On January 13, the True Texas Project hosted a Gubernatorial Forum for Republican Candidates for Governor. Among the attendees were former Republican State Sen. Don Huffines, former Florida Republican Congressman and former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West, and conservative humorist Chad Prather. The incumbent Governor, Greg Abbott was not in attendance.
Several questions were asked as a part of the forum including some pertaining to property taxes, a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying, and government spending. The following is a summary of the responses on the topic of a ban on taxpayer-funded lobbying and part two of three in this series:
Ban on Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying
“As we mentioned earlier, Governor Abbott has made promises to us that he failed to keep. One of the big ones was to put an end to taxpayer-funded lobbying… what is it going to take to get this issue resolved?”
The first to answer was former Republican State Senator Don Huffines. He said,
“Let me just point out a simple fact, that most things are downstream of the Governor’s office; our legislation, our culture, our virtues. The Governor of Texas can get almost any bill done he wants, anytime he wants, he’s the Governor of Texas, he’s the leader of the Republican Party of Texas. I’ve seen it! I can tell, I can get this legislation done very quickly. My agenda is your agenda. The Republican Party legislative priorities are my priorities. That’s why I ran for office in 2015. I love our party platform. As a matter of fact, in 2008, when I was a national delegate I shipped 2,5000 of them up to Cleveland and had them distributed on every national delegate’s chair so they could see how great the Texas Republican Party Platform really is. Well, I’ve actually been a victim of this. When I found and discovered one of the largest corruptions in modern Texas history in an elected school board up in Dallas, Texas, they were stealing tens of millions of dollars, they spent $1.3 million dollars of stolen taxpayer money to defeat my legislation to close them down. At three thousand employees, they had a hundred million dollar annual budget, I got six people put in prison with the Texas Rangers, including the city Mayor Pro Tem on the City Council of Dallas. Another bill I was trying to get done was to audit. I’m a businessman, I believe in forensic third-party audits, including our elections. Anybody that doesn’t want to be audited, I get really nervous, and let me tell you, I was trying to audit a tollway authority down in Austin. They hired five lobbyists, you would have thought I was trying to kill their mother or something, it was unbelievable. And, I got the bill out of the Senate but of course they killed it. There is a lot of corruption in Austin, there is a lot of corruption in government, and I am going to find it.”
Allen West was next to answer,
“As Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, the number eight legislative priority was to end taxpayer-funded lobbying and of course that did not get through. Good example of why that is so important, the Texas Association of School Boards is part of the National Association of School Boards, and it was the National Association of School Boards who came down and said that parents who show up at school board meetings are domestic terrorists. Texas Association of School Boards is a taxpayer-funded lobbyist organization and Texas Association of School Boards will go away if there is a Governor West.”
Conservative humorist Chad Prather was last to answer the question,
“One of the things that lobbyists learn whenever they get that job is they know that their going to be campaigned against, that’s in the job description, but they are also told that they will never lose that job as lobbyists because no one on either side of the aisle is ever going to get rid of them, they love having the pockets lined. When it comes to bureaucracies, when it comes to people that you didn’t appoint, that you didn’t delegate authority to, those people have to go away, because they are creating the government that you hate so much. These lobbyists and these bureaucrats have got to stop and its going to take somebody with backbone, with a willingness to say we re no longer going to illegally, or immorally say we are going to line our pockets for political gain. The lobbyists have to go.”
Incumbent Governor Greg Abbott
Abbott was not in attendance at the forum but as he has been elected since 2015, he has opined on the subject of banning the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying before. In fact, as mentioned in the original question, Abbott had actually promised the same group of activists at the True Texas Project in 2015 while campaigning that he would end the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying as Governor.
Despite this promise, the practice has yet to have been banned.
During the most recent legislative session, the legislation seeking to ban the practice statewide was never voted out of both the House and Senate State Affairs Committees. The only legislation to even be considered on the subject only sought to end the practice for local jurisdictions. It passed the Texas Senate but when it was considered in the House State Affairs Committee, it was substituted by the bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Chris Paddie (Marshall) who created a massive loophole. Once it was brought up for the overall Texas House of Representatives to consider, it was postponed several times before finally being postponed beyond an impending deadline in the House which precluded its further consideration.
All of this happened in spite of the fact that almost 95 percent of Republican primary voters voted in favor of a ballot proposition in 2019 in support of a ban and despite polling provided by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and WFAA that showed nine out of ten Texans also supported the ban.
The issue was never added to any of the three special legislative sessions that followed.