The Statesman's Gardner Selby started hearing chatter late last week that Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, was circulating a list of signatures to remove Straus. Martinez Fischer told Selby on Monday that he first heard the rumor from a Straus aide last week.
"I just kind of laughed," Martinez Fischer said. "I said, 'What are you talking about?' I didn't think it was a big deal.'"
The rumor apparently persisted, and Martinez Fischer took it up with Straus on Monday.
"I said, 'I hear I have a list,'" Martinez Fischer said. "He says, 'yes, that's what I'm hearing.' We started laughing, the speaker and I, and I said, 'Joe, you know I think that's crazy.'"
For the record, Martinez Fischer told Selby, "There's no list that either I'm circulating or that I've signed."
He said Straus referenced in their conversation a Monday post on the Republican-friendly Web site texasinsider.org. "Word around the Texas House of Representatives is that a phantom list of nearly 76 signatures is circulating that will take out Speaker Joe Straus when the time is right. A few representatives wishing to remain anonymous have told Texas Insider they have signed the sheet calling for a motion to remove the speaker," the post says.
Since it cites a large number of Democrats, I brought it up with Rep. Jim Dunnam, leader of the House Democratic Caucus. "Nobody's asked me for a signature on anything," Dunnam said. He later added, "I haven't heard anybody talking about that."
But not all is fine. "I do know that there are people who are unhappy with how business is not being conducted in the House," Dunnam said. "I think there is a general frustration that the clock is ticking. Nobody's doing anything about insurance rates. Nobody's doing anything about electric rates. Nobody's doing anything about college tuition."
Dunnam says he counts himself among those who are unhappy. But is removing the speaker the way to remedy that? "That's not the way I'd want to solve it."
The author of the post is said to be someone named Mark Feldt. A Google search for that name and Texas Insider produced only this article on the site. And Mark Felt (not Feldt) was the name of the former FBI operative who was Deep Throat, Bob Woodward's critical source during the Washington Post's coverage of Watergate. In other words, this post is based entirely on unnamed sources and is written by someone who could well be using a fake name. Texas Insider is the product of conservative activist Jim Cardle.