Talmadge Heflin: Not a Name To Forget
Texas GOP hires a new exec director with a storied history.
By Richard Whittaker,
10:00AM, Tue. Jul. 31, 2007
The Texas Republican Party has announced its new executive director, former state rep Talmadge Heflin. Unusual name, unusual guy: Like pretty much anyone in the public sphere, Heflin comes with some baggage. It's just that some of his is, well, pretty unusual.
The 11-term Harris County rep was chair of the House Appropriations committee, and there's a lot of reps who see his tenure in the big budget seat as bad news. Policy-driven politicians on both sides of the chamber look to the budget mess he left behind, while more pragmatic pol-watchers can see that some GOPers regret his electoral inheritance. After all, back in the GOP landslide glory days of 2004, somehow Heflin managed to lose his seat to Dem newb Hubert Vo.
But that's not the weird thing. Nor is the fact that, as a pundit for noted conservative pressure group (read "one-note free market fans and regular witnesses at any tax-related Lege committee meeting") the Texas Public Policy Foundation, he could play off his own reputation for slashing expenditures and still demand that lawmakers break the spending cap to cover the property tax refund.
No, Heflin's baggage is pretty unusual. In 2004, he was caught up in a bizarre adoption scandal. The story goes that Heflin and his wife tried to take custody of Fidel Odimara Jr. The only problem was that the boy's mother Mariam Katamba, an undocumented native-born Ugandan, was working in the Heflin's house illegally at the time. The Heflins and their lawyers tried to claim that Katamba had asked them to raise the child, but also that she was an unfit parent and posed a grave danger to the child. The matter ended up in court and the Heflin's motion was finally thrown out by the judge.