"They sharpen their tongues like a serpent;
The poison of asps is under their lips."
We had intended to discuss this, but Watchdog beat us to the punch:
State Rep. Byron Cook, who came within 222 votes of being booted from office by his own party’s primary voters this month, is back at work on what has become his signature issue: regulating the political speech of Texans.Read the whole thing here.
Cook told the Houston Chronicle that he’s planning to propose an amendment to the state Constitution that could threaten every political group in the state with penalties.
That’s not quite how he put it — the Chronicle paraphrases his idea as requiring “politically active nonprofits to reveal their donors.” However, Cook’s past efforts on this issue reach far beyond nonprofit corporations to affect the speech rights of informal groups of two or more people involved in just about anything that could be deemed “political.”
There’s little question that Cook is targeting Empower Texans, a conservative group that holds lawmakers accountable for votes to raise taxes or increase spending. Cook and his patron, Speaker Joe Straus, have been fighting Empower Texans for years.
The amendment would have almost no chance of becoming law. As chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, Cook could send a bill to the floor, but a constitutional amendment would need two-thirds support in both chambers before going to voters.
Gov. Greg Abbott referred to that ruling in a statement last year on Cook’s efforts to impose new speech regulations.
“As a justice on the Texas Supreme Court, I wrote that laws like that are unconstitutional and I based that decision on United States Supreme Court decisions,” he said.