In our mission to promote sound fiscal policy by encouraging greater citizen engagement in the political process, we’ve apparently hit a couple sensitive nerves for legislators more intent on representing entrenched lobby interests than working for the people.
We know this because earlier this week two legislators — the tax-hike-promoting State Rep. Vicki Truitt and the underwhelming State Rep. Jim Keffer — allegedly filed ethics complaints against me personally, and against Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. I say “allegedly” because the Texas Ethics Commission has not notified us of the complaints — the legislators just told the press they did.
These two legislators have horrible records — at least as far as conservatives are concerned. And they really don’t want voters hearing the full story of their legislative activities.
But rather than address their voting records, it appears these two politicians and their political consultant are using the heavy hand of government in an attempt to bully us and ultimately all Texans into silence about the issues facing the Lone Star State. This is cowardly but predictable from those who hide from their records.
I have received absolutely no communication from the Texas Ethics Commission — only press releases issued by two waning politicians working on behalf of a lobbyist, Bryan Eppstein, who promotes higher taxes and burdensome government.
Further, this is a feeble attempt by one of the legislators to use her official office and an agency of state government to exact revenge for our having endorsed her opponent last month. She doesn’t want to talk issues, so she is working to silence discussion about her anti-conservative record.
It is telling that this political stunt comes 60 days before an election, not during or after the legislative session. It’s because these baseless claims are politically motivated.
Having met over the years with attorneys on these issues, including a meeting with counsel this morning, there is no doubt that what I do at Texans for Fiscal Responsibility is not lobbying.
At TFR, discussions with legislators are secondary to our work informing Texans about the activities of their lawmakers. Frankly, we’re a lot less interested in what politicians think than in what the citizens of Texas think – but I doubt that matters much to a legislator or consultant clinging to power.
Our communications with legislators are an extension of our discussions with Texas’ citizens.
Bad lawmakers never like their constituents finding out what they do in Austin – hence, these bizarre, baseless accusations. Clearly, their motivation is to chill political speech. Instead, as citizen-activists we just have to carry on the fight… and make it even hotter in 2012!
Meanwhile, we’re flattered that they view us as influential in the Texas Capitol, but we are not. We merely communicate regularly with the voters and taxpayers, who in turn decide what action to take. That’s what bothers them the most: an informed and engaged electorate.
As a result of our engagement with voters, and a good social media coordinator, we have a larger presence on Facebook than any other Texas policy or political entity, and bigger than any news organization. Providing people with the information they need and want has benefited Texans, and we will continue doing so despite the attempted bullying.
Finally, it’s sad to see two leadership lackeys attempting to use the Texas Ethics Commission — and what is probably an unconstitutional law — as a political billy-club.
Reps. Truitt and Keffer are rightly worried about facing citizens enraged by their disregard for representational government. Attempting to silence political dissent and thwart legislative accountability in order to serve Mr. Eppstein’s big-government agenda isn’t what Texas voters want or deserve.