State Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, has retained a criminal-defense attorney amid a potential ethics investigation by a House committee.
The lawyer, Patrick Short, issued a statement Monday morning saying his firm “has been engaged by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-TX 2) in a matter relating a possible complaint filed against him with the Texas House Committee on General Investigating.”
“We are aware of outrageous claims circulating online by second-tier media that make false claims against Representative Slaton,” Short said. “As a result, he has been advised to forward all inquiries in this matter—including any that may relate to a possible complaint—to his legal counsel.”
It was unclear which claims Short was referring to, and he declined to comment further when reached by The Texas Tribune.
The Rockwall-based lawyer’s website says he has “over 30 years of legal experience representing clients in East and North Texas in personal injury, wrongful death, criminal defense, and select civil litigation cases.”
The Capitol has been abuzz about Slaton’s whereabouts after he missed one of the most important days of the session Thursday, when the House debated the budget. It was even more eyebrow-raising because the conservative rabble-rouser had proposed 27 amendments to the budget. Slaton was the only absence when the roll call was called Thursday morning.
Slaton and multiple people close to him have not responded to requests for comment on his whereabouts. Slaton’s office in the Capitol was closed Thursday, as well as Monday morning.
As speculation grew about Slaton during the budget debate Thursday, the chairman of the General Investigating Committee, Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, issued a statement saying the panel does not comment “on any investigations it undertakes, including statements confirming or denying the existence of any ongoing investigation.”
The office of House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, had no comment on Short’s statement.
It remains to be seen whether Slaton will be present when the House returns at 2 p.m. Monday. After the budget debate last week, lawmakers went home for the Easter holiday weekend.
Slaton is known as one of the farthest-right members of the Texas House and a thorn in the side of his party’s leadership. He was first elected in 2021, defeating a a longtime Republican incumbent he criticized as too moderate.
Slaton is especially known for his stridently anti-LGBTQ views. Last year, he called for a blanket ban on minors at drag shows, saying it was necessary to protect children from “perverted adults.” He has also proposed giving property tax cuts to straight, married couples — but not LGBTQ couples or those who have previously been divorced — based on the number of children they have.
Earlier this year, Slaton also filed a bill that would allow for a referendum on Texas secession from the United States during the state’s next general election, despite most experts agreeing such a move would be illegal.
Renzo Downey, Zach Despart and Robert Downen contributed reporting.
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This story originally appeared on the Texas Tribune. To read this article in its original format, click here.