There were two members of the Colorado House whose lives were intertwined. Both served in different years, as legislators fromArapahoe County. The first was Peter Dominick who served two terms in the Colorado House as a Republican and later as a United States senator. When he died, this House provided a proper memorial.
The second was Floyd Haskell who served two terms in the Colorado House as a Republican and later as a United States senator. Today, he is receiving a memorial from this House.
Peter and Floyd were roommates in a dormitory at a private high school in New England. One of them was a year older than the other, so they weren't in the same class. Dominick went to Yale and Yale Law School. Haskell went to Harvard and Harvard Law School.
Both enlisted in the United States Army in World War II, and both served in the Pacific Theatre of War. Haskell enlisted as a private and left the service as a major.
In 1964, Floyd Haskell was elected to the Colorado House for the
first time. This was the year of a Democratic sweep, and Floyd was one of only twenty-three House Republicans. He sat in the third row back. The row contained Wayne Knox, Lou Rinaldo, myself, Tom Jordan, Ralph Cole and Floyd Haskell.
It was quite important that Floyd's seatmate in the House was Ralph Cole. Ralph intensely hated high interest rates being charged by banks and other lenders to consumers, and he provided a great deal of knowledge to Floyd on the subject. And while Floyd generally voted with the Republicans, he and Ralph Cole often parted company with them on consumer issues.
In 1966, Haskell was re-elected to the House, which in 1967 had a Republican majority. John Vanderhoof was speaker, John Mackie was majority leader, and Floyd Haskell was assistant majority leader. There was somewhat of a strain because Vanderhoof owned an industrial bank, and Mackie represented industrial banks.
In 1967, Floyd introduced a truth in lending bill requiring lenders and sellers to let debtors know exactly how much interest they were paying on the loan or sale each year. The measure, with a very large number of bipartisan supporters, was sent to Business Affairs, where the chairman vowed to never allow it to receive a committee vote.
Rep. Haskell was tenacious. As chairman of Judiciary Committee, he attached his measure to a minor bill in his committee that then went to House Rules Committee. Rules was the Speaker's committee, and Vanderhoof was not going to allow it to emerge. So Haskell prepared to add his measure to another bill with the right kind of title, and Vanderhoof and Mackie publicly informed the House they wouldn't allow it to happen.
Haskell tried one last time. On April 12, 1967, he added his bill to another bill before the House on second reading, which amendment passed on a standing vote. Mackie immediately moved the committee rise and report and Vanderhoof resumed his chair as Speaker. Floyd needed 33 votes to adopt the committee of the whole report. There were four Democrats absent. The bill lost on a 29 to 32 vote.
In 1968, Floyd decided not to seek re-election. The story I was told, and I never asked Floyd to verify it, was that Floyd's major client was a large automobile manufacturer, who had told Floyd to get off this consumer kick, or they would take their business elsewhere. Floyd continued to speak up for consumers and lost the client. So he may have left the legislature to restore his law practice. And another reason would be that he found himself voting more and more with the Democratic minority.
In 1970, Floyd became disenchanted with President Nixon's handling of the war in Vietnam, and became a Democrat. He ran for the United States Senate in 1972 in a primary against State Senator Tony Vollack and won.
President Nixon won the 1972 election in a landslide over George McGovern, but in Colorado, Haskell defeated three-term Senator Gordon Allott by less than 10,000 votes out of 900,000 votes cast.
When Haskell went to Washington, he served two years of his six years in the Senate with his former high school roommate, Peter Dominick. Sen. Dominick lost to Gary Hart in 1974.
In the Senate, Floyd used his skills as a tax attorney to become a major player in the area of tax reform. But in 1978, when he ran for re-election, I noticed that he no longer had the "fire in the belly." And it didn't help much when President Carter came to
Denver to campaign for Floyd and called him "a national treasure."
Floyd Haskell went through the motions, but his heart was not in
it, and he lost badly to Bill Armstrong.
When Floyd left the Senate, he became head of a tax reform think tank. One wintry day, in Washington, D.C., Floyd stepped off a curb into the street, slipped on the ice and hit the back of his head against the curb. He was hospitalized and spent a long time in a successful recovery and did live to the age of 82.
Floyd Haskell was a man of impeccable manners, high intelligence, able to speak in complete sentences, tenacious, but who accepted whatever fortune or adversity came his way with grace, decency and dignity.
He was a gentleman worth knowing, and I was fortunate to know him
as a friend.
Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel