In his last days as Texas House Speaker, Joe Straus told reporters from his office in the Texas Capitol that he will commit his remaining campaign dollars accumulated at the helm of the lower chamber to forming an “advocacy group,” pledging to influence the Texas Legislature with his remaining $8.5 million.
Despite having been censured by his home county’s Republican Party and over 50 additional Republican Executive Committees, including the Republican Party of Texas, the outgoing speaker said he will remain involved in Texas politics; however, he offered little insight into what that would entail. He also provided no information on what the framework of his so-called advocacy group would look like or whether he would be doubling down on efforts to obstruct Republican Party legislative priorities.
Straus is no stranger to doling out campaign money, typically doing so in an effort to defeat conservatives or prop up unpopular establishment allies. During his time as speaker, he aggressively targeted conservative incumbents and grassroots challengers to obstructionist allies in Republican primaries, spending tens of thousands of dollars from his personal campaign account or the accompanying Texas House Leadership Fund. Indeed, Texans can find his fingerprints on the campaign finance reports of many of the Fiscal Responsibility Index’s worst-performing Republican legislators.
Straus has no plans to abandon those practices.
“I won’t be a constant presence and I have no plans to spend any time at the Capitol, but I’ll be around and be involved in helping from the outside,” Straus told reporters.
Time will tell how impactful Straus’ money and the subsequent organization he builds are on the process ahead.