Posts Tagged ‘2012 Election’

Jana Duty Hoist on Her Own Petard

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Dwight beat me to this story on Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty being placed on probation for 18 months by the Texas bar, but I have a few additional bits of context for those coming in late on the Jana Duty Saga.

First, let’s remember how widely unpopular Duty was (and is) with fellow Williamson County Republicans. Holly Hansen had this to say back in 2011:

Republican Jana Duty was first elected to the office in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, but has developed increasingly antagonistic interactions with the County Judge, all four members of the Commissioners Court, all of the County Court at Law Judges, the Williamson County District Attorney, and pretty much any other judge handing an down unfavorable ruling.

Since then, if anything she’s managed to become even less popular.

Second, the fact that Duty was sanctioned for “withholding evidence in a murder case” provides a delicious bit of irony for those who have been following her career. For it was charges of “prosecutorial misconduct” in the Michael Morton case that allowed her to defeat incumbent John Bradley in the 2012 Republican primary, even though Bradley was only involved in Morton’s appeal process, not the original prosecution. The Morton case was a real miscarriage of justice, but Duty and several other dubiously-conservative challengers in 2012 seemed to view the case as a “get into office free” card.

Finally, one tiny tidbit missing from the Statesman article Dwight linked to: Shawn Dick beat Duty in this year’s Republican Primary, so that probation is going to extend through the end of her term as DA, and beyond…

Dewhurst Settles Lawsuit Against Michael Looney

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Former Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has settled his lawsuit against Houston oilman Michael Looney, who evidently received money embezzled by Dewhurst campaign adviser Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield:

Former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, the once powerful Republican who was bilked by an adviser for at least $2.8 million, has settled a lawsuit against a Houston oilman who used a chunk of the stolen money to invest in a new business.

The out-of-court settlement ends years of litigation by the three-term ex-lieutenant governor aimed at recouping funds embezzled from two campaign accounts by former adviser Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a Dewhurst spokesman said.

Once a trusted consultant to one of Texas’ wealthiest politicians, Barfield was sentenced in February to more than seven years in federal prison for orchestrating a complex money funneling scheme in which he falsified records, bank statements, invoices and campaign finance reports.

Dewhurst filed a civil lawsuit against Barfield in 2013 to get some of the money back. That lawsuit was settled when Barfield signed over his multi-million dollar West Austin home as part of the agreement.

However, Dewhurst’s lawyers also set their sights on Houston businessman Michael Looney, who partnered with Barfield and, according to court documents, received “several hundred thousand dollars” of stolen Dewhurst money.

The funds, according to the lawsuit, were used to start a new oil and gas business co-owned by Looney and Barfield that would make use of valuable seismic data under license from ExxonMobil.

Dewhurst’s lawsuit was asking for an award of one-half interest in the seismic data and the new company. The exact value of the data was not released, but Looney’s lawyers said in a filing that Barfield “stood to make millions and millions of dollars” if the deal went through.

The terms of the lawsuit settlement were not disclosed.


Wisconsin Unions Double Down On Stupid

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Wisconsin union leaders may be clinically insane.

Their suicidal idée fixe is on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his labor law reforms. You may remember how the rude, narcissistic, and counterproductive intimidation tactics employed during the Walker’s recall election backfired on them.

Indeed, it was the recall election that made Scott Walker what he is today:

The ferocity of the anti-Walker attacks during the recall attempt cannot be understated: no stone was left unturned, no “scandal” or slip of the tongue left unmentioned, and this may only help candidate Walker going into 2016. The Democrats spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours digging, scooping, ad-cutting, and hammering. They threw the kitchen sink at the guy in 2012, threw their neighbor’s sink at him in 2014, and now nobody on the block will let them inside to pee. Out of useful topsoil, what do they do now?

