Former Texas senator Phil Gramm, a high-profile pol during his 24 years on Capitol Hill, did a bit of a vanishing act after retiring in 2002 and signing up with Swiss banking giant UBS.
Gramm has made a public comeback in the corruption trial of former Illinois governor George Ryan as a witness for the prosecution.
Gramm, who got Ryan’s endorsement when he was running for president in 1996, was called in November to answer questions about more than $30,000 in “consulting” payments funneled to Ryan, then the Illinois secretary of state, and his aides by someone in Gramm’s campaign.
With the jury out of the room, prosecutors wanted to know if Gramm would pay thousands of dollars in consulting fees in exchange for a political endorsement.
“It’s sort of like the difference between love and prostitution,” Gramm told the Chicago courtroom. “You don’t pay people to like you.”
As the courtroom erupted, observers reported, US district judge Rebecca Pallmeyer told prosecutors to ask Gramm a yes-or-no question when jurors were brought back in. “We’re not going to have love and prostitution before the jury,” she said.
Gramm, true to form, did not limit himself to “no,” expounding on his first answer without using the word “prostitution.”
Ryan was livid about Gramm’s comments and marched up to the TV cameras in the lobby. Ryan said, “If Senator Gramm wants to use the word ‘prostitute,’ perhaps he should look within.”