Never let it be said that newly anointed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick landed in office and forgot the so-far-to-the-right-they're-practically-left people that helped him bag his lieutenant governor gig. Nope, not only has he not forgotten the Tea Party, he's actually turned around and called the flock to him and picked out the most rabid of them all to put on their own advisory board.
On Monday Patrick announced he was creating the Grassroots Advisory Board, a group that will have a narrow focus (which, let's face it, fits in quite well with the Tea Party modus operandi) on issues including lower taxes, education reform and, of course, border security, according to the Texas Tribune. This announcement comes hot on the heels of Patrick's recent moves to set up six other similar advisory boards, many of which are comprised (in what we are sure is a big old coincidence) with business leaders and the like who gave a lot of money to Patrick's campaign. However, his latest committee differs a bit from the earlier collectives because this group is like the sanctum sanctorum of the Texas Tea Party.
The crew is being chaired by JoAnn Fleming, the woman who heads up Grassroots America and "a leader in the constitutional conservatism movement" according to her website. She's been front and center in the Texas Tea Party show since it got rolling. Back in 2011 she was voted the volunteer of the year for Senate District 3, but this lady is so anti-big government that she boycotted the entire thing in Austin rather than risk being "used as a prop for the establishment moderates in control of the Texas State GOP." And now she's advising the lieutenant governor. Can't see how that could go wrong.
Then there's Ken Emanuelson, the committee member who landed in the national news back in 2013 for his comments on black people and the GOP and voting, according to Salon. Specifically:
"I'm going to be real honest with you," Emanuelson said in May at an event for the Dallas County GOP. "The Republican Party doesn't want black people to vote if they are going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats."
Again, Patrick seems to think this guy is someone he should be collecting thoughts and ideas from, the guy who doesn't want black people to vote if they won't vote Republican.
Another champion of tolerance on the committee is Julie McCarty. Just last February Grapevine Tea Party founder McCarty wrote on Facebook that she didn't think a Methodist should be elected to office over a Southern Baptist, as reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Why would she object to a Methodist? Well, because in the game of I'm-more-conservative-than-you-are, Methodists are obviously an inferior breed, according to McCarty.
Patrick also put Debbie Georgatos on the committee -- already national TV-famous thanks to a hilariously awful campaign video to be chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party a while back -- giving her a more formal and recognized platform to voice her concerns and thoughts to Patrick. But here's the thing: not only is this the person who couldn't even get elected as chairman of the Dallas County Republican Party back in 2011, her campaign to get elected was so ridiculously inept that everyone from Rachel Maddow to Anderson Cooper took the time to watch her horrendous campaign videos and mock said videos on national television, as our sister paper the Dallas Observer reported. And now she's advising the guy who holds what is historically the most powerful office in the state of Texas.
The list goes on -- there are 20 committee members and they didn't get to this level of fanciness within the Tea Party by being, you know, terribly reasonable. While the list as a whole is rather disturbing, we have to give Patrick the tiniest bit of credit for putting it together in the first place. Some politicians might have met with this group privately while choosing to avoid admitting the ties publicly. But not Patrick. He's owning up to it right out of the gate.
All told, it looks like the Grassroots Advisory Board is Patrick's posse of the true Tea Party faithful. There's no telling what the end result will be, but at the very least it ought to be entertaining. Fingers crossed.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.