Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Lawrence W. Wetherby, March 6, 1980

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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 KLEBER: The following is a spontaneous and unrehearsed interview with former governor Lawrence W. Wetherby. The interview was made in Governor Wetherby's home in Frankfort, Kentucky on Thursday, March 6, 1980. The interview is by John Kleber, Morehead State University. Governor Wetherby, in reference to the general assemblies with which you worked in 1951, 1952, and then in 1954, uh, could you tell me the, the, uh, contribution that the Republican representatives made in those general assemblies?

WETHERBY: Well, the Republicans in, uh, all of my sessions cooperated with me fully. I had very little strong opposition to any of the programs which I advocated. Uh, occasionally the Republican leadership would come down and join with the Democratic leadership in my office and discuss what proposals we had up 00:01:00and which ones we were gonna take up for the next few days. And, uh, I had splendid cooperation from all of the Republicans in all three of the sessions which I had.

KLEBER: Did the Republicans propose a, uh, slate of legislation in opposition to what you proposed?

WETHERBY: They did not. Occasionally they would offer amendments to my bills, and on several occasions, they introduced legislation of their own, but not at great variance with my legislation and, uh, occasionally they would want, uh, more money for certain projects that they were interested in, in the budget. But we never had any falling out or any real deep-seated quarrels about it.

KLEBER: Were there large numbers of Republicans in those general assemblies?


WETHERBY: There were twenty-five in the house in my last session, and there were nine in the senate out of thirty-eight. They did not have a very strong delegation in either the house or the senate in our '54 session. We had fewer in the '54 session than we had in the '52 session--fewer Republicans. The, uh, and I think that's one reason that, uh, they did not fight vigorously any programs of mine, because, uh, they had had fewer elected in '53 for the '54 session than they had in 'fifty--in the '52 session. And of course in the special session of '51, there was very little for 'em to fight about because all 00:03:00we were doing was appropriating money and, uh, putting employees under Social Security.

[Pause in recording.]

KLEBER: Were there any outstanding Republican leaders that come to your mind in those general assemblies?

WETHERBY: Yes, there were. There were, uh, quite a few. Uh, one, I guess the strongest Republican during my administration was Senator Ray Moss from Pineville. Uh, he was leader of the Republicans, and he occasionally, uh, opposed the administration of Senator Clements when I was presiding officer of the state senate, but we disagreed on occasions, but we were not disagreeable. And Ray Moss was the leader of the Republican forces during that period. And he 00:04:00was a strong leader.

KLEBER: Any others that might come to your mind?

WETHERBY: None at this time that I can think of, uh, that, uh, 'course we had some that were ambitious, but, uh, they didn't get very far.

KLEBER: Um, why do you think you were able to work so well with the Republicans, at that time?

WETHERBY: Well, I think because of the fact that I had an open-door policy as governor. They could come and visit with me about their problems the same as the Democrats could, and they'd come and talk about roads in their community, and about, uh, other things that, uh, that they were interested in and I always gave 'em an audience and always tried to work with 'em. I never did, uh, make any deals with 'em or trades with 'em, but they'd come in and say, well, they'd 00:05:00like for me to ask the highway department to do something about a road in their area, and I would call Bill Curlin or be his successor and ask them to look into it. That's as far as we'd go. But they were always pleased with the at--with the reception that I gave 'em when they came to the governor's office.

KLEBER: At that time, did you consider the Republicans to be a more difficult opponent to you than, let's say, other factions within the Democratic Party?

WETHERBY: No, I did not consider them more, uh, of an opponent. I considered those within my party, who were trying to organize for Chandler, more of a problem than the Republicans. We had, uh, two or three Democrats in the house who were stirring up trouble regularly, trying to, in order to make issues for 00:06:00Chandler to run against us. And I knew that to be a fact because, uh, we found 'em going and meeting with Chandler about various legislative programs.

KLEBER: How strong was the Chandler faction, let's say, in the 1954 general assembly?

