Houston Matters

Facing Impeachment, Nixon Called Him ‘The Executioner’ — So Why Don’t We Remember Jack Brooks?

A new biography resurrects the longtime Texas lawmaker, who some called “The Meanest Man in Congress.”

Congressman Jack Brooks
Texas Congressman Jack Brooks, who some called “the meanest man in Congress.”

Jack Brooks is one of the most influential Congressmen nobody’s ever heard of.

Brooks represented Texas’ 2nd and 9th districts in Congress for more than 40 years, and that included areas around Beaumont and later part of Greater Houston.

Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson relied on him to win Texas votes. Pres. Jimmy Carter once called him a tough son-of-a-bitch.

And Brooks wrote the Watergate impeachment articles, leading Pres. Richard Nixon to call him “the executioner.”

LBJ Takes the Oath of Office
Texas Rep. Jack Brooks was in the motorcade carrying Pres. Kennedy when he was assassinated in 1963 and can be seen to the right of Mrs. Kennedy as Vice Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson takes the oath of office.

Brooks was in the motorcade carrying Pres. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy through downtown Dallas when the President was assassinated. In the famous photo of Vice Pres. Johnson taking the oath of office with Mrs. Kennedy by his side, Brooks can be seen just behind her.

Journalist Timothy McNulty and his son Brendan McNulty have collaborated on a new book about his career called The Meanest Man in Congress: Jack Brooks and the Making of an American Century.

Rep. Jack Brooks during the Iran-Contra hearings
Texas Rep. Jack Brooks during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987.

In the audio above, they tell Houston Matters host Craig Cohen about Brooks, his career, and why we don’t remember him today.

The authors will hold a book signing at River Oaks Bookstore tonight from 5 to 7.

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Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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