This week, State Rep. Jeff Cason (R–Bedford) released the first episode of his new podcast, “Back Room Access.” The podcast will center around Texas politics, with a focus on Cason’s experiences as a freshman representative.
Cason began his term in January 2021 after defeating Democrat candidate Jeff Whitfield in a close election. During his freshman term, Cason served on the County Affairs Committee and the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. In December of last year, Cason announced that he was retiring from the Legislature and would not seek re-election, after his district was redrawn to be more favorable to a Democrat candidate.
In the first episode, Cason referred to his time in office as an “honor” and said his main reason for starting the podcast is the need for more honesty from lawmakers.
“Now, when I ran for this office, I made a commitment to the voters of House District 92 to be transparent and accountable to the people that elected me,” said Cason. “The problem with Austin is they hate transparency and accountability. Throughout coming episodes, I’ll be talking about many of those moments when my effort to be accountable and transparent riled up a lot of my fellow Republican colleagues.”
Cason described an early run-in with senior House members that occurred after he informed a fellow representative that he would not vote for State Rep. Dade Phelan— who said he would appoint Democrats to committee chair positions—as speaker of the House.
“Before you knew it, myself and another freshman were ushered to the back hall and were immediately surrounded by senior House members and staff from the speaker’s office. And there seemed to be a ‘good cop, bad cop’ scenario in play as we were cussed at by one or two members while politely being urged in the strongest sense by staff and other senior House members to not do this,” said Cason. “We would regret it, they said.”
Cason was one of two representatives who did not vote for Phelan.
Phelan maintained that by appointing Democrats to committee chair positions, he was simply following the precedent set by former House speakers. He pointed to Texas’ recent population boom as a reason to keep the status quo.
“Even when adjusted for a portion of the body, when Republicans made up a sizable minority in the 1990s, they never achieved the sheer number of committee chairs the Democrats have now. The only offset to that was when Tom Craddick chaired Ways and Means in the ’90s and [when] Bob Davis chaired Ways and Means in 1979,” Cason explained. “Otherwise, there’s no comparison. Republicans have shared a lot more power with the minority than Democrats did when they controlled the House.”
Cason also highlighted how the practice leads to many Republican priorities being ignored in the Legislature.
“Appointing Democrats to chair important committees that would hear top-priority GOP bills is just another way of Republican leadership laundering responsibility for those priorities to not be passed,” said Cason. “Priorities that are the reason people are coming to Texas are not the hug-fest and power-sharing that Republicans are so proud of in today’s Austin swamp.”
The first episode of “Back Room Access” ended with Cason imploring Texans to help change the system by getting involved in politics at both the local and state level.
“Folks, only you have the power and the ability to make needed changes in Austin,” said Cason. “And everyone can by simply being informed, being empowered, and being engaged.”