Interview with Stanley Hathaway
Transcript of interview with former Governor Stanley K. Hathaway conducted by John Hinckley in 1977.
HINCKLEY: Governor Hathaway. You were Governor of Wyoming for two full terms — eight years. That’s longer than any other person in our history. Why did you decide to seek the office in the first place?
HATHAWAY: Well, that’s an interesting question. I haven’t thought about it. I suppose like most Wyomingites I felt very grateful to the State, to the people of the state and the opportunities I’ve had and I felt an obligation to do something for the State. Actually, I made up my mind to run about two weeks –my strategy was not to plan a career in the governorship.
HINCKLEY: As I remember, you were the Republican State Chairman up until the decision, were you not?
HATHAWAY: That’s correct. I was State Chairman for 1964-65. I resigned in the spring of ’66 when Milward Simpson announced that he was not running for the Senate and Governor Hansen announced he was going to run for the Senate there was suddenly a vacancy in the governorship. Some of my friends encouraged me to run and two weeks later I was running.
HINCKLEY: In the decision, of course, suggests your background, Governor Hathaway, comparing your public career with the other three governors we’ll be interviewing –you had a much more consistent involvement in the political party than these candidates did. Theirs varied from Cliff Hansen’s chairmanship of the Stockgrowers Association – he had no service in the legislature. Would it be safe to say that if there is such a thing as If it’s safe to say there was a route to the State House, that yours was the political party?
HATHAWAY: I imagine you’d say that. I was the first State Chairman to my knowledge ever elected to high office in Wyoming…one of the first in the Western part of the country. That normally is not a good route for a candidate…
HINCKLEY: It is not a good route?
HATHAWAY: No, because you make a lot of people mad when you’re chairman of a party. It’s ironic that I was not a very successful state chairman. We lost most everything over the years. Apparently, there was some sympathy for me.
HINCKLEY: You had been active even in the Young Republicans both in the state and national –nationwide.
HATHAWAY: Yes, I got interested in the party back in the early ‘50s. People like Milward Simpson and Harry Thorson encouraged me to become active in the organization. My wife was also involved. But it’s not a route to travel generally for high office.
HINCKLEY: Well, Professor Richards, Governor Hathaway, describes the roles of the Wyoming Governor – this is a standard textbook sort of representation – as being six fold: Chief of State, Chief Executive, Chief of Party, Chief Legislator Chief Federal Officer and Chief Board Member. He includes the usual Commander in Chief in his executive role — like the national representation of the office. What was your most memorable experience as the Chief of State? This would be a ceremonial thing.
HATHAWAY: I suppose adding to that definition you might say that being the Governor of Wyoming is a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I think Milward Simpson referred to the job as being “mayor” of Wyoming. Oh, the most memorable ceremonial occasion, I think, was entertaining a delegation from the Soviet Union in 1974. This was a return visit. Eight governors – I was among that group – the first American governors’ group to ever visit the Soviet Union. They had a return visit and John Love and I entertained Russian leaders in Wyoming – floated the Snake River, stayed in Coulter Bay and spent some time in Yellowstone.
HINCKLEY: You also entertained Prince Phillip, I think, didn’t you?
HATHAWAY: Yes, we had the Prince in Sheridan in 1972 or 3. I’ll never forget that. The ladies along the airplane or airport fence nearly swooned when he came down to shake their hands. The Prince landed his own plane..or jet. Fascinating man.
HINCKLEY: Wyoming is not organized for this type of protocol like the president, for instance. What does the governor have in the way of resources to manage the ceremonial role of that type?
HATHAWAY: The standbys are the National Guard, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Travel Commission. No, we have no office of protocol. We just try to show them a little western hospitality.
HINCKLEY: What about your role of Commander in Chief besides reviewing the National Guard in the summer time? Have you ever had the occasion to call out the National Guard?
