Veteran Texas Legislator Patricia Harless told George Scott Reports Wednesday that the ‘pay to play’ slate politics that has uniquely developed in Harris County GOP primary politics has become a destructive threat to the ability of the Republican Party to remain the majority political party in Texas.
“The pay to play system that has evolved in Texas’ largest county where Republicans play such an important role in statewide elections too often elevates weak candidates to the general election that cannot withstand the scrutiny of public exposure,” Harless said.
“Many statewide candidates who depend upon Harris County for important votes in statewide election tell me they are stunned when they get to Harris County and are too often forced to play a sick political game with power brokers because they fear their opponents will get critical financial support if they don’t go along and ‘pay the piper’ so to say,” Harless said.
“I believe in the profit motive of business and I have worked in the private sector and in my service in the Texas Legislature to demonstrate this,” she said. “But when the Republican Party has allowed just a few individuals in Harris County to create a modern version of Chicago style politics to both profit and influence the entire party, then I feel obligated to take a stand.”
Harless calls the current situation involving the race for the District 132 race for the Texas Legislature for the Katy and Cy-Fair area as being the final straw that compels her to speak out even more forcefully than she has before.
“Michael Schofield apparently believes that because he worked for the governor of Texas that he is entitled to be promoted to the job of state representative of a community to which he moved to achieve his goal of becoming a state legislator,” Harless said. “What’s tragic to the system is that he would not have a chance without the support of pay to play slate endorsements like those he gets from Steve Hotze and Terry Lowry.”
“The slates give money and prestige to Schofield’s claims of importance that are not in any way associated with his actual importance in state government,” Harless said. She cites the Legislature’s adoption of the Voter ID bill as a perfect example.
“I helped carry the Voter ID bill in the House. I worked for two years with numerous colleagues in the House and with fellow legislators in the Texas Senate. There are lawmakers who put their heart and soul into passing that legislation in which I was totally involved,” she said. “I have a vague memory of superficial interaction with Schofield over the two years it took to get that measure passed.”
“There are members of the Texas House and the Texas Senate including leadership that worked tirelessly over two years to get that legislation passed,” she added. “It is remarkable that the power of the slates gives this aide to a governor the ability to pretend that he was a pivotal figure in this process.”
“When I ran for state representative in my district, I had been a business leader for years. I was active in my community meaning that I was involved in schools, in charity, and in a wide range of community events,” Harless said. “I didn’t move to my community to be a politician. I became a politician because I wanted to protect my community.”
“It would have never occurred to me to look for an open seat in a neighboring community; move there; and start out as a politician in search of appearing to be an important person without first having made a deep, personal and longstanding commitment to the community,” she said.
“It is not in our interest as the Republican Party to allow a tiny handful of individuals to pick and choose candidates for the party because they have created a system to infuse money into a down-ballot campaigns in which only 5-7% of the party actually votes,” Harless added.
Harless said that if you could take a private poll of Republican legislators asking them about their knowledge and attitude towards Schofield, most of them would say: “Who is this guy?” she said.
Those that do remember him would say less kind things, she added.
Katy and Cy-Fair are fortunate to have candidates in the race that have longstanding commitments and records of service to their communities. “That a tiny number of modern-day Chicago style power brokers are trying to stack the decks politically with a tremendous infusion of money and organization to elect people who will then owe them favors is not what the Republican Party should permit,” she said.
“Because I am a neighbor to Katy and have worked closely with community leaders there as a member of the Legislature who serves an area with similar challenges and concerns,” Harless said, “I am confident that Katy and Cy-Fair will choose one of those candidates who have demonstrated in their lives of service to Katy and Cy-Fair and the state and the nation to represent them in the Legislature.”
“Serving in the Texas Legislature on behalf of my community is one of the greatest honors I could have been given. It’s not about a political job to me. It’s about my community,” she said. “At some point, this pay to play distortion of the political process has got to stop for the benefit of our party and Katy and Cy-Fair is a good place to ‘start stopping it.”