State Rep. John Smithee (R–Amarillo) is the latest lawmaker to speak out against State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth) and her decision, as chair of the Texas House Republican Caucus, to deny members an in-person meeting.
On Friday of last week, 30 members of the Texas House Republican Caucus wrote a letter calling for a meeting to fill a vacancy in the caucus leadership. State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) was recently forced to resign his position as caucus chair in light of his role in an ongoing scandal, in which House Speaker Dennis Bonnen made a quid pro quo offer of media credentials to Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan in exchange for political targeting of certain Republican members.
Klick, who formerly served as the vice chair, took over after Burrows’ departure, leaving her former post vacated.
However, despite the large group of Republican lawmakers demanding an in-person meeting to conduct the election, Klick denied the request in a letter to members on Monday, instead stating that the election would be held electronically.
Additionally, Klick cited that the party’s current bylaws do not require a meeting to be held within seven days of receiving a letter, it is only required that the meeting is scheduled. Thus, she “scheduled” the meeting of members for October 18, when the caucus is scheduled to hold their annual retreat.
Capitol sources saw the denial as an attempt by House leadership to avoid a congregation of Republican members in the wake of the Bonnen/Burrows scandal and the ongoing investigation.
“It is becoming apparent to more and more of us that our caucus currently has a Texas-sized mess on its hands,” says Smithee in his letter, adding that “the current strategy of ignoring the situation and hoping it goes away is simply not working.”
“I do not find it unreasonable for caucus members to request that, prior to voting for a new vice-chair, we should have the opportunity to hear each announced candidate explain to the entire caucus how he or she proposes to deal with the crisis that currently surrounds us,” he says.
Klick has not responded to requests for comment regarding the issue.