Steven F. Hotze, M.D.
Publisher, CRTX News
“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” is a favorite movie for many of us because it tells the story of a good and decent man who goes to Washington and maintains his core principals of right and wrong in the face of unimaginable corruption. We desperately want to believe that there are still a few good people like Jefferson Smith that we can send to Washington or Austin who will not only speak out against corruption in politics, but who will actually stand against it. We had high hopes Mark Keough was that kind of person. Before he ran in 2014 for state representative, Keough had spent 26 years in the car business and had recently retired to start a church. He came to the Texas Legislature for the 84th Session in 2015, having won an open seat contest in the very conservative House District 15, in The Woodlands.
During campaign debates there were no policy differences between Keough and his opponent, Bruce Tough. The only difference was in their positions in the upcoming race for Speaker of the House between Scott Turner and Joe Straus. Tough repeatedly stated, “The best approach is to be a statesman and support Speaker Straus since his win is a sure thing. After all, we’re sent to Austin to get things done for our District and the people of Texas, and you can’t get anything done if you oppose Joe Straus for Speaker.” Keough, on the other hand, voiced the growing opposition that was spreading far and wide throughout Texas that Straus was not a conservative. In debates Keough stated; “Did you know that Joe Straus has a perfect voting record with the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and his wife served on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood? People, how can you call someone a conservative who has continued to grow the entitlement system of Texas and has voted over and over again to grow our State’s debt?” He went on to say that Straus has and would continue to stand in opposition to any good legislation that was put forward by any and all Republicans.
Based on Keough’s principled opposition to Straus and his professed stance for conservative values, the people of House District 15 gave him an overwhelming victory on March 4th of 2014. While Mr. Keough’s opponent, Bruce Tough, was better funded (He grossly outspent Mr. Keough) and was a political pillar in HD-15 (Tough was a current board member for the local Township) voters elected a political unknown, Mark Keough, to the Texas Legislature, expecting him to stand for their conservative values against Straus, Straus’s lieutenants and the Austin political establishment.
Even before he was sworn in, local grassroots groups noticed Keough distancing himself from them. Like so many who had gone before Keough, the trappings of power and prestige that are dispensed by Austin lobbyists had already started to alter his view of Joe Straus. Within a week of being sworn in, Keough asked for a meeting with the Speaker Straus. There, in the Speaker’s office, Keough told the Straus, that he had blown it. In his recent seconding speech for Joe Straus on the first of the 2017 Texas Logistics Session, he recounted how he told the Speaker of the Proverb that says “the man who takes counsel from only one side is a fool.” Straus went on to say that he had made a commitment to vote against Straus, but from here on out, the Speaker and his team could count on his support. Keough did in fact vote against Joe Straus as Speaker on January 13, 2014 and that was the last time that the grassroots ever heard from Representative Keough.
During the 2015 Legislative Session, Keough,on countless occasions, voted with a small group of liberal Republicans and 100% of the Democrats to support Democrat legislation and kill conservative Republican legislation. Among those bills that Keough opposed were;
On an amendment to HB-1, that would have required State agencies to provide ways to become more efficient in order to cut spending, Keough and 100% of the Democrats voted against this amendment.
On an amendment to HB-32 that would have decreased the tax burden on small businesses by the Franchise Tax, Keough and 100% of the Democrats voted against this amendment.
On an amendment to HB-1114 that would have required local activist, non-profit groups to file reports to the Texas Ethics Commission, Keough and 100% of the Democrats voted for this amendment.
Keough voted with the Democrats during his first session in 2015 and earned a “C” on the scorecard of a leading conservative organization, Empower Texas.
On the first day of this legislative session, January 10, 2017, Keough finally came out of the liberal RINO closet and demonstrated that he had deceived the voters of his district. He gave the seconding speech for Joe Straus for Speaker of the House. View Keough’s seconding speech on this link, https://www.facebook.
For over seven minutes, Keough showered accolades and praise on Joe Straus while firing off a strong volley of harsh criticism of conservatives who opposed him. The highlight for Joe Straus was when Keough said Joe Straus was “Chosen by God” to be our Speaker.
Straus was first elected speaker in 2009 by leading a coup to overthrow then conservative Republican Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick. Straus’ base of support was 74 Democrats and 11 Republicans. Of the 11 Republicans that joined the 74 Democrats to elect the first term Representative from San Antonio, Joe Straus, nearly all of them have been defeated at the ballot box. Yet scores of current Republican legislators have sworn allegiance to Straus on the promise that their support of him would gain his favor far their legislative agenda.
The 83rd Legislative Session was the last session for Representative Ralph Sheffield. He had faithfully supported Straus while seeing little to none of his legislation ever making it to the House floor to become law. He was beaten in 2014 by Molly Brown, a political unknown who spent a small fraction to that of Rep Sheffield.
Why do state representatives like Keough and numerous others go over to the dark side? The last State Representative from House District 15 who gave a seconding speech for Joe Straus was Rob Eissler in 2012. He was beaten by an unknown small business owner, Steve Toth. Toth ran against Representative Eissler’s support for the Speaker. Toth upset Eissler, winning by a margin of 14% after being tremendously outspending by his opponent. Only two years later, constituents carried Keough to a convincing victory with a similar message. I have a message for Representative Keough, 1 Corinthians 14:8 asks a timely question; “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?”
We are in a battle for the hearts and souls of Texans. Over the past eight years under Joe Straus as Speaker of the Texas House, we have seen debt soar and the conservative social agenda blocked by Straus and his Democrat supporters at every turn.