HATHAWAY: Yes. Couple times. I enjoyed that role as an old tech sergeant in World War II. I suppose I relished the capacity to tell the generals what to do once in a while. I’ll never forget my third or fourth day in office when General Pearson and General Outson came into my office and pulled up in front of the desk and saluted. It just overwhelmed me! I didn’t know whether to salute back, stand up, sit down or what to do. I called the Guard out on some disasters. I suppose I was the first governor…no, maybe Governor Campbell did with the Chinese affair over in Rock Springs. But, I had to call the Guard out twice on civil unrest – the first occasion was here in Cheyenne during Frontier Days. It was ’68 or ’69 when Mayor Cox called me late in the evening and said downtown Cheyenne was completely out of control and he had to have some help. So, we sent about 150 guardsmen down there. Interesting thing about that, after I had called the Guard out I heard what I thought were rifle shots – I was at the Governor’s Mansion about 1 o’clock in the morning. I got on the phone and called General Carson and I said “General, I told you to go down and try to help bring order, not to shoot anyone.” He said, “We haven’t fired any guns. Those are cherry bombs.” We had to call the Guard, we didn’t use them but we had them ready to use on a couple occasions at the University – the Black 14 incident and the Kent State incident – the flagpole incident at the University. We didn’t actually use them on the campus. They were just alert.
HINCKLEY: That would have been the Laramie unit of the Guard?
HATHAWAY: The Laramie unit with some manpower from adjoining….
HINCKLEY: Did any of those reach a crisis condition, would you say?
HATHAWAY: The Black 14 didn’t but the flagpole incident became quite critical — the Kent State sympathizers had lowered the American flag and put a black flag under it. The people who didn’t want the American flag toyed with were starting their own counter demonstration and I had considerable fear there might be bodily injury — perhaps loss of life.
HINCKLEY: This was shortly after Kent State wasn’t it?
HATHAWAY: Within three or four days….it was in the fall, as I recall, 1970 or ’71.
HINCKLEY: Well Governor, these unusual powers, more exclusive powers….the power of pardon…did you ever exercise this power extensively as governor – pardon or commutation?
HATHAWAY: I didn’t ever have a death penalty case before me. Governor Hansen had the last one. At the time I was elected Governor, we had one man on death row – the case never got to me — and he got a new trial. Shortly thereafter, a Supreme Court decision came out and there weren’t any more…during my entire term any death penalty cases.
HINCKLEY: Was about non-death penalty commutations. Capital crimes?
HATHAWAY: Well, we of course lowered a lot of sentences. At the time I took office, the five elected officers served as a Board of Pardons. In that process for over five y ears, we commuted a lot of sentences.
HINCKLEY: You could have done that individually, couldn’t you?
HATHAWAY: The Board didn’t have the power of pardon; they had the power of commutation. I could have pardoned…I did pardon some people who led an exemplary life after having committed a felony. I don’t know how many – perhaps 50 or 60.
HINCKLEY: Perhaps this is a good time to answer the question of Doug Parent? A man convicted does not receive his civil rights at the completion of his sentence. Is it an automatic action to restore his citizenship by the governor or must he go through some kind of proceedings to have his voting rights restored?
HATHAWAY: As a matter of policy, I think that the first offenders, when they were released, their civil rights were automatically restored. If they were convicted of one felony, they must petition the governor – we have a statute that 25 ___? sign a petition in behalf of an individual requesting that his voting rights, right to bear arms, etc be restored. And the governor acts on that.
HINCKLEY: And that is the governor’s action, not a judge?
HATHAWAY: That’s solely the governor’s action, yes.
HINCKLEY: The question inevitably comes up of your law enforcement resources as governor. Is it fair to say that you could be described as a strong advocate of law and order in your term as governor? What resources does the governor have besides the guard as law enforcement agents?
