Interviewer's Name: Paul Sandul, Scott Sosebee, and Laura Blackburn
Interview Date and Location: The interview was conducted on March 14, 2012, in Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson's conference room in the Russell Senate Building, Washington D.C.
Context Notes: Interview and transcription completed in conjunction with the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project at Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.
Throughout the interview, a child can be heard making noises and playing in the hallway outside of the conference room. The echoes of walking, talking, and the elevator can be heard in the background. Paul Sandul and Scott Sosebee can be heard laughing and acknowledging stories about Charlie throughout the interview.
Tapes and Interview Record: The original recordings of the interview and a full transcript are held by the East Texas Research Center, R. W. Steen Library, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.
Transcription Notes: The policy of the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project has been to eliminate false starts and crutch words from transcriptions when determined not to affect the meaning and flow of the spoken word. Obviously, and admittedly, this is a subjective endeavor and all care was taken to maintain the integrity of the interview.
The interviewers M. Scott Sosebee, Paul J. P. Sandul, and Laura Blackburn are identified as SOSEBEE, SANDUL, and BLACKBURN, respectively. Peggy Love is identified as LOVE.
SANDUL: This is Paul Sandul. It is March 14, 2012. We are in the Russell Senate building in Senator Hutchinson's conference room and with me are Scott Sosebee and Laura Blackburn. We are here with the Charlie Wilson Oral History Project to interview with Peggy Love. Now, Peggy, I had the fortune of rereading your last interview just recently.
LOVE: Uh-oh. [Laughs.]
SANDUL: So based on some of the great information there I wanted to follow up. There was a question that was burning in my mind that I wanted to have answered that first time. Do you have a favorite memory of Charlie that you're willing to share?
LOVE: Yes I do. Charlie was known for helping the underdog. And before I went to work for Charlie, I worked for Congressman Wayne Hays, who's from Ohio. Congress Hays was involved with this woman, Elizabeth Ray that worked on his staff and there were allegations that he had hired her to be his mistress and that was not true. I mean I knew Liz and she did type and she did answer the phone and stuff. Congressman Hays was very powerful and a lot of people didn't like him, so they seized upon this opportunity and he ended up retiring from congress. Because people didn't like him, they wouldn't hire me, even though I wasn't from the district. That's, you know, how things work on the hill and Charlie was the only one that would offer me a decent job. I'll never forget, Charlie offered me the job on December 16 and December 31 I was being taken off the payroll for congressman Hays. So, um, I will always be indebted for him for giving me this job because I was looking for months and months. After Congressman Hays announced his, you know, retirement, the main thing we did was look for a job and Charlie took me on.
SANDUL: What was that like? I mean, obviously, you're applying to jobs. Did you meet with Charlie or are you meeting at that point with [Charles; Chief of Staff for Charlie] Schnabel?
LOVE: Charles Simpson . . .
LOVE: …was Congressman Wilson's administrative assistant at the time and one of the interviews I had, I don't remember if it's the first interview or not. Charles wanted to take me upstairs for the interview and we go into the storeroom. Of course I'm thinking, you had me work for Hays and you hear all these stories and I thought, "Oh my god, what have I gotten myself into?" You know? I didn't know who Charlie was or his reputation. I was just pounding the pavement looking for a job, but it all turned out okay. He had his storeroom set up like another office.
SANDUL: Okay, okay. Now when you're here in the office, who are you working with most often? Were you working directly with Simpson or some of the other Angels most often?
LOVE: No I was kind of independent. I did case work and health legislation for him. Having work for Congressman Hays, because he was so powerful in congress, I did case work for Congressman Hays as well. So, I had direct access to the director's office of all the federal agencies. I mean I had private numbers of the director's key people, so I dealt with them in doing casework. And I did case work in the Washington office and Charlie also had folks doing casework in the district office.
LOVE: And then with the health legislation, again, Charlie was more into the defense and foreign ops stuff. There were things, like, when they were going to, there was a bill coming up to create the new Department of Education. Based on the letters coming in from the constituents, I would do like a one-pager for Charlie. When the bill was coming up for a vote and just, tell him I think he should vote for a bill or against the bill based on the feedback from the constituents.
LOVE: And just give him a little summary of it. Charlie and I thought a lot alike. So, sometimes he would question me as to why. Sometimes I think he was doing that just to see if I really knew what the bill was all about and I just wasn't, you know, being lazy and saying Charlie you need to vote for this or don't vote for that.
SANDUL: Uh-uh, uh-uh.
LOVE: But it was good. It was good for me.