WETHERBY: It was not too strong. It was just, uh, strong enough to create a little trouble. We never did, uh, let 'em get out of hand, and we never did let 'em win much, but, uh, we knew they were working, and we watched 'em very closely.

KLEBER: How did you control them, do you remember?

WETHERBY: How did we control them?


WETHERBY: We just--when they got ready to move, we moved ahead of 'em a little bit. And, uh, our leadership in the house and the senate would always move just a little quicker than the Chandler group would try to move. And if we, uh, had 00:07:00knowledge that they were getting ready to move on a bill or do something to one of our bills, uh, one of our leaders would be on the floor and get the recognition of the Speaker or the--(laughs)--lieutenant governor prior to the Chandler-ite.

KLEBER: To do this, you must have had informants.

WETHERBY: We did. We had informants and we had people who--we had some members of the legislature who had been called to meetings of the Chandlerites who came in and told us what was going on and what they were planning to do, so we kept a step ahead of 'em pretty much during that session.

KLEBER: Now in the, uh, in those general assemblies, in addition to the Republicans being a force, you also had numerous lobbies, I'm sure, or, or representatives of interest groups. What kind of problems did they pose for you?

WETHERBY: They caused some problems on, uh, several of our, uh, bills. Uh, for 00:08:00instance, the Farm Bureau took out after our, uh, change in the taxable provision on, uh, cigarettes. The Farm Bureau took out after that and fought it bitterly. We had a lot of trouble with their lobbyists. There were other groups of lobbyists that, uh, we, uh, had trouble with, but very little. The, the major one was, 'course, the school lobby was pretty strong. The Farm Bureau was strong. The railroad and truckers groups were pretty strong, but, uh, time after time, one of those groups would line up with us while the others were out fighting us, so, uh, it was sort of a balancing act in the legislature. Uh, we 00:09:00had some right strong support on some of our legislation by some of those lobby groups where other lobby groups were fighting us. And we also had a knock-down drag-out on strip mine legislation from the coal group, the coal operators, and in that one--(coughs)--we, uh, in that fight, we had the support of the KEA [Kentucky Education Association] group. We had the support of the Farm Bureau group against the coal lobby group, so, uh, in var--on various issues, various groups of lobbyists would help us against other lobbyists. So it was a 00:10:00balancing act and we pretty much knew where each one of 'em were gonna move.

KLEBER: Do you think the lobbyists were too powerful at your time?

WETHERBY: No, I didn't think so, uh, because, uh, we kind of watched 'em and, uh, I don't think they were too powerful. Uh--

KLEBER: Do you think they have a constructive role to play in legislation?

WETHERBY: I think they have a definite constructive role to play, and I think if they're handled properly, the members of the legislature and the senate or the house and the senate and the governor and the governor's, uh, staff all can get valuable information from lobbyists.

KLEBER: Don't you think there's a danger, in our state anyway, of, of a, of a governor not recognizing the danger in the lobby group?


WETHERBY: That's right. That's right. There's a, there's a definite danger that a governor may not recognize how strong a lobby group really is and what they can do to him. If he recognizes it, I don't think he has too many problems because he can call a lobbyist in and say, "What's your position on this?" and they'll usually be frank with you and tell you the truth. So if the governor calls 'em in and if he's knowledgeable of the lobbyist and meets with 'em, they cannot cause him too much trouble, because he knows what they're trying to do and he knows whether they're gonna hurt him or his program.

KLEBER: Did you ever call any lobby group in and say, "Now, I, I don't like what you're doing. I'm not for you and, uh--"

WETHERBY: Yes, sir, I called a group of 'em in one time and told 'em that if they didn't leave my legislation alone I was gonna help pass some that they were 00:12:00not interested in, and, uh, particularly the one time I called the United Mine Workers group in and told 'em, I said, now you all are up here fighting some of my legislation. I just wanna tell you, you better withdraw from that position. If you don't, I'm gonna turn loose the right-to-work bill up here that you all are all scared to death of, and I said, if I turn it loose, it might, uh, and encourage them, I said, the legislature might pass it--(laughs)--for you. Well, they withdrew. Sam Caddy said, "We won't be back. We won't be back," and they withdrew their fight. They were fighting some of my legislation at that time.

