Some things need no introduction.
They may have lost ground in the last election, but state House Republicans are playing up their two-seat majority for all it's worth: They're asking for "unlimited" corporate and personal contributions to raise money and finance strategy sessions this week at the fancy Lost Pines Resort & Spa, where donations and access to top leaders go hand in hand.
GOP House Caucus meetings are held before every legislative session, the next one set to begin in January. But critics, including fellow Republicans, said the economic downturn, the party's recent electoral losses and the way the money is being raised -- by doling out access to GOP leaders based on the amount given -- is particularly ill-timed and tone-deaf.
"It's very startling to me that we are going to a resort to plan our strategy and charge someone for access to members of the Legislature," said state Rep. Tommy Merritt, R-Longview, who is challenging House Speaker Tom Craddick for the leadership post. "My door is always open. They don't have to pay for access."
This year, for $5,000, contributors will receive two tickets to "VIP dinner & Strategy Meetings," a single golf outing and other benefits. Those giving $10,000 get six VIP dinner tickets plus two golf outings with a "Preferred House Leader." Chip in $25,000 or more and you get 15 VIP dinner tickets, four golf outings with a "Preferred House Member" and prominent company advertising at the event, which begins today.
The news media is not allowed to attend the event.