THE WORST: Representative Allen Fletcher
Never let it be said that we are without compassion when it comes to choosing members for the Ten Worst list. We understand that the ways of the Legislature are mysterious and that freshmen should be judged differently from veterans. A freshman has to be awful, really awful, to be named a Worst. Fletcher cleared that high bar with room to spare.
There are two things that even the rawest rookie must not do. One is to bring shame upon the body. This Fletcher did when he and several business associates became ensnared in a stock-manipulation investigation initiated by the Harris County district attorney’s office, which later turned the probe over to the U.S. Department of Justice. A federal complaint alleged that press releases quoting Fletcher and touting his political prominence had helped inflate the value of the stocks that were involved. (No charges are pending in the case.)
The other no-no is neglecting your homework before you try to pass legislation. Fletcher, an ex-cop, offered a bill that he described as “trying to catch the bad guys for identity theft.” Good idea, but a keen-eyed member noticed that it had been drafted so that it actually deleted the laws, such as a prohibition against possessing or duplicating a phony driver’s license, that made identity theft a crime. By this time, the lamb was ready for the abattoir. The House sent Fletcher a message by killing his bill with the meanest parliamentary maneuver in the rule book, a motion to reconsider and table. In short: Go away.