SANDUL: You bring up an interesting aspect saying you thought a lot alike. I know our graduate student here, Laura Blackburn, is working on a thesis on Charlie.
LOVE: Uh-oh. [Laughs.]
SANDUL: She's really trying to nail down Charlie's political philosophy. I know she had some questions.
BLACKBURN: I've had conflicting, from different interviewees, of whether he was conservative of liberal. Do you have any, I guess, opinion about that, if there were certain aspects, if he were more liberal?
LOVE: I think it depended on the issue. I know one thing I admired about Charlie is he would vote on different pieces of legislation based on the views from his constituents, but also what felt what right for the country in his gut. And I know one of the issues I handled was abortion. Of course, his constituents were against abortion and the right to choose. Charlie was more in favor of the right to choose, especially in cases of rape or incest. I remember, every January when the right-to-lifers came to D.C., I would get a dozen dead roses.
LOVE: And the first time they came to the office I'm like, "Wow, someone sent me a box of roses," because they come in a long box . . .
SANDUL: So at first you're all, "Yay, I'm going to get some roses." [Laughs.]
LOVE: Yeah I'm excited. I'm like, "Who was the person who sent these?" But, I was young and you learn. There were times when the folks would come up from the district and I would always meet with them. They knew Charlie's position, but they would come in and try to convince me to convince them to go otherwise, but he didn't. He just felt in his heart that it was right to have a woman choose, especially in cases of rape or incest, whether she wanted to carry the baby to term or not. In that respect, I admired him. I think his constituents did too, in the long run, because they always kept voting him back in.
SANDUL: Well how would you describe his political philosophy? You're put in a corner and someone says, "What is Charlie Wilson?" Would you stick to . . . [mumbled]. If I were to generalize, I would try to categorize him this way or that way.
LOVE: You mean overall?
LOVE: Like who was Charlie? Charlie was a very unique member of congress and a very unique individual. When he walked into a room, the room just lit up. I think mainly because of his height and because of his voice. He was very charming. I think he could charm a skin off a snake, but was very honest. When Charlie told you something, whether if it was something you wanted to hear or whether it something you didn't want to hear, you could count on his word unlike a lot of politicians.
LOVE: They [politicians] kind of go with the flow, but not Charlie. There were times where, I know like when I was meeting with the right-to-lifers one time. They were in his office and he came in. I had been meeting with them for about forty-five minutes. There was about thirty of them and one of me and we were kind of cramped into his office. I listened to them and they knew what Charlie's position was and they were just going over and over and over. And I kept telling them I'll pass your concerns onto him, but they just kept going on and on and on. He [Charlie] needed his office. So, he comes in and essentially repeated what I had been telling them. He told them that he would sit down and talk to me and listen to what they had to say, but this was his position on this and he needed his office and thanked them for coming. Again, he was a very honest person. He didn't tell his constituents what they wanted to hear.
LOVE: He told them what he believed was right for them and what's right for the country.
SANDUL: Well is there other examples then, in your opinion, when he was at odds with what his constituency wanted, say abortion? Are there any other issues that he firmly believed one way and basically, his constituents did not?
LOVE: Not that I can think of off the top of my head. But, another example of him doing what he thought was right for the country was his involvement in Afghanistan. Because you know there were no defense contractors in his country, I mean his district. No, you know, military bases down there. I mean defense was not something his constituents were interested in as far as benefiting them, getting more jobs for the district, things of that nature. But, it was that something Charlie felt in his gut was right for the country.
LOVE: On the other hand, I also know that he took a great interest in the veterans. And there were a lot of veterans in his district.
LOVE: And you know he would do a lot for them. I did the veterans case work. There were veterans that were trying to get disability benefits or whatever. And we would push to the hilt to try to make that happen, if in fact we felt that it was a legitimate case.
SANDUL: Okay, okay. With that said then, how much of the Afghanistan time, that situation. Did you or any of the other Angels really know what he was up to or what was happening? Was any of that made known to you, any of you? Were there whispers?
LOVE: Since I did the casework of the health legislation, it wasn't really anything that I worked on.
LOVE: The folks that did his defense work, appropriations work, foreign ops work, they could probably answer that better than I. I do know that he did a lot of it on his own.
LOVE: And again, I think because of the sensitivity of it and the fact that he didn't want to . . . If anything went wrong, went south, he didn't want to have any of his staff involved.
LOVE: I don't mean that he was doing anything illegal. He certainly did have his key staff involved in the war and appropriations and what was going on there. But, there were some things that he did, that the staff didn't know about.
