BACK PAGE Rampage of the Woolly Wohlgemuth “By one count she busted twenty-one senators’ bills,” El Paso Representative Norma Chavez said of her Republican colleague Arlene Wohlgemuth. “You think some of those senators are not going to be popping her bills if she comes back next session?” The question was rhetorical; the answer is yes Republican Rep Arlene Wohlgemuth, who another colleague suggested apparently plays chess “one move at a timg” might have failed to look ahead to the next session before she killed fifty-two bills with one point of order Wohlgemuth was angry because Houston Democrat Debra Danburg was about to use a point of order to kill one bill, the parental notification for abortion legislation. Fifty-twoincluding one initiated by the Governor and carried by Senate Republican David Sibley, et al. might have been going a little over the top. “But you’ve got to give her some credit,” Chavez said. “There are some people who only care about one issue. They’re opposed to abortion and that’s all they care about. So, looking at it like an organizer, I say she made a brilliant move for a principle she believes in.” Not everyone looks at it that way, and it won’t be just senators Wohlgemuth has to deal with if she makes it back next year. Patricia Gray, the highly regarded chair of House Civil Practices, lost a bill in what is now is known as the Memorial Day Massacre and she says she will “never work with the woman again.” A dozen other House members, who spent the session working their bills through committee hearings and the Legislative Council, then past Calendars and onto the floor for a final vote, have made similar promises. Wohlgemuth barely made it into the House in 1993, after incumbent Bernard Erickson switched to the Democratic Party and Fred Meyerwho was the Republi can’s state Chair before he was driven from the party by the fundamentalist Christians who seized it in 1994vowed to return Erickson to the dental practice he had left when he was elected to the House. Wohlgemuth, the leader of the Johnson County Republican Party, was the Republican candidate, and she defeated Erickson by twenty-two votes. The election went before a House review committee after Erickson claimed that some 260 straight-ticket Republican ballots were invalid because they were not cast by legal voters, but the House upheld the election. Weeks later, Wohlgemuth was in the news again, this time for her creativity in interpreting campaign finance law and holding a fundraiserwith Governor George W. Bush as the drawduring the legislative session. In-session fundraising is a real taboo, but Wohlgemuth got away with it because the money raised was used to pay off her $140,000 in legal bills from the contested election. The loophole she slipped through was so unknown that Wohlgemuth included a letter of permission from the Texas Ethics Commission with her invitations. Wohlgemuth might be a Shiite Republican, one of the far-right whose politics are informed by the three Gs: God, Guns, and Gays \(it’s easy to rememberthe first two blame the Christian right for electing her. Contribution filings at the Texas Ethics Commission make it very clear that her big money came from two secular sources: the Republican Party of Texas PAC and one of its largest surrogate funders, Texans for Lawsuit Reform. \(Well, at least one secular The tort reformers provided Wohlgemuth with $25,450, while the Texas Re publican Campaign Committee gave her $30,000. Raising money during the next campaign cycle might not be so easy.
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.