In the crazy campaign season where every nook and cranny of a person’s life and statements about the most obscure things are brought out in TV ads, mailers and social media posts, I find it incredible that the wreckage left behind by Eric Opiela is scarcely mentioned anywhere! You may recall that Mr. Opiela served as the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas until terminated by interim party chair Cathie Adams. What most of the people outside the bubble of RPT party politics don’t know is that under Mr. Opiela’s directorship the party was virtually weeks from having to consider bankruptcy! Yes in a red state like Texas the Republican Party was nearly ¾ of a million dollars in debt! When confronted at a closed door meeting by myself and a fellow SREC member that it appeared to us that the Party was going broke, Mr. Opiela looked us straight in the eye and said “If the Party was going broke I would tell you”. A couple of months later as the next administration started their term at the RPT the financial realities were revealed to be obvious and serious. Most people ask “why does this matter” in Mr. Opiela’s current race for Ag Commissioner? With the 5 year anniversary coming up for the organic forming of the TEA Party it is interesting to recall the things that have most irritated the taxpaying public that was the initial core of the TEA Party movement. It was overreach, dishonesty, obfuscation and financial mismanagement. As a member of the State Republican Executive Committee during the employment of Mr. Opiela I can attest to the similarities of Mr. Opiela’s management of the party and government in general. In fact at one meeting I specifically warned the party that we had no moral authority to demand of government what we were not willing give ourselves; accountability, transparency & honesty. When I and a fellow member questioned some of the financial reports given by Mr. Opiela we were accosted by him later and told that we were making “the chairman look bad”. As part of the governing body for the state party it is our job to make sure that we fulfill the mission we set out in our bylaws. It is also our responsibility to make sound financial decisions. Most party supporters were never aware that Mr. Opiela signed a 7 year “iron clad” lease that at one point was exponentially more dollars per square foot than the average Austin high rise was leasing for at the time. Another revelation during the Opiela term was ridiculous fundraising agreements signed by him that saw the party essentially raising large sums of money just to pay the firm raising the money! Even worse when the finances got so bad that he needed additional credit security for this firm to continue doing business with us he put the 64 members of the Executive Committee at financial risk by REMOVING our individual liability from the bill collectors, though most of us were unaware of the agreements he was entering into on behalf of the party! These are just a few of the financial disasters overseen by Mr. Opiela. At one point Mr. Opiela finally admits that he knew the party’s finances were in bad shape but he thought he could get it corrected “before anyone found out”. Finally, as if these financial decisions alone would not disqualify ANYONE from public office, Mr. Opiela’s political connections should be equally disconcerting. As a reminder, who could forget this great little paragraph from conservative warrior Erick Erickson over at Redstate regarding Mr. Opiela:
When the state’s Republican Executive Committee expressed concerns about the maps drawn for the state’s board of education, Straus lawyer and failed legislative candidate Eric Opiela expressed disdain for committee chairman (and Tea Party activist) Jason Moore in an email to other Straus allies, sarcastically saying, “need I say more.” Straus’ legal counsel said he did not “really trust” Moore – presumably because — in the words of Mr. Johnson — Moore “gave us hell.”
Or from the same article this: Similarly, when Straus adviser Eric Opiela forwarded along information from a Tea Party activist, Straus consultant and close friend Gordon Johnson wrote that they were “doing battle with idiots.” By now everyone knows just how cozy Eric Opiela is with Speaker Joe Straus even to the point of being paid by the Speaker for “legal work”. However, during the initial forming of the ad hoc committee for the RPT for redistricting most of us were not aware of his financial commitments to various people for particular outcomes related to redistricting. As most Republican primary voters already know the redistricting process has been chaotic at best. Mr. Opiela has been a central figure in that chaos. When I proposed a resolution (as an SREC member) that the GOP members of the Texas legislature needed to caucus together to select their choice for Speaker of the House, Mr. Opiela fought vigorously against this resolution. Even when I reminded members that the other party has this caucus requirement as part of THEIR bylaws, Opiela was still determined to thwart the will of grassroots Republicans. So, when an individual serves as an employee of a political organization and hides information, works to undermine its board of directors, makes bad financial decisions and encumbers that organization with those bad decisions far into the future then why would we want him as a state elected official? I realize this makes him great blue state congressional material, but NOT a Texas elected official. However he might just be that half step democrats need to turn Texas “blue”.