In Texas politics, a Democrat named Hugh Brady, a lawyer appointed by President Obama to serve as general counsel for the White House Office of administration, and who held that position from 2014-2017, allegedly wields significant influence in the Texas House.
This is indeed a unique political scenario that has captured the attention of Texas watchers across the nation.
It’s relevant because Dade Phelan, a Republican Texas member of its state House of Representatives has been criticized by some county Republican Party groups and earned censure resolutions, as “teaming up with Democrats to kill our Republican priorities.”
These resolutions against Phelan are formal, public condemnations of a party official whose actions allegedly violate or oppose the party platform or legislative priorities. The Republican parties of Travis, Smith, Tarrant, Ellis, Orange, and Harris (and possibly other) counties have condemned Phelan for ignoring or opposing Republican priorities, appearing intoxicated while presiding over official House business, and pushing through the impeachment vote and voting to impeach Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Phelan has been criticized especially for appointing Democrat Party committee chairs, which had been something of a Texas-specific tradition but which was giving Democrats in the legislative minority majority-like powers. The Republican Party of Texas and other GOP activists called for him to end this tradition. Phelan’s decision to appoint Democrat committee chairs has been seen as a significant move as the party pressured Phelan into banning Democrat chairs outright. He ignored them and nine Democrats were given chairmanships, including Hugh Brady, who got the parliamentarian’s slot.
But to fully understand this unique scenario, we must examine Hugh Brady’s background and present role in Texas politics.
Hugh Brady’s journey into politics and law began with a promising legal career. His path took a pivotal turn when he was appointed as White House Counsel during the Obama administration, requiring him to provide legal advice to the president and make decisions on legal matters. He also had the power to make decisions on legal issues, which can significantly impact the actions and policies of the president and the White House. And this is exactly how he became a prominent figure in Democrat politics. In light of his role as White House Counsel, it is imperative to raise questions like – what responsibilities and powers come with this position, and how might they extend to a state legislature predominantly controlled by Republicans?
The unexpected nature of Brady’s influence in a state known for its conservative politics has raised many other questions. Here are some points on the historical context of party control in Texas and how this scenario departs from the norm:
- Texas is renowned for its deep-rooted Republican political landscape.
- The GOP has traditionally dominated the Texas House.
- Dade Phelan’s decision to appoint Democrat committee chairs has departed from the norm of having committee chairs from the majority party.
- Phelan’s appointment of Brady and his alleged influence in the GOP-dominated Texas House has left many wondering how such a situation could transpire and what it might signify for the future of Texas politics.
How did that affect the GOP majority? Take the case of GOP Rep. Brian Harrison’s vax mandate amendment, as it was pivotal.
Harrison proposed an amendment to Senate Bill 29, which sought to prohibit government implementation or enforcement of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The proposed amendment should have passed easily in the Texas legislature but unexpectedly was killed off by Rep. Erin Zwiener, a Democrat, citing it as “not germane.”
That is strange stuff. After all, in a Republican-controlled Texas House, the power dynamics are typically straightforward. But with Democrats chairing committees, it’s as if Democrats are controlling the legislative agenda and poor Harrison couldn’t even get airtime for a vote.
Do you see how this situation challenges the established norms and what it means for the political landscape in Texas?
The rarity of a Democrat lawyer like Hugh Brady influencing what a Republican House can vote on merits has these ramifications.
Was it a scandal, or does it have a legitimate explanation?
Given the circumstance of this incident, one cannot help but question the legitimacy of Brady’s influence.
There are several possible explanations for how Democrat Hugh Brady came to be so influential in the GOP-dominated Texas House. More so because this was a scope provided by a Republican Dade Phelan, someone who cruised to victory to the House leadership position in a vote 145-3, secured by cutting across party lines, while some argue that his impact could be attributed to factors such as personal connections, political strategies, and policy priorities, yet a deeper examination of these aspects reveals a more troubling picture.
One of the most troubling aspects of Dade Phelan’s approach is his apparent willingness to work across party lines. Rather than upholding conservative principles and values, Phelan has been unapologetic about appointing Democrats as committee chairs. While seemingly designed to foster bipartisan collaboration, this tactic raises doubts about his loyalty to the Republican Party and its platform.
The allegations against Phelan are particularly alarming. Accusations of ignoring or opposing the party platform and legislative priorities and appearing inebriated while presiding over official House business point to a disturbing lack of commitment to the principles that conservative Republicans hold dear. His push for the impeachment of Attorney General Ken Paxton further underscores his willingness to break from conservative ranks.
If these allegations prove accurate, they could signify a troubling level of mismanagement or corruption within the Texas House. Such behavior is unacceptable and undermines the integrity of the political system. If left unaddressed, Phelan’s actions can significantly alter the political landscape in the Texas House, thereby jeopardizing the values and priorities of conservative Republicans. Turning Texas blue, as the Democrats have fantasized about for years, could become a reality and they won’t even need to get the votes to do it.
In conclusion, the influence wielded by Hugh Brady, a Democrat, in a GOP-dominated House is a deeply disturbing development in Texas politics. The actions and decisions of a person with such close ties to the Democrat party raise questions about his commitment to conservative agendas. While cooperation across the aisle can be beneficial, it must not come at the expense of traditional values. The allegations against Phelan only add to the concerns, suggesting that mismanagement or corruption may be at play. Lately, voting for Republicans has been a flop because they are not true Republicans…whitewashed tombs come to mind.
Conservative Republicans must remain vigilant and steadfast in their commitment to their principles in the face of this challenging and unique political situation. Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is doing a yeoman’s job by seeking and endorsing solid conservative challengers to “Republican state representatives who voted to impeach him for the upcoming Republican primary.”
©2023. Amil Imani. All rights reserved.