One freshman member of the Texas House has introduced a resolution honoring his predecessor’s “noteworthy tenure.” But the man he honored isn’t “noteworthy”—he’s infamous for opposing conservatives and, literally, working to stop Republican-backed reforms.
In March of 2015, Mike Lang announced he would be mounting a conservative campaign for the Texas House. “House District 60 is one of Texas’ most conservative districts,” said Lang at the time. “It’s time to elect a candidate who represents those views.”
Lang was right.
At the time of his announcement, HD 60 was represented by one of the most liberal and corrupt lawmakers in the Texas House, State Rep. Jim Keffer (R–Eastland), and Republicans in his district quickly rallied around Lang in his bid to replace him.
They had good reason. A fixture of the Texas House for two decades, Keffer was a major enemy of conservative reform and repeatedly pushed for liberal, big government legislation.
While a legislator, “Republican” Keffer proposed levying a “wage tax” on Texans, and was also an early promoter of the disastrous “gross margins tax” on business. He also supported a “granny tax” on nursing home residents, hiking the gasoline tax, and stood in the way of tax relief. Most galling, however, was a legislative ploy to enrich himself by requiring taxpayers to buy products from his company.
It was that kind of self-serving, know-better elitism that led to Keffer’s most egregious offense—a plot to drain Possum Kingdom and Lake Granbury that would fill his wallet and those of his friends.
With such a poor record, Keffer narrowly survived re-election in 2014 and knew he likely wouldn’t be able to do so again.
Rather than face Lang and his constituents in a primary election, Keffer tucked tail and ran. While claiming he was retiring from politics to spend time with his family, Keffer did anything but—recruiting Fort Worth banker Kevin Downing to move into the district and run against Lang for his seat.
Fortunately Downing lost and Lang prevailed, granting conservatives a major victory by replacing a perennial obstacle to conservative reform with someone who seemed interested in aggressively championing it.
Since taking office Lang has done exactly that. Pushing aside the tradition of sitting on the sidelines as a freshman in the Texas House, Lang has championed conservative priorities by writing legislation to close the state’s primaries, authoring an amendment to the House budget removing the Rainy Day Fund spending and calling for spending cuts instead, and voting consistently with conservatives to limit government and restore truth in taxation.
It’s that strong, positive record that makes his most recent action so head-scratching for conservatives.
On Wednesday, Lang authored House Resolution 1633 to honor “former state representative Jim Keffer for his service in the Texas Legislature.”
In the resolution, Lang gives a glowing display of revisionist history about Keffer’s legislative record.
“Throughout his two decades in office, Jim Keffer represented his constituents with vision, skill, and dedication, and his lasting contributions to the Lone Star State have earned the deep respect and appreciation of all Texans,” writes Lang in his resolution.
“[His] return to private life allows him to spend more time with his wife of 40 years, Leslie, and a treasured family that includes three sons and two grandchildren,” he adds.
But Keffer did not return to “private life” as the resolution implies—he’s still in Austin, and now he’s showing his true colors.
Since leaving the Texas Legislature, Keffer has joined the board of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal organization whose stated 2017 policy goals include “Reject a tighter state spending cap” and “Prevent harmful tax cuts.” He’s also become a lobbyist, going to work with another left-wing organization in order to fight against legislation to prevent men from entering women’s bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms.
While Lang might believe he’s being magnanimous by honoring Keffer, he’s diminishing his own credibility by lending his good name and his integrity to a crook. Lang has worked hard this session to repair the damage that Keffer caused to the State of Texas, he shouldn’t taint himself by vouching for him.