In a preview released on CNN Friday of an upcoming special on Texas politics, reporter Ed Lavandera interviewed Texas state Sen. Kel Seliger — a hardline conservative Republican who recently announced his retirement — and he accused his party of being effectively run by a pair of oil and gas billionaires, Tim Dunn and Farris Wilkes, who are purging any hint of disloyalty out of the Texas GOP and pushing the party ever harder to the right.
"Your voting record is just as conservative as many of the people who might be supported by these West Texas billionaires," said Lavandera. "And you voted for the abortion bill. You voted for the no-permit gun carry bill. And the bill that limits the discussion of race and gender in classrooms. You voted for that, as well. So why not have the Tim Dunns and the Ferris Wilkes supported you? It seems you're doing stuff that they agree with."
"My voting record is very conservative," said Seliger. "Is it 100 percent conservative? No. The hundred percenters, you're either owned or not owned."
"The way you describe this, it almost sounds like Senator Joe Smith — to make up a name — if they've got a ton of money that's coming from these West Texas billionaires, those billionaires are really the elected official."
"It is a Russian-style oligarchy, pure and simple," said Seliger. "Really, really wealthy people, who are willing to spend a lot of money to get policy made the way they want it, and they get it."
"We're talking about Tim Dunn and Ferris Wilkes. These are not household names in Texas. You can almost kind of think of them like the Koch brothers here in Texas. They operate very quietly behind the scenes, and they have been effective for years," said Lavandera after the clip. "What they started doing years ago, instead of putting money into, for example, and they have, governors races that cost tens of millions of dollars, but they've really focused on smaller state house and state senate races, across the state, where are much smaller amount of money can make a much greater impact. And that's what they've done. As one person who has been a long-term observer of Texas politics told us, even when they lose and their candidates lose an election, they still win, because they push everything to the right."
Kel Seliger says Texas GOP is controlled by oil billionaires like a "Russian oligarchy" www.youtube.com