Tag Archives: Ken Paxton

Sanity prevails in SE Texas

Here’s a glimmer of good political news for those who care about such things: Sanity won the day Tuesday in a highly contentious race for a Texas House of Representatives seat in the Golden Triangle region.

State Rep. Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, fended off a challenge by a MAGA candidate, David Covey, and won the Republican Party nomination. OK, this isn’t just a House seat that was at stake.

Phelan happens to be speaker of the Texas House. He wields tremendous power and authority over the legislative flow in the chamber. He had drawn the ire of Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who endorsed Covey. So had the 45th POTUS.

Phelan had the temerity to let the will of the House prevail during Paxton’s impeachment and trial in the Senate.

Consequently, Covey entered the race at Paxton’s insistence and proceeded to launch a terribly negative, smear-laden campaign against Phelan.

Here’s the question of the day: Will the sanity prevail in January 2025 when House members choose the speaker? That’s far from a done deal, as the MAGA-dominated House well could oust Phelan in favor of someone more to the liking of the far-right-wingers who occupy so many House seats.

I’m glad Phelan survived this challenge. It’s not so much that I am a fan of Phelan. I just am glad to see Paxton, Patrick and POTUS 45 come up short in this latest Republican Party rebellion.

Hoping speaker survives

An earlier post on this blog noted the absence of signage extolling the candidacy of the POTUS No. 45.

I want to discuss briefly another candidate who is showing plenty of lawn-sign support in the city he represents in the Texas Legislature.

Dade Phelan is running for re-election against David Covey for the House of Representatives in Beaumont. Phelan also doubles as speaker of the lower legislative chamber. This contest — to borrow a phrase once muttered by the current president — is a big fu**ing deal.

I noticed many lawn signs adorning neighborhoods throughout north and west Beaumont. Virtually all of ’em were for Phelan. I saw one Covey sign near Interstate 10.

Why is this a big deal? Because Covey has no experience as a legislator. He is a stalking horse candidate, a MAGA loyalist, a pal of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Covey has never run for public office. Yet he finished first in the Republican Party primary in March; Phelan finished second. Covey didn’t reach the 50% mark to win the primary outright, so Phelan and Covey are now in a runoff.

I have heard from two sources, one of whom serves in the House with Phelan, that Covey well might knock the speaker out of office in the May 28 runoff. The other source happens to be a former newspaper colleague of mine who lives in Beaumont who echoed my legislative friend’s assessment.

The political advertising in Beaumont has been ferocious … and dishonest. One ad features a doctored photo showing former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hugging Phelan’s neck, suggesting that Phelan is a closet liberal. Good grief, man! He isn’t!

I don’t know Dade Phelan. I left Beaumont nearly 30 years ago. I am acquainted with his dad, a well-heeled real estate developer in Beaumont. What I know of the younger Phelan is that he is a mainstream conservative who allowed the House to work its will in impeaching Paxton on charges of corruption, and who eventually survived the Senate trial.

Do I have a dog in this fight? Not really, I suppose, except that the Legislature serves all Texans. I am alarmed at the MAGA movement’s encroachment in local politics. Therefore, I don’t want to see Dade Phelan booted from the Texas House because he allowed his colleagues to do what they believed was right.

Thus, I hope the plethora of signs bodes well for Speaker Phelan.

Non-GOP observers feeling the pain

The fight that is developing in Texas between non-believers of certain politicians and those who adhere to their every proclamation gives us non-Republicans considerable angst.

How come? Because I, as one of them, find myself rooting for the non-believers in their scrap with those who follow the will of the crooks who happen to hold high public office.

I want to point directly to the troubles that continue to dog Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The AG has taken dead aim at several pols who had the temerity to favor his impeachment in the House. His slate of candidates in this month’s Republican Party primary did pretty well.

One of Paxton’s “enemies” hails from a city I once called home. He is House Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont. Phelan faces a runoff against some political newbie, a guy named David Covey. Paxton recruited Covey to run against Phelan. He finished first in the GOP primary, but the two of them are headed for a runoff to see who gets the nomination. Covey finished first and Phelan finished second, but Covey didn’t get the 50% margin he needed to win outright.

I am rooting for Phelan to win the runoff. Not that I care about his politics, per se. I just favor the stance he took in voting to impeach the crooked AG and the manner in which he conducted the House proceedings that led to Paxton’s impeachment. Phelan is a conservative and, frankly, not my ideal politician. Yet the AG refers to him as the “liberal speaker.” What a fu**ing crock!

This intraparty squabbling is playing out in states across the country. I drive through Collin County, where I live, and I see signs for politicians proclaiming themselves to be a “conservative Republican” running for office. How do they define “conservative”? Everyone’s a conservative Republican, yes? You have one conservative Republican running against another of the same ilk. How does a GOP voter choose?

The election season is playing itself out a little at a time. Those of us who sit on the sidelines watching this GOP internecine battle being fought are left to cheer silently for those who respect the system and who put the law above party loyalty.

