The Real David Simpson

Rep. David Simpson has decided to run for Speaker. I don’t think this caught anyone by suprise. Rep. Simpson is best known for his strange antics and extremist views. I decided to take a little time to examine the newest Tea Party canidate for Speaker…

A run for Speaker is curious in light of the fact that Simpson, in addition to offending so many of his peers, has on multiple occasions emphasized his inexperience and lack of knowledge of how the House works. Simpson has historically been a vocal opponent of Straus; he was one of only 15 Representatives to vote against him in the last Speaker election and also gained notoriety on the eve of that election by leading a group of Christians in prayer on the Texas Capitol steps. Cowboy hat in hand, Simpson prayed, “Father, give us a godly, humble leader of the Texas House,” to which a soft-spoken chorus replied “Yes, Lord.” A video clip of Simpson’s stunt ended up on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” in a segment about alleged anti-Semitism in the Texas House.

Inappropriate injection of religion into his political career is something Simpson excels at; according to one newspaper he performed an unsolicited “laying of hands” on two fellow House members to heal their ailments, although no Representatives will address this on the record . He is a devout Reformed Baptist who studied at the now-defunct Trinity Ministerial Academy in Montclair, New Jersey and owns a religious publishing company serving up such grave titles as “We Must Obey God: The Biblical Doctrine of Civil Disobedience to Human Authority with Special Reference to Operation Rescue” . Simpson so frequently acts out this ‘civil disobedience in God’s name’ routine that it seems he goes against the grain just for the sake of it, hoping to appear like some sort of religious renegade. In support of his continuous infusion of religion into politics, in his website’s “Statement of Faith” he cites language in the Texas Constitution referencing acknowledgement of a “Supreme Being”, interpreting it as a literal requirement for office. Article 1, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution does, in fact, contain this language, but this ‘requirement’ has never been enforced in practice (and never could be because it is a patently unconstitutional religious test).

Simpson is a self-proclaimed expert on the U.S. Constitution, dubbing himself a “Jeffersonian constitutionalist.” But for an expert he has little understanding of the meaning of the Supremacy Clause or the Tenth Amendment. Last session Simpson famously championed the so-called TSA “anti-groping” bill, desperately clinging to it even after it was struck down by the Department of Justice as an impermissible state regulation of a federal agency. Not to be deterred by such pesky details, Simpson has already pre-filed the bill again (with minor changes that he claims actually ‘strengthen it’) for the upcoming session. His justification for ignoring the federal government is “nullification,” or the idea that the states can simply ignore any federal law that they deem to be unconstitutional. The concept rests on a fundamental misreading of the Tenth Amendment (which gives to the people and states any powers not explicitly reserved to the federal government) and is favored by members of the extreme right . In his speeches, publications and correspondence Simpson frequently cites Biblical passages, often references the depraved, sinful nature of all humans and claims to be directly guided by God in all of his actions. He interprets the Bible as literally as he does constitutional texts; in fact a literal interpretation of and adherence to the Bible is a hallmark of Reformed Baptists. His sect also espouses a Biblically-derived view on gender relations, as explained in one of his company’s publications: “Reformed Baptist churches are distinguished by a conviction regarding male leadership in the church. Our age has witnessed the feminization of Christianity…God has sovereignly ordained that leadership in the home, the state, and the church is to be male”. You have to wonder how Simpson feels about all those female Representatives in the Capitol.

Now that Simpson is running for Speaker, we understand why he invited those incoming freshmen to Longview… because he realized that he will need some friends when the House reconvenes. Last session he gained notoriety and the ire of many for singlehandedly knocking veteran Representative Senfronia Thompson’s (D-Houston) ‘puppy mill bill’ off the fast-track Local and Consent calendar. Although the implementation of the bill would be funded through fees charged to breeders and require only a handful of regulators to enforce, Simpson declared it an “egregious infringement on the free market, privacy, and private property caused by the creation of a new dog and cat breeders bureaucracy,” or even more crazy, a “dog Gestapo”. Cue Sam Houston; Simpson compared his crusade against the protection of defenseless animals to Houston’s struggle against secessionists. Seriously?

