Simpson: Do you hear the rumble?
The following op-ed was authored by State Rep. David Simpson.
The heart-wrenching story of 4-year-old Leiliana Wright haunts me. Can you hear her cries? Do you see her bruised body?
The systematic implosion of Child Protective Services and the revelation of its falsification of documents and failure to protect the most innocent and vulnerable among us has not occurred in a vacuum. Sharing the headlines of unethical official service are some of our state's highest offices.
When I was first elected in 2010, I worked to convince others that Ken Paxton was the leader that we needed to serve as speaker of the Texas House. I believed him to be a man who would govern with integrity.
When his legal problems were merely civil as he campaigned to be Texas attorney general, I figured everybody makes mistakes. When his criminal problems arose, I did not rush to judgment. I remembered every one deserves his day in court.
Friday, I read that his attorney general's office continues to pay a staffer while he works on a presidential campaign. The staffer is being paid his full salary of $16,220.62 with the explanation he is on "emergency leave" until June 10. Emergency leave is a state policy where an employee can take time off for a death in the family or "good cause" without loss of pay. It was never intended as a source of income to work on a political campaign. This action appears to be way outside the white lines.
If nonstop media coverage of an attorney general with a cloud of questionable judgment was not enough, we now have an agriculture commissioner who has, on at least two occasions, used state funds for private trips. To his credit, he did later reimburse the state for the trips, but only after it was brought to the public's attention. Instead of just paying the cost of a personal trip up front, he apparently looked for ways to charge the expenses to the state by setting up meetings to wrap around his personal business.
Where is the outcry from conservatives and grassroots organizations? Why is there no call for accountability from these leaders and organizations? Have we claimed for so long that any legal action against a conservative Republican is "politically motivated" that we are unable to see the truth?
The white lines and rumble strips of official leadership are described in Exodus 18:21, and they don't just deal with skill. Political ability without character might not be simply ineffective or hypocritical; it can be deadly and tyrannical.
An official's eye must not simply be on getting by, but on pleasing God's all seeing eye even when no one notices — to really serve the people. We should be honest, not just appear honest. We should strive to serve with such integrity that even the thought of stealing or lying makes us sick.
Enough is enough. How many times do we have to hear the rumble strips before we realize we have lost our focus on serving the people and fulfilling our oath of office and upholding the Constitution? Do we have to witness another crash?
If there is any hope of restoration of the values of our state and nation, we have to shine the light on the depravity around us, pray for those who have lost their way and hold accountable those who represent us — regardless of party or politics.
Rep. David Simpson, a Longview Republican, represents Gregg and Upshur counties in the Texas House.