HATHAWAY: Well, I suppose you could categorize me as strong for law and order. The eight years I spent as a prosecuting attorney probably helped put me in that category. As far as resources – the highway patrol we used on the civil unrest. For example, we had 5,000 motorcyclists come into Sundance and I didn’t want to use the guard. We rallied 50-60 patrolmen and they handled the matter. But generally, the Highway Patrol has no jurisdiction in the investigation of felonies – they’re strictly a traffic control organization. We started the first state investigative force. Jim Barrett was the Attorney General and he and I decided that to assist local law enforcement the state should do some things it hadn’t done. We started out with one investigator – he happens to be in the press now. We hired Neil Compton. He was a Los Angeles policeman and we thought he did a good job assisting local law enforcement agencies. Only on their request – we never attempted to go in and take over a given case. By the time I left office, he had a staff of four or five investigators.
HINCKLEY: But they investigate only on request from the county or local community. What about the Attorney General? Can he initiate anything?
HATHAWAY: The Attorney General and the Governor, if they think it’s a matter of statewide significance and especially if it involves state government, he can investigate that. Over and above that, he acted only on the request of a local county attorney or police officer.
HINCKLEY: As governor, could you have fired a recalcitrant county attorney?
HINCKLEY: This would be a limitation on removal powers?
HATHAWAY: The governor has authority to ask the Attorney General to bring legal action against a county officer. I had several requests to do that. Being very conscious of jurisdiction of authority, I always managed to stay out of those. If there was a local capacity to handle the matter – the county commissioners have the authority –the power to remove. It seemed that the requests I had occurred about the time of an election and I could smell the politics in the situation. Let the people of that county decide whether they want to retain this official.
HINCKLEY: The question came in part, I suppose, from a news item concerning the administration of Milward Simpson to the effect that he had removed the county attorney in Teton County for failure to enforce a gambling ordinance – that’s what led me to the question, how he could have done that.
HATHAWAY: Well, if he did it he must have done it through a civil action brought by the attorney general.
HINCKLEY: Of course, Governor, we are most interested in the broad executive administrative duties of the governor plus his role in policy making. You share much of the first function with four other elected officials. Does this arrangement make for a vigorous and responsible executive?
HATHAWAY: Well, in ways it does and in ways it doesn’t. I think the sharing of intelligence and the vigor of other people is good. I think that we got along well with the other state elected officials. But that opens up a broader subject which you mentioned in your letter – about the lack of power of the governor. That’s very true. Not only that sharing with four other elected officials but the growing up over many, many years of the board and commission system, I’d have to say as a Republican that this was mainly a product of Republican thinking in that they in the earlier days felt that in the years they didn’t control the governorship, they could still pretty much run the government with boards and commissions – the lap over of appointments. Well, there are many departments of government that the governor of Wyoming didn’t even have a vote on. You’d appoint the commissioners but that was the end of it. They selected the end of the department, the directors or superintendent – whatever it may be. I found some of those departments to very unresponsive to what I thought was the public will. We enacted some legislation during my term that gave the governor some authority with respect to those boards and commissions – at least gave him a vote on many of them that he didn’t have a vote on them.
HINCKLEY: The responsibility for the creation – would that be principally in the legislature?
HATHAWAY: Well, sure. The legislature created the boards and commissions.
HINCKLEY: I noticed that you of all the governors that I’ve researched seemed most dedicated to this business of reorganization and you appointed a blue ribbon committee – I think Harry Thorson was chairman and this committee made a report to you. I wonder if you could tell us the history of that – just kind of a case history of all of your efforts of reorganization, what they recommended and what you actually did to effect their recommendations.
HATHAWAY: Well, the reorganization effort started back with Governor Miller. He commissioned a study — the Griffen-Hagen report I think they called it. Some reorganization came out of that – not much. Governor Hickey got into it pretty deeply and I think was making considerable progress but when he appointed himself to the Senate, that sort of dropped off. I felt that the government of Wyoming needed to be modernized and there needed to be clearer channels of executive authority and I think thought the legislature had become weak. I was amazed to find that 90% of the major legislation came from the Governor’s desk in my earlier years in office. The legislature simply did not have the capacity, the staff, the resources to generate it’s own legislation. Believing in the separation of powers, I thought that was wrong. We lost an effort – I appointed a legislative executive reorganization commission. Mr. Thorson was the first chairman. I had former Governor Gage on it – he was very productive. Had Scotty Jack – he was also very productive. Ed was on it for a while as a legislative representative – not the initial. Duke Humphrey was very productive on the commission. Everything in the first go around that the commission recommended passed.
