House Speaker Joe Straus and his top lieutenant, State Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) are the only Republicans in the top-15 beneficiaries of public-sector labor union campaign cash in the state. Straus is the second-highest recipient of union money, just behind State Sen. John Whitmire, the longest serving Democrat in the Texas Senate.
According to a report by Watchdog.org, Straus has received $195,000 from unions. Meanwhile, Geren, received $160,423 in labor union cash – the fourth highest take in the Legislature from a donor block that gives almost exclusively to Democrats.
The ties may help explain why a common-sense measure died that would have stopped the automatic deduction of union dues from municipal employees’ paychecks. The measure passed the Senate but was killed by the Straus leadership team without receiving even a vote in committee.
During the 84th Legislative Session, Republicans had an opportunity to gain some ground for conservatives in the form of SB 1968, which would have ended that collusion between local governments and public-sector unions such as the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, 98 percent of SEIU donations and 99 percent of AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) donations in the past three Texas election cycles have been to Democrats, making SB 1968 a no-brainer for Republicans.
Unfortunately, that bill was referred to the State Affairs Committee in the House, where Chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) killed it, despite the support of Republican Party of Texas leadership and a republican supermajority that could have ensured its passage.
Empowered by House leadership, Democrats and labor unions will continue amassing a war chest to use against conservatives using this coercive practice. Once again, Straus, Geren, and Cook sold out not only their own constituents, but conservatives statewide in the kind of ideological betrayal that has come to define the coalition government which runs the lower chamber.