George J. Mitchell Oral History Project


Interview with Leon Billings by Brien Williams


Leon G. Billings


Brien Williams



ID Number

GMOH 049

Document Type


Subject Headings

Environment, Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974), Muskie, Edmund S., Muskie vice presidential campaign (1968), U.S. Senate appointment (1980), U.S. Senate retirement


Biographical Note
Leon Billings was born in Helena, Montana, on November 19, 1937. His parents, Harry and Gretchen Billings, were progressive journalists. He was graduated from high school in Helena, Montana, in 1955 and then attended Reed College for one year in Portland, Oregon. He completed his undergraduate studies and took graduate courses toward an M.A. at the University of Montana. Billings worked as a reporter and organizer for farm groups in Montana and California. He met his first wife, Pat, in California; they married in Montana and moved to Washington, D.C., on January 4, 1963. While in Washington, Billings worked for the American Public Power Association for three years as a lobbyist. In March 1966, he accepted a job on the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution on the Public Works Committee. He worked for Sen. Edmund Muskie helping to coordinate work on environmental policy. From 1966 to 1978, he served as Muskie’s chief of staff. He served on the Democratic Platform Committee staff in 1968 and in 1974 was co-chairman of a Democratic National Committee task force on Energy and the Environment. He later served as president of the Edmund S. Muskie Foundation, a tax-exempt foundation endowed with an appropriation from Congress to perpetuate the environmental legacy of Senator Muskie.

Interview includes discussion of: Edmund S. Muskie's political career and vice-presidential campaign (1968); Mitchell's 1974 Maine gubernatorial campaign (1974) and his U.S. Senate appointment (1980); environmental legislation; personal comparisons between Muskie and Mitchell and comparisons of their respective administrative offices; and Mitchell's decision to retire from the U.S. Senate.


Audio and transcription not to be released until November 17, 2023, or until the decease of Leon Billings or the decease of Senator Mitchell, whichever occurs first. Interviewee reserves the right to authorize access on a case-by-case basis; inquire at the repository. This recording and transcription are © 2011 Bowdoin College and are presented for private study, scholarship, or research only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction, and quotation beyond “fair use” (Title 17, United States Code) permission must be obtained in writing from the George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.


Restricted: inquire at George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421, USA.

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