The decision by State Sen Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) not to resign his seat in the Legislature is causing an upheaval in the Texas political world, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Uresti was convicted Thursday on all eleven counts of fraud related charges he was facing, but he says he will appeal, and will not resign his seat in the State Senate.
Brandon Rodenhouse, a political science professor at the University of Houston, says that is his right.
"He cannot be forced to resign," Rodenhouse said. "But he has at least two years to be able to be in office while he is appealing this conviction, but it is clear his influence will be diminished."
Under Texas law, a member of the legislature and other statewide elected official doesn't have to resign if convicted of a crime until all of the appeals have been exhausted. But the person is ineligible to seek re-election as a 'convicted felon.
'A political consultant who asked not to be identified because he works with Democrats tells News Radio 1200 WOAI that Uresti's decision not to resign is 'a nightmare' for Texas Democrats.
"Every Republican in the state will now be able to 'hang Carlos Uresti around the necks' of whatever Democrat the Republican is opposing," he said.
Because of that, several Democrats, including the Senate Democratic Caucus, have urged Uresti to step down.
"It is sad that this has happened to this man, but it is time to move on," Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said.
And Roddenhouse says the real losers are Uresti's San Antonio constituents, who will be represented by a 'neutered' State Senator
."As it is, carrying bills and pushing a policy agenda will be difficult when people don't think you're going to be back," he said.
As if to demonstrate how difficult it will be, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is the President of the Senate, says he will strip Uresti of all of his Senate committee seats and chairmanships.
“I have confidence in our judicial system and the jury has spoken. Though I recognize that Sen. Uresti is entitled to exercise his right to appeal, my first priority is to the people of Texas. Therefore, I will take immediate steps that will allow the members of the Texas Senate to focus on the critical issues facing our state as we prepare for the next legislative session."
“As lieutenant governor, I do not have the authority to remove Sen. Uresti from the Texas Senate but I have notified his office that he will be relieved of his committee assignments, effective immediately. I will replace him in those positions shortly so that the work of these committees can continue to move forward.”
Uresti is set to be sentenced in June, but his appeals could push that back.