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Jack Brooks

Democrat who was in JFK's fateful Dallas motorcade;

Born: December 18, 1922; Died: December 4, 2012.

Jack Brooks, who has died aged 89, was a long-serving US Democrat congressman who was in the Dallas motorcade when President John F Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. He was also in the famous photograph taken later that day aboard Air Force One, standing behind Jackie Kennedy as Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office.

In all, Mr Brooks spent 42 years representing his Southeast Texas district.

When he served on the House Judiciary Committee, he strongly supported impeaching President Richard Nixon and drafted the articles of impeachment the judiciary panel adopted. Mr Nixon, who resigned on August 8, 1974, referred to Mr Brooks as "the executioner".

During his career, Mr Brooks also developed a reputation as the scourge of bureaucrats he grilled for wasting taxpayers' money.

He also supported the civil rights bills, refused to sign the segregationist "Southern manifesto" in 1956, and helped write the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 which banned racial segregation.

He also alienated gun owners for supporting a ban on assault weapons and abortion opponents for his support of abortion rights.

Jack Bascom Brooks was born in Crowley, Louisiana, and moved to Texas at the age of five.

While in public schools, he worked as a waiter, grocery clerk, magazine salesman and a reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise. He attended Lamar University in Beaumont, and earned a degree in journalism from the University of Texas.

He served with the Marines in the Pacific in the Second World War and retired as a colonel from the Marine Corps Reserves in 1972. He received a law degree from the University of Texas and was a two-term Texas state legislator when he was elected to the US House at the age of 29.

He first took office when Lyndon Johnson was Senate majority leader and was among the last links to an era when Democrats dominated Texas and national politics.

He was returned to office 20 times and was on the verge of becoming the dean of the US House when he was ousted in the Republican revolution of 1994.

On public spending, Mr Brooks was always fierce. His Inspector General Act established independent Offices of Inspector General in major agencies to prevent fraud and waste. "He literally has saved American taxpayers billions of dollars through his actions in improving government efficiency and eliminating waste," former Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe, a long-time friend who died in 2010, said two years earlier when Mr Brooks donated his congressional papers, photos, correspondence and other items to the Centre for American History at the University of Texas.

Mr Brooks married Charlotte Collins in 1960 and the couple had three children and two grandchildren.

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