Tag Archives: Dade Phelan

Patrick fills me with regret

Dan Patrick quickly made me regret that I issued a compliment to him over the way he had presided over the impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The lieutenant governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, received a bouquet from me because he seemed to be impartial and unbiased in his handling of the trial in the Senate.

Then came Paxton’s acquittal by 30 senators … and what did Patrick do? He shot off his pie hole by declaring that the Texas House that had impeached Paxton had wasted Texans’ tax money by alleging that Paxton had committed impeachable offenses. Paxton was impeached overwhelmingly, I must add, in a bipartisan vote among House members.

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a fellow Republican, was having none of that, telling Patrick that the lieutenant governor only has revealed his bias. I’ll go with Phelan on this one.

I hate having regrets over what I spew on this blog. But I’ll be damned if I am feeling them now, with Patrick suggesting that he was able to hide his bias.

Oh, and now he wants to conduct an audit of the money spent to impeach the attorney general and then put him on trial. What does he hope to find? That the money went to partisan interests whose mission was to enough evidence to convict the AG?

Sounds as if Patrick has ripped a page out of the congressional GOP caucus’s playbook as it seeks to find a reason — any reason — to impeach a U.S. president.

GOP gap widens with acquittal

Dan Patrick wasted no time in displaying his partisan stripes after the Texas Senate acquitted Attorney General Ken Paxton of the charges leveled against him by the House of Reps that impeached him.

The lieutenant governor blasted the House for “wasting” taxpayers’ money on an impeachment that didn’t produce a conviction on any of the 16 charges examined by senators.

Fellow Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan fired back, calling Patrick’s remarks unseemly while defending the House for acting on a legitimate complaint brought by the House panel charged with investigating wrongdoing in state government. Phelan said this in a statement:

Ken Paxton’s impeachment trial escalates Republican civil war | The Texas Tribune

OK, I’ll go with Phelan’s view of this intraparty civil war that now appears ready to burst into full-throated venom.

From my seat in North Texas, the House acted within its purview. The Senate acted, too, within its own set of rules. I disagree with the Senate’s findings and its conclusion, which of course shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As for the process being a waste of time and money, it was nothing of the sort. If anything, the Senate well might have been the major wasters by closing its collective mind to what the House investigators determined when they recommended impeachment.

Special sessions loom

So much, it seems, for setting priorities before the start of a legislative session.

The Texas Legislature reportedly had placed property tax reduction at the top of its to-do list. Well … the list’s major priority remains something “to do.” The Legislature adjourned at the end of May and property tax reform wasn’t completed.

I spoke at the beginning of the session with state Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a New Boston Republican, who said the state had to do something to relieve Texans of the property tax burden. His view had been echoed loudly and clearly by other legislators of both parties, not to mention from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan.

What the heck happened?

Special sessions loom in the weeks to come. There might be several of them, the Texas Tribune reports.

The failure to enact any property tax reform guarantees, according to the smart money, that a special session will occur. Likely will be soon, too.

I have trouble following the Legislature’s rhythm at times. Lawmakers venture to Austin from hither and yon across the vast state. They spend — seemingly — forever and a day to get busy. I sense a good bit of lollygagging in Austin. Then they seek to rush to get these bills enacted and sent to the governor’s desk.

Too often, though, they run out of time.

If property tax reform was such a big deal, why can’t the Legislature act in a manner that demonstrates its importance?

The Legislature didn’t act. They’ll have to shuttle back to Capitol Building and do what could have been done during the 140 days legislators were gathered.

This time, ladies and gentlemen, get it done! The Senate has another big matter with which it must deal … the trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton. That’s a big … deal, too.


Paxton calls on speaker to quit? Huh … ?

Wow! That’s all I should have to say on this matter, but of course I’ll add a couple of cents’ worth.

Of all the elected officials serving in this great state of mine, it falls on an indicted Texas attorney general to call for the resignation of the speaker of the Texas House.

What in the world is wrong with this picture?

AG Ken Paxton, who’s been under criminal indictment almost his entire time as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, said this week that Speaker Dade Phelan was drunk while presiding over the House. Paxton said Phelan should resign at the end of the current session of the Legislature.

For the life of me I cannot fathom what in the world is happening to this state.

A Collin County grand jury indicted Paxton in 2015 of securities fraud, stemming from an allegation that he failed to notify investors of his relationship with a securities firm. Eight years later and the case hasn’t gone to trial … yet!