KLEBER: Do you recall what they were fighting at that time?

WETHERBY: No, not particularly. Uh, I've forgotten exactly what they were fighting, but, uh, one thing they were fighting at one time was our police bill 00:13:00and they were fighting, uh--

KLEBER: State police bill?

WETHERBY: State police bill, yeah.

KLEBER: What about this right-to-work piece of legislation? Did you favor the right-to-work-bill?

WETHERBY: I did not favor the right-to-work bill because, uh, I think it, uh, destroys the ability of any group to organize and I'm in favor of organized labor, but not with public employees. I was delighted to see yesterday that the state senate defeated the, uh, negotiation bill--the teachers' negotiation bill because they are public employees. I do not think they have the right to organize and strike. I think that they're--when they go into public employment, they should be bound by the rules that they are public employees and they're 00:14:00subject to the rules and regulations of the people who were elected to run that show.

KLEBER: During the time that you were governor, was there--at that time, any strike of public employees against the, uh, state?

WETHERBY: No, I don't think we had a single one. Uh, and the--at one time, had a group of engineers who wanted to organize and join a union and we broke it up.

KLEBER: So you--

WETHERBY: I took the position that they were public employees, that they had no business to organize. I went back to Roosevelt's position that--he did more for labor than anyone, and encouraged the labor bills, but he took the position that no public employee had the right to strike and had the right to organize for 00:15:00that purpose.

KLEBER: Is it because they have a duty, a responsibility to serve the public?

WETHERBY: That's right. And, the fact that they are paid by the taxpayers. The taxpayers elect people to represent 'em and they have to negotiate with those people and have to abide by the rules that those people adopt. If they don't, if they dislike those people, they can go out and get the voters to kick 'em out of office. And that's my position on the school, uh, crisis right now.

KLEBER: Uh, you always appeared to be a governor who was a friend of labor, and I wondered why, uh, why you were drawn to the laboring cause? What was it in your background that--

WETHERBY: Well, uh, my daddy was a country doctor and, uh, we saw people 00:16:00downtrodden. But he did not refuse to wait on any one of 'em. He took care of 'em. He'd go to their house. I'd drive him. He'd wake me up to take him in the middle of the night to go see a black man or a black woman, go deliver a baby, and, uh, I just believed that everybody had the same rights and privileges in our society, and I was taught that and grew up with that feeling, and therefore I felt that the class who were organizing as in labor groups should have the same right to be represented as anyone else.

KLEBER: Did, uh, Franklin Roosevelt's support of labor union do anything to influence you in this direction?

WETHERBY: Oh, I think it did because I was very much, uh, impressed with him 00:17:00and was very much for him.

KLEBER: You must have known some of the important labor leaders of the time.


KLEBER: You knew John L. Lewis? Is that right?

WETHERBY: I did. I went to see John L. Lewis when I ran for governor and, uh, when I was running for a full term. I went to Washington and called on him and asked him, uh, to let his local organizations in Kentucky be either for me or not to take a position against me. And he agreed with that. And, uh, then I--as I told you, I, uh, I went to see Sam Catty who was the United Mine Worker fellow here in Kentucky and, uh, I had such a relationship with him that, uh, they invited me at that time--on Labor Day, they'd have a rally in Pikeville or in that area for all the mine workers, and they invited me when I was running 00:18:00for governor to come up and speak to their Labor Day rally on Labor Day in 1951, which I did.

