Did Straus Help the GOP Gain Seats in the Texas House?

Source: Donna Garner 1/7/2011 @ 12:04 AM

Readers of Texas GOP Vote blogs will be familiar with the raging debate over whether a non-conservative should retain power in spite of the absolutely stunning success of conservative, Tea Party-supported candidates in Texas.

A recent slickly produced video, however, calls into question his very integrity.  It claims he is pro-life (he isn’t), he is conservative (he isn’t), and he is Texan (he is).  One out of three?  However, the real problem is that in another place on the video it is claimed that he deserves credit for the Tea Party and other Conservatives-led revolution in November.  Is this true or just propaganda?

Nothing could be further from the Truth.  A search of campaign finance records at the Texas Ethics Commission, (TEC) for each and every one of the GOP candidates for Texas House that successfully challenged a sitting incumbent Democrat shows ZERO support for ANY of the GOP challengers:

Table 1:  Zero financial support by Straus for seats taken by GOP from Democratic Incumbents
P Dist Legislator Candidate Reported $ from Straus % Won* Margin of Victory
R 1 George Lavender $0 52-41 11
R 3 Erwin Cain $0 57-43 14
R 12 James White $0 58-42 16
R 33 Raul Torres $0 53-47 6
R 34 Connie Scott $0 54-46 8
R 35 Jose Aliseda $0 53-47 6
R 45 Jason A. Isaac $0 54-46 8
R 47 Paul D. Workman $0 50-46 4
R 52 Larry Gonzales $0 57-38 19
R 57 Marva Beck $0 52-46 6
R 78 Dee Margo $0 52-48 4
R 93 Barbara Nash $0 49-48 1
R 96 Bill Zedler $0 52-48 4
R 101 Cindy Burkett $0 52-48 4
R 102 Stefani Carter $0 55-45 10
R 106 Rodney E. Anderson $0 49-48 1
R 107 Kenneth Sheets $0 51-46 5
R 117 John V. Garza $0 52-48 4
R 133 Jim Murphy $0 56-42 6
R 134 Sarah Davis $0 51-49 2
* Not = 100 due to rounding and minor party candidates.  Top 2 candidates shown (R-D)

Clearly, the claim he was instrumental to their victories is bogus.  He contributed none of his massive campaign war chest to them.  ZERO.  NADA.  NOTHING.

As they would say on the popular TV show, his mythical claim for credit to the GOP landslide is “busted”.

Who did he support with the vaunted “Speaker Money”?  It is difficult to tell entirely, since Straus-related contributions show up under a wide variety of names on the TEC reports (why?).  [Search for yourself at the Texas Ethics Commission; the “advanced” search is far better.]

However, the TEC search does show the following for Straus donations (directly, through his campaign fund and through the Texas House Leadership Fund).  Note that the red numbers indicate the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) rating on legislative votes, 0-100, where 0 is the worst possible record and 100 is the best possible.  Scores less than 80 are in red.

Table 2:  Where Straus money was spent
(Straus & his campaign funds & the THLF)
Dist Legislator 81st YCT
% Won* Margin of Victory Subtotal Money Chair Gang of 11
11 Hopson, Chuck 35.5 76-24 52 $17,500 YES
17 Kleinschmidt, Tim 80.6 65-32 33 $435,000
24 Taylor, Larry 86.7 89-11** 78 $5,000
28 Zerwas, John 60.7 71-29 42 $5,000
53 Hilderbran, Harvey 77.4 90-10** 80 $2,500
55 Sheffield, Ralph 83.9 81-19** 62 $2,500
56 Anderson, Doc 83.9 58-38 20 $177,500
58 Orr, Rob 80.6 76-20 56 $5,000
62 Phillips, Larry 90.3 88-12** 76 $5,000
63 Parker, Tan 93.5 100-0*** 100 $2,500
73 Miller, Doug 71.0 86-14** 72 $2,500
83 Jones, Delwin 51.6 LOST Primary $15,000 YES YES
89 Laubenberg, Jodie 96.7 100-0*** 100 $2,500
92 Smith, Todd 58.1 71-29 42 $12,500 YES
94 Patrick, Diane 54.8 85-10** 75 $2,500
97 Shelton, Mark 73.3 86-14** 72 $2,500
98 Truitt, Vicki 74.2 100-0*** 100 $12,500 YES
99 Geren, Charlie 58.6 100-0*** 100 $22,500 YES YES
105 Harper-Brown, Linda 83.9 52-45 7 $350,000
108 Branch, Dan 61.3 65-33 32 $5,000 YES
112 Button, Angie Chen 74.2 83-17** 65 $2,500
113 Driver, Joe 65.5 57-43 14 $317,500
126 Harless, Patricia 71.0 68-32 36 $7,500
129 Davis, John 76.7 100-0*** 100 $2,500
130 Fletcher, Allen 90.3 89-11 78 $7,500
138 Bohac, Dwayne 53.6 63-35 28 $175,000
144 Legler, Ken 93.5 59-38 21 $365,000
* Not = 100 due to rounding and minor party candidates.
Top 2 candidates shown (usually R-D)
** No Democratic party challenger
*** No general election challenger at all
**** YCT = Young Conservatives of Texas voting rating

