Memo costs woman job

AUSTIN — An employee has resigned from the Texas Workforce Commission under fire for a memo she drafted last spring suggesting the agency should make use of “sugar daddy” lawmakers to succeed in the 2005 regular legislative session.

Referring to Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, and Democratic Sens. Eliot Shapleigh of El Paso and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, who often file similar proposals, the 21-page memo states: “We should use the Villarreal, Shapleigh, Zaffirini strategy and get our ‘sugar daddy’ legislators to file several bills on the same topic so that we can at least get a few through.”

Describing those who lobby to keep favorite agencies from budget cuts, the memo states: “Everyone wants to protect his or her ‘sugar daddy.'”

Carol Jones, the TWC director of governmental relations since December, resigned Tuesday.

She declined to be interviewed but released a statement saying the memo “represented simply my thoughts written on my own time on my home computer. … I never intended to imply any disrespect to the Legislature, but used what I considered to be a friendly colloquialism, which is the way I generally talk.”

The commission, whose chairwoman is Diane Rath of San Antonio, oversees employee training programs, unemployment compensation and child care subsidies for people trying to get off welfare and work full time.

Larry Temple, its executive director, said he asked for Jones’ resignation after requesting and reading the draft when a reporter called to inquire on it.

“I read it one time, and that was enough,” Temple said, calling it “too divisive, too partisan, a lot over the top.”

Villarreal, Shapleigh and Zaffirini each said the “sugar daddy” reference seemed to compliment their commitment to changing laws to help children, and Villarreal credited Temple with “acting decisively.”

But he also said the draft memo showed the kind of attitude toward legislators “that will result in a divisive legislative process that places partisanship over the merits of good policy.”

The agency provided a hand-marked copy of the memo, which addresses legislative and media relations, internal staffing and raising the agency’s profile.

Among its recommendations, it urges close contact with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and Citizens for A Sound Economy “because they both have (Gov. Rick Perry’s) ear.”

“Most Democrats will vote for bigger spending legislation,” it states. “However, even for Republicans ‘for the children’ resonates whether the legislation has validity or not.”

A lobbyist who read the draft was impressed, saying: “This is exactly like something you’d say, but never put down in writing.”

Temple said he found no copy in his files, but might have received it when it was written last April, when he was a deputy director.

“I could very well have been given a copy of this” last year, Temple said. “I’m sent a lot of stuff. Some of it I read. … I don’t remember. I really don’t.”

After Jones resigned, Temple began circulating the draft to state leaders with a note “to whom it may concern” stating it “does not represent the views of this agency nor my personal views.”

He said a similar packet also was being offered to interested legislators.