The chairman of an internal investigating committee meeting Tuesday to discuss allegations of intimidation and retribution by House Speaker Joe Straus received campaign donations totaling $42,000 from Straus and a political action committee he helped found.
The Joe R. Straus III campaign account and the Texas House Leadership Fund made four donations between February and September to the campaign of Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, who Straus appointed in February of 2009 to chair the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee, according to records kept by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Straus and Leadership funds also made two donations totaling $5,000 to the vice-chairman of the committee, Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, the Ethics Commission records showed.
If Straus wants this to be a credible investigation, Hopson should recuse himself and let an objective member of the House look at what happened or didn't happen. Larry Phillips the vice chairman who also got money from Straus should also recuse himself for these proceedings to have any credibility...
Was Hughes exaggerating? Was there actual intimidation with redistricting being held up as the stick? I think it is in the best interests of everyone involved... especially Straus... to have the investigation be looked at as fair and honest and not tainted by donations or favors owed. It is entirely possible that nothing unethical happened, or it could have been the case of a rogue operator who didn't speak for Straus going overboard in the heat of the moment when talking to Hughes. Whatever the case, the process should not be clouded by a team member for one side also serving as a referee.