11 Senate Democrats Are ‘No’ Votes on Texas Secretary of State David Whitley. That’s Enough to Block His Nomination.

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Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley at a state Senate Committee on Nominations hearing on Feb. 7, 2019. Whitley was appointed to the job by Gov. Greg Abbott, but Whitley must first clear the committee, then win a two-thirds vote in the full Texas Senate.

All but one of the 12 Democrats in the Texas Senate have publicly confirmed they are opposed to confirming embattled Secretary of State David Whitley, giving them enough votes to block his nomination if they’re all in the chamber when the vote comes up.

The tally of “no” verdicts from Senate Democrats hit 11 on Friday, confirming the minority party’s ability to block his path to confirmation if they all stick together. To be confirmed, Whitley needs a two-thirds vote in the 31-member chamber. But whether Whitley’s nomination will make it that far remains unclear.

This week marked the second time the Senate Nominations Committee punted on voting out his appointment after a brutal confirmation hearing during which Whitley was scrutinized by Democratic senators for his controversial voter citizenship review, which was based on deeply flawed data and seemingly pulled in tens of thousands of registered voters for review because they were naturalized citizens.

“The duties acting Secretary Whitley was appointed to as the Chief Elections Officer requires a high level of discretion in protecting the integrity of our voters in Texas,” state Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) said in a statement. “Unfortunately, through his actions and those of his office acting Secretary Whitley failed to uphold the expectations of his position. I cannot in good conscience approve a nominee who, contrary to the responsibilities of their position, has caused turmoil and fear among many Texas voters.”

The Brownsville Herald reported on Friday morning that State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) would also vote against Whitley. And Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) whose staffer was flagged by the State for review even though she is a naturalized citizen, confirmed his opposition on Twitter, saying he was a “no on Whitley since the beginning.”

Whitley was meeting with Democratic senators as recently as last week in an effort to muster up enough votes. But Alvarado joined 10 of her colleagues in making clear he’s lost at least a third of the votes in the chamber and that his future in the job is in real trouble.

The chorus of opposition to Whitley’s nomination grew on Thursday when some three dozen civil rights and advocacy groups and the Texas Democratic Party called on Senate Democrats to hold the line against Whitley. Over the course of the day, Democrat senator after Democratic senator came out against his nomination, imperiling his future in the post.

Whitley was appointed to the post by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in December, who has continues to back his nominee “100 percent,” according to a spokesman. But Whitley was not immediately confirmed because the Legislature was not yet in session.

With opposition mounting against him on Thursday, a spokesman for Whitley touted the secretary’s respect for the Senate’s role on the nomination process and said Whitley “will continue to seek an open line of communication with senators to address any questions or concerns.” His spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Left unknown is whether Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., who is known for his willingness to vote with Republicans, will join his Democratic colleagues. Notably, Whitley was in the Rio Grande Valley – which Lucio partly represents – on Thursday, visiting with public officials, including local election officials, according to his spokesman.

The uncertainty over Whitley’s path to confirmation – unusual for a gubernatorial appointee – emerged soon after he announced that his office was flagging almost 100,000 registered voters as supposed noncitizens. But that claim quickly fell apart when it became clear the State had marked for review tens of thousands of voters who had already proven they were citizens. Since then, local election officials have confirmed that their lists also include many naturalized citizens.

The State is now facing three federal lawsuits over the secretary of state’s botched attempt to review the rolls. The lawsuits claim the review unconstitutionally burdens naturalized citizens and discriminates against voters of color and those who are foreign-born. A top Whitley deputy has acknowledged his office knew the list of flagged voters would include naturalized citizens. But state lawyers and Whitley’s office have blamed county election officials for any hiccups related to the review.

If Whitley’s nomination is left pending for the rest of the session, he can serve only until the Legislature leaves Austin in late May. After that, Abbott could nominate a replacement who would immediately take over as secretary of state and serve at least until the next legislative session in 2021.

If the Senate votes and Whitley is rejected, he must leave office immediately.

3 thoughts on “11 Senate Democrats Are ‘No’ Votes on Texas Secretary of State David Whitley. That’s Enough to Block His Nomination.

  1. Stay on the story to see where Whitley lands. Generally, individuals with contacts high in state government end of becoming something like an executive assistant or liaison making $150K and above after their downfall. They will do nothing in those jobs but be paid state money and accrue time for a juicy state retirement check.

  2. The suits against Texas, mentioned in this Rivard Report, are defended by Texas taxpayers, and, are a waste of money.

    But worst, Whitley is helping to create a fake national voter fraud crisis.

    On January 27, 2019 out President tweeted that “58, 000 non-citizens voted, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote”

    This tweet is grossly inaccurate. By law, non-citizens (legal permanent residents) can apply for a Texas driver’s license. Then, after five years, the legal permanent residents can apply or United States citizenship (Naturalization). They can apply for citizenship after three years, if married to United States citizens for three years.

    The tweet is partly accurate in that the 58,000 persons, who were non-US citizens for a period of time, voted. But they voted after applying for, and becoming US citizens. The 95,000 non-citizens did not register to vote, they applied for a driver’s license.

    US Citizenship and Immigration Services, does an excellent job in investigating voter fraud by legal permanent residents. After legal permanent residents apply for US citizenship, a comprehensive background check reveals those legal permanent residents who registered to vote, and, those who voted.

    Most legal permanent residents, who registered to vote, registered to vote by mistake. Many received erroneous instructed to register to vote when they received instructions to register for military Selective Service at age 18. Many received erroneous instructed to register to vote when they applied for a Texas driver’s license. Other agencies also provide erroneous information to register to vote.

    The intensive federal investigations of legal permanent residents, who voted, reveal those who thought they could vote and those who committed voter fraud. Those who committed voter fraud are deported and are barred from ever qualifying for US Citizenship.

    Please help stop fear and fake crisis that are hurting and circumventing out democratic process.

  3. I would say it is surprising that Whitley is still being considered for the position but we live in a state where voters re-elected the Attorney General despite his two felony indictments.

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