Henry Barbosa González (born Enrique Barbosa González; May 3, 1916 — November 28, 2000) was a Democratic politician from the state of Texas. He represented Texas’s 20th congressional district from 1961 to 1999.
González was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mexican-born parents Genoveva (née Barbosa) and Leonides Gonzalez (from Mapimi, Durango), who had immigrated during the Mexican Revolution. He attended the University of Texas at Austin and San Antonio College, earning his undergraduate degree. Later, he received a Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Upon graduation, he became a probation officer, and was quickly promoted to the chief office of Bexar County, Texas. In 1950, he was Scoutmaster of Troop 90 of San Antonio, of which his son was a member.
González served on the San Antonio City Council from 1953 to 1956, when he was elected to the Texas Senate, having defeated the Republican candidate, Jesse Oppenheimer. He remained in the Senate until 1961 and set the filibuster record in the chamber at the time by speaking for twenty-two straight hours against a set of bills on segregation. Most of the bills were abandoned (eight out of ten). He ran for governor in 1958, finishing second in the Democratic primary (the real contest for governor in a solidly Democratic state) to Price Daniel. In January 1961, González ran in the special election for Lyndon Johnson’s Senate seat, finishing sixth. However, in September, 20th District Rep. Paul J. Kilday was appointed to the Court of Military Appeals. González ran in the special election for the San Antonio-based district in November and defeated a strong Republican candidate, John Goode. He was unopposed for a full term in 1962 and was reelected seventeen times. He never faced truly serious or well-funded opposition, having been unopposed in 1970, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1984. In fact, the 20th was (and still is) became so heavily Democratic that González faced GOP opposition only five times and handily won each time.
González became known for his liberal views. In 1963, Rep. Ed Foreman (R-Texas) called González a “communist” and a “pinko” and González confronted him. González was referred to as a “communist” in 1986 by a man at Earl Abel’s restaurant, a popular San Antonio eatery. The 70 year-old representative responded by punching him in the face. González was acquitted of assault for this incident.
González chaired the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations that investigated the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. He introduced legislation calling for the impeachment of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. González also blocked hearings into Whitewater until finally agreeing to hold hearings in 1994. In 1997, González fell ill and was unable to return to the House for over a year. Finally, he decided not to run for a 19th full term in 1998. He had long groomed his son, Charlie, to succeed him. Charlie Gonzalez won easily in 1998 and still holds the seat; between them, father and son have served 50 consecutive years in Congress (as of November 2011). He was an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve System and in 1993 proposed an audit of the central bank.
According to Gretchen Morgenson’s book on the 2008 financial meltdown, “Reckless Endangerment,” while head of the House Banking Committee, Gonzalez invited the organization ACORN “to help legislators define the goals when they were devising the new legislation covering Fannie and Freddie.”
On October 24, 2006, it was announced that Rep. González’s personal notes, correspondence and mementos would become part of the Congressional History Collection at the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for American History.
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