Here is the statement we released yesterday.
Public Hears Only Ten Minutes Following Three Hours in Closed Meeting
AUSTIN, Texas, November 23, 2010 – Today, Liberty Institute attended the Texas House Ethics Committee meeting in which the committee Chairman, Chuck Hopson (appointed by Straus) and the committee heard claims of political revenge in the Speaker of the House race and redisctricting process. When the hearing began, Rep. Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) was named as the Texas House member who allegedly told Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) that elected House members would be punished for not supporting current Speaker Joe Straus. Specifically, Rep. Hughes claims that Rep. Phillips said that redistricting maps were already being drawn to get rid of newly elected Rep. Erwin Cain (R-Sulphur Springs) and Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van).
The hearing was officially posted as a public hearing, but Committee Chair Chuck Hopson (appointed by Straus) announced that he would close the hearing and ultimately only allowed the public to hear ten minutes of committee discussions that lasted more than three house behind closed doors.
In response to today’s developments, Jonathan Saenz, director of legislative affairs at Liberty Institute, released the following statement:
“It is outrageous that the public and media were effectively shut out from hearing important details about alleged threats related to the Texas Speaker of the House race made by an elected official and member of the Straus leadership team. ”
“With Rep. Hopson’s anti-free speech letter last week and his near-shutout of the public today, the chairman appears dead set on hiding relevant information from Texas voters about speaker politics.”