Finding supporters for the bill

How he got into politics “Work hard at the job you’re at” Beginnings of CWRIC Finding supporters for the bill Getting Jim Wright to sponsor the bill Findings of the commission report Bill 442 Speaker pro tem on the day the bill went to the House Citizen participation The last hurdle – President Reagan Signing of the bill “No racial profiling”

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I wanted to make sure that we had prominent members of the Congress as... you know, if I dropped the bill in, people would say, "Oh, that's self-serving. Mineta's an internee, of course." So I didn't want us to be in the forefront on this thing. So I wanted to make sure that we had judiciary committee members who were going to be, who were going to be considering this bill in committee to be co-sponsors. And so we went through this whole thing very extensively.

And then I would call on various people to talk to them on a one-on-one basis about being a co-sponsor. And I went to this one congressman, a fellow by the name of Tom Kindness from Ohio, a member of the judiciary committee. "It's nice to have you here, Norm, what do you have for me?" So I tell him I've got this bill, and it has to do with forming a commission, go back through the whole issue of evacuation and internment.

He sort of looked off in the distance and he says, "Yeah, I remember hearing about it. In fact, my old boss somehow was involved in that." I said, "Really?" I said, "What did you do?" He said, "Well, I was in the General Counsel's office at International Paper Company in Ohio. But our Washington, our senior vice president of government affairs was headquartered in Washington, and I think he had something to do with it." I said, "Really?" I said, "What was his name?" And he said, "Karl Bendetsen." And I go, I thought to myself, "Oh, crap. Here's the guy who engineered the evacuation and was the SOB who put us in camp."

So I just folded up my papers and I said, "Tom, thank you very much for the time," and I walked out of there. And Glen and I were walking out, and we go, oh man. You talk about doing research and know who you're talking to about stuff, but we, boy, we didn't know a thing about it.

Date: July 4, 2008
Location: Colorado, US
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

CWRIC government politics redress

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