Because he is so inactive, Rep. Wayne Smith of Baytown doesn’t draw as much attention as some of his other liberal Republican colleagues. But that doesn’t mean the seven-term legislator isn’t detrimental to taxpayers. In fact, Wayne Smith is a legislator on autopilot, who votes with, and carries legislation for, entrenched Austin special interests.

A look at his extensive ties to the Austin lobby may explain why Smith seems to always side with them over taxpayers. During the 84th Legislative Session, Wayne Smith earned an “F” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Wayne Smith has been appointed chairman of the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee. The Licensing Committee is tasked with overseeing professional licensing as well as gambling and alcohol distribution. In Austin, the committee is cynically referred to as a “lucrative” committee and spots on it are highly sought after by legislators who want access to lobbyists’ gifts and campaign contributions.

The Licensing Committee is the go-to place for special interests to pass legislation designed to protect their monopolies and eliminate competition.

No surprise then that Austin’s top lobbyists are highly vested in Wayne Smith’s campaign and in currying favor with him. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars from special interest PACs for his reelection.

Lobbyist Bill Messer and Wayne Smith have deep ties. Messer is currently ranked as the 4th most influential “hired gun lobbyist” in Austin. As a former Democratic legislator, Messer was praised by Texas Monthly, saying “he manipulates the levers of power better than anyone.”

The relationship is so close that Wayne Smith has hired Bill Messer’s son, Judd Messer, to serve as his political consultant for his reelection campaign. Not only that, Wayne Smith’s former Chief of Staff, Colin Parrish, works with Messer and was recently ranked as a “rising star” amongst the lobbyists in Austin.

During the 84th Legislature, Smith voted against Amendment 27 to Senate Bill 19. The amendment would have prevented legislators like Smith from lobbying while they are in office, and would have ended the revolving door that allows lobbyists to leave office and immediately go to work as hired guns.

Gov. Abbott recently called the actions of legislators like Wayne Smith who killed his signature ethics package “shameful.” Abbott went on to say “they are cheating their own voters.”

Texans rightly concerned by the influence wielded by the coalition of Democrats and liberal Austin Republicans on the legislature should be doubly concerned by Wayne Smith’s continued tenure in office. Wayne Smith’s very campaign is unapologetically centered on – and run by – that cartel to the detriment of Texas taxpayers.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.


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