Members of the Texas House General Investigating and Ethics Committee heard testimony today on whether or not a lawmaker used redistricting to threaten a member into supporting Speaker Joe Straus.
State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, released a statement earlier this month withdrawing his support for Straus because a then-unnamed member of the House had allegedly called him and told him people who didn't support the speaker would be redistricted out of a seat in the upcoming legislative session. Today, officials revealed that the unnamed member was state Rep. Larry Phillips. R-Sherman, who just happens to be on the ethics committee. The meeting, which began at 9 a.m., quickly went into a four-hour, closed-door session to hear from Phillips and Hughes. Both emerged later to give their version of the phone call.
Hughes said that after talking in general about redistricting and how he considered himself vulnerable because of how close he lives to another GOP House member, Phillips responded, "What are you talking about? You've got nothing to worry about as long as you stay on the list" to support Straus.
Phillips harshly rebuked Hughes' statement, calling it "unequivocally false."
State Rep. Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, the committee chairman, ended the hearing by saying the committee was able to confirm the phone conversation between Hughes and Phillips and that neither was acting on behalf of another member of the House. But without a recording of the conversation, the committee didn't have enough information to determine if misconduct had occurred. The committee will continue to review the information.