KLEBER: Uh, do you see your administration as doing much to, to assist the laboring man? It seems as if you somewhat are beholden here to the laboring vote. Um--

WETHERBY: Well, I think we, we were fair to both labor and management. I did not want labor to get so far ahead of management that we could not attract industry into Kentucky. But I did not want management to down, uh, beat the laboring group and I tried to keep an even keel with 'em.

KLEBER: Uh, what about mine safety laws? Did they ever come up during your administration?

WETHERBY: Yes, they did, and we, we passed a mine safety act either in '52 or 00:19:00'54, right along with the time we were fighting the strip mine legislation. We had a real competent head of our Division of Mines and Minerals, and I asked him to develop legislation to submit to the legislature on the mine safety and he did and we passed it.

KLEBER: In talking about the varied interest groups that you came in contact with, uh, some--let me ask you two questions. Some people say that the, uh, the lobbies are too powerful today, and some people say that there's not enough consumer protection. Uh, what about your ideas on these, and particularly, what about consumer protection during your administration?

WETHERBY: Well, we, uh, the consumer protection issue has developed more in 00:20:00recent years. There was very little, uh, talk about it at--during my administration because we were trying to develop a climate in Kentucky to attract industry, to develop our park system, our tourist industry, and all of that. And we had no real quarrel why the en--by the environmental leaders about what we were doing. Uh, the, uh, on your other question, uh, I don't know that we had any real movement, at that time by the environmental groups.

KLEBER: Um, let's, let's look at today. Would you say that the lobbies are too powerful today?

WETHERBY: I don't think they are. Uh, I don't think the lobbies are too 00:21:00powerful; if the governor meets them head-on and finds out what they're interested in, and what their opposition is. In other words, government can be run in a fine way on the basis of meet, discuss, and compromise. In other words, the lobbyist is against any bill you put up there that he thinks is gonna destroy his interest. By the same token, he is willing to compromise so long as you don't destroy his business. Most of 'em that I've ever dealt with have had that attitude. I had a knock-down, drag-out between two real vigorous lobby groups, one representing the truckers, one representing the railroads, and they were at each other's throat and neither one of 'em could pass any legislation 00:22:00because they were fighting each other. I called 'em in and told 'em, to get together and if they didn't get together on the truck weight and, and the tax on trucks and things, that I would go up with my own legislation to remedy it. Well, they met and met and they didn't agree on anything. Finally I called 'em into the office and made 'em agree right in my office, and we passed the legislation--(coughs)--increasing the weight that trucks could carry, but at the same time, increasing the tax they were gonna pay to carry it. And it was a question of compromise, give and take. And that, that's what you have to do with lobbyists. You can put a bill out there and a lobby'll--lobbyist'll be against it and he'll be out trying to get votes against it, and he won't know exactly what that bill does, but he thinks it's gonna destroy his interest. Now 00:23:00if you get him in, find out what his real objection is, lots of times you can work it out and make him happy and at the same time accomplish what you're trying to do with the bill.

KLEBER: But it takes a strong governor to do this, doesn't it?

WETHERBY: It takes one that'll meet and confer and let it be known that he has the power and he'll use it if he has to.

KLEBER: The general assembly cannot do it without the governor, can it?

WETHERBY: The general assembly cannot do it. But we in Kentucky can do it through a governor because we--our governor is the strongest governor of any of the fifty. He has more power, and he can do more things with any group than all legislators combined. The legislature has a hundred and thirty-eight members. It cannot lead because they can't agree. For instance, the majority leader yesterday was up here fighting the bill that the governor said was his prime 00:24:00bill, and that was the teacher's professional negotiation bill. And yet the majority leader in the senate was up fighting that bill. Well, that's an example. You cannot expect a hundred and thirty-eight members of the legislature to lead. The people elect a governor to lead, and if he doesn't lead, there's a vacuum.

KLEBER: It's almost as if the governor really didn't strongly support that bill, do you think?

WETHERBY: That's right.

