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Jim Pitts’removal labeled retaliation

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The Ellis County Press
AUSTIN - After Speaker Tom Craddick kept postponing the much-anticipated announcement of committee assignments which left legislators waiting in suspense the entire weekend.

When Craddick finally released those assignments on Friday, Jan 26 and Rep. Jim Pitts, Republican state representative from Waxahachie, was removed from his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Pitts recently challen-ged Craddick for the speaker seat, stating Crad-dick's leadership style of intimidation, threats and retribution as the cause for the challenge.

Pitts withdrew his challenge when a key procedural vote relating to balloting in the speakers election failed the first day of the session, and said he did not want to place his supporters in jeopardy of retaliation from Craddick.

'In spite of his (Craddick's) repeated assurances to members of the House and the public that there would be retribution, it appears that the Speaker has chosen retaliation over reconciliation,' Pitts said in a statement released in response to Craddick's decision.

Not only did Craddick remove Pitts from appropriations, but also the committees as a whole, giving Pitts no assignments whatsoever.

Craddick spokesman Alexis DeLee said Pitts was offered a seat.

'Rep. Pitts spoke with Speaker Craddick several times about his committee assignments,' DeLee said.

'And offered him a seat on the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Pitts declined that offer.

'His statements to the contrary are not an accurate reflection of the exchanges between the two of them.'

When challenging Craddick for the speaker's job, Pitts said there was need for a change, but the change came from Craddick, not Pitts.

The Appropriations Committee is considered to be the plum assignment for any state representative.

Pitts said Craddick and his staff attempted to persuade him not use his seniority to get onto the Ways and Means Committee, but Pitts did so anyway.

The 80th Legislature opened Jan. 9 and the Senate has had its committees in place since Jan. 12, this may not be the end of the story even if Pitts said House members need to work together to take on the issues awaiting it this session.

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