Thursday, April 26, 2007

Duke of Pork meets Prince of Wales

Postcards From the Lege

Krusee shown voting in House while in London

April 26, 2007

By W. Gardner Selby
Austin American-Statesman
Copyright 2007

It’s not every day a state legislator travels overseas while voting in the Texas House.

But that was the case today for Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, whose chief of staff told a group this morning that Krusee flew to London on Wednesday for a business meeting with Prince Charles.

Members of the Leadership Taylor 2007 group said they were told Krusee, a businessman, went to England at the request of the Prince of Wales, who wanted to discuss business development.

“We wish we’d gone with him,” said Gayle Collins, a retiree who heads the group.

Collins said she has no quibbles with the trip. “It could lead to something good for us. So why not?” she said.

When a reporter inquired into Krusee’s absence from the House, an aide said he was on a personal trip. His office didn’t immediately provide details.

Ted Delisi, Krusee’s political consultant, said the trip was not funded by a lobbyist — unlike trips taken by Krusee cited in a report issued this week, and subsequently amended, by Texans for Public Justice.

It’s not clear when Krusee left Texas. He was shown recording votes on the House floor into Wednesday evening. Just before 7 p.m., after a verification of votes on a proposal, House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, announced Krusee was excused on account of business.

Krusee was recorded as present in the House’s roll call today and then was shown recording votes about 25 times as members gave final approvals to measures. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, who sits at the desk in front of Krusee, could be seen punching the vote button on Krusee’s desk, not an uncommon practice in the chamber.

Delisi said members voting for other members has long been a “global issue,” perhaps best addressed by Craddick.

Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, said he hopes Krusee, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, returns from his visit with the prince inclined more toward rail transportation rather than automobiles. Prince Charles has an interest in reversing global warming.

Smith said he sees no ethical foul in a legislator taking a personal trip not funded by a special interest. The job of legislator in Texas is historically viewed as a part-time occupation. Members have jobs.

“And you know, I’m prone to finding fouls,” Smith said.

© 2007 Austin American-Statesman: www.

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