1.10.11 — Summary of today’s vote in Republican Caucus for Speaker of the House
Today in the Republican Caucus, all but one of the Republican House members attended the Caucus; and the woman who missed did so because of health problems.
Rep. Larry Taylor, who is said to be closely associated with Joe Straus, unexpectedly decided to have Legislators hold up their hands instead of taking a secret ballot.
Taylor asked the members who supported Straus to stand. When 70 stood, the leader said there was no need for other votes. The meeting ended. No record of the votes was made, but I have been told that 30 stayed seated and did not vote for Straus.
Tomorrow Rep. Ken Paxton will challenge Straus on the House floor, and a record vote will be taken. This means that those who vote for Straus will do so by going against their tea party supporters and most of the Republican precinct chairs from across the state.
Remember that various conservative organizations (e.g., Texas Eagle Forum, Texas Right To Life, Americans for Prosperity, Texas Alliance for Life) have said they are going to score the scorecards that they prepare for the next election by weighing tomorrow’s vote as much as 50% or more of a legislator’s score.
Also, the threat of subpoenas by the Travis County D. A.’s office is still hanging over those Representatives who took money directly from Straus and then cast their vote for him tomorrow for Speaker. This is called “pay for votes.” Straus should also be receiving subpoenas tomorrow, too. (To read the details about the subpoenas, please see my article posted at the bottom of this page.)
All of this combined may make many Representatives decide to support Ken Paxton for Speaker. Warren Chisum has thrown his support behind Paxton as of today. Paxton’s press release is as follows:
January 10, 2011
Contact: Michele Samuelson (214) 995-0413
PRESS RELEASE: Statement from Rep. Paxton Announcing Support from Rep. Chisum and Concerning Tuesday Floor Vote
(Austin, TX) – Rep. Ken Paxton releases the following statement regarding Tuesday’s vote for Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives:
“On the eve of tomorrow’s official vote for Speaker, I’m proud to have the support of my good friend Warren Chisum. He has waged a valiant and principled fight with honor and distinction.
Texans who provided us with our historic governing mandate should be embraced and welcomed into the process. They deserve openness and transparency – including a public vote – and that is why I will remain a candidate for Speaker on the floor of the Texas House.”
Pol. Adv paid for by Ken Paxton for Texas Speaker of the House
5613 S. Woodcreek Circle, McKinney, Texas 75071
[1.10.11, P. M. — Okay, you Republican legislators who have just voted in your Caucus to elect Joe Straus as the Speaker, you had better think seriously about casting your vote tomorrow for him. Look at what has just happened to Tom DeLay today because of the issue of campaign violations. — Donna Garner]
By Donna Garner
If I were a Texas Democrat or a Republican and I had taken campaign donations and/or agreed to let Joe Straus come to my district to help me raise money IN EXCHANGE FOR a pledge to back him as Speaker of the Texas House, I would be very worried. This is called “pay for votes.”
As Matt Armstrong stated in his article “What If Speaker Straus Gets Indicted?” published in North Texas Navigator News on 1.7.11 (http://www.navigator-news.com/component/content/article/6-politics/150-looming-legal-issues-threaten-once-in-a-lifetime-conservative-session- ):
Speaker Straus clearly used inappropriate funds and gave those to House candidates with the intent to influence their vote for Speaker of the House. This money is often referred to as ‘Title 15’ money, referring to Title 15 of the Election Code of the Texas Ethics Commission. If convicted, punishment of such an offense is a Class A Misdemeanor.
A Class A Misdeameanor is punishable in Texas by a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail not to exceed one year, or both fine and confinement.
The bigger issue is the public’s reaction upon hearing of such illegal Title 15 activities. Now that grassroots citizens all across our state and nation are demanding that elected officials be held accountable, it is not good for a politician’s career to be found in violation of Title 15 of the Election Code of the TEC.
I have no special knowledge of what the Travis County D. A. is going to do nor am I a lawyer. What I do know, however, is that Rep. Leo Berman did file criminal charges against Joe Straus with the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office for alleged use of money to buy votes.
I also understand that the D. A.’s office is investigating the charges and does not want to go public with its investigation before an official vote is taken for the Speaker’s position.
From what I have been told, the D. A. does not want to issue subpoenas to those Representatives who are probable violators until after the House members are on record for having actually voted for Straus.
In other words, until these House members (Republicans and Democrats) have cast their ballots for Joe Straus as Speaker, they cannot be accused of “pay for votes.”
Once they go on record by voting for Straus, they can be charged with violating Title 15 and can receive a Class A Misdemeanor.
My simple answer for these Democrats and Republicans who know they are in violation of Title 15: Do not cast your ballot for Straus — no vote…no subpoena…no violation.
Rep. Berman and also the Texas Ethics Advisory Board have filed numerous charges against Straus with the Texas Ethics Commission, too; but those will probably take six months to a year to resolve.
Next question: Who are these Texas legislators who took money directly from Joe Straus? Mark Ramsey of Texas GOP Vote has tracked numerous Republicans and has posted his information at the following link:
If the public records show who these Republicans and Democrats are, then it is certain that the Travis County D. A.’s office knows who they are also.
Again, let me repeat:
My simple answer for these Democrats and Republicans who know they are in violation of Title 15: Do not cast your ballot for Straus as Speaker — no vote…no subpoena…no violation.