Eric Opiela, is a rancher and attorney from Karnes City, Texas. In the legal arena, he has fought to protect the private property rights of landowners against intrusion by federal and state agencies through assisting property owners in private practice and with the Washington, DC-based public interest law firm, Defenders of Property Rights. In addition, Eric is a published scholar in the area of Texas water law, and has written extensively in opposition to the outdated Rule of Capture, which governs Texas groundwater law, and threatens the vitality of rural Texas in the face of extensive pumping by large metropolitan cities.
Eric was Committee Director and Counsel for the Texas House of Representatives Urban Affairs Committee during the 78th Texas Legislature, where he led landmark reforms to Texas’ housing and community development programs. Recognized for his extensive knowledge in housing, municipal, and local government law, he was asked to return to the Capitol during the 79th Texas Legislature as General Counsel for the Texas House Urban Affairs Committee. A former staffer with then-Governor Bush’s Executive Development Program, he contributed to the education and professional development of Texas’state agency managers, helping them to lead their agencies more efficiently and effectively.
Eric graduated with honors from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the student body vice-president and chairman of the University of Texas System Student Advisory Council. He also earned a law degree from the University of Texas School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Criminal Law, one of the nation’s top two scholarly journals dedicated to criminal justice. After law school, he clerked for The Honorable Mary Ellen Coster Williams, who was appointed by President Bush as a Federal Judge on the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC. Since his return to Texas, Eric has represented a wide variety of clients, including cities, governmental districts, associations, and developers in both litigation, and administrative practice.
He is active in Republican politics, and is currently the Associate General Counsel for the Republican Party of Texas. He previously served two terms as the State Republican Executive Committeeman from Texas Senate District 21. Before that, Eric was the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas, and was the elected Chairman of the Karnes County Republican Party. Eric was the state party's ballot integrity committee chairman in 2006, and is active in RNLA and the Federalist Society. He was also the Republican nominee for Texas House District 35 in 2004, and was a candidate for Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 2014.
Eric is married to the former Lara Davidson of Karnes City, who is a practicing pediatric speech language pathologist, and they are blessed to have two children, Natalie and Ryan.