Then we have allegations of corruption within the AG’s office. There has been a settlement on that matter, but several top lawyers in the office resigned after blowing the whistle on what they said were improper relationships between Paxton and a key political supporter and donor.

Paxton is a joke! Actually, he needs to resign his office.

Now he declares that Dade Phelan has been sipping the sauce. A video of Phelan has gone viral, showing him slurring his words a bit while conducting the House’s business.

“After much consideration, it is with profound disappointment that I call on Speaker Dade Phelan to resign at the end of this legislation session,” Paxton said in a statement posted on Twitter. “His conduct has negatively impacted the legislative process and constitutes a failure to live up to his duty to the public.”

Ken Paxton calls on Dade Phelan to resign, citing apparent intoxication | The Texas Tribune

I suppose, of course, that Phelan’s resistance to some of Paxton’s top legislative priorities has nothing to do with the AG’s call for the speaker to resign. Texas’s top Republican officeholders have been squabbling a good bit of late. They can’t agree on some of the priorities being pushed by, say, Paxton, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Now it has come down to this, with the state’s indicted attorney general offering an armchair medical diagnosis of the House speaker.



Patrick picks needless fight

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick just continues to piss me off to no end at all.

Why? Because the fire-breathing head of the Texas Senate insists that the entire state must kowtow to his idiotic notion that everyone in the state believes as he does. It ain’t so … Dan.

Patrick’s petulance is showing itself as he continues to feud with House Speaker Dade Phelan over the House’s alleged refusal to approve the socially conservative agenda that is part of Patrick’s mantra. Patrick has taken to calling Phelan “California Dade,” an apparent reference to Phelan’s inclination to stick to a more business-friendly approach to legislation and steering the House away from the divisive socially conservative views that Patrick wants to see become law.

Such as? Oh, according to the Texas Tribune: That list includes bills limiting medical treatments for transgender kids; a push to end tenure as well as diversity, equity and inclusion practices in public universities; and a “school choice” push to allow parents to use state dollars to send their kids to private schools, which opponents say would harm the funding of the state’s public education system.

Texas House, Senate leaders clash in final weeks of Legislature | The Texas Tribune

Phelan, meanwhile, touts the House’s fiscally conservative budget, which is more in line with traditional GOP principles. That isn’t good enough to suit Patrick, who is threatening to force Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session if the Legislature — which is set to adjourn its regular session in about a month — doesn’t pass Patrick’s ham-handed agenda.

Look, I get that Texas voters elected this guy as the state’s No. 2 government executive. And that voters elected a conservative Legislature as well. However, there remains a significant number of Texans — such as yours truly — who dislike the tone and tenor of the agenda that Patrick wants to shove onto Gov. Abbott’s desk.

The guy is a MAGA loon who seeks to appeal only to those on the far right who buy into his nonsense.


‘No!’ to using public money for payout

Dade Phelan is putting his foot down as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and my hope is that the Legislature follows his lead.

Phelan opposes any notion of the Legislature appropriating taxpayer money to pay Attorney General Ken Paxton’s settlement with several lawyers who filed a whistleblower complaint against the state’s AG.

Paxton and the lawyers reached a settlement that requires Paxton to pay $3 million without admitting any guilt or issuing any apology for the complaint they filed. He will avoid any accountability for this latest (alleged) transgression.

Phelan told KTVT Channel 11 news that spending public money is an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ funds. I happen to stand with the speaker on that one. How does Paxton come up with the money he will have to pay? I don’t know, nor do I give a damn.

The settlement does spare the state from having to pay for an expensive trial, so in a significant sense the agreement is a win for Texans. That doesn’t justify spending public money to pay off the attorney general’s penalty for firing the lawyers who acted out of conscience to expose what they believe is corruption within the attorney general’s office.

My personal preference would be for a state trial jury to convict Paxton of securities fraud, a charge for which a Collin County grand jury indicted him back in 2015. Paxton has been skating around any accountability for that allegation almost since the day he took office.

My plea at this moment? Stand firm, Speaker Phelan … and don’t let the Texas House approve any public money to pay this settlement.


Texas GOP turns on one of its own

The late Texas state Sen. Teel Bivins of Amarillo once lamented how Republicans have this way of “eating their own.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant when he said that to me. Now I am beginning to get it.

