Whitley back in governor’s office after resignation

Texas+Secretary+of+State+David+Whitley

MIGUEL GUTIERREZ JR./The Texas Tribune

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley at a state Senate Committee on Nominations hearing on Feb. 7. Whitley was appointed to the job by Gov. Greg Abbott, but Whitley must first clear the committee, then win a two-thirds vote in the full Texas Senate.

ALEX URA, The Texas Tribune

Former Secretary of State David Whitley — who lost his job after presiding over a botched review of the citizenship of Texans on the voter rolls — is back to working at the governor’s office. 

Whitley resigned from the post Monday just before he would have been kicked out of office without a state Senate confirmation vote, but he went straight back to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office where he was rehired on an $205,000 annual salary, according to the state comptroller’s office. 

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for confirmation on Friday, but a spokesman for the comptroller’s office, which oversees state employees, said Whitley was hired by the governor’s office under the title of “deputy director II.” The Texas Tribune had filed a records request for personnel documents on Thursday. 

A longtime aide to the governor, Whitley left that office in mid-December when Abbott appointed him to serve as secretary of state. But his tenure was cut short after Democratic senators blocked his confirmation over a bungled effort to review the voter rolls for noncitizens that instead jeopardized the voting rights of tens of thousands of naturalized citizens. 

A federal judge halted that review in late February over concerns that “perfectly legal naturalized Americans” were targeted in ways those born in the country were not. Whitley’s office eventually agreed to scrap the review to end the three federal lawsuits that were filed against the state. But the debacle left taxpayers on the hook for $450,000 in costs and attorney fees for the lawyers of the naturalized citizens and civil rights groups that alleged the review was unconstitutional and violated federal protections for voters of color. 

“[Whitley] definitely has no business continuing to draw a six-figure salary on the taxpayer dime in the governor’s office,” Texas Democratic Party executive director Manny Garcia said in a statement Friday.

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