Some legislators have really thin skin… and don’t at all like constituents finding out what they are doing in Austin. Latest example? Ironically enough, the co-chair of the Orwellian-named “Transparency” committee in the Texas House.

This committee is the pet project of moderate House Speaker Joe Straus. It’s most meaningful activities to date have been to hold a series of hearings into why a UT regent is trying to uncover financial malfeasances and admissions abuse.

The committee seems intent on whitewashing over the allegations of corruption and abuse — including unethical behavior (or worse) by members of the legislature.

Legislators clearly hope you won’t pay attention to any of this. They like using admissions to state universities as a “benefit” for themselves and their friends.

According to media reports, there is credible evidence that members of the legislature used their power to get their unqualified kids into University of Texas schools. We also know that payola schemes involving pet professors were given “forgivable” loans through a shadowy UT foundation. And it goes on from there.

None of this seems to bother the Straus-appointed co-chairs of the committee, Democrat Carol Alvarado of Houston and Republican Dan Flynn of Van. They’ve allowed the committee to spend six-months on a witch-hunt — setting the stage for the impeachment of a UT regent for the singular crime of doing his job by asking questions about the management of the taxpayers’ flagship university.

So we’ve done the unthinkable: Empower Texans mailed into the districts of the committee members, letting voters know about the scandals, and suggesting that legislators should focus on the corruption. (Here’s what we sent into the districts of Alvarado and Flynn, for example.)

Rep. Alvarado went whining yesterday to the Houston Chronicle, upset that we are talking to her constituents about her actions. I personally appreciate her doing so; it means even more people will see what a bad job she and her colleagues are doing as stewards.

Committee member State Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said he was concerned about the “disruption” to UT. No, not the corruption. He is concerned that someone is asking questions about it.

Rep. Flynn made it clear in his questions to the UT System chancellor that he felt the actions of the regent in digging into the corruption was “inappropriate.”

Corruption. Financial malfeasance. Clout abuse.

What is inappropriate is a legislature that is investigating a whistle-blower, instead of the corruption. What’s inappropriate is a legislature that seems intent on covering up for the bureaucracy, not holding it to account.

What is inappropriate is the message Mr. Flynn and his committee are sending to every other regent and commission member in the state: Ask questions that upset the bureaucrats, ask questions that reveal legislative clout abuse, and a “transparency” committee will crush you.

It’s time for Texans to confront their legislators about a legislative culture that protects corruption and punishes reformers.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Michael Quinn Sullivan and his wife have three children. He is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. Check out his podcast, “Reflections on Life and Liberty.”

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