Rep. Van Taylor announced today that he is supporting Rep. Ken Paxton for Texas Speaker of the House. The other person who have filed to become Texas Speaker are Rep. Warren Chisum, and the incumbent Texas Speaker, Joe Straus.
“The Speaker of the House of Representatives is one of the most powerful and influential political figures in the state, vested with the responsibility of overseeing the course of lawmaking in every area of possible interest to any Texan.” Texas Federal Court Judge, Lee Yeakel.
What are the actual powers and duties of the Texas Speaker of the House? Click here.
Public Hears Only Ten Minutes Following Three Hours in Closed Meeting
AUSTIN, Texas, November 23, 2010 – Today, Liberty Institute attended the Texas House Ethics Committee meeting in which the committee Chairman, Chuck Hopson (appointed by Straus) and the committee heard claims of political revenge in the Speaker of the House race and redisctricting process. When the hearing began, Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) was named as the Texas House member who allegedly told Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) that elected House members would be punished for not supporting current Speaker Joe Straus. Specifically, Rep. Hughes claims that Rep. Phillips said that redistricting maps were already being drawn to get rid of newly elected Rep. Erwin Cain (R-Sulphur Springs) and Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van).
The hearing was officially posted as a public hearing, but Committee Chair Chuck Hopson (appointed by Straus) announced that he would close the hearing and ultimately only allowed the public to hear ten minutes of committee discussions that lasted more than three house behind closed doors.
In response to today’s developments, Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at Liberty Institute, released the following statement:
“It is outrageous that the public and media were effectively shut out from hearing important details about alleged threats related to the Texas Speaker of the House race made by an elected official and member of the Straus leadership team. “
“With Rep. Hopson’s anti-free speech letter last week and his near-shutout of the public today, the chairman appears dead set on hiding relevant information from Texas voters about speaker politics.”
Update!!: 12;48 p.m. House committee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Hopson (appointed by Joe Straus) emerges from closed/executive session, over three (3) hours later.
Rep. Bryan Hughes speaks first, asks to be placed under oath and such request is granted. Rep. Hughes repeats the statements made in his letter early this month, stands by his recalling of what he heard Rep. Larry Phillips say (see Hughes letter below). Rep. Phillips said that Rep. Hughes statements about redistricting were false. Rep. Phillips says that no such redistricting maps are being drawn.
Rep. Hughes says that Rep. Chisum and Rep.-elect Landtroop were also mentioned by Rep. Phillips regarding redistricting issues. According to Rep. Hughes, he was told by Rep. Phillips that Rep. Landtroop could be protected.
Following the ten (10) minutes of a “public hearing”, Rep. Hughes tooks questions from the media. Rep. Phillips immediately left the hearing room.
Chairman Hopson (appointed by Speaker Joe Straus) concludes not enough information at this time to make any decision about misconduct. Hearing adjourns.
Rep. Hughes stated to the press that he called Rep. Phillips before he sent out his letter with such allegations in question. See Hughes letter below.
We’re at the Texas Capitol, at the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee hearing, regarding allegation made related to Speaker Joe Straus support. The committee came to order briefly. Present were: Chairman Chuck Hopson (appointed by Straus), Rep. Creighton, Rep. Hunter.
Rep. Larry Phillips was named as the Texas House member that Rep. Bryan Hughes said called him and discussed how a redistricting map was already being drawn to get rid of Republicans Rep. Erwin Cain and Rep. Dan Flynn as punishment for not supporting Joe Straus for Speaker, but that Rep. Hughes would be safe as long as he supported Straus.
Chairman Hopson (apppointed by Straus) made some important annoucements:
1. Rep. Larry Phillips has recused himself from the committee hearing, as he is a member of this committee that is conducting the investigation.
2. The hearing would limited to the one purpose, the allegations made in Rep. Hughes’ letter. I assume this means the Rep. Hopson has backed off his efforts to investigate people’s free speech activities, who dared give their opinion about the Texas Speaker of the House race. We’ll see. Hearing is technically not over yet.
3. The hearing would take place in private, and the public and media would be shut out of the important discussions between Rep. Phillips, Rep. Hughes, and the House committee.
Add six (6) more names to the list of House member and members-elect who have now decided to vote against Speaker Joe Straus and are now supporting Rep. Ken Paxton.
The newly elected State Representatives adding their names to the Paxton support list are: Cindy Burkett, Bill Zedler (formerly on Straus support list), Charles Perry, Jim Landtroop, Kenneth Sheets, and David Simpson.
Today, Liberty Institute delivered a letter to all the Texas State House of Representatives members and members-elect explaining their legal right to communicate with their constituents on the Speaker of the House race. On Monday, Rep. Hopson sent a letter telling House members they could be breaking the law and risking jail time if “influence[d]” by their constituents on who the next the Texas Speaker should be.
“We fought a lawsuit over this very issue and won,” said Kelly Shackelford, president/CEO of Liberty Institute. “Vague threats to try to intimidate Legislators and Texas citizens are baseless and won’t work.”
Liberty Institute’s letter states, “…the law is clear. Citizens, organizations, corporations, and legislators enjoy broad protection to discuss who shall be selected as Speaker. Any attempt to chill that constitutionally protected speech is illegal.”
Quorum Report is reporting that the Texas House Republican Caucus is considering taking a “straw poll” on whether or not the Republican Caucus should have a caucus vote, to select the next Texas Speaker of the House.
Last session, the Democratic Party essentially selected the Texas Speaker of the House, even though the Democrats did not have a majority of the House members. The current Texas Speaker, Republican Joe Straus was only able to secure a pledge of 11 Republicans and received support from 65 Democrats, which gave him the 76 votes he needed to become the Texas Speaker of the House.
Many believe that because Republicans have the majority of the House members, that the Texas Speaker of the House should be chosen by Republicans, and not have Democrats essentially choosing the Republican Speaker of the House.
We’ve said from the beginning to State House members, when it comes to the Texas Speaker of the House issue, listen to the voters, to your constituents. Texas voters delivered a victory at the polls for conservatives. That’s what they expect for the leader of the Texas House, as well.
We have also heard that another Republican House member said the pledge to Straus was still intact, but when this member was asked if pledge means an actual vote for Straus, the response was-“I will listen to my constituents.
Yet another member is also listening to the people, and that is Republican State House member, Ken Paxton, who made it official today: he’s running for Texas Speaker of the House. Add Paxton to the growing list of House members who were on the support list for Straus, that Straus released last week within hours of a historic Republican resurgence in the Texas House, gaining over 20 additional seats. Just yesterday, Rep. Bryan Hughes pulled his pledge from Straus, following Rep. Debbie Riddle, who last week asked that her name be removed from the Straus support list.
Courtesy of the Texas Conservative Coalition website: “State Representative Ken Paxton was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2002 and is currently serving his 4th term representing district 70. Ken Paxton received his BA and MBA from Baylor University. Representative Paxton also earned a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1991. He and his family live in McKinney, Texas. Rep. Ken Paxton has fought tirelessly against property taxes. He authored and passed HB 1038, requiring county chief appraisers when determining the market value of a residence homestead to not exclude from consideration the values of other property in the neighborhood that sold at foreclosure or that declined in value because of the economy.”
He was elected to his fifth term in November of 2010.
He is well known as a solid, fiscal and social conservative. See his full release letter here. Ken Paxton is at the very top of legislative scorecards for actual legislative votes as tallied by numerous leading conservative organizations in Texas. His annoucement includes the message that we have been saying, the voters want conservative leadership and they want their elected representatives to listen. Ken Paxton Speaker Announcement
Like I have been saying since last week, the Texas Speaker race is far from over. Let me update that: the Texas Speaker Race is just getting started.
Republican, and incoming freshman Texas State House member-elect, David Simpson says he is will “support best man for the job.” This is according to an article linked here. According to this srticle, Simpson is “leaning” toward Chisum.
Straus has been critical of the State Board of Education, which now has a split of 11 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Watch our video here to see leadership of conservatives on the State Board of Education.
Texas Speaker Straus at his press conference yesterday, joined by Democrats Senfronia Thompson, Richard Raymond, Aaron Pena, Ryan Guillen, and Republicans Doug Miller, Jerry Madden, Byron Cook, Jimmy Don Aycock, Jim Pitts, Rob Eissler, Tim Klienschmidt, Dan Branch, Todd Smith, Barbara Nash, Charlie Geren, Jim Keffer
Conservative Leaders released a letter, critical of Straus, with the following quote: “Tuesday night’s resounding victory by conservatives in Texas and around the nation was not the result of any particular politician or group. It was the result of citizens rising up and making their voices clearly heard and it should be taken for precisely what it is: a mandate for conservative policy leadership. The victory of nearly two dozen new conservative Republican legislators reflects the mood of Texas voters on the state’s critical issues. It was a clarion call for conservative leadership in the Texas House leadership that has been absent the past two years. This desire for conservative leadership must be reflected from the Office of the Speaker to every committee chairmanship.”
Speaker Straus was flanked in this picture by numerous Democrats, showing once again that a major portion of his support is from Democrats. We have to assume that a major portion of his favor (committee chair appointments) will also go to Democrats.
Any list of names that Straus shows as proof of support should be vigorously questioned. I have alread talked to numerous members who have said that such list was not recent and was before the election results. All that has changed, now that Republicans have as many a 99 seats in the Texas House. ClaimedSpeakerSupportList
Is your Texas House member on this list?
Last year in the Texas House, the current Speaker of the House, was no friend to pro-family issues. The ultrasound bill never got a vote on the House floor, and the Choose Life license plate never received a regular committee hearing, as it was controlled by Democrat, Joe Pickett, who was appointed by Speaker Straus. Conservatives also had to fight against a dangerous bill attacking the State Board of Education for its decisions on curriculum and textbooks issues, which missed passing by only 2 votes!