Today, Governor Greg Abbott folded into the list of respected men and women on his so-called “Strike Force” to restart the Texas economy a dubious name that should concern us all: Mike Toomey. The notorious pay-to-play lobbyist has been tapped as the Chief Operating Officer of Abbott’s team.
Mike Toomey should immediately withdraw or be replaced as staff director
Earlier today, Toomey himself signaled his conflict of interest by deregistering as a lobbyist. Don’t be fooled; It is an empty gesture. Toomey heads a firm of a half dozen lobbyists who will happily do his bidding. Also, of course, there is nothing to prevent Toomey from re-registering as a lobbyist in time for the 2021 Legislative Session.
This is a time for accountability, transparency, and action. All the members of Abbott’s task force should complete and file financial disclosure statements with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Toomey: Scandal Ridden Influence Peddler
Toomey is an influence peddler who has for decades used his personal and political relationships with Texas Republican officials to enrich himself. He is the poster child for corporate cronyism — strong arming politicians to help giant corporations win government contracts, all while lining his own pockets.
Toomey has been directly involved in one scandal after another for decades:
- 2002 – Toomey was implicated in the infamous Tom DeLay, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC) money laundering scandal
- 2007 – Toomey orchestrated the Rick Perry Gardasil HPV vaccine scandal for his client Merck
- 2009 – Toomey paid off college students to get the Green Party qualified for the Texas ballot in an effort to win elections for Republicans.
Toomey is a Typical Crony for the Abbott Brand
Toomey’s connection to Abbott is political. He is a close associate of Abbott’s top political consultant Dave Carney. In fact, the two bought an island in New Hampshire together. He also once used the island as a hide-out to avoid being served a legal summons.
Abbott is desperate for the media to stop reporting on his failures, creating his task force as a sort of window dressing. He’s hoping they won’t look behind the high-profile business leader names and see the sleazy lobbyist he’s embedded to protect his special interest needs.
Worst of all, it’s another time when Greg Abbott has failed to act quickly and decisively to keep Texans safe. The coronavirus has been a known, urgent threat to Texans for months now. Instead of proactively meeting the threat head-on and acting decisively, Abbott has been passive and reactive, acting only after stronger Democratic leaders in Dallas, Houston and other Texas urban centers made hard choices for their Texas communities.
Texans Need Transparency, Not Toomey’s Corporate Cronyism
Toomey has no experience building a business, creating jobs or stimulating anyone’s economic well-being except his own. His position as staff director on Abbott’s committee is an insult to the honorable business men and women who have agreed to serve. While these men and women look to help the Texas economy, they will need to keep both an eye on Mike Toomey and a hand on their wallets.
Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans are comfortable operating under their own rules without oversight. A pay-to-play culture is hurtful under any circumstance, and is deadly during a pandemic. With Toomey involved, all of Abbott’s maneuvers must be watched carefully. Texans are owed accountability on the front end, now.