SANDUL: Okay, so there were just things. We don't know exactly what's going on. Okay. Well, speaking of the staff then, tell me a little bit about Charlie's Angels. Obviously, the moniker comes from the famous TV show. So, I instantly picture Kate Jackson and Farah Fawcett. Where did that name come from?
LOVE: I'm Kate Jackson by the way. [Laughs.]
SANDUL: On the record. [Laughs.] Where did the usage of that name pop up? Do you know? Was it already in place when you joined?
LOVE: When I started working Charlie, the TV show was popular. I don't remember exactly how it got brought up. But, I do remember going to a Rotary meeting in the district with Charlie, there were a couple of other staff with me, and he was giving a speech at their morning breakfast club. The speaker introduced Charlie and then he said, "Charlie's Angels are here with him." And at first, we thought it was kind of demeaning to be called Charlie's Angels.
SANDUL: Okay, yeah. So, what was that? Was there a talk . . . because you've obviously transitioned into a very affectionate . . .
LOVE: We love it now.
SANDUL: And self identify as, "We are Charlie's Angels." So yeah, take us through that process of it being "Is this demeaning?" to "This is who we are."
LOVE: It was kind of demeaning, but yet and on the other hand it was kind of flattering because you're being associated with this hip TV show.
SANDUL: Yeah, yeah.
LOVE: But yet, on the other hand we thought, "I've got a name and it's not Charlie's Angels." But, as it kind of progressed, it's great now. In fact, I've got some friends who are Charlie's Angels wannabes. I was in Arkansas this past weekend. I've got some property down there. It was referred to as a girls gone wild weekend. We stayed at one of the ladies' cabins and there were like five of us. We all had nicknames, Angel 1, Angel 2, Angel 3. Of course, I'm Angel 1.
SANDUL: I was going to ask. Okay, we need to know. On the record, Peggy Love is Angel 1.
LOVE: There was one lady, whose cabin we stayed at, she was a wannabe. So, we made her go through this test of sorts, over the weekend. When we were leaving Sunday evening, we voted her in as Angel 6.
SANDUL: Angel 6.
[Sandul and Sosebee laugh.]
LOVE: So, these are ladies, ladies I've become acquainted with this past year, who are just kind of intrigued by this whole Charlie's Angels. In fact, we watched the movie, Charlie Wilson's War and I brought a picture of Charlie that I had. So, a couple ladies didn't know what he looked like, so I had his picture. One of the ladies would actually speak to him every morning when we got up. She was proud of the fact. She said, "I don't know if any of you talked to Charlie today, but I said hello to him this morning." As far as the Angels themselves go, it's been fascinating to me how the women have stuck together.
SANDUL: Have they?
LOVE: Through, some of us have been through divorces. Some of us have been through just bad marriages or sicknesses. You have family problems, or whatever. Everybody just sticks together and just tries to just help each other out. It's like a group of sorority sisters.
SOSEBEE: Is that . . .
SANDUL: Why do you think . . .
SOSEBEE: I'm sorry.
SANDUL: Go ahead.
SOSEBEE: Is that unusual amongst staffers that work for congressmen that they do stick together afterwards?
LOVE: The only other member I worked for was Congressman Hays and I stayed in touch with his administrative assistant until she passed away several years ago. I don't know, but I would that think because of the transition on the Hill. I just think Charlie's staff was a special group. I could be wrong, but [clears throat].
SOSEBEE: Do you think he had a role in that?
LOVE: [Clears Throat] Excuse me. Yes. Yes I do. I think Charlie had some sort of innate ability to hire staff that he knew would get along. I mean, 'cause you know when you get a group of women together there's always somebody that's, "Na, na, na." You know, but if anybody did, they were just kind of shunned. Like I said, it's just amazing to me how everybody has stuck together.
SANDUL: Now, is the Angels a particular cohort in time or do you find yourself having Angels with Charlie prior to you arriving and after you've arrived and you're all members of a larger club or is there sub-cliques of Angels?
LOVE: It depends on who you talked to.
LOVE: The Angels are to me, ladies who worked for Charlie while he was a member of Congress. There were some ladies, they may have worked for a couple months, and you know the jury's out on if they're considered an authentic Angel if they were just like filling in for somebody.
SANDUL: So are there rules and regulations the Angels have . . . [laughs]
LOVE: No, no, no. Not anything official. There is a group that has just stuck together more than the others, some we have just kind of lost touch with.
SANDUL: Well who is that cohort, if you don't mind sharing with us who the core Angels are.
