Elizabeth Ames Jones resigned from the Texas Railroad Commission on Monday to devote herself full time to running for state Senate District 25, she said in a statement.
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, whom she is trying to unseat in the Republican primary, insisted that Jones violated the state Constitution by remaining on the commission even after she moved back to San Antonio from Austin to run against him.
The Constitution says elected officers must live in the “capital of the state” during their time in office. As railroad commissioner, Jones had been living in Austin, which was the last place where she voted. She updated her voter registration to San Antonio in November.
Jones at first brushed off the attack, but last month she sought an opinion from the attorney general.
In her letter, she made several arguments as to why she should be able to keep the position, including a claim that, because the Constitution doesn’t define where “the capital of the state” is, the provision was unenforceable.
Yes, that was her “vagueness” claim: We don’t really know where “the capital of the state” is because the Constitution doesn’t actually specify it. Via Forrest Wilder, here’s an excerpt from Ames Jones’ letter to AG Abbott, which you have to see to understand the full ridiculousness of her argument:
Under the Texas Constitution, members of the Railroad Commission, along with other statewide elected officials, are required to live in the “capital of the State.”
“While this provision may seem straightforward at first glance, its meaning is unclear,” Jones said in her request this week for an attorney general’s opinion on the matter.
“The drafters of the Constitution were capable of prescribing the location of the ‘capital of the state’ but did not do so.
“If a statewide official lives in Rollingwood or Westlake, is he living ‘at the Capital of the State’? What about Pflugerville or Round Rock? Or, perhaps, Kyle, San Marcos, New Braunfels or San Antonio?”
She didn’t mention El Paso.
After I read about this, I asked Olivia, who is in second grade, if she knew what the capital of Texas was. She promptly answered “Austin”. Perhaps Ames Jones’ crack legal squad should have consulted her before putting that embarrassing legal theory in writing. This is the sort of thing that deserves to bring a lifetime of mockery down on its perpetrator.
Anyway. On her way out the door, Ames Jones released a whiny and petulant statement that blamed Wentworth for her inability to get away with flouting a clear Constitutional requirement for holding her now-former office. A class act all the way.