The Smith Smears

Euless Republican draws primary challenger for "Romeo and Juliet" bill

Smith: Too smart and contemplative for a GOP primary?
Smith: Too smart and contemplative for a GOP primary?

There's no more thankless task in the state legislature than being the lawmaker to grasp a thorny issue, and House Elections Committee Chair Todd Smith, R-Euless, has become that guy.

Unusually for a committee head, Smith has drawn a primary opponent: Former Bedford City Council member Jeff Cason. Painting the primary as "a law and order conservative vs. a personal injury trial lawyer," Cason is going after him for authoring House Bill 3148, which he portrays in his press release as a get-out-of-jail-free bill for sexual predators.

In fact, the bill did nothing to restrict prosecution or punishment. Instead, it was intended to show a little clemency on painting someone for life with the "sexual offender" tag in very, very specific circumstances. In cases of a sexual relationship between a minor aged at least 14 and a defendant no more than four years older than them, the defendant could ask the judge not to require them to register as a sex offender if, and only if, there was no coercion involved.

Smith's work on this thorny issue was so well received and commended by his legislative peers that it passed the Senate unanimously and the House 129-14 (after statements of vote), with even hardcore law'n'order GOPers like Jerry Madden and Dan Gattis making empassioned speeches in its support.

It only failed because Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it. Guess what? His veto statement contained a whopping great big untruth. He claimed that the exemption could be applied for "regardless of the age of the victim." Not true, since the enrolled version clearly states that the rule would only apply if "the victim or intended victim was at least 14 years of age."

At the time of passage, Smith said to everyone that voted for his bill, Republican or Democrat, "if your opponent comes and says that you were soft on sexual predators, I make a personal pledge to come to your district and call that person a liar." Let's see if anyone out of the 160 other lawmakers who approved this bill has the guts and moral fiber to return the favor.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Election 2010, 2010 Primaries, Republicans, Todd Smith, Jeff Cason

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