Newly obtained records reveal only one Democrat House member who fled the state for Washington, D.C., to break quorum has actually returned his per diem payment to the state, despite promises from others to do so.
When a legislative session is ongoing, lawmakers receive a $211 per diem payment, in addition to their salary, for every day the Legislature is in session—regardless of whether or not they are actually present.
Texas Freedom Coalition—a group that describes itself as a “grassroots organization that stands for personal liberty”—filed an open records request to the House Business Office for all payroll records for Democrat state representatives from July 12 through August 6.
While 11 Democrat members had indicated they would decline or return their per diem payments, only Democrat State Rep. Bobby Guerra (McAllen) had actually sent a check back to the state, in the amount of $4,416.93.
According to the House Business Office payroll records, between the dates of July 12 and August 2, Democrats were paid a total of $389,664.00 in per diem pay. That number has only increased during the second special session, when Democrats spent nearly the first half of the session busting quorum.
“The Texas Freedom Coalition believes that the actions by the Texas House Democratic Caucus has hurt everyday, hardworking Texans whose taxes are used to fund the 87th Texas Legislative Special Session, with the expectation that their legislators will show up to work,” the group said in a statement. “The Texas Freedom Coalition also believes that the Texas House Democratic Caucus break in quorum has been used by high-profile Texas Democrats to fundraise and campaign, some on a national level, and on the backs of Texas taxpayers.”
The group says they are in the process of collecting additional open records requests and more responses will be forthcoming.