Senator Kel Seliger is no longer a committee chair in Austin.
On Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, had been pulled from his role as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Seliger was appointed to the role on Friday, with Patrick removing Seliger from his position as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Following his reassignment on Friday, Seliger told several media outlets that he was displeased with his reassignment as head of the Agriculture Committee. In response, Patrick staffer Sherry Sylvester issued a statement, 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.”
After Sylvester’s comments, Seliger told Jay Leeson on the Other Side of Texas radio show that he had a “recommendation” for Sylvester’s lips.
“It was extremely snide and really unbecoming for a member of the staff, the lieutenant governor’s or my staff,” Seliger said. “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.”
Patrick responded on Tuesday, saying he met with Seliger and offered him a chance apologize. Patrick went on to say Seliger refused to apologize, and suggested Patrick’s female staffer should be fired.
“Senator Seliger has been removed as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and will not be serving on that Committee,” Patrick said in a statement. “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.”
It is unclear whether Seliger will retain his other Senate assignments, or if he will continue to serve on the Agriculture Committee. A replacement for Seliger as chairman of the committee is expected to be announced soon.
This is not the first time Seliger has come under fire for comments made about women. Seliger previously created controversy when he suggested in 2013 that a location for women to breast feed or pump in the Capitol Building should be located in a female senator’s office. According to the Dallas Morning News, the female senator who was the object of Seliger’s comments then, Democrat Judith Zaffirini, responded, saying, “‘It’s not funny. It’s not funny. It’s not funny.”
Seliger has served in the Texas Senate since 2004. He was recently re-elected in 2018, narrowly surviving a three-way primary runoff. Seliger went on to beat a Libertarian challenger in November.