Last Saturday the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) leaders, members of the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC), voted to affirm the Bexar County Republican Party grassroots leaders (precinct chairs) who voted to censure Speaker Joe Straus on December 11th. On January 27th, RPT Chair James Dickey and Vice Chair Amy Clark voted with their colleagues to make sure the 64 member committee sealed the fate of Joe Straus III with a lopsided 44 to 19 vote completing the statewide censure.
The censure is historic on many levels. It was a test of the Republican Party’s new Rule (44) adopted at the last state convention in 2016 to call attention to Republican officials and officeholders who repeatedly violate the core principles of the Republican Party in their official duties. It put on notice elected and appointed Republican officials that they cannot blatantly or deceptively sow disunity, confusion, and scandal within the Republican Party in serving the people of Texas by repeatedly violating or obstructing the tenets and platform of the Party.
Mark Dorazio, interim Republican Party Chairman for Bexar County, who presented the resolution before the SREC emphasized in his comments and discussions that the censure, any censure of a party official, is not about retribution or a personal attack on a adversary on the right or left end of the political spectrum but a corrective action based first and foremost on principle, a warning that officials should not stray from party principles. But it should not be invoked lightly without serious and deliberate consideration. In his motion asking SREC members to concur with the Bexar County resolution, he said in part:
Rule 44 places a heavy burden on each county in Texas to be self-governing. It states that no other county may censure a lawmaker in Texas except the county of residence of the lawmaker. This is the action that was taken by the county executive committee of Bexar County. The BCRP Executive committee members collectively, and with input carefully and tenaciously examined the facts in this overall resolution.
The Bexar County Republican Party Resolution states the violations. In paragraphs 5, 8 and 10, it details eight violations of the RPT core principles. Our own Texas constitution has been ignored by Speaker Straus as highlighted in paragraph 3, by walking off the job and adjourning the house during the special session with business left at hand.
• Speaker Straus has refused to recognize proper motions and amendments, only allowing motions and amendments to proceed when he consented to their substance. Likewise Mr. Straus set aside parliamentary procedure to deny representatives the right to appeal his parliamentary rulings
• Obstructed the agenda of Gov. Abbott denying members of both parties an opportunity to vote on proposed legislation.
• Obstructed legislation designed to protect the right to life.
• Obstructed legislation designed to secure the freedom of choice for Texas parents in the education of their children.
• Obstructed Texas Privacy Act legislation.
The worst of Speaker Straus actions was the continuous assault on the efforts of the citizens of Texas and conservative lawmakers to stand for life. Paragraph 7 directly shines light on Speaker Straus’s actions against life which allowed partial birth abortion in Texas to continue against the overwhelming outcry of the people of Texas.
The core team members of the Bexar County Ad Hoc committee who worked for five months on the censure resolution understood that the county censure by a super majority and final resolution ratified by the State Republican Executive Committee was a shot over the bow to incumbents or candidates seeking office as Republicans who sacrifice the party’s unifying principles for personal gain, political power and leverage, who curry favor with interest groups and donors at the expense of the party’s conservative principles and platform planks. They can and will be called out if they obstruct the will of Texas Republicans who are working hard to prevent the state from morphing into California.
The political “fallout” of the official censure delivered by the SREC to Speaker Joe Straus (who remains in office until the end of the year) will resonate not only throughout the state but also across the nation. Look for other state Republican parties to adopt the same or similar rule.
I interviewed a number of the SREC members this past week to get their perspectives on the official Straus censure that was affirmed by the state party leaders, members of the SREC, on January 27th.
Gail Stanart of Houston, co-sponsor of the resolution, said, “I admire what the Bexar County Republican Party has done because they did it with the right spirit and the right backup for the SREC to concur with the resolution … (in) a professional and comprehensive manner (which) made the difference in the passage of the resolution.”
J.T. Edwards of Galveston who concurred with the resolution commented that “It (Rule 44 process) shows we are a party of law and order. The process of accountability was provided by the party. Open and transparent from start to finish. People carefully deliberated. At the end of the day, the will of the body prevailed.“
He was impressed that the Bexar County Party did their homework, presented a solid case with hard evidence but would like to see the official being censured given the opportunity to defend himself or herself as in a court of law.
However when pressed, Mr. Edwards said, “I never saw a defense (for Speaker Straus by SREC members). If Speaker Straus said ‘I’m sorry’, this (censure) would not have happened.”
Considering that there were no penalties attached to the censure, I found it difficult to understand the comparison of a censure to a civil or criminal trial. A more apt comparison, I believe, was the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Republicans and Democrat members of the House debated the case and voted for impeachment. The Senate did not. Clinton did not have a roomful of lawyers defending him. He had “surrogates” from the Democrat Party especially in the Senate speaking in his defense. There were no penalties assessed by the House. However there were rippling effects that impacted Clinton’s legacy including his disbarment by his home state which revoked his license to practice law in Arkansas.
Two Bexar County SREC members who voted against the Straus censure, Linda Kinney (SD25) and Marian Stanko (SD 26), should heed the example of J.T. Edwards who said, “two thirds of Galveston County passed a no confidence vote against Speaker Straus. I represent the Senate District.” For defying the super majority vote of their local party committee, both Stanko and Kinney will be facing angry delegates in June when their re-election bids come up at the state convention in San Antonio.
Terry Holcomb of Coldspring, Texas opined that the SREC achieved its purpose and did its job: “Yes, the body followed the process, maintained the integrity, and made a decision as a body”.
Joe Straus was presented a copy of the official censure as required by the resolution authors. However it appears he is not contrite. In an official statement released by his spokesman after the January 27th SREC vote, he stated:
“Speaker Straus expected these antics from some people when he opposed their bathroom bill and helped prevent the harm it would have brought to our state,” said Jason Embry, Straus’ spokesman, via email.
“He is proud to have represented the views of mainstream Texas Republicans, who have voiced overwhelming support for the Speaker’s principled leadership on many issues. Speaker Straus will continue working to support traditional Republican principles and re-elect Republicans who put their constituents first.”
Did Straus represent “traditional Republican principles” and the “views of mainstream Texan Republican” in his actions opposing the priorities of the Governor and Lt. Governor and members of the House of Republicans whose legislative efforts were thwarted by Straus and his surrogates? Straus as Speaker was responsible for the failure of 12 priority bills identified by the Governor, denying these bills from being heard and voted on in the House including blocking taxpayer funding of abortion, increasing teacher pay, providing school choice for kids with disabilities, enacting property tax reform, caps on state government and local government spending, protecting the safety and privacy of women and children (Texas Privacy Act), and ending government agency collection of Union dues through payroll deduction.
The so-called “bathroom bill” or Texas Privacy Act as it was officially called as a legislative bill was really about protecting the safety and privacy of women and children in public restrooms, locker room facilities AND, about resisting the impulse to cave in to a special interest group who framed the lamentable and often transitory state of sexual confusion in some youth as a political issue using as pawns persons, suffering from gender dysphoria, who deserve our compassion and help.
As the consequence of the official state party censure, Straus and members of the media writing for the Texas Tribune and Dallas News called out the so-called “Bathroom Bill” as the underlying purpose of the censure. This is pure hogwash clearly representative of the muddled, sophomoric attitude of cynical politicians and their allies in the media ineffectively attempting to demonize those who object to their ivory tower, elitist Orwellian doublespeak. Clear thinking Texans know better.
As we predicted in earlier commentaries about Joe Straus, he is not quitting politics. With $10 million in the bank, he will be working to elect Republicans just like him.
NPR (National Public Radio) once again exposed its bias which leans towards liberal insanity by trotting out the opinion of a supposedly authoritative expert, Mark Jones from Rice University, who commented that said “the answer might have something to do with an effort by party officials, the governor and outside political nonprofits to rid the Texas Legislature of mainstream Bush-era Republicans.
“The censure is taking place in the broader context of the 2018 primary season, where Tea Party conservatives are very committed to reduce the ranks of centrist conservatives in the Texas House, and this censure allows them to continue using that plank even though Straus is no longer in the picture.”
Now there is a statement from a so-called public policy expert that truly represents a “pile of manure”.
Do let NPR and Mr. Jones know that the Republican Party of Texas leaders who ratified the 2016 Party platform and clearly stated principles are the mainstream Republicans, the majority who gave the Governor and Lt. Governor close to three million votes in the gubernatorial election compared to Straus’ 17,000 votes in his 2016 primary.
Secondly, to our friends at NPR and Mr. Mark Jones, political science professor from Rice University, the centrist conservatives are represented by the Bexar County Republican Party leaders and State Party Executive Committee who voted as a super majority to censure Speaker Joe Straus. We know this and we don’t need a PhD to see the light of truth as it is as clear and sparkling as the nose on Rudolph the reindeer.
Respected psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, a committed Christian, laid out the pathology and effect of untruth on the mind and soul in his classic book, People of the Lie. The main characteristic of the patients whom he observed as displaying self delusion tendencies was the compulsive habit of lying especially about themselves to themselves. The “layer upon layer of self deception” that people of the lie display, “insulates them thoroughly from the truth that they no longer recognize it. Their own irreproachability is their only truth.” (Charles Chaput, Strangers in a Strange Land, pp. 113-114).
The “people of the lie” are all around us. In our schools, social media, press, politics, churches, business, arts and entertainment. During this “crazy” season of the primary elections with 240 candidates vying for our vote in the 2018 Bexar County primary election (early voting starts February 20th), beware of the beguiling forked tongue appeals of political candidates even if they have an “R” behind their name. “Caveat emptor.”