An embattled state representative closely tied with House Speaker Joe Straus has accused Gov. Greg Abbott of trading high-profile appointments to the University of Texas Board of Regents in exchange for large campaign contributions.
When asked about the failure of the House to pass the ethics reform package championed by Gov. Greg Abbott and unanimously adopted by the Senate, State Rep. Wayne Faircloth (R-Dickinson) digressed into attacks on the governor and Senate.
His comments were made at a Chambers County Republican meeting earlier this month.
“They said you want to be on the Board of Regents of the University of Texas, you need to make a donation,” Faircloth can be heard telling the audience in a video provided to Texas Scorecard. Only the governor can make appointments to the board of regents, which are then confirmed by the Senate.
Faircloth claimed he has been told that Abbott and others “use [campaign donations] to make appointments to agencies, committees, bureaus.”
Ironically, Abbott has been a strong advocate of shining a brighter light on the actions of elected officials. He’s been especially keen to expose the revolving door between the legislature and the tax-funded lobby. Lawmakers often monetize their “public service” after fully vesting in the state’s unethical legislative pension plan by leaving the legislature to take jobs lobbying their colleagues in Austin.
In a re-writing of legislative history, Faircloth can be heard on video telling his constituents that ethics reform legislation “died in the Senate.”
For two consecutive legislative sessions, as well as the recently concluded special session, the Texas Senate has passed ethics reforms aimed at exposing legislators’ conflicts of interest while the House leadership has blocked those efforts.
Faircloth has already been under fire for using the landfall of Hurricane Harvey in his campaign fundraising. He had Straus headline a campaign fundraiser in Austin, claiming that he needed Austin lobbyists to come to his rescue because Harvey had ruined his ability to raise funds at home.
Since entering the legislature, Faircloth has developed a reputation as a hack for out-of-state business interests and counts moderate-establishment PACs, like Texans for Lawsuit Reform and Associated Republicans of Texas, among his biggest donors.
Faircloth is being challenged in the March 2018 Republican primary by businessman Mayes Middleton.