Me and My Shadows

Who are the two new figures looming behind Speaker Tom Craddick?

Terry Keel, the new parliamentarian, and his deputy, Ron Wilson, are both former representatives – but neither is coming back to welcoming arms in the House.

Keel, who stood so close to the mic that he could be heard giving lines to Craddick like a theatrical stage prompter, already has a track record of perceived bullying on the floor and in committee. During the last regular session, the Austin GOPer tried to crowbar through legislation about lawyers for indigent defendants that would fast-track executions. When he didn't get his way, he threatened to scupper a judicial pay raise and immediately got slapped down by Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston. He was also accused of trying to change the rules about the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee in an attempt to block District Attorney Ronnie Earle's prosecution of Tom DeLay.

Outside the House, he served as lawyer for former Austin Police Department Assistant Chief Jimmy Chapman, when he was accused of perjury, and APD Officer Michael Olsen, when accused of excessive force.

Wilson has got hackles up by constantly grinning during the debates – so much so that Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, pointed out his "smiling and laughing" to the camera. The Houston lawyer already had to say that he'll try to avoid conflicts of interest – especially difficult, since he's currently representing Rep. Harold Dutton on a DUI charge. In addition, it's been alleged by Reps. Paul Moreno and Garnet Coleman that he's violating Texas Ethics Committee rules and has still to hand over his full campaign accounts from when he was a state rep. Coleman has already filed two charges with TEC against Wilson, with another 15 to come.

But that's not all: Wilson, one of only two House Dems to support the DeLay-inspired redistricting, has always been a loyal Craddickite. Back in 2003, he helped shove through a bill that gave Craddick almost complete authority over stuffing the all-important budget-building House Appropriations Committee. This DINO (Democrat in name only) was also deeply pro-school voucher and pro-tort reform.

He also once offered to show his testicles to a lawyer. No, seriously.

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Legislature
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Court Rules Texas School Finance Unconstitutional
Dietz says current system fails students, must be rebuilt

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 28, 2014

Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Dietz Stays on School Finance Suit
Hail Mary play by AG Abbott fails to force judicial recusal

Richard Whittaker, June 24, 2014

More State Government
Straus' Budget Stretch
Straus' Budget Stretch
Committee member casts doubt on speaker's deficit proposals

Richard Whittaker, May 12, 2010

Keel Repeat
Keel Repeat
Former state rep to head up Texas Facilities Commission

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 17, 2009

More by Richard Whittaker
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania
The monsterific animated franchise lumbers back out of the tomb

Jan. 14, 2022

Social media and fairy tales meet in this gorgeous, grounded version of Beauty and the Beast

Jan. 14, 2022


Legislature, State Government, Terry Keel, Ron Wilson, Tom Craddick

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle