You'd think having a President that comes from your own state would mean that your state would never see hard times. You'd be wrong, especially if your state's lobbyists in DC are nothing more than patronage appointees who don't feel the need to do any actual work.
AUSTIN -- Senators threatened to close the state's lobbying office in Washington for failing to get Congress to address state needs during its financial crisis.
Their charges against the Office of State-Federal Relations followed criticism by Democrats earlier this year of the Washington office's hiring of Drew Maloney, a former top aide to Majority Speaker Tom DeLay, as a consultant.
Maloney's $15,000 monthly fee was questioned because numerous other state programs and services faced budget cuts in the face of a $9.9 billion revenue shortfall.
"Y'all have not been able to get the congressional delegation to do a damn thing about the problems here in Texas, like retirement issues, like highway funding, like everything else," said state Sen. Ken Armbrister, D-Victoria, during a Senate Committee on State Affairs hearing Thursday.
Ed Perez, OSFR executive director in Washington, D.C., was forced to hire Maloney at the direction of DeLay, according to a Washington source.
"It basically makes (OSFR) an arm of DeLay," the source said.
Speaking of which, our Governor is on top of the situation:
Kathy Walt, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said the claim that DeLay forced the hiring of his former aide is untrue. She said the governor spoke to several legislative and state leaders about hiring a consultant for the state to secure more federal funding. That, she said, was the extent of Perry's involvement in Maloney's hiring. He started March 26.
"The governor was not involved in the selection of Maloney for that job," she said.
At the time of Maloney's hiring, the governor's office said the state was aggressively pursuing more federal funding for health care, transportation and higher education.
But the decision came under fire because of the salary Maloney was receiving at a time when the state was struggling to secure matching federal funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Lest you think this is all politically motivated, note the words of Sen. Chris Harris (R-Arlington) as he berates hapless OSFR director Tony Gilman:
"If I don't see a monumental change in your attitude and your participation with legislative measures, I'm going to be right there to do everything I can to get every one of you fired and do away with this whole mess, because right now as far as I'm concerned you're nothing but a damn waste of money," Harris said.