It was no surprise when Dan Patrick made Texas Monthly’s Worst Legislators list back in 2013, the last time the magazine did its post-session wrap-up of the biennial madhouse we call the Texas Legislature. Patrick, as a state senator, was worst kind of ideologue throughout the session, a bully who lectured fellow lawmakers, interrupted witnesses and displayed thinly veiled contempt for anyone daring to testify against his bills…you know, the kind of hyperbolic, dog-whistle crap that gets you elected to statewide office in Texas.
Maybe Patrick really felt burned after making the magazine's 2013 list. Maybe he's still stinging from this session. Maybe he’s really got the thinnest skin in politics. Whatever the reason, the lieutenant governor took the strange step yesterday of having his press office issue a whiny statement about Texas Monthly being mean to him and his friends.
Seriously. Dan Patrick's bruised ego sent this out to reporters yesterday, calling the magazine’s worst list nothing but “hyperbole and cheap shots”:
To us, Texas Monthly’s worst list this year looks chock-full of no-brainer choices. (Many, we’re proud to say, made our own list of the 2015 session’s worst Houston-area lawmakers.)
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For instance, how could Cecil Bell not make the cut? The cowboy-hatted Magnolia state representative made an all out assault on Texas’ LGBT community this session. He’s the kind of politician whose ideological agenda is so far to the right that the Texas Association of Businesses felt it had to swoop in and shut it down. The good news is that the legislature’s anti-gay contingent largely came up empty handed this year, despite a record number of anti-LGBT bills filed. Maybe that means political dinosaurs like Bell are finally waltzing toward extinction.
Or consider Molly White, who also made Texas Monthly’s list. You know, the freshman state representative who, on Texas Muslim Capitol Day, put an Israeli flag on her reception desk and told her staff to ask any “representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” Thanks, Molly White, for reminding us how society continues to make the most heinous and degrading assumptions about people in the Muslim community.
Then there’s Joan Huffman, who made Texas Monthly’s worst list as well as our own this year. In Patrick’s press release crying about the magazine’s story, he specifically defends Huffman, along with the other state senators on the worst list. Huffman truly stands out, because this session she became the type of senator who only serves to underscore the most cynical assumptions the public has about the political class. She authored the bill that upends the process for investigating corrupt politicians in this state. She was among the group of Republican senators staunchly opposed to a measure favored by the GOP-dominated House that would have required political nonprofits in Texas to disclose their donors. Then Huffman passed an 11th hour amendment to an ethics bill that would have exempted politicians from having to report a spouse’s income – a provision all the more troubling when you consider the ethics complaint filed against Huffman earlier this month claiming she failed to report her husband’s interests in dozens of businesses. If the allegations against Huffman turn out to be true, it would mean she literally tried to create a loophole so that she’d no longer be violating state disclosure laws. Luckily, Gov. Greg Abbott became the surprising voice of sanity in this whole mess and vetoed the bill with Huffman’s spousal loophole amendment.