As is clear from the red numbers (YCT ratings less than 80), Straus gave freely to MANY who are not very conservative.  More importantly, why were these candidates chosen for his graces?  The winning % and margins columns destroy the notion that the money was needed in close races.  Only one of the blessed races was even single digit in closeness, and that one was still a healthy 7%.  Delwin Jones, RINO from Lubbock, was heavily supported in his primary race against a Tea Party backed candidate, in spite of his abysmal 52 YCT rating.  Why?  (Could it be that he was chair of the redistricting committee?)  Many recipients (including Reps Taylor, Sheffield, Hilderbran, Phillips, Miller, Patrick, Shelton, and Button) did not even have Democratic party challengers! Some (including Reps Parker, Laubenberg, Truitt, Geren and Davis) were not even opposed in the general election!

Bottomline:  While twenty Tea Party supported GOP candidates challenging incumbent Democrats got no support whatsoever from Straus, (and won by an average of only 7%, with some as close as 1%), sixteen GOP incumbents with low YCT voting record ratings got boatloads of help.  Most of those who got money did not need it, winning by an average of nearly 50% (that’s over 3 to 1, not even including the unopposed races)!  Clearly, he had nothing to do with Conservative victories and he actually supported non-conservatives.

Ronald Reagan famously quipped that:

“It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.”

Let’s hope and pray the 80-plus conservative GOP members rise above politics as usual and do what is right.  All of the GOP members who don’t will most certainly have challengers 12 months from now.


Recapping Straus’ baggage:

  • NARAL, the rabid pro-abortion at any time for any reason group gave Straus a legislative rating of 100%;
  • Deep family ties and support to Planned Parenthood, including large contributions by family members and his wife serving on the Board of Directors of PP of San Antonio;
  • His receiving commendation from Planned Parenthood of San Antonio after the disastrous 2009 session, citing his “tireless efforts” on their behalf;
  • Stunning family ties to the gambling industry, which even the liberal media find troubling, and a record of voting for gambling on Indian reservations and accepting monies from groups promoting same, including out of state money;
  • His seizing power NOT by being elected by the GOP but rather, by staging a political coup d’état with the help of 10 other (mostly) RINOs and nearly all Democrats in 2009; [3 of the 10 co-conspirators were defeated in March or November, and a 4th has passed away];
  • A poor and declining YCT rating of 73 and 61.5 for the 79th and 80th sessions, respectively, before he orchestrated the coup;
  • Apparent disdain for ANY social issues, [see Austin PBS interview]
  • His disastrous leadership of the 2009 session, which resulted in a de facto filibuster by Democrats that he would or could not stop;
  • With one single (and as yet inexplicable) exception, ZERO support by Texas and National mainstream conservative organizations;
  • Helped raise money for a Democrat, and gave money to another (who after the legislative session switched parties, but has an awful YCT score).
  • A Straus-appointed chairman held the pro-life sonogram bill in committee long enough to keep it from coming to a floor vote, even though it had already passed the Senate.
  • Another Straus-appointed chairman stopped the “choose life” license plate bill.
  • The Straus family gave $80,000 to Texans for Economic Development (TED), a pro-gambling PAC run by the former head of the State Democratic Party. The PAC spent $300,000 trying to defeat anti-gambling House members, including Reps. Betty Brown, Nathan Macias, Bill Zedler, and Phil King (three of the four were defeated).
  • Speaker Straus appointed 20 Democrats as committee chairmen in 2009.

Thanks to all who have done enormous research on this over the past few months, and especially to volunteer Donna Garner and to Tony McDonald of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) for invaluable assistance with the ratings.

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