KLEBER: Yeah. Right. I get the feeling that this was a campaign promise that, uh, he didn't--

WETHERBY: Oh, he, he really--but he, he wouldn't, uh, make any deals with anybody. In other words, he wouldn't promise a member of the legislature, "Now, I'll do this if you'll--

KLEBER: --right--

WETHERBY: --vote on my side."

KLEBER: Right.

WETHERBY: He just sort of turned it loose, but he did--he went to the senate and begged 'em, and begged--and took members down to his office and begged 'em 00:25:00to vote for the bill. Had his wife up in the balcony when they voted yesterday.

KLEBER: I thought about you, what you said in a past interview that--I could have seen you going onto the floor and sitting there in the senate and watching them.

WETHERBY: Oh, if I'd have been for that bill, I'd have passed it. I'll tell you that. (laughs) And that's a remark that some of the members of the senate said, said, well, if the governor had been a politically-minded governor, he could have passed that bill without any trouble.

KLEBER: You know, I--a question that, that I'd like to ask your opinion on, and it compares today with when you were governor, thirty years ago. Do you think the governor of Kentucky today, the office of the governor of Kentucky let's say, is as powerful and influential as it was thirty years ago?

WETHERBY: It is if it's properly handled. Uh, as a matter of fact, I think it's more powerful today because it has more tools. It has all of your federal 00:26:00money that comes from Washington to Kentucky. It has to be recommended by the governor. Has to be sent through the governor and all of the federal programs have to be requested. If you're gonna get matching funds, they have to be made upon the recommendation of the governor. So he has more money, he has more programs. He has the same executive powers under the constitution he's always had. 'Course, uh, now, if you turn the legislature loose, and give 'em complete independence which they wanted, they haven't, they haven't passed many bills since they had it. And they have a much longer session than they've ever had in the past because of the constitutional amendment. They now, uh, are three weeks from the end of their session. They have not passed a budget. They have not 00:27:00passed a single, solitary bill that the governor actually ran upon. I mean, the, uh, program that he ran upon.

KLEBER: I guess the, the thing that's coming to my mind is the fact that we've seen, particularly since Franklin Roosevelt's administration, an erosion of what would be called states' rights or state power with the power in shifting to the federal government.


KLEBER: And it's continuing and I wonder in that respect if it's taken away anything from the governor, from the position of governor or from the states themselves?

WETHERBY: Not, not in our instance, it has not because as I mentioned previously, all of these federal programs have to come through the governor. Of course, uh, I agree with your statement that the erosion of states' rights since 00:28:00Roosevelt has been rapid, and the federal government has gotten into more things. They're into everything. They issue regulations--for instance, this week I was at a directors' meeting of an insurance company and now even though the Congress has never passed legislation giving the federal government the right to regulate insurance companies, the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] sends forms out. I had to answer a questionnaire, six pages of regulations, dealing with regulations that the SEC has put out affecting insurance companies, and we get more regulations every month from the federal government which is dramatically doing away with states' rights. For instance, 00:29:00every state in the union has a department of insurance. They have a commissioner of insurance. He has the power to regulate insurance companies, but yet you'd go a step further and here the federal government now, even though Congress has consistently refused to pass legislation giving the federal government control of insurance companies, consistently, various bureaucratic, uh, sections of the federal government are sending out regulations affecting those insurance companies. And it's the same thing in every business today, and you cannot go a step without running into a federal regulation. You have it in the schools. You have it in business. You have it in small business. You have it in any phase of our life.

KLEBER: So you think it may be more difficult to be governor today than it was 00:30:00thirty years ago?

WETHERBY: Oh, I think it is. I think it's more difficult. But, uh, he has the same power under our constitution and he has a lot more, a lot more money coming from the federal government.

KLEBER: And he would have a lot more, uh, aides, assistants, uh--

WETHERBY: Oh, yes.

KLEBER: --communication channels and so on.