‘Will of the House … ‘

Pete Laney’s name comes into my head when I think of the Texas speaker of the House of Representatives.

Laney is a Hale Center cotton farmer and businessman who once served as speaker … until Republicans took control of the Legislature. Then he got the boot prior to the 2003 Legislature.

One of Laney’s governing principles was to “let the will of the House” dictate the flow of legislation. He chose to avoid exerting the considerable power he possessed. My memory of the latest Democrat to hold the speaker’s gavel came to mind as I watched the current speaker, Republican Dade Phelan of Beaumont, seek to fend off an intraparty challenge from a first-time candidate named David Covey.

Phelan and Covey are headed for a runoff after neither man failed to win 50% plus one vote in the GOP primary. Covey finished first and Phelan finished second. Covey was endorsed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Why the AG endorsement? Because the “will of the House” produced an impeachment of the AG, who then was acquitted in the Senate trial.

Paxton is so angry at Phelan that he recruited Covey to run against the speaker who, by almost anyone’s reckoning, is a traditional GOP conservative.

Phelan has sought to tout the conservative legislation that the House has approved on his watch. That doesn’t matter to Paxton, who — along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — calls Phelan a “liberal” speaker. They make me want to laugh — and then vomit!

Pete Laney established a reasonable template for how the Texas House speaker should conduct business. The House’s will resulted in an overwhelming impeachment vote on the way Paxton has performed as AG.

Paxton is angry that Phelan presided over a House of Representatives that saw fit to do its constitutional duty and rise up to effectively condemn the attorney general’s conduct.

I don’t know Phelan, nor do I know much about him. I know that he is the son of a prominent Beaumont developer who I did meet back when I worked in the Golden Triangle. I don’t know Covey, either, other than he is running for the first public office he has sought.

If the voters of Phelan’s legislative district have any brains, they’ll reject the trashy notion of replacing him just because he followed the path blazed by one of his predecessors as speaker.

He let the “will of the House” do its job.

End of ads looms … hooray!

I can state with a fair amount of confidence that the No. 1 reason I look forward to Primary Election Day 2024 is the cessation of the endless stream of political ads on TV.

Oh, brother. Spare me. Please!

They have been non-stop, repetitive, boring and only semi-truthful as far as I can determine.

The Republican Party primary is getting most of the attention, given the effort put forth by Texas Attorney General  Ken Paxton to defeat state legislators who favored his impeachment this past year.

And the next time I hear the words “true conservative” when describing these GOP candidates, I am likely to, well … aww hell, I don’t know. I might just curse out loud.

Liberals are called conservative and vice versa. This is just on the GOP side. Who do I believe? I don’t know. Nor do I care. That’s ignorance and apathy all rolled up into one Texas voter.

I am casting my ballot tomorrow morning. First thing. Going to the polling place in Princeton, where I am likely to run into a horde of campaign workers standing outside the designated wall of separation from the polling station.

I’ll just breeze on past ’em and cast my ballot.

Then I’ll get to wait for the next go-round in TV ads. For now, I am getting a breather. Not a day — or a moment — too soon.

Censure House speaker … for what?

For the life of me I cannot understand what in the world has gotten into the noggins of many Texas Republicans these days.

Now the state Republican Party has censured one of their own, House Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, because he didn’t stop the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton this past year.

Have these people lost their MAGA-muddled minds? Have they all gone ’round the bend? Have they all swilled the MAGA Kool-Aid offered by the former POTUS, the guy who has called for Phelan to resign from the House, even though he doesn’t know a damn thing about how Texas politics works?

Phelan presided over Paxton’s impeachment, which occurred after a House committee recommended the AG be impeached because of the shabby way he runs his office. The House voted overwhelmingly to impeach Paxton, but then the Senate acquitted him in a trial that lasted about a week.

The state GOP is still chapped over the impeachment. The censure is being fueled by the MAGA wing of the Texas GOP

To be clear, I want to stipulate a couple of things about Phelan. I don’t know the fellow, even though I lived and worked in Beaumont for nearly 11 years. I only was casually acquainted with Phelan’s father, an uber-rich Beaumont developer. I have heard from some of my Golden Triangle snitches that Dade Phelan was cut from the traditional Republican fabric that creates a politician who favors wealthy Texans. Therefore, he is a standard GOP pol.

He also just happens to be a fellow, apparently, who dislikes corrupt politicians … even when such allegations stain the records of fellow Republicans.

Texas GOP censures House Speaker Dade Phelan over Paxton impeachment (houstonchronicle.com)

It makes me wonder: Why in the world is that such a bad thing, something the produces censure?

As the Houston Chronicle has reported: Phelan has remained defiant in the face of the criticism and has touted the House’s work to ban abortion and allow the permitless carry of handguns as conservative wins passed under his leadership.

Doesn’t any of that other stuff matter … or is the Texas GOP intent on protecting an attorney general who continually makes many Texans wince over the way he conducts himself?

