The Republican Party of Texas’ efforts to elect a more conservative House speaker in 2019 is now in the hands of the Texas Ethics Commission. The commission is considering if some of the party’s tactics qualify as “bribery”.
The state party this year implemented a speaker commitment pledge that all 2018 candidates are being asked to sign. If members votes outside the party, they could lose state party campaign funds during the following election cycle.
The effort has led to an anonymous request that the Texas Ethics Commission provide an advisory opinion on whether or not this qualifies as “legislative bribery.”
Andrew Cates, author of the textbook “Texas Ethics Laws,” says a speaker candidate promising a House member favors in exchange for their vote can qualify as legislative bribery, and can also involve threats against a lawmaker.
“With the intent to influence their vote on a speaker’s race, you cannot threaten someone with a failure to appoint someone to a committee,” Cates said.
He added what’s really hitting home on this issue is the withholding of economic benefits.
James Dickey, chair of the Republican Party of Texas, calls the commission’s legislative bribery inquiry, “laughable.”
“Like many campaign pledges signed by candidates, the State Republican Executive Committee created the Republican Caucus Selection Commitment Form so voters know the candidates’ preference on this important issue,” Dickey said.
The Ethics Commission would not likely take up the matter until January.
Ryan Poppe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1