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Will Texas election battles shift to a war against conservatives?

Election day may have brought Texas state legislative races to an end, but a blog post exposing demeaning, disrespectful e-mail comments attributed to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’s senior staff and allies aimed at conservative legislators and activists has ignited new concerns from both grassroots political organizations and other public policy groups.  These e-mails coupled with memories of a contentious speakership battle two years ago raise questions if Texas conservatives will have opportunity to be heard as the legislature reconvenes on Jan. 8, 2013.

In Private Emails  From Texas Speaker Joe Straus’s Office Reveal War Against Conservatives, RedState.com Editor Erick Erickson reports:

Tea party activists are called “idiots,” allies of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton are called “mother f***ers,” and decorated U.S. Marine and State Rep. Van Taylor is dismissed as “stupid,” by a top Straus political strategist.

State Rep. Wayne Christian (HD 9), a legislator targeted via redistricting presumably for his opposition to Straus, was mentioned in the e-mails.  He responded as follows:

As one of the senior Republican House members in my final days, I want to apologize for the Texas House allowing this style of leadership to hijack the integrity which made Texans proud of our state.

Behind closed doors political power though intimidation, pushing big money lobby groups to sell out their membership dollars to which they have been entrusted, and actively punish all who do not “walk their line” and support their selfish agendas.

Christian goes on to explain how efforts to secure newly elected legislators’ “pledge card” support for Straus’s continued speakership tenure start with Tuesday evening’s election results.  He asks “all Texans, after having voted, please contact your State Representative and insist they ‘pledge’ their support only to take back the Texas House!  Insist they vote for Bryan Hughes for Speaker and not allow the distasteful slide toward a government where the people are ‘made dupes of designing men’ as warned by Sen. Daniel Webster in 1782.”

Women On The Wall™ is a grassroots organization that produced a series of “Speaker Showdown” videos supporting the 2010-11 “Oust Joe Straus” movement and criticizing use of “pledge cards,” the process in which the House leadership team pressures other House members to sign cards pledging loyalty to the current House leadership.

Straus retained the speakership by what many observers consider backroom manipulation and intimidation.  Despite more legislators appearing supportive of new leadership, only a group of 15 House members stood firm in opposing the speaker.  That group, known as the Texas 15, included Christian along with Leo Berman (HD 6), Cindy Burkettt (HD 101), Erwin Cain (HD 3), Dan Flynn (HD 2), Phil King (HD 61), Jim Landtroop (HD 85), Jodie Laubenberg (HD 89), Tan Parker (HD 63), Ken Paxton (HD 70), Charles Perry (HD 83), David Simpson (HD 7), Van Taylor (HD 66), James White (HD 12) and Bill Zedler (HD 96).

With the Straus team e-mails suggesting an absence of professionalism, cooperative spirit and taxpayer accountabilty, WOW President Rebecca Forest said:

Any of the remaining 15 Texas Representatives who were brave enough to take a principled stand and vote for a true conservative as House Speaker in 2011 would be foolish to believe for one moment that Joe Straus will EVER forgive (or forget) their vote against him as Speaker.  He may promise and deliver much desired committee chairman positions, but in the end, it’s fair to question if conservative legislation will be allowed to make it through the Texas House.  While having much support to lose, Representatives will gain nothing from their failure to stand against Straus in 2013.

Americans for Prosperity-Texas, an organization with more than 95,000 activists committed to strengthening our constitutional government, spending limits and giving greater control over how much government taxpayers want and are willing to pay for, issued this statement about the e-mails:

Red State posted a blog Sunday afternoon which includes some emails from the Texas Speaker’s staff on redistricting.

The tenor of the emails are of concern to us at Americans for Prosperity who want and expect more professionalism from legislative leaders’ staff.  Moreover, the emails demean the tea party activists, one of our own Activists of the Year, Jason Moore, and conservative legislators.

The statement goes on saying the remaining issues are not personal or even political – that “For us at Americans for Prosperity-Texas, and for voters, it is policy-focused.”  In additionally questioning if Straus will allow a conservative agenda – one supported by the majority of Texans – to move forward, AFP-Texas recommends that “citizens contact their Texas House members and remind them why they were elected.”

Erickson concludes the RedState.com piece saying:

These emails appear to me to be just the tip of the iceberg. Straus is a known liberal who was empowered predominantly by Democrats, and has held on to power through threats and intimidation. Conservatives in Texas have been fighting back; the question now is whether House Republicans in Texas will do what they have been elected to do… and stand up against Straus.

If you live in Texas, make sure your representative knows what to do.

Delivering that message is undoubtedly underway.

Lou Ann Anderson is an advocate working to create awareness regarding the Texas probate system and its surrounding culture. She is the Online Producer at www.EstateofDenial.com, a Policy Advisor with Americans for Prosperity – Texas and a Director of Women on the Wall. Lou Ann may be contacted at info@EstateofDenial.com.

Lou Ann Anderson

Lou Ann Anderson is an information activist. As a contributor at Raging Elephants Radio and Examiner Austin, she writes and speaks on a variety of public policy topics. Lou Ann is the creator and online producer at Estate of Denial®, a website that addresses probate abuse via wills, trusts, guardianships and powers of attorney as well as other taxpayer advocacy issues.

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Categories: Elections, Government Transparency, Opinion, Politics
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