He was a member[citation needed] of the Texas Cowboys service organization. In 1949, while a member of the Texas Legislature, he earned a degree from the University of Texas Law School.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Military[edit]

Brooks enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He served for about two years on the Pacific islands of Guadalcanal, Guam, Okinawa, and in North China.[2][3] By the time he retired from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1972 he had reached the rank of colonel.[2] On his office desk, Brooks kept a silver paperweight with the inscription "Fighting Marine".[4]

Texas Legislature[edit]

A lifelong Democrat, Brooks was elected to represent Jefferson County in the Texas House of Representatives in 1946. After his election he sponsored a bill that would make Lamar Junior College a four-year institution. The bill failed, but passed the following year. He won re-election to the state legislature in 1948 without opposition.[2]

U.S. Congress[edit]

In 1952, Brooks was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas's 2nd congressional district. In 1966, the 2nd was redistricted as Texas's 9th congressional district. Brooks was chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Government Operations from 1975 through 1988, and of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary from 1989 until 1995.[2] He also served on the Select Committee on Congressional Operations, the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations, and the Subcommittee on Legislation and National Security.[3] In 1979, he became the senior member of the Texas Congressional delegation, a position he held for 15 years.[2][3]

Brooks was conservative on issues like the death penalty and gun control, but more liberal on issues like labor and civil rights. In 1956, he refused to sign the Southern Manifesto[5] that opposed racial integration in public places. Brooks was one of the few Southern congressmen to support civil rights legislation, and as a ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, he helped write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[2]

One of Brooks' signature bills required competitive bidding for federal computing contracts. The Brooks Act of 1965 is often cited as being a catalyst for technological advances.[6] In 1967, Brooks opposed the move of the US Patent Office to attempt to introduce guidelines for software patentability.[citation needed]

As the leader of the Government Operations Committee, Brooks oversaw legislation affecting budget and accounting matters, and the establishment of departments and agencies. He also helped pass the Inspector General Act of 1978, the General Accounting Office Act of 1980, the Paper Reduction Act of 1980, and the Single Audit Act of 1984.

In 1988, Brooks' influence was made prominent by his unusual involvement in trade policy. He introduced a spending bill amendment that banned Japanese companies from U.S. public works projects for one year. He said that he was motivated by continuing signs that the Japanese government "intended to blatantly discriminate against U.S. firms in awarding public works contracts." Representative Tom Foley, who opposed the amendment, said Brooks "is one of the most powerful and effective chairmen in Congress."[4]

While chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Brooks sponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Omnibus Crime Control Act of 1991, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.[2]

Brooks' sponsorship of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which eventually was incorporated with an amendment to ban semi-automatic firearms, probably contributed to his electoral defeat by Republican Steve Stockman, despite Brooks' life membership in the National Rifle Association[2] and his personal opposition to the ban.

A protégé of former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Brooks described himself: "I'm just like old man Rayburn. Just a Democrat. No prefix or suffix."[1][7]

Links to U.S. presidents[edit]

Kennedy and Johnson[edit]

Congressman Brooks is visible at right, behind Mrs. Kennedy.

On November 22, 1963, Brooks was in the motorcade carrying U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy through downtown Dallas, Texas, when Kennedy was assassinated.[1][8] Brooks was a contemporary of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a U.S. Senator before becoming Vice-President to Kennedy.[9] He was present on Air Force One at Dallas Love Field when Johnson was sworn in as President after Kennedy's death.[1][8][10]

Richard M. Nixon[edit]

He was a leader in the investigation that uncovered millions of dollars in public funds expended at the vacation homes of President Richard Nixon. Following the Watergate scandal in 1974, Brooks drafted the articles of impeachment later adopted by the House Judiciary Committee. For this reason, Nixon called Brooks his "executioner."[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1960, Brooks married Charlotte Collins. They had three children: Jeb, Kate, and Kimberly.[1][8] When the House began requiring financial disclosures in the late 1970s, Brooks became known as one of the richest men in Congress, having acquired a number of banks and other businesses during his years in office.[citation needed] He was a 50-year member of Beaumont Lodge #286 A.F. & A.M.[citation needed]

Brooks died at Baptist Hospital of Beaumont on December 4, 2012 - two weeks before his 90th birthday.[1][8] He died surrounded by family after a sudden illness.[1] At the time of his death, Brooks was survived by his wife, children, and two grandchildren.[1][8]

Legacies and tributes[edit]

  • In 1978, a U.S. court house and post office in Beaumont, Texas, were renamed the Jack Brooks Federal Building.[11]
  • A Galveston County park in Hitchcock, Texas, is named Jack Brooks Park.
  • In 1989, a statue of Brooks was placed in the quadrangle at Lamar University in Beaumont.
  • In 2001, NASA presented its Distinguished Service Medal to Brooks at a ceremony in the John Gray Center of Lamar University. NASA Admin. Daniel Goldin cited Brooks’ long-standing support of the U.S. space program and his role in "strengthening the agency during its formative years." Goldin said "Congressman Brooks took it upon himself to personally deliver support to one of the agency’s key programs: the design, development, and on-orbit assembly of the International Space Station."[3]
  • In 2002, Brooks was named Post Newsweek Tech Media’s civilian executive of the last twenty years by Government Computer News.[3]
  • In 2008, Brooks donated his archives to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History of the University of Texas at Austin.[12]
  • In 2010, the Southeast Texas Regional Airport was renamed Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Brooks' honor.[11]

See also[edit]

References & sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Graczyk, Michael (December 5, 2012). "Longtime Texas US Rep. Jack Brooks dead at 89". Associated Press (AP). Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Jack Brooks Biography". Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Congressional History Collection. Austin: University of Texas. 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Jack Brooks (biography)". Department of Political Science, College of Arts and Sciences. Beaumont Texas: Lamar University. 2005. 
  4. ^ a b Johnson, Julie (January 18, 1988). "Washington Talk: Congress; A 'Fighting Marine' Battles Japan on Trade". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ Badger, Tony (June 1999). "Southerners Who Refused to Sign the Southern Manifesto". The Historical Journal (Cambridge University Press) 42 (2): 517–534. 
  6. ^ a b Cahn, Emily (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks of Texas Dies at 89". CQ Roll Call. 
  7. ^ "Jack Brooks Obituary". Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, Texas). Associated Press. December 8, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Martin, Douglas (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks, Former Texas Congressman, Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2013. 
  9. ^ Dunham, Richard (December 5, 2012). "Remembering Jack Brooks, LBJ protégé, Nixon 'executioner,' fierce partisan, Texas patriot". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  10. ^ "A Tribute to Jack Brooks" (Press release). Austin, Texas: LBJ Presidential Library. December 6, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Chang, Julie (December 5, 2012). "Jack Brooks legacy in SETX". Beaumont Enterprise. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Center for American History Announces Acquisition of Congressman Jack Brooks Collection". Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (Press release). Austin: University of Texas. March 24, 2008. 

External links[edit]

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
William L. Smith
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 16-1 (Beaumont)

1947–1951
Succeeded by
William C. Ross, Sr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Chester E. Holifield
California
Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee
1975–1989
Succeeded by
John Conyers
Michigan
Preceded by
Peter W. Rodino
New Jersey
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
1989–1995
Succeeded by
Henry Hyde
Illinois
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jesse M. Combs
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 2nd congressional district

1953–1967
Succeeded by
John Dowdy
Preceded by
Clark W. Thompson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 9th congressional district

1967–1995
Succeeded by
Steve Stockman