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Konni Burton’s Rocky Start
Barely a month into her first term in the State Senate, Konni Burton is making headlines - just not the sort of headlines a new senator would like to make.
Last week Burton announced she will ban public-sector lobbyists from her office. Just who are public-sector lobbyists? They are the representatives of local cities, school districts, and water districts. That means any person officially working on behalf of citizens in Fort Worth, Arlington, or a local school district are no longer permitted into her office to advocate, or even educate, the Senator on issues that could help or hurt the very constituents she was elected to serve.
Oddly, Konni took money from some of the same lobbyists she’s now banning. And, her lobbyist ban does not extend to those representing private corporations or other special interests, just those officially representing the actual residents of her district.
Burton's position draws fire
It didn’t take long for local elected officials and the media to question both the logic and ethics of Burton’s move.
- Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price questions policy
Immediately following Burton’s announcement, Republican Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, said "there’s a reason people use lobbyists. Everybody can’t be up-to-speed on everything…We all have full-time jobs and we depend on our lobbyists to research and advise us on issue".
- Star-Telegram slams Burton
Just days after Mayor Price questioned Burton’s policy, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, slammed Burton’s move saying it is "a disservice to the people back home".
- Others chime in on Burton hypocrisy
The negative reaction to Burton’s position went beyond Tarrant County. Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report called the position a "misguided theory" that is "cynicism in its highest form". The non-partisan ethics watchdog group Texans for Public Justice reported that Burton had taken political contributions from the same lobbyists she has now banned from her office.
Texas Monthly called out the freshman Senator saying "if Burton did not want to meet with such lobbyists, she probably shouldn't have taken their money during her campaign". Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune also pointed out that the "bank window was open" during her campaign just months ago for the same lobbyists Burton has now banned.
Call Burton’s latest position a "misguided theory", a bad idea, or a political ploy - the real losers are the moms, dads, and kids living in Tarrant County who no longer can send capable advocates to make their case to their own state senator.
Hopefully Senator Burton will reverse her odd and hypocritical policy so she can learn the basic things she needs to know to protect Tarrant County families from more unfunded mandates, public school funding cuts or other actions that can be taken by an inflexible and uninformed public official.