Texas GOP falls head over heels into deep pocketsRepublican caucus at resort asks for unlimited corporate donations in return for access to preferred members
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The invitation from the Texas Republican House Caucus might as well have said "Republican legislators for sale."
GOP leaders in the House are holding their caucus strategy and fundraising session at the exclusive Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa near Bastrop. And in return for access to key Republican House members, they are asking for unlimited corporate and personal contributions.
Contributors — corporations, individuals and lobbyists — who gave $25,000 got 15 VIP dinner tickets, four rounds of golf with a "Preferred House Member," and prominent company advertising. The caucus began Tuesday and ends tonight with dinner at a prominent lobbyist's home.
After losing legislative seats in three straight elections, after accusations and indictments for fundraising improprieties and with the House in complete disarray, you would think the GOP leadership would be just a bit ashamed to be selling access to its "Preferred Members" and asking for unlimited corporate donations.
But no, the leadership is as tin-eared and arrogant as ever, embarrassing even some of those "Preferred Members." The Texas version of the Republican Party obviously can't read the handwriting on the wall, either.
Nationally, the GOP is recalibrating after the devastating losses of both houses of Congress and the presidency. Party leaders assessing the future argue that the party must broaden its base beyond white males in the southern states or risk becoming a permanent minority in most of the country.
They know they must broaden their appeal to women and minorities and adopt new strategies, such as embracing environmentalism and energy conservation. If the GOP is to be relevant in the near future, it must shed its reputation as an arm of corporate America.
That strategy seems lost on Texas Republicans, and on the divisive leadership under House Speaker Tom Craddick in particular. The Midland Republican is determined to retain his leadership position, no matter what wreckage he leaves in his wake.
Texas Republicans are shameless about their allegiance to the corporate lobby, as an article by Associated Press writer Jay Root about the Bastrop caucus makes clear. But they ignore electoral and demographic changes in Texas and around the country at their peril.
House Republicans are pushing as hard as ever to sell their influence to the business lobby. So hard, in fact, that they might push themselves right out of power in another election cycle or two.