WETHERBY: And more departments and more employees. For instance, most employees we ever had during my administration--it got up to close to fifteen thousand, and we had budget problems and I started cutting 'em. Then we would not fill vacancies. Attrition started reducing 'em. But we never had over the fifteen thousand. Now they have thirty-seven thousand employees in state government, and you can imagine what that means in way of finances.

KLEBER: A lot more money.

WETHERBY: That's right. Mine, the last budget that you and I were discussing, 00:31:00was eighty-four million dollars. This one they're talking about that's gonna be submitted today, is gonna be eight billion dollars. Billion, not millions. That's an example of how the thing has grown. 'Course a lot of that comes from what we were discussing from the federal government's encroachment onto the state government and they put up money in order to control--and of course that's the big fight that was going on about federal aid to education, that whenever the federal government started contributing to education, they were gonna eventually control it. Control its operation. And they're working at it right now.

KLEBER: When you were governor, did you oppose the federal aid to education?

WETHERBY: Yes, sir, I did.

KLEBER: For this reason?

WETHERBY: For that reason. I knew that whenever they got their foot in the 00:32:00door giving us the money, they were gonna also take some controls away from the local elected people. I did not oppose it as such. I opposed it unless there were restrictions written into it that would prevent the federal government from ever controlling it. In other words, I was perfectly willing to go along with federal aid to education to the universities and the elementary schools provided it was written into the legislation that the federal government should not exercise any control over it, that it should be re--should remain with the state and local elected officials.

KLEBER: How successful were you in getting that idea across?

WETHERBY: Not very successful. I had the support of all the southern governors, but I couldn't get the northern or the eastern governors along with--to go along with me.


KLEBER: So as a consequence, federal money came, with terms attached to it?

WETHERBY: With strings attached, right.

KLEBER: Um, did you notice, as governor, any difference in quality, uh, sensitivity between the house and the senate?

WETHERBY: Yes. Uh, there was a, uh, a little bit better, uh, there were a little bit better men in the senate than there were in the house. I mean, when I say better, they were better educated; they were more reasonable and more knowledgeable of the state and its condition than the house members. 'Course understandably, that was so because a house member runs from a small segment of a county or of a district, where a senator might represent two or three 00:34:00counties, and he has to be on the ball in order to get elected.

KLEBER: Um, during your term as governor, did you ever seriously think of proposing constitutional revision to the general assembly? To the state of Kentucky?

WETHERBY: Yes. And--(clears throat)--we, uh, started out with a constitutional amendment to revise the whole set-up of state government in this respect: to do away with--we called it and it was so identified by the press, as a short ballot. In other words, we passed a, an amendment to the constitution. We 00:35:00passed it in the house and the senate and I signed it to reduce the number of elected officials from the state at large, to the governor, lieutenant governor, the attorney general, and the superintendent of public instruction. No, the auditor instead of the superintendent of public instruction. That those four offices should be elected from the state at large. We provided in that amendment that the superintendent of public instruction should be appointed by a state board of education which would be, uh, members appointed by the governor, but on staggered terms. That then we should write qualifications for the superintendent of public instruction. What we were trying to do was to, with 00:36:00this short ballot amendment, and we passed it without any trouble in the house and the senate, but the voters beat it at the polls. 'Course we figured the reason they beat it was the local political fellas just wanted more people to vote for. (laughs)

KLEBER: Is that the only constitutional change you proposed?

WETHERBY: No, we proposed one to, uh, lower the voting age to eighteen years, which was passed. We also proposed the change in the constitution about the distribution of school funds. We passed that one. We, uh, they're all that I can recall at this time.

KLEBER: But there were others?

WETHERBY: Yeah, there were others, yes.

KLEBER: What do you think of the 1890 constitution we're working under?

WETHERBY: Well, I served on the constitutional review commission that tried to rewrite that constitution and we, we, we rewrote it but the people defeated the 00:37:00one we wrote.

KLEBER: Do you think it's a bad constitution?

WETHERBY: Well, I think it's, it's limited. And I think there's some real bad things in it that need to be changed.