Politics of revenge: unbecoming and ugly

Two of Texas’s top politicians are seeking to exact revenge against members of their own political party and frankly, it is unbecoming of both of them to seek to get back at their fellow Republicans.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have launched their revenge strategies seeking to defeat pols who voted against school vouchers and voted in favor of an impeachment initiative.

Abbott wants so badly to rob the public education till to benefit private schools that he’s targeting GOP lawmakers in the House who opposed the notion; most of the Republicans opposing the notion represent rural school districts where public schools are the centerpiece, the lifeblood of their communities

Paxton avoided being kicked out of office after the House impeached him on allegations that he’s a vengeful crook who did sweet deals to benefit a leading political ally. The Senate tossed the articles of impeachment aside.

These two MAGA Republicans are singing off the hymnal offered by Donald Trump, who has vowed to be “your retribution” in 2024.

It’s disgusting, man.

Abbott’s striking is more repugnant to me, given that he is attacking lawmakers who are listening to their constituents and following their wishes rather than heeding the demands of the governor. I am not excusing Paxton for an instant, though. I long have believed that Paxton is a disgrace to the legal profession and to the AG’s office.

But … here we are, on the eve of an election year. Two statewide politicians are vowing to engage in local elections and try to persuade legislators’ constituents that these Republicans should be defeated. Why? Because they aren’t doing governor’s and the AG’s bidding.


Woman deserves better treatment

Kate Cox deserves better treatment than what she is getting from the Texas legal system.

The Dallas resident is being caught in a whipsaw over the issue of abortion. A court ruled that because the baby she is carrying is doomed to die shortly after birth that Cox is entitled to end the pregnancy contrary to the heartless Texas law that requires her to give birth.

Then the Texas Supreme Court stepped in and overruled the lower court, telling Cox that the baby’s well-being isn’t covered under the limited exceptions carried in the Texas abortion law.

The case is now being appealed again and Cox is waiting to learn whether she will be forced to give birth only to watch her baby daughter die.

This is cruelty that defies description.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton weighed in, too, vowing to sue Cox and her physician if she is allowed to end the pregnancy. What’s more, Cox’s doctor faces criminal penalty if he assists her in this effort.

This is utter madness! Cox faces the possibility of being unable to conceive another child if she is forced to give birth.

What on Earth have we unleashed in Texas if this woman is denied the opportunity to determine her own child-bearing future?

Regret seeps in

Occasionally I get a question from friends of mine who live far from Texas, where my family and I have called home for nearly 40 years.

“Do you regret moving there, given the politics of the state.”

I have been able to answer with a straight face, “No. I have made a nice living here as a journalist.  Besides, I don’t take my politics home with me at the end of the day.”

Some regret, though, is beginning to seep into my skull and into my heart. The source comes from the recent acquittal of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

From my vantage point, it appeared to me the multiple charges leveled against Paxton looked credible. I had hoped the Senate would ratify the Texas House’s overwhelming impeachment of the AG. It didn’t. Senators acquitted Paxton on every one of the 16 counts for which he was put on trial.

I have concluded that in this state, Republican are ouster-proof, no matter the evidence that piles up against them. House impeachment trial managers presented testimony from former assistant AGs, from political pals of the individual who gained from his relationship with Paxton.

It went into the ears of senators and out the other side. Why? I guess because most of them are Republicans, just like the AG. They listened more to their partisan voices than to whether the AG disgraced his office, which is what the charges against him implied.

The GOP grip on the political machinery in this state is ironclad, yes? It is that partisan loyalty that resulted in Paxton’s acquittal.

The result disappointed me greatly, so much so that for the first time since 1984, when my wife and I moved here with our still-young sons, I cannot shake the pangs of regret.

Dan Patrick: no surprises

The more I think about it, the less surprised I should be about Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s in-your-face reaction to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s acquittal in his two-week-long impeachment trial.

Patrick has called for a full audit of the expenses incurred during the impeachment of the attorney general that ended up in the laps of 30 Texas senators. Patrick accused the House of Representatives of acting in a political manner when it impeached Paxton on multiple charges of corruption.

When you think about, Patrick’s assertion is as absurd and laughable as it gets. Why is that? Because 121 House members voted to impeach Paxton, and that number includes a lot of Republicans who crossed the great chasm to impeach the AG. Which begs the question: Did the Republican House members fall victim to their partisan instincts? Hardly! They voted their conscience.

Yes, Patrick stayed out of the way during the trial. I am grasping for a reason, though, why he chose to level the audit threat against the House for doing its constitutional duty.

The dude got the outcome he seemingly wanted, which was an acquittal of Paxton, who became the subject of the GOP-led House impeachment probe after several top AG department legal eagles quit in disgust … and then blew the whistle on what they reportedly witnessed.

Why did it surprise me, then, when he started hurling accusations at epithets at the Texas House? I guess I expected more from someone who arguably occupies the most powerful elected office in Texas. Lt. Gov. Patrick damn sure didn’t need to throw his weight around … or so I thought.

Silly me.