In the wake of State Sen. Kel Seliger’s “lewd” comments towards a female Senate staffer and subsequent committee chairmanship removal, a county lobby group is defending the Republican senator from Amarillo for standing with local governments over taxpayers in West Texas.
In an email to members of the County Officials Political Action Committee (COPAC) titled “Support Senator Seliger,” General Counsel Jim Allison praises the senator’s support of county governments through his opposition to property tax reform — a priority issue for not only Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but also Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican Party of Texas.
Allison’s email fails to mention Seliger’s controversial comments that prompted his removal as chair of the Agriculture Committee, and instead swiftly shifts the blame to Patrick, describing the removal as “retribution” and an example of “dictatorial rule and attempted intimidation” by the lieutenant governor.
“Senator Kel Seliger was the only Republican State Senator to stand with county government and oppose revenue caps,” the email stated. “Lt. Gov. Patrick threatened retribution and opposed the senator’s reelection,” referring to Patrick’s decision to not endorse Seliger in his 2018 reelection bid. Not mentioned is that the decision was reciprocated—Seliger was the sole Republican to not endorse Patrick’s re-election.
Allison ends the email with a call to action, asking members to email the senator and encourage him to continue standing strong in support of “local decision making” and against Patrick’s “over-bearing actions.”
Passing property tax reform has been designated by Republican state leaders as one of the top priorities of the 2019 legislative session. Conversely, it’s been targeted by government lobby groups as one of the top issues to oppose this legislative session.
If passed, property tax reform would help curb skyrocketing property tax bills by lowering the percentage governments can increase property tax rates without voter approval from the current eight percent. In other words, citizens would have more authority over their property tax rates.
Local government lobby groups such as COPAC (the direct advocacy arm of County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas), the Texas Municipal League, and others parrot criticism of property tax reform as an attempt by the state to infringe on local control, calling it a “revenue cap” and comparing it to “federal overreach.” Yet, the implementation of such reform measures would only further empower local citizens—not state government as COPAC and others imply.
COPAC’s unwavering support of Seliger, a “local government champion,” in the wake of such controversial behavior shows the extent to which government lobby groups will go to further a political agenda, while also further revealing Seliger’s unwavering support of government bureaucrats over West Texas taxpayers.