LOVE: Oh gosh. I hope I don't leave anybody out. There's around, I want to say around twenty to twenty five.
SANDUL: Oh wow.
LOVE: I know I'm not going to get everybody's name.
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
LOVE: Candy, Candy Hooper, Agnus Bundy, Janet Ginsburg, Carol Simons Huddleston, Molly. A lot of folks you have on the list.
SANDUL: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
LOVE: Molly Hamilton and Elaine of course. And Elaine has been key in kind of keeping everybody's email and phone numbers updated.
SANDUL: Is she that? That's her role.
LOVE: And I don't know where she finds the time, because she has two children.
LOVE: And you know it's just . . . Delores Hanes [Thomas], Cynthia Steel Vance.
SANDUL: Okay, yeah.
LOVE: Um, I know I'm leaving people out.
SANDUL: Oh, well that's fine.
LOVE: Maria Zanes.
SANDUL: So, when's the last time you all got together?
LOVE: Well, a couple of them got together, I think it was last week. I was in Arkansas, when Agnus was in town.
LOVE: When Agnus comes to town she'll shoot out an email. You know, "I'll be in town these dates if anyone can get together," or Amy was in town a couple a weeks ago. Same thing, shoots out an email you know, "Can we get together for lunch or dinner?" And who's ever around and available.
SOSEBEE: Did you go to work for another congressman after Charlie retired?
LOVE: No, I left Charlie in 1984 and I went to work for the Air Force Surgeon General.
SOSEBEE: What about others? Were there some that were on his staff when he retired or left to then work for other congressmen?
LOVE: I know Deloris did. I don't know about the others.
SOSEBEE: Because that's when they talked about their experiences working in a different office for a different congressman that they had. Did you ever have any of the staffers who didn't like the moniker and chaffed against the moniker Charlie's Angels when went to work there?
LOVE: Not to my knowledge. No.
SOSEBEE: So, almost everybody embraced it?
LOVE: Yes. Yeah, to my knowledge. You know, it got to be kind of flattering after a while because the TV show was so popular and because the ladies on the TV show were so attractive.
SANDUL: Yeah, as you just said, "I'm Kate Jackson." [Laughs.]
LOVE: And of course, tied in with that was that Charlie was known for hiring intelligent, good-looking women. So, when you tie it all together, it wasn't that bad to be called a Charlie's Angel.
SOSEBEE: Did you ever find it a hindrance though, in working with other people on the Hill? Where they thought, "I'm not going to take them seriously." You never did see that?
LOVE: No. Again, because Charlie's staff was known for being intelligent and hard working and they all bonded. You know, we did our best to take care of him and do our best for him and his constituents.
SOSEBEE: What's he like to work for?
LOVE: Fabulous. What I liked about Charlie is, I liked to work independently. You tell me you need this done, you need that done, you need this bill passed; you need to take care of this constituent. Just let me go do it. I don't like somebody hovering over me. If I have a question, I'll come ask you or when I get the job done I'll come and tell you. If you want to follow up that's fine, but don't hover over me every five minutes saying, "Did you get this done?" or "Did you get that done?" Charlie let me do that. There were, one thing when I worked for Charlie, I did the military casework.
LOVE: The Department of the Navy, they would take staffers down to Norfolk and give them briefings on how the Navy operates. We went on a submarine, just to make us a little familiar with what they Navy does, and other branches of the military did the same thing. When I was down there, we went of an aircraft carrier. While we were on the carrier, they took us into this little IMAX theater and showed us this little video of planes, fighters, catapulting off the carrier and flying around.
LOVE: Well I got to tell you, when you're sitting in this IMAX theater with these planes engines reviving up, I mean your heart is pounding. I'm thinking to myself, "Wow. It would be so exciting to do that." So when we finished up the video, we were walking out and I said to the commander, "Sir, do you take staff on rides on those fighter planes?" And he looked at me and you could see the look on his face like, "Oh no," and he said, "Peggy I can't authorize that, but I'll tell you who you need to talk to." One thing led to another and they told me that Charlie would need to write a letter. So, I went and I mentioned something to Charlie and I said if I draft something, will you sign it and he said, "Sure." So, I drafted a letter and he signed it and it went through. I would get these calls, "Are you really sure you want to do this? We'll have to put you through training, survival training." Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. They were trying to discourage me. I said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I want to do it." And then they came back and said, "Well, we can't take you unless Charlie goes too." Charlie had a bad back, so he couldn't get in. So, I'm thinking that's the end of that. Then somebody else comes back, "Well no, maybe we can try to make an exception," blah, blah, blah. And anyway, a few weeks later I got a call from the Secretary of the Navy's office wanting to know when I wanted to go down to Norfolk for training. You now I walked into Charlie and I told him. I was just floating on air. At the time, to my knowledge, I was the only female staffer to have ever done that.
