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Craddick to former parliamentarian: Shut up!

Vince has a copy of a letter (PDF) written by House Speaker Tom Craddick to his former parliamentarian, Denise Davis, in which he tells her that she can never speak about anything she did in that job because she’s a lawyer and he was her client. Vince explains why this is baloney:

Denise Davis served not only as Parliamentarian but as Special Counsel to the House. In her capacity as Parliamentarian, she no doubt advised not only Speaker Craddick–who appointed her–but also other members of the Legislature, committee staff, and more. Although Davis is an attorney and special counsel, her duties as Parliamentarian are not necessarily governed by the same requirements as her service as Special Counsel.

Does attorney-client privilege apply to parliamentary advice given to the Speaker or other members merely because Davis is an attorney and also Special Counsel? Probably not. Her ruling papers are public record (and we’ve published some on Capitol Annex before).

Craddick, by sending this letter, is doing his best to attempt to muddy the waters between the positions of Special Counsel and Parliamentarian.

Why?

The answer should be obvious: Craddick clearly does not want Davis to ever say publicly how she advised him on rulings on motions to vacate the chair. Again, one may ask, “why?”

While Davis has never publicly acknowledged that she likely advised Craddick he had to recognize those who moved to vacate the chair, it is clearly obvious that she was in such disagreement with his decision not to recognize House members for such motions that she resigned.

Obviously, Craddick doesn’t want the public at large hearing from his former Parliamentarian that he disregarded her professional advice and instead turned to lackeys Terry Keel and Ron Wilson to bail him out of a political jam.

Also, given it was pretty clear from the outset that the matter would either end up in Court or before the Texas Attorney General’s Office, Craddick clearly didn’t want Davis submitting a reply brief to the Keffer/Cook Opinion Request. Why? Because she would likely “tell it like it is,” and hammer nails all over Craddick’s already lined political coffin.

Craddick appears to be trying to use attorney-client privilege to paint, with a very broad brush, everything Denise Davis did as parliamentarian as legal advice to him personally rather than what it was: serving out the duties of the appointed office of Parliamentarian.

The sad thing is that AG Greg Abbott may be buying into Craddick’s logic, since he has not solicited a brief from her to help him make his ruling on the Keffer request.

One person Abbott did solicit was former Speaker Rayford Price, who took issue with the assertion made in Craddick’s brief that the Speaker could only be removed by impeachment. As Price points out (PDF), that means the House has to depend on the Senate to complete that process.

The AG is now accepting briefs from “any interested parties”, so perhaps Ms. Davis will directly challenge Craddick’s interpretation of their relationship. And who knows, there may be other input that’s worth reading. We’ll see. In the meantime, Burka reviewed Craddick’s arguments about what he calls “the divine right of Speakers”, and declares “I do not believe that the Craddick brief makes a persuasive case that the speaker can be removed only by impeachment”.

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