KLEBER: Was it difficult for you as governor to work under that kind of constitution?

WETHERBY: No, not, not for me because I had grown up under it and had been lieutenant governor under it, and governor under it. But, uh, it needed to be changed and, uh, we may change it. We've--the legislature, uh, passed an act, uh, changing the set-up of the legislature entirely, uh, and submitted it to people and the people passed it. I didn't have any idea they would pass it. They also passed one to revise the court system which the people adopted. I had no idea they would adopt it, but they did. So we're gradually changing it. 00:38:00Now, under this last constitutional amendment that revised the set-up of the house and the senate and the legislature, it provided that they could submit more than two amendments at a time. We could never submit more than two at a time, but they finally passed that one. They can now submit four or five each time that they vote on 'em. Now the legislature has to pass those amendments, and then they would be submitted to the voters in the November, a year later. So the voters in 'eight--1981 will be able to vote on the four amendments that this present session of the legislature passes and the governor allows to become law. 00:39:00'Course he has to allow 'em because he can't veto 'em.

KLEBER: That's--uh--

[Pause in recording.]

Now you bring up a point that I, uh, am curious about and that is the use of the veto. Uh, did you believe in using the veto, and how often did you use it?

WETHERBY: I used it several times. Oh, I used it numerous times. The legislature would pass a lot of legislation in the last week and I would have a group of people to examine every one of those bills, and then write me a digest of 'em and those that I felt were bad laws I'd veto. Those that I thought were good laws, I would sign and--or allow 'em to become law without a signature. Uh, I used it numerous times and most of the time, of course, uh, my veto stuck. 00:40:00One time, though, the legislature took the bull by the horns and decided they were gonna raise their salaries and, uh, they did, and then they voted themselves an expense account during the time that the legislature was not in session, and I thought that was bad, so I vetoed that, and they jokingly told me, said, "Well, we're gonna override your veto." And I said, "Well, I'll come up and watch it." I did, and boy, they did. (laughs) They just stomped it. They overrode my veto in a hurry, and I thought it was bad and it was the forerunner of what you have today. The legislature--the members of the legislature draw, I believe it's seven hundred and fifty dollars a month now while they're out of session for nothing. They say, to represent the people, 00:41:00but when they go to Frankfort for a committee meeting, they're paid their regular per diem, they're paid their expenses and everything else. But they're still drawing seven hundred and fifty dollars a month expense account they say.

[Tape 1, side 1 ends; tape 2, side 2, begins.]

WETHERBY: And, uh, it's gotten out of hand, in my opinion.

KLEBER: They did not, then, frequently override your vetoes, is that right?

WETHERBY: No. They, uh,-well, 'course, uh, most of 'em they did not even try to override. A lot of 'em I would veto during the session so that they would have an opportunity to override 'em--

KLEBER: What--

WETHERBY: --but then in the last days of the session, the bills would come to me 00:42:00and I had 'em for ten days after they were gone, and I had the opportunity to veto them and I vetoed a lot of 'em that were bad legislation.

KLEBER: What happens when you veto after it's gone? Can they come back later and override your veto?

WETHERBY: No, no. They have to wait 'til the next session, and introduce the bill and pass it again. However, that has been remedied by this new constitutional amendment. The legislature now will adjourn and submit all the bills to the governor. Then, in ten days, they can come back and any one he's vetoed that they desire, they can override his veto. They have a second crack at 'em under this new, uh, amendment.

KLEBER: Do you think that's better than it was under your--

WETHERBY: Well, it might be under certain circumstances, but I don't know that 00:43:00it's gonna, uh, help in this respect: during the last days of a legislature, they pass stuff up there that no sensible person would be for, and a governor has to cull that out and veto it. Well, now, if he vetoes some of that this year, under this new amendment, and they come back and they're mad, they'll override those vetoes and pass some horrible legislation. That's my prediction.