LOVE: They had taken men up, but not women. Charlie said to me, "Peggy I know if anyone could pull it off, you could." I thought maybe he made a phone call or something. He said, "No. You know, you're on your own on this one." And I got to tell you, it was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life.
SANDUL: It sounds like it. Wow.
SOSEBEE: Do you think he did and just would never tell you?
LOVE: No. No.
SOSEBEE: He would have told you?
LOVE: Yeah, yeah. He would have told me. He would have told me.
SANDUL: We'll feeding into this idea of Charlie's Angels kind of bridges really nice to Good Time Charlie and this image of Good Time Charlie. I was wondering if you can answer a couple of questions about it. First, how much of the Good Time Charlie image is real versus media in your opinion?
LOVE: Charlie really liked to have a good time, no question about it. He liked to work hard, he liked to play hard, and that's another reason we got along because that's right up my alley. If there was a key issue, I mean he'd work twenty-four seven. Like with Afghanistan. I think people that know the story behind that realize he did a lot of work to make that happen. When it's time to play, he liked to party. He liked to have a good time just like anybody else. I think the media played up a lot of it. I think at times when Charlie, you know, would run into issues, make a wrong decision and a reporter was there or sometimes he talked to reporters. Again, he was just a very laid back guy and everything was open, on the record with him. He might be talking to a reporter, casual conversation, like "Oh, you're not going to believe what happened here," or he might be having a drink with a reporter and the next thing you know the reporter writes a story about it. It gets kind of blow up in the media. I think part of it was hype and part of it was just Charlie.
SANDUL: Just Charlie?
SANDUL: Now obviously as both a member of his staff, but clearly a friend, how did you feel about the Good Time Charlie image and actual Charlie?
LOVE: I didn't mind it at all. I thought it was a lot more fun working for a colorful member of congress like Charlie, versus somebody who was just a dead beat.
LOVE: It didn't bother me. Again, and the work I did, when I needed Charlie he was there no matter what. If I had an issue, where there was a constituent that I honestly felt . . . say somebody had been turned down for social security/disability benefits. If I honestly felt there was a flaw in the system and we needed to turn it around and if couldn't do it on my own, I'd go to Charlie and he was there. I had to go to him a lot, but when I needed him he would just, "Peggy what do you need?" He was always doing whatever he could for his constituents. They were very, very important to him because he knew who put him in office.
SANDUL: Fair enough.
SANDUL: Fair enough. Now did Charlie have not just allies in Congress of course, but was he genuinely good friend with any other members of Congress? Did he hang out with any other members of Congress?
LOVE: I don't know particulars of who he hung out with. It's been awhile. I do know he had a lot of friends in Congress. Charlie wasn't somebody that would ask his colleagues for a favor very often. So, when this Afghanistan issue came up, I think that was part of why he was able to get things done like he could. When his colleagues needed a favor, if they needed him to vote yay or nay on a bill, if it wasn't anything that would jeopardize his constituents, he'd go along with it. If he didn't think it was bad for the country, he'd go along with it. So, he saved a lot of chips over the years.
SANDUL: Okay. So, tell me a little bit about that. Did he have a core group of political allies or those he dealt constantly within back and forth negotiations, not negotiations, but discussions about getting a law passed or a policy decision?
LOVE: I don't think there was any particular core group. I think Charlie was well liked by the entire congress. The House and the Senate, just because of his personality. People knew that, he was more known for the Good Time Charlie image, but I think people also recognized the fact that when he needs to be serious he will.
SANDUL: Would you describe him as, not the person, but just talking of the politician, was he a good politician at interacting with the daily business of Congress?
LOVE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Charlie was a very, very intelligent man.
SANDUL: Well I was going to say, we keep hearing a lot about his charm and people liking him. But, as you just said, he's a very intelligent person. Is that why he's so successful in Congress for so long?
LOVE: I think not only his intelligence, but I think his intelligence and charm. His way, just to work with any type of person is what made him so successful in Congress.
SOSEBEE: He seemed to have a, I don't know if it's special, but a close relationship with [Speaker of the House, D-MA] Tip O'Neil.
SOSEBEE: How did that come about and did you notice, I wouldn't say special favors, but how did they work together so well? You have a guy from Massachusetts and a guy from Texas.
