Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is dissolving the grassroots advisory board he established at the start of the 84th legislative session, saying several of its members, including Tea Party organizer JoAnn Fleming, "expressed a desire for greater independence."
"Chair JoAnn Fleming and I have mutually agreed to dissolve the grassroots advisory board and work together as we have for the last several years on a less formal basis," Patrick wrote in the statement, which came just before 5 p.m. on the Friday before Independence Day.
That 20-member advisory board created some headaches for top state leaders over the last several months; at one point, Gov. Greg Abbott confronted Patrick about a letter the advisers sent to senators urging them to oppose the governor's flagship pre-kindergarten plan. Patrick said at the time that he had nothing to do with the letter, but that didn't curb questions about the panel's modus operandi — and just how close the lieutenant governor was to a group working to derail one of Abbott's emergency-item priorities.
In Friday's statement, Fleming said that maintaining independence was "necessary for the credibility of the growing Texas grassroots movement, and as we move into the next election cycle, we do not want our endorsements and positions to be viewed as anything other than our own independent decisions, based on conservative, limited government principles."
Patrick said in the statement that he looks forward to the next legislative session, and to "continuing to receive input and feedback from my friends in the grassroots. We still have much work to do."