Mr. Tall SkeletonMr. Tall Skeleton2

Phil Gramm's Skeleton Closet

Picture of Gramm

Click on the allegation of your choice:

- Savings & Loan Scandal
- Helped get a convicted drug dealer out of jail
- Laundered Illegal Campaign Contributions to Bob Packwood
- Funded a Sleazy Movie -- - Draft Dodger
- Petty Abuses of Power: illegal hunting, getting staffer out of the army
- Character -- - Quotes -- - Sources


"The most dangerous place in Washington is between Phil Gramm and a camera" -- something reporters say

"Anybody with $2.1 billion has to be taken seriously." -- Gramm, about Ross Perot

"If you're willing to pay the price, you can beat anybody at anything." - Phil Gramm

"He's always willing to rise above principle. He's got every quality of a dog except loyalty." -- Dave McNeely, political columnist for the Austin, Texas American-Statesman

"You can love him or hate him, but when you're dealing with him, there are 2 things you've got to remember: #1, he's smarter than you are. #2, he's meaner than a junkyard dog." -- Marvin Leath, former Gramm colleague

"I'm carrying so much pork [home to Texas] I'm beginning to get trichinosis." -- budget hawk Phil Gramm

"Voters vote for people they like. Now Phil, I know his mother likes him. I know Wendy likes him. I think his dog likes him. And I like him. I've named four." -- Buddy Roemer

Sleazy Film Financier

Gramm's brother-in-law, George Caton, says he watched a film called "Truck Stop Women" with Gramm back in 1974, which got our champion of family values interested in investing in this kind of movie. Gramm admits that $7,500 of his money somehow wound up financing a never-completed, R-rated movie called "Beauty Queens" but he denies that he had any interest in funding pornography.

That may be true. They press hyped this up as supporting a "porn" film, which is a ridiculous overstatement. The fact is, Gramm got taken; "Beauty Queens" was never made, and the money went to finance a raucous and stupid anti-Nixon movie (which never made a dime.) (Gramm is said to have watched and like the result.)

But it is clear that Gramm had no compunctions about making money off an off-color film. This makes his current sucking up to the Christian right all the more offensive. And his evasive responses when asked about this scandal are disturbingly typical of Gramm's responses to other charges and allegations.

Savings and Loan Scandal

Texas S&L owner Jerry D. Stiles, who has been convicted of bank fraud in the S&L scandals, advanced $117,000 interest free for a construction crew that came from Texas to Maryland to build Gramm a vacation home. There were no written estimates or contracts. Months later, Gramm paid back just $60,000 and Stiles paid the rest. About the same time, Gramm ushered through a bill that allowed sick Texas S&L's (such as the ones Stiles owned) to stay open. He later urged regulators to give Stiles waivers -- even after they found irregularities that led to Stiles' conviction -- and advised Stiles on new banking regulations. The Senate investigated Gramm but ruled that the $57,000 Stiles paid was a "cost overrun", not a payment.

Getting A Drug Dealer Back On the Streets

In 1979, letters signed by Phil Gramm on his congressional stationery were sent to the parole board, asking for an early release for a man, Bill Doyle, who had been repeatedly convicted on drug dealing and weapons charges. Doyle was released soon after Gramm's letter, and has been sent back to prison 3 times since on new drug charges or for failing drug tests.

Gramm first claimed never to have heard of the man. When Mother Jones magazine produced letters with Gramm's signature, his office released a statement by a secretary claiming that she sent the letter out without his knowledge, forging his signature. We find this hard to believe.

Draft Dodger

Like most of the candidates for President this year, Phil Gramm was of age to fight in Vietnam -- and avoided it. Gramm used five deferments for college and marriage to stay in America while the Dickey Flatts of the world were fighting, and getting killed, overseas.

Rival Bob Dornan, a fighter pilot in the 1950s who went to Vietnam as a press photographer, calls Gramm "a Vietnam-era draft evader undeserving of the role of president." Would he call Gramm a draft dodger? "Yeah. Anybody born prior to 1952 who was physically fit had a choice. You either did something or sent someone else there in your place."

Laundering Illegal Campaign Contributions for Bob Packwood:

Gramm was head of the Republican's Senate campaign fundraising effort in 1992. Bob Packwood's diary describes a meeting on March 6, 1992 where Gramm promised to funnel $100,000 in party "soft" money to Packwood's campaign. The limit for party contributions to a candidate, $17,500, had already been given at that point. (Packwood narrowly won reelection while vastly outspending his opponent.)

"What was said in that room would be enough to convict us all of something," Packwood wrote in his diary. Packwood now says that the diary entry was "totally wrong." Gramm says the diary "reflects an obvious misunderstanding of the election law..." But the simpler explanation is that Packwood's diary, which he never expected to see the light of day, and fought like a demon to keep private, is telling the truth. In his fight, Packwood warned that making the diary public would ruin senators other than himself -- and no one has reported any other diary allegations as serious as theis one against Gramm.

Gramm's extraordinary success in fundraising was his stepping stone to this presidential campaign -- a lot of Republicans owe him favors. (Just like Jerry Brown did earlier for Democrats). But Gramm owes a lot of favors to big money donors, and his career has been marked by his willingness, even eagerness, to pay back his donors with political rewards.

Abuses of Power

Gramm has a disturbing pattern of pulling strings to get his way. Few of the examples are crucial, but they add up to a continuing character defect. For example

- Pulling strings for illegal hunting near his Maryland resort home.

7 game wardens say that Gramm, a hunting buddy and a major contributor used his clout so all 3 could continue illegal duck hunting over ponds baited with grain. Gramm's beach home borders the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

Tax lobbyist J.D. Williams, a friend and contributor of Gramm's, had been feuding with game wardens since being arrested for hunting over baited fields two years before, and now he had been heard threatening wildlife officials that with Gramm's clout, any official who gave him trouble is "going to be counting seals in Alaska."

Gramm called a meeting with Williams and Frank Dunkle, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for a chat about wildlife law enforcement on the Eastern Shore. Dunkle warned Gramm that his property was under surveillance for baited hunting, and issued a new policy - applying only to the Blackwater refuge - forbidding wardens from enforcing waterfowl laws on neighboring properties. 7 months later, the director of the Blackwater Refulge was transferred unwillingly, not to Alaska but to Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp, and another wildlife official who had refused to transfer him was also reassigned.


We haven't found any yet. We'll let you know. Actually, he showed some guts and open mindedness by marrying a woman of Korean descent. It's a sad fact that this may cost him more votes than his sleaze.


Cloud, David S. "Gramm deal questioned." Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report v50, n48 (Dec 5, 1992):3750.

Time Daily Online, May 18, 1995 p1, citing the New Republic that week. (re: Porn film)

"Gramm Denies Diverting Funds to Packwood Camp", NY Times news service, San Francisco Chronicle, Spetember 9, 1995 pA2

"Phil's Felon", Will Saletan, Mother Jones, January 1995

"Justice Dept. to Review Packwood Case", San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 1995

"Hunting Rules Eased for VIPs", Susan Baer (Baltimore Sun), San Francisco Examiner, April 2, 1995 pA-8

"Gramm Linked to Illegal Hunting", Jim Drinkard, Associated Press, May 1, 1995

"Gramm Says Aide Used His Name in Early Parole of Drug Dealer", Thomas Edsall (Washington Post), San Francisco Chronicle, pA12

"Gramm Admits Plucking Aide From Air Force", San Francisco Chronicle, June 1995, pA18

"Dornan: Is He Just Running To Deny Gramm The Nomination?",


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