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Tom Craddick and Ron Wilson photo by Patrick Michels COMMENTARY I BY ANDREW WHEAT Powerball Craddick loyalist Ron Wilson is GTECH’s supreme advocate Serendipity is one of the more intriguing elements on the periodic table of politics. Even the canniest players and former state Rep. Ron Wilson is onecannot unfailingly predict how minor political moves will pan out years in the future. During the 2003 legislative session, for example, Rep. Will Hartnett, a Dallas Republican, tried to amend an ethics bill by requiring legislative parliamentarians to disclose their personal finances. This was hardly a trivial matter for legislators. When hand-to-hand combat breaks out on the House or Senate floor, parliamentary interpretations of rules can save or vanquish political agendas. Wilsona flashy Houston Democrat known for using his mastery of legislative rules to promote an iconoclastic agendasuccessfully argued that House rules prohibited Hartnett’s amendment from being considered. The finances of parliamentarians would remain private. During this year’s session, when embattled Speaker Tom Craddick faced a mutiny and his parliamentarians abruptly resigned, he picked Wilson as one of two temporary replacements. Suddenly the man whose parliamentary maneuvers helped keep the personal finances of parliamentarians secret was himself a parliamentarian. Had Hartnett’s amendment passed, political junkies and Texas voters might have had a glimpse into the little-explored universe of Wilson’s own finances. Capitol insiders knew that GTECH Holdings Corp., the contractor that has operated the Texas Lottery since Wilson helped create it in 1991, has been one of the top clients of Wilson’s postlegislative legal practice. While Wilson says he temporarily stopped representing GTECH while serving as assistant parliamentarian, Craddick opponents say GTECH jeopardized its standing with some House members when it granted its attorney a hiatus to help establish the speaker’s “absolute” rule over the House. “I think it’s a conflict,” says Houston Democratic Rep. Garnet Coleman. “To say that someone could have an outside income and have this kind of official role isn’t right. There’s too much moving back and forthblurring the lines between the public and private sector. I don’t think people can tell the differencenot the way these people are running it.” By putting Wilson right back on retainer after he shored up Craddick’s rule, the lottery company took a gamble that could turn on whether Craddick 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 27, 2007