Lon Burnam will no longer be a state representative as of Tuesday, but he will remain a familiar face at the Texas Capitol.
When the 84th legislative session kicks off Tuesday, Burnam — a Fort Worth Democrat who lost his re-election bid last year to Ramon Romero Jr. — assumes a new title: senior legislative liaison for Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group.
“I am choosing to continue my career in public service by working for Public Citizen on issues I care deeply about,” said Burnam, who has represented House District 90 since 1997 and is the dean of the Tarrant County House delegation.
“We call them the three e’s: ethics [campaign finance reform], environment and energy issues, such as fracking and nuclear waste. In many ways, I am returning to my roots.”
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Burnam will be a volunteer with Public Citizen. “I don’t need or want the salary,” he said. “I’m going to make more with my retirement check than I’ve ever made in my life.”
Long considered one of the House’s most liberal members, Burnam lost to Romero by 111 votes in the Democratic primary.
Burnam sued to challenge the results, believing the election was scuttled by illegal mail-in ballots.
After losing several rounds in the courtroom, Burnam dropped the lawsuit. Romero, unopposed in the November general election, will take the oath of office when the Legislature convenes at noon Tuesday.
Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office, said he’s pleased to have Burnam join the office.
“It will be fun to have him here,” he said. “We will benefit greatly from his insider’s knowledge of groups like ours, which advocate for people instead of big business.”
Burnam, a longtime environmental advocate, said it’s time to get back to work.
“I started my career as an intern for Common Cause Texas in 1972 and worked for five years for Texas Citizen Action prior to being elected to the Legislature,” he said. “I fought for consumers’ rights in the Legislature for my entire career.
“It will be fun to be a liberated legislator.”
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610