Konni Burton (R-Tarrant County) is taking heat for accepting money from from public sector lobbyists and then vowing not to meet with them. The Fort Worth Star Telegram (FWST) criticized the move as unnecessarily pandering to the Tea Party long after the campaign and called it a, “disservice to the people back home.”
Burton believes that agencies and local jurisdictions should not be able to inform or influence their legislators the way businesses and individuals can. She said that many taxpayers may not be aware that public money is being used to pay lobbyists who are, “advocating for policies that could be in direct conflict with their own beliefs.”
On the contrary, most people view local jurisdictions as being closer to the people than the state government. Unfortunately, while the Tea Party claims to be a grassroots movement, the legislators that fly their banner have launched an all out assault on local control on a wide range of issues including fracking bans, non-discrimination ordinances, and the issuing of marriage licenses.
Burton’s political consultant Luke Macias, told the Texas Tribune that she would meet with mayors and city staff but not their hired lobbyists, but Republican Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price told the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “there’s a reason people use lobbyists. Everybody can’t be up-to-speed on everything…We all have full-time jobs and we depend on our lobbyists to research and advise us on issue.” And, sometimes those various jurisdictions have conflicting views that could be mitigated by their legislators, but those representatives must be willing to be informed.
The FWST opined that, “The issue of whether local governments should be hiring outside lobbyists is a legitimate one, and Burton has carved out her stance. At the same time, if Burton did not want to meet with such lobbyists, she probably shouldn’t have taken their money during her campaign.” They went on to note nearly 12,000 in contributions from the public sector lobby in or near her district.
Texans for Public Justice mockingly took the Senator to task saying, “the tea-party senator who appears to lead the fight against creeping socialism in the Texas Legislature has herself been secretly funded by socialist lobbyists—including at least one agent of the Marxist government of Venezuela.”
Dubbing her “Kommie” Burton they highlighted donations from lobbyists who had public sector clients. “Burton’s paymasters lobby for such infamous Comintern members as the lesbian-ruled City of Houston, the Brownsville Public Utilities Board and, naturally, the People’s Republic of Austin.”
The real danger is that municipalities and universities which act as the engines of Texas’ economic growth won’t get the attention to detail they deserve, all so a Senator can attempt fulfill a self-imposed, “misguided theory.” A more optimistic view was laid out by Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg. Invoking his decades of legislative experience he said, “Burton definitely made a statement, although it is likely very different than the one she intended. It is a rare freshman that wants less information, not more.”
Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.