After claiming that the House leadership doesn’t engage in retribution for members taking policy stances, a Republican state representative has been stripped of his chairmanship for taking a position at odds with the speaker’s Democrat base.

During debate on HB 4 last week, State Rep. Mark Keough (R–The Woodlands) angered liberal Republicans and Democrats by offering an amendment that would bar illegal immigrants from getting benefits. Along the way, Keough accepted (without reading) a Democrat-sponsored amendment gutting his own effort in a vain attempt to reclaim the approval of the Democrats he had empowered.

Now he’s facing the very same retribution he claimed two months ago doesn’t take place in the Texas House.

At the beginning of the session, Keough stunned conservatives by seconding the nomination of State Rep. Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) as House Speaker. In a parade of platitudes, contradicted by his own staffers, Keough gushed over Straus’ demonstration of “respect, honor, and statesmanship” and offered high praise for how Straus manages the Texas House.

In a move much akin to actions taken by former U.S. Speaker John Boehner,  Straus has sided with Democrats and punished Keough this week by eliminating the Subcommittee on CPS and Foster Care Issues, which Keough had served as chair.

At the beginning of the Human Services committee hearing this week, Chairman Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) announced he would be recalling HB 6 from the subcommittee chaired by Keough and basically dissolving the subcommittee.

“There will be no further need for the Subcommittee on CPS and Foster Care bills. We’ll hear any bills before the full committee,” said Raymond.

Keough said nothing as his chairmanship was stripped, intimidated into silence by the jailor to whom he delivered himself as a hostage.

“Management is everything,” said Keough in nominating Straus. “Our speaker Joe Straus has created an environment by his example where gifted leaders are free to work on behalf of our body of legislators and the people they represent produce what some have said about last session was the most productive and significant legislature in the history of our great state.”

In that speech, Keough gave testimony to a lie that he is now a victim of.

The truth is that in the Texas House, management is everything. And Joe Straus has created an environment where conservatives are punished for representing their constituents and advocating commonsense reforms. Rather than side with Keough and support him, Straus chose to side with those with whom his power is derived: House Democrats.

After pledging fealty to them in exchange for their support in orchestrating a coup against Republican Speaker Tom Craddick (R–Midland), Straus is beholden to the Democrats who gave him his position. Under his leadership, the House is governed by a coalition of Democrat and Republican enablers.

Every session a few conservatives like Keough sell out to this Democrat coalition, thinking that there is a place for them on the team if only they stop resisting. Answering the siren’s call of a seat at the table, of no one running against them, of “working within the system” they betray their conservative colleagues and sell out to Straus.

And every session they provide further evidence that there is everything to lose and nothing to gain.

Cary Cheshire

Cary Cheshire is the Vice President of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A 6th Generation Texan, Cary attended Texas A&M University was active in a number of conservative causes including Ted Cruz's Senate campaign. He has also worked on campaigns to elect conservatives to Congress and the Texas Legislature. Cary enjoys college football, genealogy research, and the occasional craft beer.