November 24, 2010

Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Speaker Straus Has Got To Go!

In the annals of American politics, few politicians have grabbed power in such a shady manner and abused it so profoundly and so quickly as is the case with Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus. The time has come for Straus to be removed from the leadership of the Texas House and replaced with an individual who represents the views of the majority in that body and the majority of Texas voters.

Remember -- Joe Straus came to power in a coup engineered by the minority party which gave him unanimous backing when Straus and a handful of GOP cronies bucked the GOP caucus. Straus rewarded the Democrats by giving them nearly half of the committee chairmanships despite the fact that they were the minority party. As such, the rejection of the Democrats by the voters of Texas is a sufficient reason for removing the Democrat-selected Speaker.

But there is more.

When some members of the Republican Caucus began to question the propriety of keeping the Democrat's Speaker in power, a Straus crony began threatening to redraw district lines to remove those legislators from their districts -- a threat which is explicitly illegal under Texas law. When caught, Straus referred the case to the Ethics Committee on which the crony sat -- and the committee promptly said there was not sufficient evidence of the criminal activity to take action despite the fact that the accuser testified under oath and the accused refused to take an oath not to lie. Straus refused to turn the matter over to law enforcement for a full investigation, instead choosing to keep it an internal matter where he and his cronies could cover it up and guarantee that no action would be taken against Straus' proxy.

Straus and his cronies have also attempted to intimidate his opponents outside the legislature into silence with threats of investigation and prosecution for daring to express their opposition to Straus and their support of other candidates. This comes despite the fact that a federal court in 2008 explicitly affirmed the First Amendment right of non-legislators to publicly express such opinions and even to lobby their legislators regarding the choice of the Speaker of the House.

What's more, Speaker Straus has made muzzling his critics a legislative priority for the upcoming session, charging the General Invsstigating and Ethics Committee (the same one that he used to cover up his crony's illegal activity) to craft legislation to let the state of Texas regulate the content of blogs like mine.

Review the definition of “political advertising” and determine whether the definition should be expanded to include content contained in blogs and other types of Internet communications.

Joe Straus has made it quite clear that, despite the increase in Republicans in the Texas house, he is going to continue to operate in the same Democrat appeasing manner he used in the last legislative session. This is unacceptable, especially in a session in which the Texas House will be redistricting. Republicans own this state politically, and it is unacceptable for a man committed to giving a way the store to Democrats to put them in the driver's seat when it comes to drawing the lines for legislative districts -- after all, the last time that Democrats had the chance to draw those lines, they created districts that gave Republicans slightly more than 40% of the seats in Congress in years when the GOP won nearly 60% of the vote. We need a map for Texans that represents the political beliefs and attitudes of Texans. And accomplishing that means Joe Straus must have no influence over the process.

What I am saying very explicitly is that Joe Straus is an unethical politician who needs to have his wings clipped. At a bare minimum, he needs to be kicked out of the Speaker's office. If possible, Straus and his cronies need to be expelled from the Texas House. Furthermore, he and his crew should be investigated and, where appropriate, indicted, prosecuted, and convicted for their corruption.

So, my fellow Texans, call your state representative. Urge them to vote against corrupt Speaker Straus and instead back Rep. Paxton as Speaker instead. Previous promises and commitments to Straus are irrelevant -- We the People are demanding this change, and those Republicans who do not support it must be primaried and defeated in 2012.

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NAME: Greg
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