Texas House Speakers Oral History Project -
Gus F. Mutscher
GUS F. MUTSCHER
Gus Mutscher. Photo by Bill Malone. TSLAC Current Events, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; #1971/163-53.
The 61st Legislature's regular session, January 14 to June 2, 1969; the 61st Legislature's first called session, July 28 to August 26, 1969; the 61st Legislature's 2nd called session, August 27 to September 9, 1969.
The 62nd Legislature's regular session, January 12 to May 31, 1971; the 62nd Legislature's first called session, June 1 to June 4, 1971.
Born in the Washington County community of William Penn in 1932, Gus F. Mutscher attended William Penn Common School and graduated from Brenham High School. Attending Blinn Junior College on a baseball scholarship, he graduated with an Associate of Arts degree and then enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1956 and a Reserve Commission in the U.S. Army.
While working for the Borden Company, Mutscher won election in 1960 to the Texas House of Representatives. As representative of Austin, Burleson, Lee, Waller, and Washington counties, Mutscher served on several committees, including stints as chair of the Committee on Claims and Accounts, chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee, and vice chair of the Appropriations and Liquor Regulations Committees. He served as well on the Texas Land Title Committee, the Legislative Budget Board, and the Texas Legislative Council. In 1969 Mutscher was elected Speaker of the House, serving until 1971. During his tenure, the House increased state financial support for higher education, mental health, and other state social services. The Legislature also lowered the voting age to eighteen. Finally, the Legislature successfully presented to voters an amendment to the state Constitution allowing sales of "liquor by the drink." Mutscher said he supported the move so that Texas could complete in the national tourism market.
In 1971 Mutscher resigned as speaker due to the scandal that became known simply as "Sharpstown." In 1972 a jury convicted Mutscher on charges he accepted bribes from banker Frank Sharp in return for passage of favorable banking legislation. An investigation begun by the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations of stock fraud led ultimately to a massive turnover in the Legislature and the defeat of many statewide officeholders in the 1972 elections.
In 1976 Mutscher was appointed to fulfill the unexpired term of a Washington County Judge. Over the next fourteen years, Judge Mutscher pursued an agenda of administrative and judicial modernization. He won election as chair of the Brazos Valley Development Council, President of the Texas Regions, and then President of the National Association of Regional Councils of Government. Simultaneously, he served as president of the South Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association and as state president of the same association. He continues to live in Brenham.
– Interviewed by Patrick Cox