The Liberty Institute released a scathing press release claiming that the recent Texas House Ethics Committee meeting was illegal. The meeting was about Speaker Joe Straus ally Rep. Larry Phillips threatening Rep. Bryan Hughes with being draw out of his seat if he did not support the incumbent speaker Joe Straus.
The Liberty Institute says that the hearing was illegal since Hughes testified under oath and Phillips did not. The Liberty Institute cites Texas Government Code, section 301.022, which states that “All legislative committees shall require witnesses to give testimony under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury.” The law further states, “The oath required by this section may be waived by any committee except a general investigating committee.”
Illegal or not it does not pass the smell test, and thats what matters in politics. It begs the question why did Phillips not go under oath? With all of the experienced staff and consultants that Straus and his team have this was an unusual mistake by them.
The full Liberty Institute press release can be found here.
Update: Eric Opiela former Republican Party of Texas Executive Director has responded to the Liberty Institute’s claims, through facebook of course. Here is the relevant information per Eric.
Phillips was a member of the committee and was already sworn. Hughes wasn’t and needed to be. Much ado about nothing.
Since the Government Code requires that all testimony before the committee be sworn, the members were sworn at the beginning of session, and remained sworn at this hearing. Once one gives an oath to tell the truth, they have sworn to tell the truth. Period. Phillips recused himself from voting since he was the accused. He didn’t recuse himself from telling the truth.
Hughes was not a member of the committee, hence the need to be sworn.