B. T. Collins

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Brien Thomas "B. T." Collins (October 17, 1940 – March 19, 1993)[1] was an American politician from California and a member of the Republican party.

Early years[edit]

Born in New York City,[1] Collins served as a Green Beret Captain during the Vietnam War and lost his right arm and right leg to a grenade attack in 1967. Upon returning to the United States, Collins enrolled at Santa Clara University, earning a B.A. in 1970 and a J.D. in 1973.[citation needed]

Executive branch[edit]

In 1981, Collins was appointed by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown as Director of the California Conservation Corps. During his California Conservation Corps service, Collins gained notoriety for drinking a beaker of malathion to demonstrate his belief that it was safe.[2]

Although a Democrat, Brown nevertheless appointed the conservative Republican Collins to replace Gray Davis as his chief of staff, a position Collins held until Brown left office in 1983.[3]

Collins served as chief deputy to Republican California State Treasurer Tom Hayes from 1989 until 1991, when Hayes left office and Republican Governor Pete Wilson appointed him as director of the California Youth Authority.

State Assembly[edit]

After Sacramento-area Republican Tim Leslie won a special election to the California State Senate to replace John Doolittle, who had been elected to Congress, Wilson encouraged Collins to run for Leslie's vacant seat in the State Assembly.[3] Collins won a special election that September for the Sacramento-area 5th District against fellow Republican Barbara Alby, and narrowly beat her again in the 1992 GOP primary.[4]


Collins died of a sudden heart attack March 19, 1993 in Sacramento[1] while serving his second term in the State Assembly. Alby won the special election to replace him.[citation needed]

Several sites in Sacramento have been named in his honor, including the BT Collins Juvenile Justice Center in Sacramento.[5] When the Sacramento Army Depot was redesignated as an Army Reserve Center in the mid-1990s, it was renamed the B.T. Collins Army Reserve Center.[citation needed]

There is also a park in the City of Folsom named the B.T. Collins City Park located at 828 Willow Creek Drive, Folsom, California. The men's restroom in the Santa Clara University School of Law library was named the "B.T. Collins Memorial Latrine" in his honor;[6] it features a plaque over the urinal with a quote from Collins: "If it ain’t in Gilbert's, it ain't the Law."[7]

Electoral history[edit]

Member, California State Assembly: 1991-1993
Year Office Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct
1991 California State Assembly
District 5 (Special Election)
none B.T. Collins 50.2%
Barbara Alby 49.8%
19,785 62.1% David McCann 12,091 37.9%
1992 California State Assembly
District 5
Joan Barry 65%
Jack Robbins 35%
65,787 41.2% B.T. Collins 52%
Barbara Alby 48%
93,833 58.8%


  1. ^ a b c "California Death Index, 1940-1997 [Database Online]". Provo, Utah: The Generations Network. 2000. Archived from the original on December 11, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-14. 
  2. ^ McKay, Darlene (2008). "B.T. Collins Remembered". Sacramento Magazine. Retrieved 2014-09-01. 
  3. ^ a b Vassar, Alex; Shane Meyers (2005–2009). "B. T. Collins, Republican". JoinCalifornia.com. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  4. ^ Complete Primary Results. StateNet Publications. July 1992. 
  5. ^ "Juvenile Courthouse: Sacramento Superior Court". Saccourt.ca.gov. Retrieved 2017-01-20. 
  6. ^ "Bold, profane, and utterly outrageous". Santa Clara Magazine. Spring 2009. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 
  7. ^ Marlais, Don (Summer 2009). "That ain't what B.T. said". Santa Clara Magazine. Retrieved November 12, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Tim Leslie
California State Assembly, 5th District
September 18, 1991–March 19, 1993
Succeeded by
Barbara Alby