David Prindle's Petroleum Politics and the Texas Railroad Commission is an in-depth analysis of the history and policies of the Texas Railroad Commission. Professor Prindle believes the Commission is unique among regulatory agencies. He suggests that not only is it the most powerful regulatory agency in the United States, it is also the only important regulatory agency in which the officers are elected rather than appointed.
Professor Prindle's book is divided chronologically, which seems appropriate to the theme of the book. He begins his work with a brief explanation of the development of the Railroad Commission. Governor Hogg formed the Railroad Commission to regulate costs on railroads. Hogg's tremendous popularity with the common man allowed him to easily dominate the new agency in its earliest days. Governor Hogg feared railroad insiders would quickly dominate the agency if officers were elected; therefore, he pressured the state legislature to allow the governor to appoint the positions in its early days. Due to a rare political misstep by Governor Hogg, he failed to appoint any progressive farmers to the commission, the movement soon demanded all commission officers be elected. The state court capitulated to the farmers demands and the Texas Railroad Commissions soon became the most powerful independent agency in the United States with freely elected leadership.