P. KING – TISON (Weatherford)
You have to hand it to Phil King. No matter how many stories the Star-Telegram writes about his taking campaign cash from the industries he represents, the chairman of Regulated Industries keeps right on doing it. Yesterday’s article related King’s acknowledgement that he had accepted free tickets to watch the 2004 Super Bowl in Center Point Energy’s box, after previously telling the paper that Center Point had not paid for his tickets. In a serendipitous coincidence, King was in Houston last night as the guest of honor at a fundraiser hosted by Scott Rozzell, the executive vice-president and general counsel of, you guessed it, CenterPoint Energy, at his mansion. The invitation lavishes praise on King:
As state representative for the 61st District, Phil King represents the people of Parker and Wise Counties in the Texas Legislature. He has earned a reputation as a principle-driven conservative who consistently provides leadership in passing some of Texas’s most sweeping public policy legislation.
Who are they kidding? Phil King doesn’t PASS legislation. Phil King KILLS legislation. He has infected so many of his own bills with fatal points of order that he’s the legislative version of Typhoid Mary. So predictable is his modus operandi that lobbyists for industrial customers said to me as early as March of the 2007 regular session that SB 482 and 483, regulating the retail and wholesale markets, respectively, would never become law. TXU, the new giant in the game, didn’t want them. And so it came to pass.
The invitation continues:
Since his election in 1998, King has made an impact on Texas public policy. In 1999, he was named “Freshman Legislator of the Year” by his colleagues and “Rookie of the Year” by Texas Monthly.
Rookie of the Year? What idiot wrote that?
Thompson hit Dukes with a press release for declining to accept $50,000 from Craddick. This is a pretty clever ploy: Once the offer became public knowledge, Thompson was in a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose position. The text of the release follows:
An article in yesterday’s Austin American Statesman titled, “Dukes turns down Craddick-linked cash,” raises many more questions than it answers about a proposed $50,000 contribution to Craddick Democrat, Dawnna Dukes.
In the article, Rep. Dukes suggests that accepting $50,000 from a Craddick-funded PAC equates to sacrificing or compromising her “independence” in the race for Texas House Speaker. According to the Statesman article, “Campaign cash was hard to come by in January in Texas House District 46, which includes East Austin, but Rep. Dawnna Dukes still passed on an offer of $50,000 that came indirectly from House Speaker Tom Craddick. ‘The contribution was available,’ Dukes confirmed Wednesday. But she said that she didn’t want to be distracted by what she anticipated would be attacks by her opponent if she took the money and that she wanted to remain independent to support the speaker candidate that’s best for the district.”
“This sounds like Rep. Dukes is acknowledging that $50,000 was linked to a vote for Speaker of the Texas House,” said Brian Thompson, the Democratic candidate who is challenging Dukes in HD 46. “Our ethics laws do not look too favorably on a $50,000 quid pro quo.”
In the Statesman article, Dukes is quoted as saying, “The contribution was available,” though she doesn’t disclose who made the contribution available. Thompson is calling on Dukes to disclose exactly who offered her $50,000.
“The people of HD 46 deserve to know exactly who offered a $50,000 contribution to Rep. Dukes and what was asked of Ms. Dukes in exchange,” Thompson said.
In addition, Thompson is calling on Dukes to guarantee the people of HD 46 that she will not accept political contributions from this PAC, or any other Republican-funded PAC that has received most of its contributions from Republican Speaker Tom Craddick.
“If, by her own admission, taking $50,000 from a Craddick-funded PAC on February 7 would sacrifice Rep. Dukes’s independence, it is fair to conclude that taking this kind of money at any time would have the same effect,” Thompson said.