Herman: Behavior of GOP odd couple Paxton, Miller could help Democrats

Texas Democrats have been wandering in the political desert, unable to come close to winning a statewide race, since back before the turn of the century. Now, in a heartwarming bit of bipartisanship, two top Texas Republicans are doing their darndest to help their long-beleaguered foes.

So beautiful, kind of brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it?

It’s the behavior of the somewhat odd GOP couple — Attorney General Ken Paxton and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — and not their party’s policies that could accrue to the Dems’ benefit.

The AG and the agman seem oblivious about acceptable behavior. Despite that link, these guys couldn’t be more different from each other. Paxton is an enigma, a guy who barely showed up on the campaign trail. Miller, on the other hand, is a gregarious, often-bombastic piece of political work.

Paxton already was in hot water for a business deal back home when nominated in 2014 in the GOP primary (aka, The Only Election That Matters in Texas). He’s fighting to dismiss three felony indictments in Collin County for alleged private-sector fiscal folderol. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission this month piled on a civil lawsuit against Paxton stemming from the same alleged shenanigans. Paxton says he paid for the only thing he did wrong when he forked over a $1,000 fine to the State Securities Board in 2014.

Last week, Paxton’s office had some explaining to do when a former top aide who resigned in March re-resigned, or whatever it’s called when you resign again. The Dallas Morning News reported that former First Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy left the agency last month to work for a super PAC backing Ted Cruz’s presidential bid but remained on the state payroll.

After the story, Roy resigned again, effective April 7, and said he had remained on the payroll via accrued vacation and leave time. Roy said he could have stayed on the payroll even longer, apparently under something called “emergency leave,” if needed to continue his state health insurance coverage. That became unnecessary, Roy said in a statement, when a recent exam gave him an “all clear” from the Hodgkin’s lymphoma with which he had been diagnosed.

OK, I guess. I’ll let you sort this out, but a case can be made that there was special treatment there.

Personalitywise, Miller seems Paxton’s polar opposite. The commish is a former small-town (Stephenville) state representative who became a lobbyist before running for the state agriculture chief’s job in 2014.

Miller is a goober. (Evidence: The newly redesigned gas pump stickers, which include his name in larger type than the old stickers, now say, “Howdy neighbors!”) Ag commissioners probably should be goobers. In fact, it should be mandatory.

Miller seems hampered by ignorance about how stuff looks when folks find out about it. The Houston Chronicle has found out some Miller stuff, including his use of state money to go to Oklahoma for a medical treatment known as the “Jesus shot.” More recently, the Chronicle reported that Miller used state money (later repaid out of his campaign fund) to go compete in calf roping at the Dixie National Rodeo in Mississippi, where he won $880.

“It was a personal trip so he could compete in a rodeo,” Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Lucy Nashed told the Houston Chronicle. Nashed resigned a few days later, citing a “tremendous lack of communication at the TDA which makes it difficult for me as a (communications) person to do my job.”

Yes, I see how that could be a problem,

Who doesn’t like an ag commish who rodeos? But I prefer one who rodeos on his own dime. A local Democratic outfit called Progress Texas initiated a complaint against Miller. Another local outfit — the nonpartisan Texas Rangers — is investigating toward a possible abuse of official capacity charge against the commish.

Like Paxton, Miller says he’s done nothing wrong. Unlike Paxton, at this point Miller is not charged with anything, except perhaps in the court of public opinion.

This thought, however, comes to mind: Too bad the Texas prison system did away with its annual inmate rodeo back in the 1980s.

And there’s this: Why is commissioner of agriculture an elected post in our state, with its largely urban population? Who among you has any idea what the ag commish does in addition to putting his name on gas pump stickers?

Maybe this should be a governor-appointed job. Ag commish and attorney general soon might be, though temporarily, if Miller and Paxton have to leave office to spend more time with their families or their new prison friends.

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