The Texas Republican Party has sanctioned a radio ad lambasting GOP Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan for continuing a longstanding Texas legislative tradition, which is to appoint legislators of the minority party to committee chairmanships.

What the hell?

Phelan is a Beaumont Republican serving his second term as the Man of the Texas House. Is he doing something radical? Something so completely out of the ordinary? Is he capitulating to those dreaded Democrats on policy? No, no and hell no!

He is doing what speakers of both parties have done for a lot longer than any of the whippersnappers who oppose this concept have been alive.

The Texas Tribune reports: In the minute-long ad, a narrator says the speaker is “teaming up with Democrats to kill our Republican priorities.” 

What in the name of good government is that narrator talking about?

I spoke this week with one of the GOP insurgents, state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City, about his vote against Phelan’s bid to retain the speakership. He said Phelan is rewarding Democrats unduly with legislative power they didn’t earn at the ballot box. Slaton is one of the fiery members of the Texas Freedom Caucus who seemingly doesn’t understand the longstanding Texas political culture.

Republican Gov. George W. Bush forged a tremendous relationship with Democratic Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney when he took office in January 1995. Their cooperation with the governor continued a hallowed Texas tradition of good-government compromise between the parties. Laney made sure to appoint Republican legislators to committee chairs, as did his GOP successors appoint Democrats to chairmanships.

The current GOP caucus seemingly wants to change all that. Many of them believe Democrats should be ostracized. Not all of them share that view, according to the Texas Tribune, which reported:

Texas GOP launches radio attack ads against Republican state House speaker | The Texas Tribune

That takes me back to an earlier point, which is that Phelan isn’t a closet progressive masquerading as a conservative Republican.

The Texas Republican Party has lost its mind.

Wherever he is, Teel Bivins is laughing out loud.


Trump might ‘primary’ Texas speaker? Huh?

 REUTERS/Octavio Jones

Did I hear this correctly … that the 45th president of the U.S. might want to “primary” Texas House speaker Dade Phelan because of the way he is running the state House of Representatives?

Phelan is a Beaumont Republican serving his first term as the Man of the House. He succeeded another GOP speaker, Dennis Bonnen, who got himself into a jam after he lied about whether he would sacrifice fellow GOP lawmakers in the 2020 legislative campaign.

Donald Trump just needs to butt the hell out of Texas politics. We’ve got more than our fair share of nut jobs, fruit cakes and yahoos. We don’t need the former Yahoo in Chief meddling in our state’s business.

Phelan isn’t my kind of pol, but he is working under extreme pressure, given Democrats’ willingness and ability to stop the Legislature from doing its business, which they did already this year … and deservedly so.

I am just weary in the extreme of seeing the 45th POTUS’s name attached to this and/or that political skirmish.

He annoys me in the extreme.


A curious appointment

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hang on a second, Mr. Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

Speaker Dade Phelan talked a good game about working across the aisle when he took the gavel at the start of the current Texas Legislature. Then he makes what I consider to be a peculiar committee chair appointment that seems to run counter to his hopeful bipartisan talk.

Briscoe Cain, a Deer Park Republican, is the new chair of the House Elections Committee. Why is that a head-scratcher? Well, Cain spent some time in Pennsylvania seeking ways to overturn the results of that state’s presidential vote total, which awarded its electoral votes to Joe Biden, the Democrat who defeated Donald Trump.

He was looking for evidence of vote fraud that Trump kept insisting occurred in that state and others that voted for Biden.

Briscoe Cain, who helped Trump campaign challenge results, will lead election work in Texas House | The Texas Tribune

Cain said Texans deserve to know their elections are being run fairly, legally and without bias. I believe they are run that way. What I am having trouble understanding is how someone with a known history of pursuing what I call The Big Lie about the 2020 election should be given a committee chairmanship in Texas. I am left to wonder whether Chairman Cain is going to lead his committee on similar wild goose chases looking for vote fraud that no one can prove exists in Texas.

It smacks to me of the kind of foolishness put forth by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who offered to pay someone — anyone! — a million bucks if they could find vote fraud in Texas. He hasn’t paid any money … because there isn’t any fraud to be found!

This appointment by the shiny new speaker of the House also makes me cringe just a bit that Speaker Phelan isn’t quite the seeker of bipartisanship that he told us he would be as the Man of the House.

I want Speaker Phelan to disprove my fear. This appointment doesn’t do much to assuage my concern.

Note: A version of this blog post was published initially on KETR.org.