Burns vs. Leach: The Tale of Two Legislators - Episode 39

This isn’t a fun post to write. In many ways it’s uncomfortable.

DeWayne Burns deserves a lot of credit for his courage, and moral clarity. And Jeff Leach deserves criticism for his unwillingness to give the corruption of his speaker the seriousness it deserves.

I want to provide a little context to just how unpredictable that statement is.

I was the main strategist for two Republican primary campaigns against DeWayne. One was in 2014, when DeWayne was originally elected with 53% of the vote, and a rematch in 2016 when he was re-elected with 53.6% of the vote.

On the other hand I was a major cheerleader for Jeff Leach when he was elected in 2012. I remember encouraging clients, donors and activists to prioritize Jeff’s campaign during the runoff of 2012, and rejoicing in his victory as a defeat of the establishment and a victory for conservatives.

Months ago Dennis Bonnen and Dustin Burrows blatantly lied to all Texans. They tried to deceive Jeff Leach and DeWayne Burns directly, and they got caught because their actions were recorded. Even when faced with the reality that their actions would come to light, they lied again.

Honestly Jeff began his career with a more conservative voting record, but this last session DeWayne and Jeff were nearly identical in their votes. And I mean, they literally had a handful of votes that were different according to Rice University.

Post Bonnen scandal we are seeing a drastic contrast in these legislators and their statements following the GOP caucus meeting exemplify this contrast. I encourage you to read both men’s statements, and the comments from their followers.

Jeff Leach’s statement:

DeWayne Burns’ statement:

The night these statements were made I sat back and watched the first 20 comments made. The distinction is remarkable. DeWayne receives immediate praise, some of the praise from seeming longtime supporters and friends, and some support from men and women who have campaigned tirelessly against him in the past. It’s amazing how one’s willingness to oppose corruption so clearly unites GOP voters across ideological lines.

Jeff, on the other hand, received a different set of reactions. I respect that Jeff doesn’t seem to have deleted any of the criticism at this time. It’s clear that many people, who have previously supported Jeff Leach, are very disappointed. Jeff’s unwillingness to call corruption what it is will hurt him in 2020, and puts his seat even more in jeopardy, something Republicans can’t afford.

At one point the joint statement says “In the strongest sense possible, we condemn his words and actions”. But when discussing the meeting with multiple individuals it sounds like several of the signers of the Leach statement voted AGAINST putting the word “censure” in place of condemn for the statement issued by the caucus. (I’ve confirmed that Leach, Shaheen and Holland ALL voted to put the word censure into the statement. It looks like only Sanford opposed)

I have to honestly ask, how can you say “in the strongest sense possible” when you opposed a stronger word in the statement due to the negative affect it would have on speaker Bonnen?

There are few times that Texans have such a clear right vs. wrong story before them, and it’s rare times like this that truly reveal what men are made of. This isn’t a comfortable thing for me to write. I’ve had a good relationship with Jeff at times, strained significantly this year through a variety of circumstances. But I truly wish that he, and others members, if they aren’t willing to do what is right based purely on the ethics of the situation, would at least consider the political consequences of branding the Republican Party of Texas as the party that tries to excuse corruption, and remove true repentance from the public conversation of forgiveness.

This is the tale of two legislators, one whom I tried to stop from being a legislator and is currently boldly standing against corruption and deceit, and the other whom I proudly supported in his first campaign but is seemingly becoming part of the Austin swamp that we thought we were all fighting against.

It is humbling to admit that men I have opposed seem a little more ethical and honorable than my preconceived ideas would have allowed me to entertain. It is also incredibly sad to see men who I fought alongside, participate in an attempted cover up of deceit by our second most powerful elected official in the lone start state.

It’s not okay.

I don’t expect to agree with DeWayne Burns 100%, or maybe even 80% of the time moving forward. But the respect I have gained for him this week has truly caused me to take a small step back and be willing to adjust my perspective.

This post will, no doubt, be used by those trying to destroy my business. They will again circulate it around and try to keep Republicans from working with Macias Strategies. But let me make it clear. Republicans have a much better chance of succeeding in 2020 If they will listen to the voices from the left, center and right factions of the GOP calling for an end to this madness and the resignation of Dennis Bonnen. This is one of those times where the right and honorable thing to do is also clearly the right political move.

I hope and pray more men and women in the legislature and the party will step up with courage. And I am willing to set aside any expectations for “my team” to be the only ones right on this one. Unfortunately there will be some members among the most liberal in the GOP caucus who will end up on the right side of opposing corruption while some of the most conservative legislators will either excuse or remain silent in the face of a moral crisis.

Luke Macias
About the author

Luke Macias

Luke Macias is a Texas based political consultant who has helped elect the most conservative public servants across the state. He’s worked from the local level to statewide campaigns. He’s a full spectrum conservative who only works alongside public officials who will walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. Luke has been recognized as one of the most valuable consultants in Texas by Capitol Inside.