LOVE: I guess the same way Charlie got along with other members. When Tip needed something he would go to Charlie and if Charlie didn't feel like it would be detrimental to his constituents or the country he'd go along with it. Charlie was a good negotiator and Charlie was able to work some other members and sway them to do what the Speaker wanted. So, I think . . .
SOSEBEE: Do you think that the Speaker used Charlie as kind of an emissary to some of the more conservative, quiet often Southern Democrats that he had to deal with? He said, "Charlie can you go convince these people?" Did that go on?
LOVE: Probably and I'm not sure he'd say convince, but, "Can you go talk to them or try to persuade them?" I think the Speaker would have done that with other members as well, not just Charlie. I think he targeted Charlie again because of Charlie's ability to sway people and his ability to approach people and he was a good negotiator.
SANDUL: Yeah. Now maybe this might seem a little obvious with him being on appropriations and then foreign aid. Being in office for quite a long time as well, was Charlie a powerful congressman?
LOVE: Um, in his own way yes.
SANDUL: What do you mean by in his own way?
LOVE: Again, Because of his charisma and his intelligence, he had an innate ability to get things done. As far as being powerful like the Speaker, no. He wasn't in a leadership position.
SANDUL: Sure, sure.
SOSEBEE: You could speak on that. You worked for two people that you would say are powerful. Wayne Hays was powerful because of his position and the seniority he had built up. So, you said Charlie was different. Can you kind of give us the dichotomy of the two men's style and why each was effective?
LOVE: Wayne Hays, if you crossed him, he at times could be resentful. If you crossed him, he might do something to make your life a little uncomfortable. Being head of the House Administration Committee, he controlled where your office space was, parking places, things like that, the everyday comforts of being a member of Congress. I heard stories; again, I couldn't confirm any of this. But, I've heard stories where there was a page [Student, who runs errands for members of congress]. At the time you had pages run the elevators, it wasn't electric. There was a page that crossed him on the elevator and Congressman Hays had this kid's paycheck held up for a month.
LOVE: Again, I don't know if it's true or not, but you hear these stories.
SANDUL: Wow, yeah.
LOVE: You know other members when it came time to getting offices. The basement of the Cannon House office building is one of the worst places you want your office.
SOSEBEE: Is that right?
LOVE: Well, you know if you had crossed him that's where you were going to wind up and things like that.
SANDUL: So you could figure out who crossed him by who was down there? [Laughs]
LOVE: At times. At times. [Laughs] When Wayne Hays, when he was accused of having Elizabeth Ray on his payroll to be his mistress, they just jumped on that. He wasn't able to work his way out because he had some people that didn't like him. And they were just figured it was a good time to pay him back. Where, Charlie on the other hand . . . when Charlie would fall off the deep end with different allegations, he always come out. People, I think, were more eager to forgive Charlie than Congressman Hays, if that makes sense.
SANDUL: And that is, not to put words in your mouth, that's his charm.
SANDUL: His ability with people?
LOVE: Yes, yes.
SANDUL: Actually you came on just at the time of Giuliani and the investigation right?
LOVE: I came on in '79, no '76. '76.
SANDUL: So you came on in '76, so you were leaving . . .
SANDUL: Just after that?
SANDUL: Okay. What was the environment like in the office or amongst the Angels when this investigation was going on? Was it very tense or, "Oh don't worry. Charlie will get out of this"?
LOVE: It wasn't that it was that tense. Again, I wasn't involved with it. You just do your job. You just take it as another project if that makes sense.
LOVE: You just work together and you do your best to try and make it come out in his best interest.
SANDUL: Now, did you see the transition from Simpson to Schnabel or did Schnabel follow you after you left?
LOVE: Oh gosh, I don't remember. I think because I hung out there so much after I left [laughs], I think Simpson was still there.
SANDUL: Now did you have to work with Simpson closely and what was it like working for Charlie's administrative assistant?
LOVE: Simpson was great. He was great. He was like Charlie's right hand person. Again, if I had questions on things I'd go to him because you don't want to bother Charlie all the time. Simpson met with Charlie and they shared a door so if was a lot easier for him to get to Charlie than me. So yeah, he was great to work with.
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
LOVE: Again, he, the both of them kind of empowered the staff. They let you do your thing, but they kept an eye on it. If you were kind of going south on something they would call you in and say, "Let's talk about this." But, for the most part, they let you do your thing.
SANDUL: Okay. Now what were some of the major issues, obviously Afghanistan? I know Charlie with his constituents, his interest in social security, health, and veterans. Were there any major policies or issues during your time that Charlie was a real champion of, any particular piece of legislation?
