Speaker candidate state Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, is calling on current Speaker Joe Straus to release his pledges of support. In a memo sent just after state Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, announced he was leaving Team Straus, Chisum upped the ante:
"Some Republican members of the House accepted huge campaign donations from Speaker Straus. The Speaker had them agree to sign 'pledge cards' to vote to reelect him as Speaker. That exchange has the unfortunate effect of creating the perception — just a perception, mind you — that leaves members trading votes for campaign donations. Personally, I don't think the members did that. But there is no denying the perception is there."
"It seems to me the Speaker should forget about gathering up all these so-called 'pledge cards.' What Mr. Straus should be doing is first and foremost protecting the members of the House from any perceived stain on their integrity. He can and should release every member from any so-called 'pledge' and nip this perception problem in the bud. Republican to Republican, I have to ask the Speaker to 'Let our people go.'"
Read the full release, which goes on to detail Chisum's leadership philosophy. We have a call out to Straus' press secretary and are awaiting a response.
Update: In response to Chisum's release, Straus spokeswoman Tracy Young says, "The speaker observed the highest ethical standard and has led in a way that's respectful to all of the members."