Keel or be Keeled
Sat December 13, 2008 1:30 pm

This should not come as a surprise: I have been told by a source I trust that representatives of the speaker—I have no idea whether this means staff, political allies, members, or any particular individual—have approached the secretary of state's office to ask that Terry Keel be named temporary parliamentarian when the temporary officers of the House are named on the first day of the 81st session. Let me say this: I don't think the speaker was out of bounds to ask. Keel is the parliamentarian of the House. But he is a controversial figure who has made controversial rulings, and he is a strong political ally of a sitting speaker who is running for reelection, and who could benefit greatly from Keel's previous rulings. What this does is put tremendous pressure on Secretary of State Hope Andrade. She is the presiding officer until a speaker is elected. She finds herself in the middle of one of the bitterest political battles the Capitol has seen in a long time.

Ms. Andrade has an outstanding record of personal and civic achievement in San Antonio, and I anticipate that she has the wisdom to play it straight, to seek out an impartial and unimpeachable expert on the House rules, and appoint that person as temporary parliamentarian. I have reason to believe that this is what the secretary of state's office has been advised to do, and that they are inclined to take that advice. This is dynamite, and if anything occurs in the election process that indicates the process was rigged to help a particular candidate, there will surely be investigations and possibly litigation to follow, and the business of the House could be delayed for weeks. Now, here's a question for the panel: Would the temporary parliamentarian be bound by Keel's ruling from last session that the chair has the power to deny recognition to anyone?

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