AUSTIN (KXAN) — Governor Greg Abbott’s embattled nominee for Secretary of State, David Whitley was approved 4-3 by the Senate Nominations Committee Thursday morning.
Whitley, now the official nominee for the position, will still need a two-thirds majority vote in the Texas Senate to officially be confirmed.
In a statement to KXAN before the vote, head of the committee, Sen. Dawn Buckingham wrote, “My office has consistently said, ‘It is at the Chair’s discretion’ when the committee votes on any nominee. As Chair, I believe the time to have a committee vote on Mr. Whitley is at our February 28 hearing, and it is my intention to have that vote at that time.”
Whitley was at the center of a controversy swirling around a voter citizenship review that he ordered as part of voter roll maintenance that included thousands of names, some of whom were actually citizens. He blasted the news of the voter review list in January but its validity was quickly called into question.
He has largely defended the review efforts as a legally sound exercise but did admit shortcomings to the data his office used to flag almost 100,000 registered voters for citizenship review.
Democrats and multiple civil rights organizations are opposed to Whitley’s nomination and possible appointment as Secretary of State as a result of the voter list.
“Whitley irresponsibly placed thousands of Texans at the center of an investigation lead by state lawmakers to further keep eligible voters from exercising their right to vote,” officials with Progress Texas wrote in a press release Thursday. “We call on Senators to vote no on David Whitley and begin to remedy the dark history of voter suppression in our state.”