But Simpson was bipartisan in his bill opposition last session, such as one sponsored by Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson (R-Waco) banning sales of salvia divinorum extract (a hallucinogen that is banned in over 20 states) because it would criminalize “possessing a plant that God made” that is “sometimes used for religious purposes.” He went beyond God’s creations to say that “Things are not the problem, just like guns. You don’t solve murders by getting rid of guns”. Another ‘thing’ that Simpson thinks the government should not regulate is crystal meth: last session he opposed Rep. Leo Berman’s (R-Tyler) bill imposing stricter regulations on the sale of pseudoephedrine used to produce the drug. This is especially confounding in light of the fact that his home of East Texas has been in the throes of a meth epidemic for years. By way of explanation he claimed that the proposed regulations would violate personal privacy. Simpson also shocked House members last session by suggesting that cologne be added to Rep. Lois Kolkhorst’s bill to ban smoking in public places, quipping that it might also contain carcinogens. Kolkhorst did not find the stunt cute, telling him “This is out of bounds. I ask you to show some decorum.” Simpson even opposed his longtime supporter and fellow Tea Party poster boy Rep. Dan Patrick’s (R-Houston) overwhelmingly Republican-backed “school choice” voucher legislation, stating that he is “in favor of public money going public places”. This rings peculiar coming from someone so devoted to limiting funds poured into government-run entities, and who is also no fan of public schools (all of his seven children were home-schooled or attended private schools). Also mystifying for someone who supposedly favors private sector growth and public sector shrinkage is his opposition to several business incentive funds, including the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund.

Simpson’s Longview constituents and major campaign contributors are not exempt from his capriciousness. None of the twelve bills he filed last session dealt with local issues and he not only refused to sponsor but actually voted against a bill supported by his constituency to increase the local hotel-motel tax in his district to fund the construction of a civic center. Also, some of Simpson’s major campaign contributors involved in the oil and gas industry might have been less than pleased when he introduced HB 2849, which would privilege the rights of surface rights owners over mineral rights owners through imposition of onerous new regulations and myriad associated penalties. The Texas Oil and Gas Association named HB 2849 the “worst bill filed last session” and, according to an economic analysis it commissioned, if passed could result in a loss of over 200,000 Texas jobs. What appears to be a baffling move significantly increasing government regulation by someone otherwise so recklessly laissez-faire makes more sense when you consider that Simpson’s timber company, Avinger Timber LLC, owns significant amounts of land and could stand to profit from a government-enforced reallocation of property rights favoring surface rights owners? Interestingly (and probably not coincidentally), Simpson filed the bill just one month after Avinger became involved in a dispute with Enbridge Pipelines (East Texas) L.P., owner of a natural gas processing plant and associated pipelines located on Avinger’s land, over calculation of the fair market value of the land. The case is currently pending after the Supreme Court of Texas sent it back to the trial court for rehearing . Simpson’s company has a great deal to lose in the case: Avinger’s expert valued the property at $20,995,000, whereas the commissioner charged with determining the fair market value of the land settled on $47,580. Clearly Simpson not only tolerates but actively supports increased government intrusion and regulation if he stands to gain from it.

Simpson has often explained away his mercurial actions and political tantrums by saying that he operates from principle, not party. That is a harrowing thought in light of what those principles have revealed in just one session. In Simpson’s world it’s well within your rights to wake up, eat some hallucinogens for breakfast, kick your puppy, grab some crystal meth that you made and head over to the local college campus to sell it…armed, of course.

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Comments

  1. Hi I am a freelance reporter with NBC news.
    I would like to speak with the author related to this as I think it makes an interesting story.
    You can reach me at
    rspeters@nbcnewsdesk.com
    or at (877) 324-1971 ext 321

    R.S. Peters
    Freelancer

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