Willie Brown in his California State Capitol Office. Willie Brown, the ultimate politician, was the speaker of the House for the State Assembly in California for fifteen years. We knew Willie well as he often visited us to look for furniture for his offices. On one of his visits in 1995, he knew he was going to be replaced as the speaker by Jim Broulte, a Republican, whose party was now in power. That meant that Willie’s magnificent office on the second floor with all of AT’s best trimmings would be occupied by Mr. Broulte. Willie didn’t like that since he had been so comfortable for fifteen years. So Willie decided that he would take an identical office on the 3rd floor and have AT furnish it for him on taxpayer’s money. He insisted on having AT’s top pieces and he wanted it delivered the next day.
We accommodated him without any purchase orders or payment, just his word that it will all be taken care of. Willie was in his new office for only a few days when it became apparent that he was going to be “chased” out of there and that Broulte was going to occupy Willie’s new office. The extravagance of the office and its costs were leaked to the Sacramento Bee after Broulte occupied it. Ultimately, Willie twisted it around so that it became Mr. Broulte’s responsibility for the spending excess since there was no paperwork to prove otherwise and AT had refused comment to the Bee.
Broulte was licking his considerable chops that he had pulled a fast one on Willie by taking Willie’s new office, which was far better than his old office. He had succeeded in putting poor Willie out in the street now that his original office was occupied by someone else and he had no place to go. When the investigation into excessive spending was concluded, it was determined that Mr. Broulte could use the office but would have to allow public tours through it. Another victory for Willie.
The next time I saw Willie, on his way to being Mayor of San Francisco, he gave me a sly wink of satisfaction knowing the secret that only he and I shared.
(We had the opportunity of furnishing the California State Capital during its restoration in the 1980’s. We did their conference rooms, reception areas, chamber rooms, and private offices. Subsequently, we furnished the Texas, Hawaii, Alabama, Vermont, and Iowa State Capitols, U.S. Treasury Dept. We even have a pair of chairs in the White House under George W. Bush.) .