A day after announcing his state Senate committee appointments, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says he's making another change after a committee chair refused to apologize for a "lewd comment" made on the radio about a staffer that "shocked everyone."
Patrick named State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) as the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Friday, moving him away from his longtime role as chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and ending his membership on the Senate Finance Committee.
After learning of the committee changes, Seliger told a West Texas radio show, The Other Side of Texas, that the shift was a slight because he didn't vote for two of Patrick's initiatives in the 2017 session. He also speculated to KAMR-TV that it may have been because he didn't endorse Patrick in 2018.
"This is a warning to other Republicans, that if you stray from the lieutenant governor’s agenda, there will be a price to pay," Seliger said on the show.
Host Jay Leeson then read from a Texas Tribune article, quoting Patrick senior advisor Sherry Sylvester 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."
It was then during the interview that Seliger said Sylvester's comment was "extremely snide" and that "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."
The lieutenant governor's office gave no confirmation on what the lewd comment was, or to whom it was said, but Patrick did say he spoke with Seliger Tuesday, gave him a chance to apologize and that he refused to do so. After that, Patrick said he removed Seliger from the committee.
"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.
Patrick said he will appoint a new Agriculture Committee chairman "shortly." He has not commented, specifically, on why Seliger was moved from education to agriculture but The Texas Tribune reported Patrick said committee assignments are based on a number of factors.