New PAC aims to topple Straus and his lieutenants in ‘corrupt’ House

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Greg Abbott and Joe Straus
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, foreground, is welcomed to the platform in the House Chamber by Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, right, to address the opening session of the 85th Texas Legislative session, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A new Texas political action committee is turning up the heat on Speaker Joe Straus and calling for a House cleaning from the top down, with campaign funds earmarked for key races.

Formed by conservatives angry over the House’s failure to enact reform measures supported by Gov. Greg Abbott, the New Leadership PAC launched this week.

“It has become clear that leaders in the Texas House have lost contact with the core principles of the majority of Texans,” said NLP treasurer Don Dyer. “It is time for a new force for change that will remove these barriers to progress.”

During the month-long special session, the Texas Senate passed bills on all 20 of the governor’s initiatives, while the Texas House only passed 11. The NLP noted that the House failed to get many important bills out of committees and to the floor for a vote, which Dyer said reflected a lack of will by House Republican leaders to advance conservative, reform-oriented priorities.

Among the bills killed in the House: property tax relief, school choice, limits on city and county spending, and ending forced collection of union dues by local governments.

In August, Abbott’s top political strategist, Dave Carney, told the Austin American-Statesman, “It’s pretty clear the culture of the House is corrupt, that it’s a non-transparent system, that doesn’t allow [its members] to have an up or down vote.” NLP resurrected that quote in its press release.

In the release, NLP said it will “encourage and support new leadership at all levels in the Texas House during the 2018 primary season and beyond.”

Dyer said the PAC is “encouraging new leadership both from within and from outside of the House.”

“One initiative we’ll be pursuing is campaign support for new candidates in key house districts. Our current plans are to provide a $5,000 contribution to challenger candidates in those districts, with the potential for additional follow on support where it makes sense.”

The group did not disclose its current war chest or targets, but Dyer told The Texas Monitor: “We are raising funds now and based on initial contributions and commitments, we believe we will be able to play a meaningful role in many races this coming primary cycle.”

Characterizing the PAC as a volunteer effort, Dyer said there have been no conversations with Abbott or the governor’s staff. “But I think it’s clear from statements from the governor, his top advisers and many other leaders across the state following the failed special session that there’s more than just frustration with House leadership.”

In an email to The Texas Monitor, Dyer said, “This PAC is not about bathrooms. This PAC is about failed leadership in the House on many fronts.”

While 63 percent of House members are Republicans, Dyer noted that several free-market bills “never even made it out of committee.”

“On top of that the House decided to gavel out of the special session a day early — with so many important initiatives left undone. This is not a reflection on the total membership of the House, this is a reflection on the leadership of the House.”

Dyer said the need for a shakeup is simmering across Texas, with the passage of resolutions demanding changes in House leadership by 54 Republican Party county chapters representing more than half the state’s GOP voters.

The 54 counties include Harris (Houston) and Bexar (San Antonio), Straus’ home base.

A House Republican Caucus committee is studying new ways to select the House speaker. One idea under consideration would reserve the speaker vote to Republican House members — excluding Democrats who Straus has relied on to hold power since 2009.

Straus, who controls the well-endowed House Leadership Fund, was not immediately available for comment.

The full press release for NLP can be read below.

314 COMMENTS

    • You’re admitting that you understand Strauss’s agenda and that is part of the problem. A republican with an ideology of the left is not what the voting base signed up for when he was elected. He can run as a liberal and lose like a liberal. Why hide his intentions under the guise of a political facade.

      And to your point, Texas was founded by progressives that were afraid of the more left leaning ideals of the Northeast, and fought against a totalitarian regime (Mexicans) for freedom to live as they wanted, an ideology that the left can’t seem to understand without their government daddy holding their hand. Enough of the government intrusion.

  1. This is disconcerting! Every time we see a “money ” focused group going to “change” our government people because they are NOT getting what THEY WANT, I am skeptical at their intention. We have watched the GOP congressman in our state and national government in complete betrayal of the constitution and abandoning the protection of the American people they all swore to protect!!! We THE PEOPLE must vote out these GOP traitors and replace with men and women who respect and honor our country and our democracy. Vote BLUE! FLIP TEXAS to become a leader in our nation again!

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