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Jones Resigns From Texas Railroad Commission

Elizabeth Ames Jones resigned from the Texas Railroad Commission this afternoon to run for state Senate, making questions of her move to San Antonio a nonissue.

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Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones resigned this afternoon, after weeks of defending her move to San Antonio to run for a state Senate seat there.

Jones, in a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, said she will give up her statewide position, putting to rest the question of whether she could remain in office without residing in the state capital.

Perry will appoint her replacement. Several candidates are running for the post, because Jones wasn't seeking re-election: Republicans Christi Craddick, Roland Sledge, and state Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa. Chisum isn't eligible for the appointment, because as a legislator he voted on the state budget that set the pay of the commissioners.

Jones, a former state representative, is challenging state Sen. Jeff Wentworth of San Antonio in the Republican primary.

Here is her full announcement:

Today, I have tendered to the Governor my resignation from my position on the Texas Railroad Commission to devote my full time to the upcoming election to represent the people of District 25 in the Texas Senate. I am grateful to Governor Rick Perry for having appointed me to an unexpired term on the Commission in 2005 and to the millions of Texas voters who elected me to the position in 2006. I am immensely proud of my work on the Commission and of its accomplishments. As your Commissioner, it has been a privilege to be on the frontlines fighting the Obama Administration, the EPA and the left wing voices in Congress, whose agenda is to disrupt the development of vast new oil and gas resources in shale reservoirs in the United States and to usurp our state’s jurisdiction in direct conflict with the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am proud to have been a leader in the responsible oversight of the new drilling techniques which evolved from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and which have created an economic boom for the benefit of all Texans, especially in the Eagle Ford Shale Play, south of San Antonio.

Since I announced my candidacy for SD 25, Jeff Wentworth has attacked my home, my husband and my honor. Although the Texas Constitution provides that state officials who reside in Austin working on state business don’t forfeit their voting residence back home, Senator Wentworth and his Democrat lawyer have ignored the Constitution and continued their baseless attacks. To put an end to this, I asked the Attorney General to issue an opinion vindicating my right to finish my term on the Texas Railroad Commission. Wentworth’s lawyers, however, filed a frivolous lawsuit on the issue, knowing that filing such a suit would preclude the Attorney General from responding to my request until the suit is resolved.

This is not the first time Wentworth has sued an opponent. Like his plaintiff lawyer supporters, who have given him over $200,000 in campaign contributions, his first impulse is to sue. Mine is to serve.  That is why I am running for the State Senate. 

My campaign is to bring strong leadership, conservative principles and integrity to my friends and neighbors in Senate District 25 who are concerned about taxes, spending, education, jobs, energy, maintaining predictable regulation and lawsuit reform. I will not allow Sen. Wentworth to continue to sidestep his failed record on these issues with frivolous lawsuits and political stunts.

These two statements, published in the San Antonio Express-News on Jan. 12, 2003, clearly illustrate the differences in our thinking on taxes:

 “‘There will be, there has to be (additional tax revenue),’ said Sen. Jeff Wentworth. R-San Antonio.”

“Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones, R-San Antonio, has another view. ‘I think we have to balance the budget without new taxes,’ she said. ‘When an economy is slow, it’s not really the time to initiate new taxes.’”

Today I call on Sen. Wentworth to return the $65,000 in campaign contributions he received from Michael Blevins, William Bradley and Monica Ellis between 2000 and 2002. Blevins is a convicted felon who founded Metabolife along with Bradley and Michael Ellis, husband of Monica. Wentworth was investigated by the Travis County District Attorney in 2002 for lobbying for Metabolife, a diet drug containing deadly ephedrine. On Feb. 3, 2005, a report in the San Antonio Express-News indicated that Wentworth “remained under scrutiny” in that investigation. Metabolife reportedly paid Wentworth at least $75,000 to lobby state and federal agencies. (AP, Feb. 15, 2003;  San Diego Union-Tribune, July 20, 2003 & Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2001; SA Express-News, Feb. 3, 2005.). Campaign finance reports show that Wentworth has not returned the contributions he received from the Metabolife founders.

And Sen. Wentworth must explain a 2009 press report regarding his involvement in the BurnLounge, an organization which the Federal Trade Commission called a pyramid scheme. According to a story in the Houston Chronicle on Aug 13, 2009, “as many as 300 people became participants in a pyramid scheme in 2006 and 2007 at the behest of San Antonio state Sen. Jeff Wentworth…” 

Sen. Wentworth wants voters of Senate District 25 to ignore his failed record as a conservative and his tarnished ethical record, which includes taking campaign contributions from a convicted felon and participating in a “business” that the FTC closed down, accusing the company of running a pyramid scheme. He is pushing for term limits for others, but insists it is okay for an 18-year incumbent like himself to run for another term. 

Jeff Wentworth also wants us to ignore the fact that he has publicly embarrassed us over the past several years in his petulant comments related to his failed attempts to get a new job. I will not ignore his record and the voters of Senate District 25 won’t ignore it either.

Senator Wentworth thought he was entitled to another job; I think it is time he got one.

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