AMARILLO, Texas (KVII) — Texas Senator for District 31 Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, has been removed from his appointed position as the Chair of the Senate Agricultural Committee due to “lewd comments” made during a radio interview that aired Monday, according to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
The announcement comes just days after the Lt. Gov. announced that Seliger would not chair the Senate Higher Education Committee, nor the finance committee.
The Texas Tribune reports Patrick was quiet on Seliger’s re-election bid. But Patrick’s top political consultant, Houston-based Allen Blakemore, ran Victor Leal’s campaign. Leal unsuccessfully challenged Seliger in the primary.
The Tribune notes Seliger was the only Republican senator who didn’t endorse Patrick’s re-election campaign, saying he was focused on his own race.
The comments in question stemmed from an article written by the Texas Tribune in which one of Lt. Gov. Patrick’s female staffers was quoted as saying, “If Senator Seliger believes serving as Chair of the Agriculture Committee — a critical committee for West Texas and all of rural Texas — is beneath him, he should let us know and the Lt. Governor will appoint someone else.”
About halfway through the interview, the host asks Seliger his take on the comments provided by Lt. Gov. Patrick’s advisor, to which Senator Seliger responded, “It was extremely snide and really unbecoming for a member of the staff, the lieutenant governor’s or my staff. I didn’t say anything of the sort, and that assertion is disingenuous and I have a recommendation for Miss Sylvester and her lips and my back end. That’s cleaned up, isn’t it?”
On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Patrick himself responded by removing Seliger from his position of Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and saying that the Senator will not be serving on that Committee in any capacity.
Lt. Gov. Patrick’s full statement can be read below:
“Senator Seliger has been removed as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and will not be serving on that Committee. I met with Sen. Seliger earlier today and gave him an opportunity to apologize for a lewd comment he made on radio about a female staffer that has shocked everyone. He had 48 hours to apologize, but failed to do so. He has refused to take responsibility and outrageously, blamed the staffer and said she should be fired. To not be willing to apologize and suggest, somehow, that she had it coming is unimaginable.
“I will appoint a new Agriculture Committee chairman shortly.”
Seliger issued a statement on Tuesday saying that in hindsight, he should’ve directed his response to the Lt. Governor and not his spokesperson, and for that, he apologizes. He adds that his recent conflict with Lt. Gov. Patrick is because he has consistently stood up for rural Texas, local control and public education, rather than touting the Lt. Governor’s ‘pet projects’ of bathroom regulation and private school vouchers.
Senator Seliger’s full statement can be found here:
“Today, I was disappointed to learn that I am no longer the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
When, in her comment to the press, Sherry Sylvester threatened to remove me as Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, she was acting as a spokesperson for the Lt. Governor. In hindsight, I should have directed my response to the Lt. Governor and not to his messenger. And for that I apologize.
But let’s be clear. The conflict between the Lt. Governor and me has nothing to do with recent statements I made on a radio talk show. It has to do with the fact that I have consistently stood up for rural Texas, local control, and public education rather than trumpeting the Lt. Governor’s pet projects of bathroom regulation and private school vouchers.
I look forward to spending the rest of this session doing what I have always done—representing the people of West Texas and the Panhandle.”
The full transcript of Senator Seliger’s interview with Jay Leeson’s The Other Side of Texas can be here.