HINCKLEY: They would have been appointed in the winter of ’68 for ’69. What were the principal ones?
HATHAWAY: Well, we started the Department of Recreation. We consolidated the old State Parks Commission and the Land and Water Conservation Commission. We reorganized the promoting arms of the government — the Natural Resource Board and called it the Department of Planning and Development. The state had no planning function – the original DEPAD. We consolidated Health and Welfare and brought vocational rehabilitation into it and it became the Department of Health and Social Services. That was Dr. Humphrey’s assignment. That was a good move. We felt it was necessary – they were spending so much money in that department with so little control. They had to be brought together – they wouldn’t even walk across the hall to talk to each other – the welfare people and the health people. We tried to bring them together. The one thing that failed and failed continually was the Commission’s recommendation to make it more simple to amend the Wyoming constitution. That was brought forth three times and failed every time. The Legislature did not want to – they felt they were giving up part of their prerogative. They didn’t want the people to amend the constitution by a majority vote of those voting. We couldn’t get it submitted to the people. I feel confident that it would have passed if we’d have had a shot at it.
HINCKLEY: In the same tenant, you also responded one time to a proposal by one of the legislatures for a constitutional convention – I don’t remember the individual. You were quite sympathetic as I recall provided that it be preceded with a very careful two-year study anticipating the difficulty of ratification as much as anything. What do you think about a constitutional convention now along those lines –very carefully structured?
HATHAWAY: If it were given the study it needs – if you appointed a broad-based commission to study the Wyoming constitution for at least two years –maybe longer — and iron out all of these snags. I think it’s a very worthy – I supported those efforts but the legislature – the majority didn’t want to support it. Our constitution is not sacred like the Constitution of the United States of America. I’m not saying it’s a bad constitution but a lot of the language –like the statutory language –there’s too much detail; it needs to be reworked. But at that time, this craze was on nationwide. State after state would come in with a new constitution and people would turn it down.
HINCKLEY: New Mexico had that.
HATHAWAY: Montana’s one of the few..and Michican, Romney got the job done.
HINCKLEY: When I read your comments I immediately thought of Romney because they did an awful lot of planning and they devoted an awful lot of time to ratification, which New Mexico didn’t and it failed, which is an awful waste of time and money.
HATHAWAY: Oh, it’s a tremendous waste of resources because for every success there were ten failures. In any event, this needs to be done some time and that’s one of the things we weren’t able to do. So, I embarked on the course of trying to do it more peacefully. And we needed to simply this constitutional amendment ratification. We got several constitutional amendments through that were important.
HINCKLEY: You indicated that the two most important constitutional amendments that that Wyoming would ever vote on was #1 – the 12 mil statewide education levy and #2 – the mineral severance tax trust fund.
HATHAWAY: We were successful in getting the permanent fund amended through. I was shocked when the 12-mil school levy didn’t pass.
HINCKLEY: Makes such marvelous sense.
HATHAWAY: I was amazed in the political campaign that year – those that were against it and yet, it was in the self-interest in all but about three counties in the state to see it pass and it still failed. Another very important amendment we got through was home rule for municipalities.
HINCKLEY: That was promoted to a large degree by the League of Women Voters as I recall.
HATHAWAY: They were helpful and of course, the municipalities themselves — in my first term, we tried that twice and lost. In the second term, we finally got it on the ballot and passed. I don’t think the municipalities have begun to exercise that power that they have that yet. I think there are many things that they can do.
HINCKLEY: Are they aware of their opportunity?
HATHAWAY: Of course, it has a limitation on taxation but as far as administering the affairs of the municipality and the area around it I think there are many things they can do that they haven’t.
HINCKLEY: What about the provision for joint—-I think it’s called the Joint Powers Act, isn’t it? What’s the future of that? Isn’t it a contemplative..cooperation between county government and….
