Milton A. Rister is moving from Rick Perry’s office where we was director of administration to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) where he will be the executive director. Rister replaces John Tintera* who resigned suddenly earlier this year.
As executive director, Rister will manage daily operations and carry out policies.
From yesterday’s subscriber only Texas Energy article by Polly Ross Hughes we learn Rister “has been branded an “ideological hit man” by Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey for his expertise in political opposition research.” That skill should fit in nicely with the mission of the RRC.
The Texas Energy article has additional details about Rister:
Among his attributes in the job, Rister lists that he “restored credibility and lifted morale in the financial services group by recruiting a new CFO, replacing several staff members with new, better qualified individuals and began the process of upgrading 20-year-old accounting software.”
Rister attracted a blistering rebuke from newspaper columnist Casey in 2006 when he was named the executive director of the non-partisan Texas Legislative Council, known for its critical work in aiding lawmakers in bill drafting. Casey noted, “right up to a few weeks ago when he was appointed to his new post, he was taking thousands of dollars from billionaire James Leninger for research used to prepare cynical attack ads against five current Republican incumbents who dared to oppose Leninger’s school voucher legislation.” Among the most vocal critics of Rister’s was Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, who was still suspicious about the role he thought Rister had played (which Rister denied) in 2002 mailers from a group called Free PAC that portrayed two men kissing. The mailers accused Wentworth, who recently lost his Republican primary to retain his Senate seat, of supporting the gay agenda because he voted for a hate crimes bill.
His conflict of interest track record should fit in nicely at the RRC. If I’m not mistaken, there was another controversy regarding his TLC appointment…something about him getting the job without applying.
However, Rister lists a series of accomplishments in his various government and political posts. At the Texas Legislative Council, for instance, he noted that he “increased staff morale by individually meeting with every staff member and presenting them with a TLC lapel pin.” He also served as a senior adviser to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, as executive director of the Republican Party of Texas, as chief of staff for Sen. Jane Nelson and even as deputy campaign director for Clayton Williams’ gubernatorial race against Ann Richards.
He seems like a perfect fit for the industry lap dog agency.