University of Texas San Antonio

A Guide to the Albert Bustamante Papers, 1980-1992

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bustamante, Albert
Title: Albert Bustamante Papers
Dates: 1980-1992
Creator Abstract: Albert Garza Bustamante's public service career includes 12 years as a Bexar County Judge and four consecutive terms as a Democratic Congressman representing Texas from 1985-1992.
Content Abstract: The bulk of the collection consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence from constituents and colleagues. The remainder of the records compile Congressman Bustamante's legislative record through vote books, a legislative profile and his weekly newspaper column.
Identification: MS 91
Extent: 5.3 linear feet
Language: Materials are in English
Repository: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections

Biographical Sketch

Albert Garza Bustamante's public service career culminated in four consecutive terms as a Democratic Congressman representing Texas from 1985-1992. Born April 8, 1935 in Asherton, Texas, Bustamante was the son of migrant farm workers and the oldest of eleven children. After graduating from Asherton High, Bustamante became a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1954-1956. Following his discharge, he attended San Antonio College and later Sul Ross State College where he earned his bachelor's degree in secondary education in 1961. Upon graduation, Bustamante was hired as a teacher and a sports coach at Cooper Junior High School in the San Antonio I.S.D.

In 1968, following seven years as a teacher at Cooper, Bustamante became an aide to U.S. Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez. Bustamante won his own elective office in 1972 as County Commissioner of Precinct One in Bexar County, defeating the sixteen-year incumbent Albert Pena, Jr. Bustamante served as a forceful County Commissioner from 1973-1978, however the collection does not contain papers from this time period.

In 1978, Bustamante was elected Bexar County Judge. Bustamante was known for his ability to connect with people and deliver on his promises to help them. While judge, he was appointed by Governor Briscoe to serve on the nine-member Jail Standard Commission of Texas. He was also active in health planning, having served on Camino Real and the State Health Coordinating Committee, where he chaired the sub-committee on the State Health Plan. As County Judge, Bustamante represented over one million people residing in Bexar County. His responsibilities included policy-making and administration of county affairs, approving the county budget and payroll, adopting all orders and resolutions pertaining to county business, supervising county road maintenance and appointing individuals to represent the county on various boards and commissions. He was a member of the Bexar County Mental Health Mental Retardation Board of Directors, the Bexar Metro Transportation Committee and Chair of the Alamo Area Council of Governments.

Bustamante entered the national political scene in 1984 when he won the seat for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas, soundly defeating eighteen-year incumbent Abraham "Chick" Kazen, Jr. in the Democratic primary. In the House, Bustamante won a seat on the Armed Services Committee where he hoped to protect the interests of San Antonio's military bases. In 1989, he was appointed to the House Task Force on Crime and Drugs, where he pushed to increase drug interdiction efforts along the Mexican border. He also served on the Government Operations Committee and on the Select Committee on Hunger. He supported the death penalty and prioritized spending for deficit reduction, education and health care. Bustamante was a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Democratic Leadership Council, Democratic Study Group and legislative caucuses concerned with border and human rights issues.

Despite his dedication to promptly addressing the needs of his constituents and his reputation for prodding bureaucracy when asked, he lost a bid for re-election in 1992 while headlines of criminal investigations loomed. In 1993 Bustamante was convicted of two counts of racketeering and accepting bribes while in Congress and sentenced to forty-two months at the Federal Prison Camp in El Paso. He began serving his sentence in May 1995. Bustamante always adamantly maintained his innocence. The collection does not contain any documentation on the investigation, conviction or appeal, nor does it document his life since the conviction.

Since his release, Bustamante and his wife Rebecca, continue to live in San Antonio where Bustamante manages the Los Indios shopping center on Pleasanton Road. He has reconnected with the people of San Antonio and is still drawn to public service. He has been involved in educational and housing programs and expressed interest in improvements to the South and West sides of San Antonio.


San Antonio Express News, June 9, 1998, p. 8B.

San Antonio Express News, July 19, 1998, p. 1H.

San Antonio Light, March 16, 1992, p. A1.

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents Bustamante's career from 1980-1992 as a Bexar County Judge and as a U.S. Congressman. The bulk of the collection consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence from constituents and colleagues. The remainder of the records compile Congressman Bustamante's legislative record through vote books, a legislative profile and his weekly newspaper column. The collection is divided into two series: Bexar County Judge and U.S. Congressman.


Bexar County Judge
U.S. Congressman


Access Restrictions

This collection is housed at UTSA's Main Campus and must be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To request access, please use the Collections Request Form.

Usage Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the Bustamante collection must be obtained from the University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Index Terms

Bustamante, Albert Garza, 1935-
Gonzalez, Henry B. (Henry Barbosa), 1916-
Congressional Hispanic Caucus (U.S.)
United States. Congress.
United States. House of Representatives.
County government--Texas--Bexar County.
County officials and employees--Texas--Bexar County.
Hispanic American legislators--Texas--San Antonio.
Hispanic American legislators--United States.
Hispanic American politicians--Texas--San Antonio.
Hispanic American politicians--United States.
Mexican American judges--Texas--Bexar County.
Mexican Americans--Texas--San Antonio--Political activity.
Politicians--United States--Texas.
Bexar County (Tex.)
San Antonio (Tex.)--Politics and government--20th century.
Texas--politics and government--1951-
Legislative records.
Newspaper columns.
Local Subjects
Mexican Americans
San Antonio History

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Albert Bustamante Papers, MS 91, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.

Acquisition Information

All the materials in this collection were donated by Albert Bustamante on November 10, 1999 (Acc. 1999-30).

