Craddick says Perry pushed for lobbyistBut governor's spokeswoman says the speaker approved of hiring former DeLay
By R.G. RATCLIFFE, Houston Chronicle
Friday, April 8, 2005
AUSTIN - House Speaker Tom Craddick on Thursday said it was the governor who wanted to hire U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's former chief of staff as a $180,000-a-year lobbyist for the state.
Craddick said he opposed hiring Drew Maloney by the Office of State-Federal Relations in 2003 and would have abolished the state liaison to Congress. He said Gov. Rick Perry's staff pushed for the contract.
"I wasn't for hiring a lobbyist at the national level. The governor's office was wanting to do that. I didn't want to spend the money. They wanted to do that. I don't even know the man," Craddick said.
A Perry spokeswoman said Craddick approved of the hire.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Craddick, Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst oversee the state agency that awarded the taxpayer-financed contract to Maloney's firm, the Federalist Group. DeLay, R-Sugar Land, in the past has said he did not help Maloney win the contract.
Maloney helped raise money for the political committee that financed a GOP takeover of the Texas House in 2002 leading to Craddick's election as speaker. The state contract was awarded less than two months after Craddick became speaker.
"It's a bunch of bull," Craddick said of the Chronicle report.
Craddick said the story left an unfair impression that he was responsible for Maloney getting the state contract.
"The governor's office did all of that," Craddick said. "The lieutenant governor and I are on that, we oversee it, I guess that's what you call it because we're part of that thing, but I'm not the one who oversees that agency or commission."
Craddick said there was never a formal meeting about hiring the Federalist Group.
"We don't take a vote. We talked about it. I told them I didn't want to do it. They wanted to do it. They came back with a proposal as to how to do it," Craddick said.
"I want to abolish the office of state governmental relations. I don't even know what they do for us. I'm kind of dumb on that deal," he said. "When you've got the people we've got in the Senate and the House up there, I don't think we benefit from a state lobbyist."
Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said a decision to hire an outside lobbyist was made in 2003 in consultation with Craddick and Dewhurst because the state-federal relations office answers to all three officials. She said the federal liaison office had its staff cut from 17 to seven, with the savings dedicated to hiring experienced professional lobbyists.
Walt said the governor's staff kept Craddick and Dewhurst fully informed about hiring Maloney's firm.
"We ... wouldn't have proceeded in that direction without their approval," Walt said.