Straus E-mails Reveal Much More than Contempt for Conservatives


The Texas Republican establishment’s contempt for grassroots conservatives is nothing new.

Up until now, that contempt was telegraphed by the collective silence from our state leadership. During the 82nd legislative session, the Governor, Lt. Governor, and House Speaker never once responded to even one of the numerous letters signed by thousands of grassroots Texans from across the state. These letters clearly articulated our opposition to: specific spending practices; the  budget cram-down process; budget gimmicks; corporate welfare in the form of tax dollars doled out to special interests (Formula Racing et al); the fiscal and security risks posed by illegal aliens; private toll roads and multi-leveraged transportation debt. The letters contained sourced information and offered workable solutions. Our letters were followed up with several news conferences and editorials. The continued silence from the state leadership was deafening. We got their message – loud and clear.

Then came the 2012 primary and runoff elections. Conventional wisdom was shattered as “fed up” voters came together to give a good old-fashioned thrashing to the GOP Austin establishment. Texas voters overwhelmingly chose strong conservatives over moderates. Though greatly outspent, grassroots activists ran a hard ground game with the right message to defeat several of Speaker Straus’s closest allies. The US Senate race victory for Ted Cruz speaks for itself.

Now, thanks to and the Austin “insider” source, the establishment’s somewhat silent contempt for conservatives is now evidenced by damning 2011 e-mail exchanges among Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’s staff and his closest advisors. Made public, the e-mails confirm what we already knew – the political ruling class establishment hates authentic conservatives – most especially the “tea party” types. Guess what? We don’t care.

It is important to note the profane, juvenile-sounding e-mails were generated more than a year before the 2012 primary and runoff elections. We were definitely on their minds back then. After the 2012 election shellacking they got, wonder what they think of the ‘tea party idiots’ now? Not that we care in the least, since their approval is not what we seek.

It has never been a secret to anyone but the purposefully blind, “can’t we all just get along, be damned the principles” wing of the Republican Party that Joe Straus is not the right man to lead a conservative Texas House. It’s high time for a much higher standard. We need someone who will lead from the front – a strong, principled, courageous leader with a servant’s heart – someone who remembers that he or she is there to serve the people of Texas, not moneyed special interests. We need a leader with vision – a leader who can take the big issues facing this state, lay them out with clarity, and tell us what will happen if we don’t work together to solve them. We need a House Speaker who can articulate solutions and bring together house members to lay out a workable, go forward plan for our great state.

State Representative Bryan Hughes stepped out early to challenge Straus for the Speaker’s Race.  That took real courage – a quality we recognize and appreciate. There are whispers that others may get in the race, but now that the general election is behind us, the calls will go out and the arm-twisting will begin to protect the Straus status quo.

Our message to the conservative state repsthe Straus status quo is unacceptable to the grassroots activists who worked tirelessly this election cycle. Make no mistake; these e-mails and the history of political blood sport surrounding Joe Straus calls for new leadership.

If any other state representatives are considering joining Representative Hughes in a run for Speaker, it’s time to declare your intentions. It’s time to step up. Hanging back will only cause confusion, waste time, and cause people to question your allegiance to the principles you say you represent. We have far too many big issues to deal with to play political games.

Speaking only for my local organization, we fully vet all viable candidates before we endorse anyone. At this time, with rumors of other reps suggesting they may get into the race, we don’t have all the information to endorse today; however, Grassroots America will begin to schedule interviews for Texas Speaker candidates right after Thanksgiving. If we have not heard from other candidates by then, we will have to assume nobody else in interested in challenging Joe Straus.  We will then enthusiastically put every ounce of support we have behind Representative Hughes and will urge everyone else to do so. 

To put a fine point on this message – with the national publication of these revealing e-mails from the Straus team – it’s time for all conservative state representatives to understand that Texas needs strong, principled, “can-do” leadership wrapped in decency.

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By JoAnn Fleming, Executive Director, Grassroots America – We the People Chairman, Advisory Committee to the TEA Party Caucus of the Texas Legislature (903) 360-2858 or JoAnn Fleming currently serves as Chairman of the TEA Party Caucus Advisory Committee for the 82nd Texas State Legislature. She is the full-time volunteer Executive Director of Grassroots America – We the People and is a former county commissioner. She is a subject matter consultant in local government public policy development, Performance Management, Organizational Development, Teambuilding, Small Business Consulting, Political Campaign Management/Strategy, and Grassroots Activist Training. A leader in the conservative movement for nineteen years, she has served on twenty local government boards, committees, and task forces. JoAnn is a regional public speaker and a guest political analyst for Tyler/Smith County local media.