After retiring Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced yesterday he spent $1 million to support “responsible Republicans” in their elections, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick fired back with a statement accusing Straus of supporting liberals.

In the statement, Patrick spokesman Allen Blakemore compares the involvement each leader has had in campaigns throughout election season:

The Lt. Governor is very proud to have been actively engaged in five state senate races that resulted in securing the GOP nomination of two new principled, conservative senators – Pat Fallon and Angela Paxton – and that of three stalwart conservative leaders – Senators Donna Campbell, Bob Hall and Joan Huffman. Senator Huffman defeated Speaker Straus’s hand-picked candidate and Senator Hall defeated a member of the Straus leadership team. Unlike Speaker Straus, who had to launder his campaign contributions through large PACs so his involvement wouldn’t hurt the candidates he was supporting, Lt. Governor Patrick was up front and transparent in all five races, spending $591,160.

The PAC laundering in question refers to a $600,000 contribution to the Texas House Leadership Fund, a group controlled by Straus and his team, as well as a $350,000 donation to the Associated Republicans of Texas, a liberal organization unaffiliated with the Republican Party of Texas that supported establishment Republicans in the March primaries against conservative challengers endorsed by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Straus’ donations also included $70,000 in individual donations to liberal lawmakers who Abbott had endorsed against, such as pro-abortion State Rep. Sarah Davis (R–West University Place) and State Rep. Lyle Larson (R–San Antonio) who had all but accused the governor of violating bribery laws, as well as candidates in open seat races like Ben Leman and Steve Allison that Straus is counting on continuing his legacy of obstruction.

In addition to supporting House members, Straus’ contributions crossed into the other chamber, with support for State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) against conservative challengers in the March primary.

As Straus uses the term, “responsible Republican” is little more than a euphemism for “liberal Republican,” with the additional connotation that Republicans who actually follow the platform created by the grassroots who make up the party are inherently “irresponsible.”

Patrick’s statement continues by contrasting the types of Republicans supported by the two leaders:

It is worth noting that the senators the Lt. Governor helped elect in the primary support the agenda that was endorsed by primary voters on the March ballot while the so-called ‘responsible Republicans’ backed by Straus continue to oppose a strong sanctuary-cities ban, like they did in the legislative session, while fighting genuine education reform, border security, and trivializing the protection of women’s privacy.

Indeed, Straus and his allies in the House have repeatedly rejected conservative legislation, even when Abbott called a special session to address their failure.

“In the end no one was fooled,” the statement concludes. “Primary voters know that ‘responsible Republican’ is just a code word for ‘liberal Republican’ and the smoke screen didn’t work.”

Fortunately for Republicans in Texas who are interested in seeing conservative priorities succeed in the upcoming legislative session, Straus did not seek re-election this year. Legislators will have the opportunity to elect a new Speaker in January.

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens