Texas Speaker's Race - Ethics Hearing reveals differing accounts of threats (Exclusive Video Interview)

TexasGOPVote previously reported accusations by Texas Representative Bryan Hughes stating that members of the Texas Legislature were being threatened with being redistricted out of existence by a member of Speaker Joe Straus' leadership team, Texas Representative Larry Phillips.

Tuesday, Nov 23rd,House General Investigating and Ethics Committee met in Austin to discuss this matter.  The committee chairman, Representative Chuck Hopson (R-Jacksonville) called the meeting and initially had invited members of the Travis County District Attorneys' Office to sit in on the meeting.  Hopson, who received $42,000 in donations from Speaker Straus during the election cycle, reversed course last Friday and rescinded that invitation. 

The statements made during this meeting by Rep. Hughes (voluntarily under oath) and Rep. Phillips (not under oath) differ greatly in their accounts of a phone converstation between the two representatives. Phillips said the following in his statement as reported by the Herald Democrat:

"It was certainly not my intention to offend him or suggest anything inappropriate," Phillips stated.

"To begin let me put this matter in context," wrote Phillips. "As colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Hughes and I have engaged in regular and vigorous discussions on a wide range of legislative issues. At no time have I had any discussion with Rep. Hughes on behalf of Speaker Straus. At the time of our conversation made public by Rep. Hughes, he and I were on the same side of the speaker's race -- both pledged to speaker Straus along with 126 of the 150 state representatives. Incidentally, we both supported Speaker Craddick in last session's speaker's race until Speaker Craddick withdrew."

"Rep. Hughes' statement is unequivocally false. I did not tell Rep. Hughes that maps were already being drawn to get rid of Rep.-Elect Cain or Rep. Flynn. I also did not tell Rep. Hughes that there was a plan to use redistricting to punish those who were not on Speaker Straus' support list.

"Any such statement would be preposterous given the unavailability of necessary demographic data to draw maps, the wide margin of support enjoyed by Speaker Straus among members and his proven record of reaching out to his opponents and building consensus following his last race for Speaker."

"If Rep. Hughes had any legitimate concerns regarding the existence of clandestine maps and/or the punitive use of redistricting, he had as much access to Speaker Straus as I did to question these issues. To my knowledge had he done so he would have immediately determined that there were no such maps or punitive efforts under way."

"I can only wonder why Rep. Hughes would issue a press release before conducting even a cursory investigation into matters he claims to have offended him," Phillips said. "It would be typical for colleagues who have legitimate concerns with one another to at least discuss them with each other before going public with a press release, unless the publicity associated with his allegations was the objective."

Rep. Hughes' story is quite different and was made under oath.  It certainly raises the questions, why didn't Mr. Phillips make his statement under oath and which man is telling the truth?  To get to the bottom of this, we called Mr. Hughes and spoke with him directly about this matter.  We will give Mr. Phillips and Speaker Straus the same opportunity.

TexasGOPVote Exclusive Interview with Rep. Bryan Hughes

Clearly there is a difference of opinion as to the facts of this dispute. It is worth noting that Rep. Hughes insisted his testimony be made under oath. Rep. Phillips was not required to be under oath and did not volunteer to do so. The committee closed with a conclusion there was no proof in either direction and dismissed the matter.

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