From the diaries by Erick
What’s more corrupt than the lieutenant of a sitting Speaker of the House making threats against Representatives who refuse to support that speaker? Is it possible for someone to go further up the shameless meter than to draw redistricting maps to cut Representatives out of their districts in order to punish them for standing up to a bad politician?
If you answered, “No, it’s not possible,” then you’d be wrong.
Conservatives who came out and voted on Election Day need to make their voice heard again. We can not let the political class ignore us, and select a speaker who is not a conservative.
I told you on Friday that Rep. Brian Hughes had made allegations that a Straus lieutenant had made those very threats to him. He said that redistricting maps were being drawn to hurt Rep-elect Erwin Cain and Rep. Dan Flynn. When Straus said that those claims were outrageous, Rep. Hughes sent him an email naming the offending member. That brings us to today.
This morning there was a hearing of the Committee for General Investigating and Ethics. This committee is chaired by one of Straus’ closest allies, Rep. Chuck Hopson. Among the other four members of the committee, three are strong Straus supporters.
At the beginning of the committee meeting, Chairman Hopson announced that Rep. Larry Phillips (vice chair of the Ethics committee) was the member named by Rep. Hughes and that Phillips would not sit on the committee during this hearing. Following that two-minute statement they went into secret session. Representatives Hughes and Phillips were apparently the only non-committee members in the meeting.
When they emerged from their three-hour secret session, Hopson’s verdict that without a recording there wasn’t enough evidence to take action.
Here are the problems with this hearing:
1. Hopson should have handed this investigation over to the Attorney General’s office. He was given $42,000 from Straus during his campaign and the allegations that Hughes made against Phillips indicated that more than one member of the Straus leadership team was involved in the wrongdoing. In fact, if the allegations were true then it is likely that Straus himself was involved. Giving the investigation over to the AG’s office would have gone a long way to build voter confidence in the proceedings.
2. The meeting should have been open to the public. What we are dealing with here isn’t about a member of the House of Representatives saving face. It’s about whether or not you can use Capone-esque tactics to get yourself the Speaker’s chair! Transparency is critical and no one on Straus’ side seems to care about that at the moment.
3. Hughes testimony was under-oath while Phillips was not. While we have no idea what happened during the three hours of secret meeting, when the parties emerged and gave public testimony only Rep. Hughes was sworn in. Phillips’ testimony was given without any oath and he carefully avoided the press when he left.
This whole affair is turning into a circus. The Straus camp is trying to avoid dealing with the attacks made against him and just hoping that if they ignore the problem long enough that we will forget about it.
The responses to critiques of Straus can be pretty neatly organized into three categories: 1. Ad hominem attacks – Striking out at individuals that dare to question the Speaker Straus’ record. 2. “Nuh-uh!” – Saying that we’re wrong but failing to provide any evidence to support that statement. 3. Straw man – Promoting the idea that this whole fight is about getting Tom Craddick back into the Speaker’s chair.
Here’s what this whole fight boils down to: For the first time in Texas’ history, ordinary citizens have the opportunity to help impact the choice of who the Speaker of the House will be. It’s the epitome of a watershed moment. This is being made very clear by the number of establishment Republicans who are telling their constituents that this is a decision that should be left up to the members rather than influenced by us common folk.
Texans, Our Representatives work for us and every vote they cast is a reflection of our will. As conservatives, we care whether or not the speaker is a conservative. Representative Straus is not. Make sure your Representatives know where you stand! Hold them accountable if they go against you. Remember, we’re only a year away from the 2012 primary election filing deadline! Have you thought about running for the House? We need more conservatives to stand up and run.
By the way, check back tomorrow for some pretty interesting information about donations that Speaker Straus made during this year’s campaign cycle!