Straus Spokesman Spins

Grassroots who have been frustrated by the lack of progress on key legislative reforms under moderate Speaker Joe Straus just haven’t been paying attention — or so says his spokesman.

And according to Straus spokesman Jason Embry — a former reporter for the Austin American-Statesman — anyone who questions the conservative credentials of the incumbent speaker has a “special interest agenda.”

Brandi Grissom of the Texas Tribune published a story Friday about Mineola State Rep. Bryan Hughes and his campaign for Speaker of the House. Hughes, a perennial Taxpayer Champion, was recently endorsed for speaker by the national Tea Party-friendly organization FreedomWorks, headed by former US Rep. Dick Armey.

Jason Embry
Straus Spokesman Jason Embry

Seeking an opposing quote from the Straus camp, Grissom asked Jason Embry to explain Straus’ record of conservatism. Said Embry:

“Speaker Straus has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to limited government and spending restraint, and anyone who says otherwise either has a special interest agenda or is not paying attention.”

That kind of spin would even make Stephanie Cutter dizzy.

What demonstration is Embry talking about? Speaker Straus and his leadership team have done everything they can in order to avoid committing to government restraint. Straus snubs pledges to avoid higher taxes, and refuses to support Governor Perry’s Texas Budget Compact – which includes a commitment to cap government growth, oppose new taxes, eliminate duplicative programs and agencies, and a preserve a strong state rainy day fund.

Remember, it was Joe Straus who reiterated President Obama’s sentiment about not being able to cut our way to prosperity, hinting at a need to find additional revenues rather than reduce government spending to close any future budget shortfall. It’s no wonder spending caps still have not passed the Texas House, despite Mr. Straus having had a supermajority of Republicans in the House last session.

And it’s not just the grassroots who don’t consider Straus a conservative. The New York Times called him a “centrist” who rose to power during the “Democratic tide that swept President Obama into office”; the Economist has called Mr. Straus a “moderate” backed by “centrists.”

Even Jason Embry himself called Straus an “establishment Republican” in a 2011 commentary he wrote when still employed by the Austin American-Statesman!

Now, according to Mr. Embry, the grassroots must have a “special interest agenda” for questioning Straus’ conservative credentials. Or they must just be uninformed – because, you know, conservatives weren’t paying enough attention to the 82nd Legislature to form an opinion on the speaker’s leadership style. Right.

I guess Jason Embry must have forgotten that time when his boss told Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith how he “doesn’t embrace any label, really.”

Unless that label is “conservative,” of course. One has to wonder what journalist Jason Embry would have thought of this spin?

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Dustin Matocha

Dustin Matocha is the Executive Vice President of Empower Texans. Dustin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BBA in Management, a BA in Government, and a minor in Marketing. He’s a self-described Corvette enthusiast, baseball purist, tech geek and growing connoisseur of local craft beer.

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