Letter to the Editor From Rachal Hisler

Dear Editor,

 

Let’s talk about taxpayer funded lobbying.  Chambers County Commissioners Court passed a resolution against the proposed ban on taxpayer funded lobbying in February of 2021.  Banning taxpayer funded lobbying is a bipartisan issue that Republicans and Democrats agree on. I would like to take this opportunity to inform the citizens of Chambers County of some of the reasons 94.29% of Republican voters in Texas voted for the proposition on the 2020 primary ballot.  Also of note is the fact that 93% of republican voters right here in Chambers County approve of the abolishment of tax payer funded lobbying, as evidenced by the chart below:

The information provided in the resolution drafted by James P. Allison, General Counsel for Texas Association of Counties is misleading at best, and a deliberate misconstruing of the facts at worst.  As I have suggested to commissioners whom I have spoken with, organizations like TAC and CJCAT can absolutely continue to provide quality products and services to the judges and commissioners that they serve.  Going forward, they simply would not be able to pay registered lobbyists to influence legislators on their behalf.  Now according to statements made by Commissioners Hammond and Combs and supported by Judge Sylvia, county officials have been led to believe that they would in effect, lose their voice in Austin.  That is simply not true.  Every citizen in the state of Texas has the right and the opportunity to petition the legislative body on behalf of themselves and their fellow Texans.  Elected officials are not exempted from this exercise.  In fact, I would argue it is part of the job they were elected to do.  I had previously scheduled a trip to Austin for the dates of February 15-19, 2021 to go and lobby for HB 749 personally, at my own expense.  Unfortunately the severe winter storm left me no choice but to reschedule.  The Judge and Commissioners are free to travel to Austin.  They may be provided the use of a county vehicle, and even voucher their meals should they choose to do so.  Their ability to testify before committee is not prevented by any such wording contained in this legislation.

Now, to address the amount of money that is being funneled into these organizations.  While it may be a fact that Chambers County pays $1500 per year in dues, this is not the ONLY money that the county pays to these associations.  According to the Chambers County Budget approximately $400,000 is paid to TAC for single bid/no bid insurance.  That is just one county.  Now think about the millions of dollars collected by these agencies from the majority of Texas counties who purchase their products.  If you believe that TAC is paying lobbyists strictly from monies they collect from dues, you have been lied to or misinformed.  As we all know in life, the simplest answer is usually the correct answer.  In the case of politics, one can simply follow the money.  Obviously this entire issue is about much, much more than $1500.

We should all be working together to make our voices heard, but we must do it in a way that is legal AND ethical.  While there are many noble causes that I am sure well-meaning elected officials hope to pass into law, using tax payer monies to do so is unethical.  Tax payer funded lobbying is already illegal in the majority of states in this country, and it is also illegal for any State of Texas agency to hire lobbyists.  I will leave you with this scripture.

A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.

John 10:12

Who will best represent the values and grievances of Chambers County, a hired hand in Austin or a citizen of Chambers County, elected by their peers?  If the Commissioners Court truly has the best interests of the citizens of Chambers County in mind, they should be shepherds and stop spending tax payer money to send someone else to do their job.

Very sincerely,

Rachal Hisler

 

Posted in LatestNews.