Texas. We cannot let history repeat itself. For we seemed to have elected another Bush into a state office. How did this happen? Knee jerk straight Republican Party voting? Voter apathy? Voter suppression? We should know by now that once a Bush gets elected, no matter the office, bad things will happen for most of us except for the Bushes, their friends, donors and loyalists, of course. We've seen this horror movie before. Are we going watch a rerun?
Few of us will forget how George P.'s uncle, G.W. Bush, after having stolen the 2000 election, immediately appointed cronies, loyalists and political operatives into offices in which some were patently not qualified to hold. The glaring example of appalling incompetence, as we can never forget, is Michael Brown whom G.W. appointed as the Director of FEMA. "Heck of a job Brownie" was not only clueless about the job he held but five of the eight FEMA appointees had zip experience in managing disasters or with preparing for emergencies. The Bush Administration had essentially crippled FEMA, a once shining agency with its reckless and irresponsible leadership. None of us will forget the impact this ineptitude had on the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
George P.s daddy, Jeb, former Governor of FL and 2016 Republican Presidential hopeful, seems to share his brother's bad crony appointee habit. Worse, in order to help W. when running for President, Jeb funneled almost $2 billion of FL pension funds to his brother's Pioneer donors. The Bushes know how to take care of the Bushes and their friends. Even if it mean robbing a state's pension fund.
The fruit doesn't fall very far from the tree.
George P., elected as Texas Land Commissioner in November 2014 hasn't wasted any time replacing agency employees with his friends and relatives. His proposal to "reboot" the Land Commission Agency is to practice politics just the way his daddy and uncle do. It's all about them, their ambition and their greed. Let's turn a state agency into a frat house for ourselves.
Since November George P. has fired or forced out 11 of the 18 top Land Commission officials.
In their place, Bush has given top jobs to two of his law school classmates, two relatives of members of two Bush presidential administrations and at least three others with ties to the family or other political leaders.
In all, Bush has hired at least 29 people who worked on his campaign or have political connections, according to a review of thousands of pages of personnel records. The agency did not advertise any of the openings publicly.
The agency didn't even advertise the jobs. George P. apparently made promises along the campaign trail. Except there could be a problem with doing that. It's called violating the law.
State law requires all agencies considering external candidates for a job to post the opening with the Texas Workforce Commission. Newly elected statewide officials often ignore the requirement for some core positions - Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller already have been publicly criticized for doing it a handful of times this year - but Bush's hiring differs because of how far-reaching it has been, with the hires ranging from a temporary transition director to five campaign veterans hired permanently for the new position of "regional outreach coordinator."
Bush made many so-called "appointment hires" before even taking office but has continued them well into this year.
It looks like purge on behalf of cronies took place.
Of the 36 slots, just 11 are filled by the same people as when Bush was elected. Ten are new to the agency and six are new to their positions. Nine of the jobs currently are vacant.
Jerry Patterson, the former Republican Land Commissioner, said Bush's firings have imploded the agency.
The Republican, who held the job for 12 years, said the agency had been making record profits from its mineral lease sales and outperforming other agencies with its investments while increasingly being trusted with new responsibilities, such as the management of the Alamo.
"You don't lead by making change for the sake of change," Patterson said. "You don't lead by creating an atmosphere with all of the employees are hunkered down, waiting to be fired. You don't lead by demanding loyalty oaths. You don't lead with weekly purges."
Mr. Patterson must not know the Bushes very well.
Texas law requires that open government positions must be listed with the Texas Workforce Commission. But as it will play out typically in Texas Republican politics, the spokeswoman for the TWC isn't sure who is supposed to enforce the law. Which means it likely isn't getting enforced. That's small government for you. In other words, there are more than a few foxes guarding the state's hen houses. Piggy banks disappear but no one took them.
Or, as in the case of the state's taxpayer funded cancer institute, cronies can loot a state agency while the Attorney General looks the other way.
P. very likely has a deep understanding of the looting process in Texas.
Ushering in a new era of Heck of Job Brownies and Karl Roves. May heaven help us all.
Personnel records show that Bush has directed at least 40 external hires between November 2014 and July 2015 but listed only four of those with the Workforce Commission.
The average salary for those four jobs was about $65,000. The average salary for the 36 jobs that were not posted was about $90,000.
Ten jobs went to campaign aides, including temporary transition director, Trey Newton, who made $17,500 per month, and the five regional outreach coordinators, who are making annual salaries of $55,000. Newton, the campaign engineer Bush once called "our Karl Rove," left in January. He did not return a call seeking comment.
Doling out other choice plum appointments.
Another campaign strategist, Ash Wright, and his wife Patty Wright both got unposted jobs in December with annual salaries of $120,000 and $48,000, respectively. Both have left, with Ash Wright returning to Bush's campaign.
The campaign's spokesman, J.R. Hernandez, got a more permanent job as Bush's chief of staff, with an annual salary of $110,000. Hernandez, the son of George W. Bush adviser Juan Hernandez and a 2008 college graduate, started the job exactly a week after the election. The application in his personnel file is not signed or dated, and there is no offer letter, making it hard to determine a timeline of his employment.
Cronyism on steroids.
Offer letters were missing from 13 of the personnel files reviewed by the Chronicle. In cases when they were included, they showed that job decisions for unposted positions were made quickly. For example, Becky Dinnin, who had worked for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, applied for Alamo Division Director on Jan. 30 and received an offer letter that day.
Among the non-campaign-related hires with personal connections were a pair who, like Bush, graduated from the University of Texas law school in the spring of 2003: Hector Valle landed the job of special counsel with a $120,000 annual salary, while Brian Carter was named head of the asset management division, with a salary of $138,500.
P. gifted the biggest plum appointment of them all to a granddaughter of G.W.H. Bush's former Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the daughter of a big Texas GOP donor. An entitled grandson returned a generational favor to an entitled granddaughter.
No "appointment hire" has been more important than that of Anne Idsal, who was named general counsel last November and then quickly was promoted to chief clerk, the top job, with a salary of about $200,000. She graduated law school five years ago.
Idsal is the granddaughter of Anne Armstrong, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom and close adviser to President George H.W. Bush, and the daughter of Katharine Armstrong, a well-known Texas GOP donor.
Idsal's own résumé included a stint working for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn -- and an internship with for President George W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004.
So, there we have it folks. Another Bush is using his political office to take care of himself, his future ambitions, his friends and relatives. And while taxpayers pony up for his salary and benefits P. seems to be MIA from his job these days. He's too busy to do his job because P. is off campaigning for his daddy.
It is up to we the wee ones to shine a laser focused light on P. and his cronies. We can hardly afford to let another Bush throw us under the bus again.