Known for: Artie Samish was a powerful lobbyist in the 1930s and '40s who described himself as "the governor of the Legislature."
Background: Born in Los Angeles, Samish grew up poor in San Francisco. He came to Sacramento in his 20s as a legislative clerk but found that the real money and power were in lobbying. Samish's influence grew by following a formula: A special interest would come to him with a specific problem. He would use campaign contributions and organizational help and other "incentives" to get the problem solved legislatively. Then he would make it clear that it could be unfixed unless his services were retained. State lawmakers banned Samish after a photograph appeared in Collier's magazine in 1949 showing him with a ventriloquist's dummy on his knee and asking, "And how are you today, Mr. Legislature?" In 1953, he was convicted of income tax evasion and eventually served two years in federal prison.
A highlight: By 1949, Samish was said to be worth $10 million and at one point, had 17 operatives monitoring activity under the Capitol dome.
In History's Spotlight profiles of Sacramento newsmakers were published originally in 2007 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Sacramento Bee. They were written by Anthony Sorci. Look for them every Sunday in Sac History Happenings.