Trying to fasttrack vouchers

TSTA hasn’t made an endorsement in the race for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission, and the commission doesn’t have much to do with education – or railroads either, for that matter. But in case anyone is wondering which of the two, largely unknown major party candidates to choose, I recommend Democratic nominee Jeff Weems, a Houston energy lawyer who could bring some needed change to a commission that is mainly held captive by the oil and gas industry it is supposed to regulate.

If you dislike the idea of state government taking tax dollars from the public schools to pay for private school vouchers, you have another reason to vote for Weems.

So, what is the connection?

David Porter, the Republican nominee for the Railroad Commission seat, has in recent years been a major player in wealthy voucher advocate James Leininger’s efforts to purchase a provoucher majority in the Texas House. Those efforts so far have been unsuccessful, and Leininger, a San Antonio businessman, has mostly stayed out of this year’s political races.

But, according to the watchdog group, Texans for Public Justice, Porter has been treasurer of Leininger’s Texas Republican Legislative Campaign Committee since 2006. And, that committee, funded almost wholly by Leininger, was extremely active in the 2006 Republican primary, when it spent $2 million to try to unseat several Republican House members who had dared to vote against vouchers during the 2005 session. If I remember correctly, Leininger and Porter managed to unseat only one of their targets by providing more than 90 percent of the campaign funding for a successful challenger.

Porter, incidentally, wasn’t supposed to win the Republican nomination for the RRC seat last spring because he was challenging a much better funded incumbent, Victor Carrillo, who had initially been appointed to the post by Gov. Rick Perry. But most Republican voters didn’t know Carrillo any better than they knew Porter, and faced with the choice between a Hispanic and a nonHispanic, they chose the latter.

At least, that was Carrillo’s complaint, and I think he probably was right.

Click on this link if you want to read more about Porter’s and Leininger’s provoucher spending orgy:

http://info.tpj.org/Lobby_Watch/pdf/DavidPorter.pdf

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