If you live in Anderson, Freestone, Navarro, or Hill counties, you must confront a sad realization: you don’t have a representative in Austin.

Sure, on paper and on the ballot, Byron Cook is elected as “State Representative” for Texas House District 8, which stretches from Palestine in the east to Hillsboro in the west. But campaign finance reports filed Wednesday by Cook’s campaign reveal that he is representing interests that are very foreign to his home counties.

Cook reported raising a little over $115,000 in the latter half of 2013. The contributions pad his campaign treasure chest to over $640,000. But guess how much of that 115k Cook raised in House District 8?

You guessed it: Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What makes it even worse, Byron Cook doesn’t even appear to have a single individual donor. Every individual listed on his report is either a registered lobbyist, an owner or CEO of a corporation, or someone connected with a PAC or regulated industry interested in doing business before Cook’s powerful State Affairs Committee.

Byron Cook’s status as a wholly owned subsidiary of the lobby is reflected in his voting record. This past session, Cook voted to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare and then, when that didn’t work, he voted to allow unelected bureaucrats to do the dirty deed for him. He did all of this on the way to earning an “F” (42.0 out of 100) on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Cook was elected in 2002 and has climbed the ranks to become a member of House Speaker Joe Straus’s inner circle, having joined with Democrats to elect Straus in 2009. Despite his long tenure, Byron Cook has failed to set up a district office. Locals report that a sign points to the courthouse in Corsicana, but when they enter and search for the actual office, none can be found. A review of Cook’s state website lists a district office at: PO Box 1397, Corsicana, TX 75151. Good luck meeting Rep. Cook and his staff at the post office!

So does Byron Cook even live in Corsicana? Unfortunately for his constituents, yes. Reports have recently surfaced that, in an attempt to hold on to his political power, Byron Cook has been bullying citizens who are supporting his Republican opponent, Bobby Vickery.

Vickery, a conservative whom Texans for Fiscal Responsibility has endorsed, is campaigning to oust Cook and return representation to House District 8. As a part of that campaign, Vickery asked and received permission to put his sign in front of a local business.

How did Byron Cook respond? He went into the business, bullied the manager, then called the governmental affairs office for the business’s chain and forced them to remove Vickery’s yard sign.

One would think Byron Cook could direct that energy towards representing his constituents, or at least raising money from them. But when someone has been in Austin long enough to cease having a connection with their voters, then maybe being a bully is the only way to hang on to power.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.