Perhaps you have experienced as well a frustration I am about to express, which deals with a public official’s apparent refusal to provide a direct answer to a direct question.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has been running a re-election campaign ad in which he declares that he “distributed $3 billion” to buttress the state’s border security. Hegar, therefore, is taking direct credit for acting under his own discretion to spend the money to secure our border. The Republican officeholder, quite naturally, is critical of the nation’s top Democrat, President Biden, over federal border policies.
My question went to the head of the comptroller’s media relations office. I sent an email and the question is this: Does Comptroller Hegar have the discretion to distribute $3 billion for border security as he sees fit, which he implies in his campaign ad, or is that distribution mandated by the Legislature and/or the governor? The media guy has gotten two messages from me. No answer.
I don’t know why he hasn’t answered my question. I believe it is clear and concise. All he has to do is say “yes” or “no,” if he doesn’t want to spend any time explaining himself or the state agency’s policy.
My concern about Hegar’s ad is that it might be misleading. In fact, I believe it is misleading. You see, the Legislature appropriates money and then directs agency heads — even those elected to their office — to spend it according to what the legislation prescribes. So, when Glenn Hegar tells TV viewers that he “distributed” the money, he leaves the impression that he has sole authority to spend the money as he sees fit. It’s all part of the GOP narrative I keep hearing played out during this primary election season: Republican officials are doing the job that the feds are supposed to be doing; therefore, the message goes, Joe Biden is failing at his job. In fact, Hegar’s ad opens with that very statement, that “Biden is failing.”
Candidates for Texas attorney general are saying it, too, even though the AG is mainly a civil litigator. They’re all proclaiming how they’re going to get tough on criminals crossing the border into Texas “illegally,” of course, to do harm to helpless Texans who will fall victim to their criminal intent.
Well, I’ll be patient and wait this one out. I just find it hilarious that the guy who serves as the state’s top bean counter would portray himself as a tough-as-nails crime fighter.