Processing Information

Processed by Toni Jeske, Assistant Archivist, March 2001.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Bexar County Judge

The bulk of this series is incoming and outgoing correspondence from colleagues and constituents from 1980-1983. Also included is a brief biographical sketch along with speech transcripts.
Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Sketch, 1981
Incoming and outgoing correspondence from colleagues and constituents from 1980-1983. Letters from constituents and organizations request information and help, and thank him for his involvement and support in the community. Bustamante's stance on public housing projects and support of the Southside Neighborhood Assistance Corporation, Northeast Side YMCA and Bexar County Hospital improvements (despite being outside his jurisdiction) is evident in 1980 correspondence. He was also involved with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Citizen's Committee for Immigration Reform, and the San Antonio Art League. Letters of concern from constituents range on topics from library funding to management of the Bexar County Jail.
Series is arranged chronologically.
Box Folder
1 2 January-March, 1980
3 August, 1980
4-5 September, 1980
6 October, 1980
7 November, 1980
8 January, 1981
9 February, 1981
10 March, 1981
Box Folder
2 1 April, 1981
2 June, 1981
3 July, 1981
4 August, 1981
5 September, 1981
6 October, 1981
7 November, 1981
Box Folder
3 1 December, 1981
2 January, 1982
3 February, 1982
4 March, 1982
5 April, 1982
6 May, 1982
7 June, 1982
8 July, 1982
9 August, 1982
Box Folder
4 1 September, 1982
2 October, 1982
3 November, 1982
4 December, 1982
5 January, 1983
6 February, 1983
7 March, 1983
8 April, 1983
Speech transcripts that Bustamante delivered at events and charitable functions.
Box Folder
5 1 Speeches, 1981
2 Speeches, 1982
3 Speeches, 1983

U.S. Congressman

The bulk of the U.S. Congressman (1984-1992) series is collegial correspondence. Noticeably, constituent mail for Bustamante's Congressional years is not present in the collection. The U.S. Congressman (1984-1992) series documents Bustamante's Congressional record through Democratic Study Group Vote Books, a legislative profile, and his weekly newspaper column.
The bulk of the U.S. Congressman (1984-1992) series is collegial correspondence. Noticeably, constituent mail for Bustamante's Congressional years is not present in the collection. The correspondence is a mix of brief personal congratulations and thanks, along with letters related to legislative issues and fundraising efforts. The mostly incoming correspondence from members of the House is strong in revealing working relationships between members of the House and the inner working of Congress. Reflected is Bustamante's influence and the extent of his contacts with various politicians ranging from Richard Gebhardt to Lloyd Bentsen. Especially interesting is correspondence between Bustamante and Texas Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez. Often letters contain background information and persuasions to support a position on pending legislation. To find correspondence related to specific legislation, researchers may wish to consult the Vote Books (see below) for names of sponsors and then consult the appropriate correspondence. At times the correspondence conveys the conversations behind the vote and offers a glimpse of other members' stances and logic for supporting or not supporting legislation. Routine correspondence related to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Bustamante was chair in 1988, is most easily found under Esteban Torres, a past president of the group.
Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by last name.
Box Folder
5 4 Abercrombie-Andrews
5 Annunzio-Applegate
6 Aspen, Les
7 Bacchus-Bennett
8 Bentley-Boxer
9 Breaux-Byron
Box Folder
6 1 Campbell-Clemont
2 Clinger-Cranston
3 D
4 E
5 Faleo-Foglietta
6 Foley-Fuster
Box Folder
7 1 Gallo-Gephardt
2 Geren-Glen
3 Gonzalez, Henry B.
4 Goodling-Guthrie
5 Hall-Hopkins
6 Horn-Hunter
Box Folder
8 1 I-Kyl
2 LaFalce-LaRocco
3 L-Levin
4 Lewis-Luken
5 M-Mica
6 Mikulski-Montgomery
7 Moody-Nunn
8 O-Owens
Box Folder
9 1 P-Pickett
2 Pickle-Quillen
3 Rahall-Rhodes
4 Richardson-Russo
5 Sabo-Schumer
6 Seib-Slaughter
7 Smith-Spratt
8 Staggers-Synar
Box Folder
10 1 Tauzin-Visclosky
2 Waldon-Wortley
3 Wright-Young
The Democratic Study Group Vote Books contain all the record votes taken in the House from 1985-1991. A compiled index of votes includes description of the vote, commentary and references to the Congressional Record.
Box Folder
10 4-5 Bexar County Voting Precinct Guide, 1992
6-7 Democratic Study Group Record Votes, 1985
Box Folder
11 1-2 Democratic Study Group Record Votes, 1986
3-4 Democratic Study Group Record Votes, 1988
5-6 Democratic Study Group Record Votes, 1989
7 DSG Record Votes, 1990
Box Folder
12 1 DSG Record Votes, 1990
2-3 DSG Record Votes, 1991
Legislative Profiles
Bustamante's Legislative Profile compiles and analyzes his public service record in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985-1992. The profile is divided into 13 alphabetically ordered sections and provides either summary or detailed information on his attendance and voting record; legislation sponsored; votes on issues concerning budget and taxes, Congressional reform, abortion, civil rights, crime, drugs/guns, defense, education, environment, health care, and labor; committee assignments; legislative service organization memberships; accomplishments in Congress by city, region or issue; federal monies received in the 23rd District; public sector ratings; and honors.
Box Folder
12 4 A-E, 1992
5 F-J, 1992
6 K-M, 1992
Weekly Columns
This subseries contains original typescripts with the printed version of weekly columns written by Bustamante which address legislative issues and reasoning behind his position on issues. The columns were published in the San Antonio Light and the San Antonio Express News. An index to the weekly columns is located at the beginning of the first folder.
Box Folder
13 1 1985
2 1986
3 1987