LOVE: There was one piece of legislation, and I know that I'm not going to get this right. There were some constituents, not constituents. There were some people in his district, illegal immigrants, applying for different sorts of government programs. Welfare benefits, social security benefits, and I didn't think that was right. I asked Charlie if I drafted a bill if he'd introduce it and he said, "Sure." So, I did some research and I drafted this piece of legislation and told them what the gist of this was and he said okay. Then somebody told me I had to call the Legislative Counsel's Office. So, I did and they told me that Charlie couldn't introduce this piece of legislation because I was not a lawyer. And I'm like, "What!" They said, "Well you've got to run it through legislative counsel." So, I gave them what I had. They essentially took what I had and put the legal sites and put it on the right form and it was introduced. I was so infuriated by that; I decided to go to law school.
LOVE: You know. So I did, I went to law school. The legislation eventually became part of some social security amendments that passed.
SANDUL: Did that occurrence happen with others? Did he encourage members of the staff like you? "Hey work on that piece of legislation and maybe I'll introduce it," or was this something of an anomaly?
LOVE: No. I think, again based on what you were hearing from the constituents. Since I did the casework, I heard a lot more about the various social programs. But, you know the ladies that did his defense and appropriations and foreign ops, I'm sure that and I don't recall any bills from them. I know in appropriations, as with other member, there comes times when you're trying to get some extra money in for your constituents for whatever and his staff would see that, that happens. But, I'm not familiar with . . .
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
SOSEBEE: You said he was really good to work for. Was there some thought, and he let you be independent. Were there some ironclad rules that, 'if this happens I want to know. If this comes up, I want to be informed because I want to do something about it.' Were there some issues or particularly I'm talking about relationships with constituents, that Charlie said, "We need to drop everything and work on this if it comes up"? Was there anything like that that went on?
LOVE: Not that I recall, but again if there was something big, that I thought was a big issue I would run with it and tell him. I remember there was some sort of a handicap center in Nacogdoches. There was some legislation that was passed and it had to do with taxes. They were supposed to be taking out social security taxes for their employees and they didn't know about it. Their accountant didn't know about it. Anyway, they got a letter and they had to pay something like eighteen thousand dollars in back taxes, but they had to do it or they were going to have to close their doors. They wrote a letter to Charlie and I got it. I sent their letter, the cover letter to the IRS like we typically do. They sent me back this two or three page letter and was 'gobblie-gooke'. I mean, I couldn't understand it and I'm thinking if I couldn't understand it, I know they can't. Not that they are dumb or anything, but like page one, the facts were conflicting with the laws they recorded on page two. So, I called the IRS and nobody could satisfy me and answer my questions.
SANDUL: Uh-huh. LOV: I ended up talking to the director in Dallas office and he was talking out of both sides of his month. I went to Charlie and I said, "Charlie," I said, "You know this just isn't right." You know and I said, "Yeah they're going to pay it, but they didn't know about it. They have this country accountant and he didn't know and they didn't know." And I said, "I think I need to push this one," and he said, "Go for it." So, we ended up getting the IRS to reverse their decision.
SANDUL: Oh, wow.
LOVE: So the center was able to keep their doors open and they didn't have to pay their back taxes. You know, from them on they had to start paying them. You know, but the IRS, they didn't really admit fault, but they agreed to make an exception so to speak.
SOSEBEE: You mention Nacogdoches. Of course, I don't know if it's urban legend or something that just got started, but Charlie didn't like Nacogdoches. That he would just prefer Nacogdoches not be in his district. [Laughs] How much is a built up thing and how much of that was there some actual antipathy?
LOVE: I don't know. I don't know anything about that.
SOSEBEE: You never heard it said there's rumors that he didn't like Nacogdoches very much?
LOVE: Yeah, yeah.
SOSEBEE: They didn't vote for him very much.
LOVE: Oh. [Laughs.]
SANDUL: Well did he talk about his constituents in anyway? Here he is a man from East Texas, from Trinity, but also goes on to be Good Time Charlie. In many ways, even with issues of abortion, did he ever, and not bad, did he ever voice any concerns about or disagreements with this constituents?
LOVE: Not to my knowledge.
LOVE: No, he was very concerned about his constituents. In fact, one of the things I used to love to do was go down to the district on the bus. You know, his mobile office.
SANDUL: Yes, yes.
LOVE: And go from town to town. It was draining, it was tiring, but we'd go to different places and pull up in the parking lot. Folks would be coming around; they'd see Charlie bus and he'd be out there shaking hands. And I'd be sitting on the bus on chair and little table doing casework. I mean people would come to Charlie and say I have this problem with social security. "Oh, Peggy's on the bus. Go see Peggy she can help you out." Or there was maybe like Linda, because Linda did casework in the district.
LOVE: There would be a couple of us on the bus taking down all information we needed to help the people out. I just really loved that.
LOVE: And I loved seeing different parts of the district. I love country and the South anyways, so.
SANDUL: So you've traveled around East Texas?
SANDUL: You've seen it. Okay
SOSEBEE: Was there ever any, I don't think conflict would be the right word, any sort of differentiation between the district staff and Washington the staff? Did everybody work together seamlessly?
LOVE: Oh absolutely, absolutely. In fact, some of the staff from the district came to D.C. and some from D.C. went to the district. Like, Linda Macintosh, when she started, she started in the D.C. office. In fact, she took my position in D.C., well she took over the casework part, they gave somebody else the health legislation part. Then she went to the district. Diana Tindle [phonetic spelling], she started in the district then she came to D.C. So, there were some staff that kind of flipped. Some of that depended on Charlie as far as staffing and the wishes of the people if they wanted to go live in the district or whatever.
SANDUL: Now by the end of the '90s then, Charlie leaves office. Did you ever discuss with him or get a sense of why he decided to retire?
LOVE: I didn't personally. I heard he was, Congress wasn't the same as it used to be and he was just frustrated.
SANDUL: What you mean by Congress wasn't the same? Obviously, we have the [Newt; Republican Speaker of the House from 1995-1999] Gingrich revolution, is the how it changed? How it became a different environment?
LOVE: Yeah and it wasn't, people weren't as congenial to work with and he was just getting really frustrated by the whole thing.
SANDUL: Did he speak to that at all?
LOVE: Not to me. This is just what I was told talking to other staffers. I wasn't working for him at the time.
LOVE: I didn't talk to him personally about it.
SANDUL: Okay, okay.
SOSEBEE: Some of the, some people, and this is kind of one thing, kind of the personal Charlie just as much as anything else. Some of the interviews that we've talk to people, to his family members sometimes said that Charlie, while he was this emulate personality, he could become almost depressed at times too and get down. Did you ever see that in the office or was he good at hiding it?
LOVE: No. No. I never saw that. There were times where Charlie would be deep in thought, but again that was when he was thinking and planning, trying to figure out what to do on an issue.
SANDUL: Now are there any questions or items that we're just not asking you that you think, "Hey they should really know this," or "I really just want to share this"? Anything like that?
LOVE: I think you've pretty much covered everything. [Laughs]
SANDUL: We'll we're good. [Laughs.] Okay, Fair enough, fair enough.
SOSEBEE: Would you ask Charlie something if you could ask him today, a question that you've always wanted him to answer, or something? What would you say to him today?
LOVE: Oh gosh. I've got to tell you. I've got an apartment in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I've got the newspaper article hanging on my wall that was in the Washington Post and it's titled something like 'Good Time Charlie.' It talks about how he likes to party but he gets things done when he needs too. There were times when I would just there and talk to Charlie about stuff. But, gosh, if I could just ask him . . . I would like to pick his brain about his strategy with the whole Afghanistan issue and how he was able to pull that off.
SOSEBEE: A lot of people, I think would really like to know the inner workings of that and I don't know that we're ever going to find out.
SOSEBEE: What do you think he would say about the current situation?
LOVE: Over in Afghanistan?
LOVE: I think he would say that he was sorry again that he couldn't convince Congress in the end, to give Afghanistan or to appropriate more funds to rebuild the schools and the homes and the roads and the infrastructure over there. I know that's one of the things he regretted in the end.
SANDUL: Well knowing that and the famous line at the end of the movie makes it clear.
LOVE: Yes. Yes.
SANDUL: I've heard others say this. Did you ever talk to him, particularly post 9/11, of the attacks that came out? And, oh it was Charlie, particularly after the movie, that helped to fund and to arm the Mujahideen,* of course we don't accuse people not understand the Mujahideen, Taliban, Al-Qaeda. Did he ever talk about how it made him feel that he would be attacked? [* The Mujahideen fought against the Soviet Army between 1979-1992. They were know as freedom fighters and were independent from the government.]
LOVE: No. I didn't talk to him about things like that. When I saw him during those times, it was social and we didn't get into that.
SANDUL: Fair enough, fair enough. Well we have another interview in fifteen minutes so I think this is probably a good time.
SANDUL: Thank you so much.