While it’s been over two years since former Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus announced he would be leaving the legislature, that hasn’t stopped him from continuing to help his friends in the Texas Capitol, doling out campaign cash to several former allies.
In June of 2019, after the legislative session, Straus announced he would be starting the Texas Forever Forward PAC and seeding the effort with an initial $2.5 million investment left over from his campaign coffers.
With the same kind of veiled language commonly used by liberal Republicans in Austin, Straus said he started the PAC to “promote a thoughtful, conservative approach to governing and rising political leaders ready to ensure a bright future for all Texans.”
But the PAC’s first round of donations doesn’t appear to be going to “rising political leaders” at all; predictably, it seems to be flowing to the same tired faces who assisted Straus and his reign of obstruction.
The most recent campaign finance filings, which cover the second half of 2019, reveal the PAC gave $5,000 each to the following Republican lawmakers:
|State Representative||2019 Fiscal Responsibility Index Score|
|Dan Flynn (Van)||61|
|Chris Paddie (Marshall)||47|
|Geanie Morrison (Victoria)||41|
|J.D. Sheffield (Gatesville)||39|
|Drew Darby (San Angelo)||52|
|Phil Stephenson (Wharton)||46|
|Dan Huberty (Kingwood)||37|
|Dennis Paul (Clear Lake)||62|
Besides their dismal record of standing up for taxpayers, these members also share another common thread: they all have opponents in the upcoming March primary.
Taking power in 2009 through the result of a Democrat-led coup against Republican Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland, Straus spent almost a decade obstructing and subverting the will of Republican primary voters and the party platform—killing efforts to protect life, gun rights, and to limit government from coming to the floor of the Texas House.
After the Republican Caucus passed bylaws to elect a unified Republican candidate for speaker, Straus was forced to call it quits, leaving the post—and the legislature—after 10 years behind the gavel.
With still nearly $2.5 million on hand, however, it will be interesting to see which candidates—Republican or Democrat—Straus decides to give cash to next.