HATHAWAY: That was one of my brain childs and I have been disappointed in its effectiveness although it has done quite a bit of good. The reason it hasn’t been effective is the innate jealously between —-the jurisdictional jealously between towns and counties. If you can eliminate more of that jealousy, the joint powers authority gives almost unlimited opportunity to serve the public – to build public facilities and finance it.
HATHAWAY: That’s one thing — the jealousy between two municipalities.…you can name a lot of them — Pinedale-Big Piney. You named Cody-Powell, Riverton-Lander. The big problem is between the county and municipality. The counties do not really think they need to do much with the municipality but in the impact area– that’s where the problem’s are. The tax base is out in the county and counties like Campbell, Sweetwater haven’t done enough for municipalities.
HINCKLEY: ….. object to revenue sharing formula which is giving the municipalities a greater share than counties. Is that a fair….?
HATHAWAY: No, I don’t think it’s a fair objection because a municipality needed the money much more than the county.
HINCKLEY: You’ve hear that from county commissioners?
HATHAWAY: Oh yeah. In some county, a friend lives in one and it’s a very hard put. My old home county of Goshen always is pinched at the 12-mil levy. Their assessed valuation is going so slowly. I think it gained $4 million this year. Sweetwater— I think has approached — people thought I was crazy when I said five years ago that both Sweetwater and Campbell County would be over a half billion in assessed value by 1980. There isn’t any question that Sweetwater will make it. I don’t think there’s any question that Campbell will make it in another three years.
HINCKLEY: Another one of your goals was to be redistricting.
HATHAWAY: Of the legislature? Yes. I didn’t spend as much time on that as the legislature did itself. I could see that the politics of the thing but it…I believed in it. I supported the Republicans in the legislature but I didn’t go home and lick my wounds when it lost.
HINCKLEY: That was one of the rare filibusters in the state legislature, wasn’t it? A party filibuster – the Democrats actually mounted a filibuster against the...
HATHAWAY: It went on for some three or four days and you know that’s critical…it was at the end
HINCKLEY: You’ve raised another question which is of course if very crucial. A fairly standard representation of the lobbying component of government, which will refer to the governor or the executive department as one of the chief lobbyists. My question would be, how did you go about having your way with the legislature? I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense at all. The executive agenda, you indicated for us is that the legislature just didn’t seem to have the resources to produce its own policy agenda unless the governor had sort of pre-empted that. I presume that your agenda would be in your state-of-the-state message largely.
HATHAWAY: Well, we had legislation prepared on all those recommendations. I found it effective to let a member of the legislature call on me and ask me to introduce its bills. I didn’t try to seek out those sponsors...they would come when the felt it was their……
HINCKLEY: Governor Hathaway. In your management of the executive...how effective were you in promoting your own executive policy with the legislature and how did you go about it?
HATHAWAY: I had my ideas and the ideas of others of what I thought needed to be done and we prepared legislation to implement this. I found it effective to let the members of the legislature come to me — especially the members of my own party - bills that were forthcoming and they wanted to introduce them and they got behind them. In Wyoming, I don’t know whether it’s true of other states, but the Republicans always invited me to the legislative caucuses. I found this to be a good vehicle. I campaigned for legislators. I talked about them and their jurisdiction and they felt some loyalty to me for that.
HINCKLEY: You knew your legislators individually.
HATHAWAY: I knew them very well. I suppose one thing that was an advantage. I never served in the legislature although I had a very healthy respect for it. I vetoed only two bills in eight years. I tried to get the bills the way I wanted them so I didn’t have to veto them. Because I had a strong belief in the separation of powers and a healthy respect for the legislative process they didn’t always see me as a competitor. I tried to make it a team effort.
HINCKLEY: In both of your administrations, you were blessed with four party members in the executive – of your party and Republican control of both houses.
HATHAWAY: That’s true but I’d like to say this in that regard. I had a good relationship with a number of the Democratic legislators. When our majority was very high – it was better than two to one in a couple of sessions, I started having trouble with the Republicans in the legislature, I could go to my friends in the other side of the aisle and got their help. They always felt free to come in. I tried not to be apolitical all the time.
