Dis-appointing Dan

Dis-appointing Dan

I ran into a friend from the Metroplex this weekend with close ties to GAWWTP. He reported very disturbing revelations from the perspective of some on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board about how things played out this session.

“We didn’t have any real communication or voice,” my friend said.  “Joann Fleming was the only one with a direct line of communication to the Senate.  No one else was really contacted or allowed to give input.  They waited for meetings that never happened.”

Evidently, by the end of session, everyone was so frustrated (at one point even Joann had strong words with Patrick’s chief of staff) that they decided it was better to part ways.  As a gesture of goodwill, the grassroots community agreed to let Patrick announce the disbanding of the advisory board over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but now folks want answers as to why they were unable to achieve more this session.

With the filing of the contribution reports, he said a sad reality has become clear to the grassroots community why their advisory board was terminated and the business advisory board is alive and well.   Their concern is that Patrick has become beholden to the same big-moneyed interests that he used to fight against.  Apparently, a lot of people are beginning to blame Patrick’s new alignment with big business as the reason for so many legislative defeats on important grassroots issues.

“At the beginning of session, when Governor Patrick talked big about his priority bills, we were fired up,” my pal said.  “But at the end of the day, you see the majority of what he passed was actually more for his donors than the grassroots.”

“It seemed like the House rolled over the Senate again. This is one reason we have tried for years to remove the House leadership. We had hoped that Patrick would deliver on his promises, but he for the most part did no better than Dewhurst,” he said. “Many of us found ourselves supporting the House plans for tax relief because they were trying to help more Texans.  It was shocking.”

Among the major promises that he said Patrick made but didn’t keep:
– sanctuary cities prohibition
-convention of states
-repeal of in state tuition for illegal aliens
-vouchers
-repeal of the margins tax
-constitutional spending cap of population plus inflation
-NO committees chaired by Democrats
– REALLY secure the border
– gay marriage prohibition

“When he designated that natural gas bill as a priority, a lot of us started to worry,” said my friend.  “It was anti free-market and took the place of many of our other priorities. This we found to be unacceptable. He was beholden to business groups that had their own interests.”

“Now you look at how he raised over $2 million in such a short time from the same folks that benefited from him during the session. What is missing in the report is the support of the grassroots folks like me that can’t give him big donations, but gave our time to help him get elected.  Then once he got the office, he left us behind like those before him. That is why we had to sever our ties with him and our advisory group.”

Obviously these comments coming from what has been the heart and soul of Patrick’s previous political success does not bode well for him.

By many standards, this was a conservative legislative session. But it wasn’t any more conservative than the accomplishments under Dewhurst overall. The difference is that Dewhurst didn’t commit to the grassroots that the above items would be accomplished. Patrick did.

Empower Texans and Mike Sullivan have done their best to defend Patrick, but when you look at how much money they are giving to him, I can’t help but think the grassroots understands they are sort of in the same camp as big business.   When I asked my friend from the Metroplex, he agreed.

“Yeah, everyone appreciates what Michael has done, but they are getting so much money it seems to a lot of us like they are just another special interest group,” he said.

Patrick started his career as a conservative champion, and his ascendency to power was built on the backs of hardworking movement conservatives that truly believe he was a voice against all the cronyism in Austin.  Now, it seems that support could be fading.

I asked my friend if we should continue to support Patrick.

“We still hope that Patrick will deliver for us next session. We really have no choice. But he will need us again in 2018, whether or not he goes through with his plan to run for governor. We will be watching in 2017 to see if he delivers on the important promises he made to us in 2014, and not just the superficial conservative window dressing he gave us in 2015.”

Unfortunately, I think he’s right.  It seems Patrick has a lot of work to do if he’s going to regain the trust of real conservatives.   He’d better not forget who his real friends are.