Carl Isett

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Carl Hawkins Isett
Texas State Representative for District 84 (Lubbock County)
In office
January 1997 – 2010
Preceded by Robert L. Duncan
Succeeded by John Frullo
Personal details
Born (1957-03-07) March 7, 1957 (age 61)
Stephens County
Texas, United States
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cheri Nanette Isett (married 1983 - 2012)
Children Joan, Alexander, Nicholas, Victoria, Mary Elizabeth, Michael, and Sarah

Philip E. Isett

Lu Nell Isett
Alma mater Texas Tech University
Occupation Certified Public Accountant

Carl Hawkins Isett (born March 7, 1957) is a Certified Public Accountant from Lubbock, Texas, and a Republican former member of the Texas House of Representatives. First elected in 1996, Isett announced on December 18, 2009, that he would not be a candidate for an eighth two-year term in the Republican primary held on March 2, 2010. He indicated that he would instead focus on his United States Navy career.[1] He resigned his seat in the summer of 2010, and it remained vacant until a special election was held in conjunction with the November 2, 2010, general election. Both contests were won by Isett's fellow Republican John Frullo, who is also a Lubbock accountant.

Background and family[edit]

Isett was born in Breckenridge, the seat of Stephens County in north central Texas,[2] and was reared in Massachusetts and El Paso. His father, Dr. Philip E. Isett (born April 24, 1934), resides in Edmond, Oklahoma. His mother, the former Lu Nell Hawkins (1934–2006), a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, and a Lutheran authored two Christian books, Jonathan Oh Jonathan and Color Me Legitimate. At the time of her death Lu Nell Isett, who had worked in the field of health administration, was residing with her husband in Edmond. She is interred at Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock.[3]

Isett has three brothers: James Lyndsey Isett (born 1956) and wife, Cathy, of Moorpark, California, Bruce Edward Isett (born 1961) and wife, Julie Panter Isett, of Lewisville, Texas, and Daniel Mark Isett (born 1973) and wife, Christine Rosenthal Isett, of Alexandria, Virginia. A sister, Roxanne Evelyn Matlock (born 1964) and her husband, Brent Dale Matlock, reside in Amarillo. A second sister, Lourdes Isett (1955–2008), born in Mineral Wells, Texas, graduated in nursing from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock and died at Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, where she had been employed in the care of transplant recipients.[4]

Isett and his former wife (Cheri) have seven children: Joan, Alexander, Nicholas, Victoria, Mary Elizabeth, Michael, and Sarah, and, as of 2009, two grandchildren.

Isett receiveda bachelor's degree in accounting and finance and his master's degree in finance, both from the Rawls College of Business at Texas Tech University.

Legislative issues[edit]

Isett was initially elected in House District 84 in 1996 to succeed Robert L. Duncan of Lubbock, who was elected to the Texas State Senate. Isett defeated the Democrat Don Richards in what has become a strongly Republican district. At the time, the conservative Isett was the only practicing tax accountant in the Texas House. He has placed lower taxes, reduced government, and greater personal freedom and responsibility at the core of his stated legislative goals. He has been foremost among lawmakers opposed to cities maintaining cameras at traffic lights as a means to catch traffic violations. As a freshman, his colleagues elected him to serve on the Policy Committee of the House Republican Caucus.

Isett serves on the House Appropriations Committee and chairs Budget Oversight for the Insurance Committee, headed by his Republican colleague John T. Smithee of Amarillo. He was also named to the Select Committee on School Finance and served as the chairman of the subcommittee on school finance cost adjustment. He has been president of the bipartisan Texas Conservative Coalition. Legislative colleagues elected him to the Steering Committee for the House Research Organization. He was selected in 2007 by the Speaker of the House, Tom Craddick of Midland to serve on the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, a panel which reviews state agencies over a 12-year period and recommends the elimination of useless bureaucracies.[1] He co-chairs the Sportsman Caucus and is a board member of the Tower Institute, and a member of the Lubbock Lions Club.

Isett has successfully championed bills such as HB 1516 which increased efficiency and improved the management of information technology in state government. This legislation was the first of its kind in the nation. Isett received the "Friend of the Taxpayer" Award from the Citizens for a Sound Economy and the "Champion of Free Enterprise" Award by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Early in 2007, Isett again introduced what he calls his "Taxpayer Protection Act." It would provide for a recall election if local property taxes increase by more than 5 percent a year, similar to a new limit proposed by the Texas Task Force on Appraisal Reform and endorsed by Governor Rick Perry.[5] The measure failed to win passage in the regular legislative session.