KLEBER: In other words, if they have a longer period to think about it, they might be less reluctant to override a veto?

WETHERBY: That's right.

KLEBER: This also gives a governor more power, doesn't it?


KLEBER: The old system?


KLEBER: The old system?

WETHERBY: The old system gave--had much more power. In other words, uh, a lot of the bad legislation that was passed in the late stages of the legislature 00:44:00would come to the governor's office and he could hold it 'til the legislature went home and then he could veto it.

KLEBER: You were never reluctant to use the veto?

WETHERBY: Never was. I never was reluctant to use it.

KLEBER: You believe that's part of your constitutional duties?

WETHERBY: I think it is because a governor is there the year 'round, knows the operation of government, knows what every department is doing and what they're supposed to do, and here comes a bill from the legislature that the person who introduced it did not recognize what it was gonna do to a certain part of that program. Had no idea what it was gonna do. And, uh, the governor should, if he's knowledgeable of his administration, he should know what it's gonna do, and should know whether it's gonna cripple that, uh, department or whether it's 00:45:00gonna, uh, be all right, be a good piece of legislation.

KLEBER: Was there any kind of bill that you tended to veto more frequently than anything else?

WETHERBY: Pay bills.

KLEBER: Pay bills?

WETHERBY: Pay bills for the legislature and expense bills. They'd come up with an expense bill or a pay bill every session and then they would do this. They would, uh--every session, they would send down a resolution raising the pay of the employees of the house and the senate five or six, seven dollars a day raise; I'd veto those. 'Course--

KLEBER: Did you feel they weren't worth the money?

WETHERBY: Well, I, I felt that they had too many employees. I still feel that way, and, uh, they, they just use it as a political tool and they'll have dozens 00:46:00of employees up there doing nothing during the session of the legislature. And as an example--(clears throat)--how that thing operates, the legislative department in the past received an appropriation under the ordinary budget bill. In recent years, they have written their own budget bill for the legislative budget. The first one they had was two million dollars a year. This past one, for the past year, was seven million dollars for the legislative operation. This year, they're talking about ten million dollars for the legislative operation. And of course that includes all employees of the Legislative Research Commission and em--all employees they have during the legislative session, and all the pages. I noticed in the morning paper they had seventeen 00:47:00pages at the senate. That's one for every two senators almost.

KLEBER: How many did you have?


KLEBER: How many did you have?

WETHERBY: We never had--we had the two of--the constitution provides for two elected ones and we would have maybe five extra ones. We'd have seven in the senate. When I was lieutenant governor, we had only the two, but then they later increased it to about seven. They had the two elected ones, the constitution provides for two elected pages in the senate, and they added five more. 'Course they were just employees.

KLEBER: So you think there's some fat in the budget?

WETHERBY: I think there's some fat in the budget, a whole lot of fat.

KLEBER: Let, let me ask you one last question on the, uh, general assemblies. During the time they were in session here, let's say during January, February, uh, March, did you do much socializing with them?


WETHERBY: Yes, quite a bit. And, uh, I, uh, had what was known as the Governor's Reception the first week of the session. We'd invite 'em all over and tell 'em to bring their wives or their husbands, and we'd have a reception over at the mansion. Then we'd break it down--every week we'd have a different congressional district reception. In other words, all those from the First District would come one night. All those from--we'd have a, a brunch for 'em, uh, Then, in addition to that, I would attend every one of the balls, the assembly ball. The club here in Frankfort had a an assembly ball club. They'd 00:49:00have a dance every other Thursday night. I'd attend every one of those with the members of the legislature and their wives and I'd socialize with 'em frequently. I'd take various ones on fishing or hunting trips with me. I'd be acquainted with 'em during the--and socialize with 'em between sessions. I--if I went down to Cumberland Lake, I'd invite those in the area to come over to the cottage that I was staying in and visit with us, and have supper with us. Same way if I went to west Kentucky; we'd do the same thing.

[End of interview.]