Degree(s): BJ '64
What do you do in your job?
I work in the D.C. office of Polsinelli Shughart’s Public Policy Group, a law firm based out of Kansas City, Missouri. I primarily work as a lobbyist providing strategic counsel to a number of clients. I am also a guest on MSNBC, CNN, and Bloomberg, and I recently wrote a book on Congress scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2015.
How did you get started in your career?
I was a congressman for 26 years from Texas, from 1979-2005. My current job is an extension of my work in Congress and from my journalism degree.
Some journalism students want to pursue a law degree after graduation. Do you have any advice?
When I graduated it was my intention to be a reporter, but I liked politics so I went to Georgetown Law School. I think having a journalism background helped me because I knew how to write and so many law students don’t. That skill came from my journalism background.
How did you utilize your journalism degree as a U.S. Congressman?
I wrote some of my own press releases, and I was able to train my own press secretaries. It also gave me a better understanding of the press and what they were looking for and a better understanding of deadlines.
What do you enjoy about your current job?
My current job allows me to stay active in politics, keep in contact with many former colleagues and utilize my experience in Congress for the benefit of our clients.
What are three adjectives that describe you?
Tenacious, thoughtful, hard-working.
What has been your toughest learning experience?
Just having an appreciation about what is important to other people, to think of your audience and what they care about. Basically to not be interested in just what you care about and think of others.
What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
How to make what you’re doing interesting. I had a terrific professor for feature writing, Tom Duffy, who didn’t have a degree. I loved his course in feature writing.
What is your favorite J-School memory?
I was on the copy desk the day of the Kennedy assassination. We had to tear apart the front page of the newspaper and redo it.
What is something about you that might surprise people?
That I am one of those people who is fascinated by sports trivia and a lifelong baseball fan.
Updated: November 4, 2011