Ethics violations[edit]

In 2008, Isett was fined $6,400 by the Texas Ethics Commission. He was required to refund his campaign more than $25,000 for paying his wife $36,000 for "accounting services." The Texas Election Code specifically prohibits an officeholder from paying his or her spouse for personal services. After being investigated and fined, he paid over $39,000 to "Lubbock Bookkeeping Services" for the same services in the following year. It was later found that LBS was owned by his wife and had the same address as Representative Isett's home address. The Texas Ethics Commission declined to take action on the matter. See Sworn Complaint 2707158

2003 congressional bid[edit]

In 2003, Isett ran in a special election for the United States House of Representatives from District 19. The opening developed when longtime Republican U.S. Representative Larry Combest of Lubbock suddenly retired. Isett, who carried the backing of Right to Life, polled some 19 percent of the vote, nearly enough to garner a runoff berth. The position ultimately went to his fellow Lubbock Republican Randy Neugebauer, also a conservative, who will vacate the seat on January 3, 2017.

Former Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance held this congressional seat as a Democrat from 1979 to 1985, but he vacated it in an unsuccessful bid in 1984 for the United States Senate. Thereafter, Hance switched parties, served briefly on the Texas Railroad Commission, and made unsuccessful bids for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 1986 and 1990.

Deployment to the Middle East[edit]

Isett is a commissioned officer in the United States Naval Reserve: a commander attached to Commander Logistics Western Pacific. In October 2006, he returned home from deployment in Kuwait and Iraq. His former wife Cherie served as his legislative proxy while he was away, a procedure allowed in Texas.[6] Similarly, a colleague, Frank Corte, Jr., a Republican from San Antonio, also designated his wife, Valerie Ryder Corte, as his legislative proxy while Corte served in 2006 in the Iraq War.[7]

A month after returning from the Middle East, Isett in 2006 won his sixth term in the state House. He received 15,751 votes (66.1 percent) to 8,068 (33.9 percent) for his Democratic opponent, the Lubbock educator Pearlie Mayfield (born August 24, 1952). Isett was unopposed in 2008, as Republicans again prevailed in Lubbock County.

Former Speaker Tom Craddick said that Isett's sudden retirement is "a real loss for West Texas, and more so for the Legislature."[1] Isett's expertise regarding finance and spending will be missed, Craddick added. Though Isett rarely spoke on the House floor, Craddick explained: "When he did get up to say something, people listened, because they knew he was informed on the issues. . . . A lot of people really listened to what he had to say. That's what you need when you're a legislator; you need a following by the other members if you're ever going to accomplish anything."[1]

In the 2010 primary, two Republicans were headed to a runoff election on April 13, 2010, to fill Isett's seat. Mark Griffin (born July 27, 1954) led the three-candidate field with 5,652 votes (48.7 percent) and faced John Frullo (born August 1, 1962), who received 4,992 votes (43 percent). The third candidate, Ysidro Gutierrez, a former Democratic member of the Lubbock County commissioner's court, polled the remaining but critical 952 votes (8 percent). Turnout on primary day was so small that the majority of the ballots were cast during early voting.[8] In the runoff election, Frullo, endorsed by Gutierrez, defeated Griffin, a former Texas Tech regent who carried the backing of State Senator Robert L. Duncan.[9] Frullo then handily defeated Democrat Carol Morgan, a retired Lubbock educator, in the special election and general election.


  1. ^ a b c d "Elliott Blackburn, "Rep. Carl Isett won't run again", December 19, 2009". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Rep. Carl Isett, R-TX 84th District". Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Lu Nell Isett obituary". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, June 13, 2006. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Obituary of Lourdes Isett, December 29, 2008". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  5. ^ ""Rep. Carl Isett will try again", January 27, 2007". Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Carl Isett". Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Frank J. Corte, Jr". Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 2, 2010". Retrieved March 7, 2010. [permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Anatomy of Perry's victory over Jones could hold key to party's direction". Archived from the original on December 6, 2010. Retrieved April 16, 2010. 


Preceded by
Robert Lloyd Duncan
Texas State Representative for
District 84 (Lubbock County)

Carl Hawkins Isett

Succeeded by
John Frullo