HINCKLEY: You got your majorities wherever they were.
HATHAWAY: Wherever I could find help. If the program made sense, it was easy to get support.
HINCKLEY: You mentioned a study made of several states –the study of gubernatorial/legislative relations which gave you got rather high marks. What was that?
HATHAWAY: A study done by a man at Iowa State University. He studied 20 states. He sent me a copy of his study a while back. I was pleased to be rated highest in those 20 states in effectiveness in dealing with the legislature. I think that’s probably not true but at least it was his evaluation. Another thing I found that is peculiar to Wyoming I think. Members of the legislature are extremely interested in the appointment process. And they would all at one time or another during the session, would come into see me about getting a particular person an appointment. That gave me the opportunity to say “Well, I’d like your support on this particular bill” and I had a day-to-day run with what they were doing if they went against this bill….I used some leverage in that regard and I don’t apologize for it.
HINCKLEY: What about pressure group activity in your governorship –interest group, special group – both in power of appointment and laws passing, that sort of …
HATHAWAY: Well, there are at least 500 special interest groups in Wyoming.
HATHAWAY: At least. There are different sizes but everyone of course wants their particular endeavor to come out on top. I got off badly with the “third house”...maybe it wasn’t badly. If I had it to do over again, I’d do the same thing. First three weeks I was in office. You know a governor starts off first thing with the legislative session. I’m feeling my way and trying to get a hold of the job. I had a delegation of 15 lobbyists come in one day – mostly on the economics – the oil industry, stockmen, Farm Bureau, railroad, et cetera. They announced to me that they were quite unhappy with my message. They were unhappy with the way I was handling the office. Some of them said they had contributed to my campaign and they expected different results; they said they didn’t think I represented the Republican Party. I said, “Well, I just spent eight months speaking with 150,000 people and I think I’ve got a pretty good idea….besides, I’m not governor of just the Republicans anyway.” Then they said something that really infuriated me. They said, “If you continue on the path you’re on, you have no political future.” I stood up and pounded the desk and said, “Don’t ever come in here and threaten me with my political future. First place, I never expected to be governor of Wyoming but I’m here and I’m going to do what I think is right while I’m here and you’ll get nowhere threatening me with my political future.” They didn’t come around the rest of that session. The next session, they started to filter in as individuals but they never applied that group pressure ever again.
HINCKLEY: I’d suggest a response that Milward Simpson made in a very similar vein, he said, “When you’ve played football, basketball and baseball as much as I have…that was the wrong approach.” They were that brutal?
HATHAWAY: I thought it was quite brutal.
HINCKLEY: Was that type of confrontation common or what it a little more subtle?
HATHAWAY: Well, I didn’t have any more confrontations like that. I don’t know if it was common before or not. Apparently, I didn’t fit the mold that these people thought I should fit.
HINCKLEY: Well, how did you perceive the routine interest group behavior principally during the legislative session but also on you individually during the routine of your governorship? Did you encounter significant…..?
HATHAWAY: Oh yeah. That’s part of the process and you can’t resent people organizing to express their viewpoints. I never resented that. What I resented with these people is the way they did it?
HINCKLEY: What were the principle interest groups? You say there was something like 500. Alan Simpson once told me he thought there were lobbyists per foot at a legislative session in Wyoming than there are at the Congress in the United States. Of all of the multitude, what were the leading organized groups in Wyoming?
HATHAWAY: That would take considerable time. What you have are the economic interests – the mineral industry and there are many of those. You have the agricultural, woolgrowers, stock growers, Farm Bureau, farmers’ union – that sort of thing. You’ve got the railroad, you’ve got the utilities – you could go on and on in that field. Then you’ve got the social field – the education lobbyists – there are two or three dozen of those. You got the health field – the mental health people, the retarded lobbyists — uh, lobbyists for the retarded, etc.
HINCKLEY: What about labor? I used this question on Governor Simpson.