Had the Democrats not targeted Walker with a recall, that massive fundraiser network, the national profile, the party unity, and his highly developed get-out-the-vote team almost certainly wouldn’t exist. He may have still won re-election, but he would be just another Midwestern Republican governor who enacted reforms and faced push-back, not the conservative folk hero of a party longing for a win. He would most likely resemble Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a reformer but hardly a man with a cult following. There would still be plenty of new problems with the governor his opposition could cite, instead of leaving him mostly vetted for 2016.

They shot the king and missed, making a balding, sleepy-eyed executive into a god among a growing horde of followers. That’s bad enough for the Progressive set. In the unlikely event he wins the Republican nomination and the presidency? They struck the match that ignited their own national hell.

And what happened after Walker’s reforms went through and public employee unions could no longer force people to join? Union membership plummeted. Over 100,000 workers availed themselves of the opportunity to escape union clutches when they were finally allowed to. That’s why unions will never forgive Scott Walker: his reforms proved that workers hated the unions that supposedly represented them.

And Walker’s success has emboldened Republicans in other states to take on unions, which has the Democratic Party terrified. “Public-employee unions are a mechanism for the involuntary transfer of taxpayers’ money to the Democratic party.”

Now Walker and the Republican legislature aim to make Wisconsin a full right to work state. Naturally, Democrats and unions (the latter being an extension of the former) are gearing up to fight it.

Strategically, I understand why Democrats and unions have to fight this fight. What I don’t understand is why the anti-Walker crowd continues to employ the same “stuck on stupid” tactics against Walker that have lost them the last three elections.

Loud, annoying protest in the capitol rotunda guaranteed to alienate swing voters? Check.

Marches? Chants? Check.

Clenched fist Socialist Realism iconography? Check.

About the only thing they’re missing from the recall circus is the drum circle.

They even sent union goons to harass Walkers’ parents at their home. Because that’s such a sure fire way to win over people.

Now word comes that Wisconsin Unions are contemplating a general strike. Presumably because they couldn’t think of anything else so likely to: A.) Fail, and B.) Lose the supporting of those few remaining independents their previous tactics hadn’t already turned off.

It’s like Wisconsin unions are doing everything they can to get Scott Walker elected President in 2016…

Buddy Barfield Pleads Guilty

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Remember Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, the political consultant who was accused of embezzling over $2 million from David Dewhurst campaign funds? When last we checked, he had sold his house to settle a civil lawsuit from Dewhurst.

Well, Barfield just plead guilty to embezzling $1.8 million from various David Dewhurst campaigns.

“While working on behalf of the David Dewhurst Campaign and Dewhurst for Texas, Barfield knowingly and intentionally engaged in a scheme to defraud the entities of campaign dollars for his own benefit,” a plea agreement signed by Barfield stated.

“Barfield used the stolen funds to pay for expenses such as his home mortgage, school tuition for his children, personal investments and other living expenses.”

Dewhurst campaign officials said Barfield concealed his theft from the campaign accounts by falsifying bank deposit slips, vendor invoices and finance reports to make it appear that the accounts had far more cash on hand than they actually contained.

In the meantime, Barfield and his side businesses, such as Alexander Group Consulting, were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for services that were never performed.

As I noted in the original story, the embezzlement was a symptom of disorder in the Dewhurst campaign, not its cause. It also shows why it’s a good idea for any political campaign with funds of $1 million to have outside auditing…

Buddy Barfield/David Dewhurst Campaign Embezzlement Update

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Remember the accusations that campaign consultant Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield embezzled over $1 million from David Dewhurst’s Lt. Governor and Senate campaigns over a number of years?

Well, the estimated total he’s accused of embezzling is now over $2 million, plus

Barfield has agreed to turn over his lavish West Austin home and various business assets to Dewhurst to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Dewhurst last year to recover the funds. A final judgment executing the settlement was signed by a state judge in November.

Sale proceeds from Barfield’s home, which has been listed at $2.8 million, will be pooled with the assets of Barfield’s businesses to repay Dewhurst’s campaign accounts for lieutenant governor and his 2012 U.S. Senate race. The home was valued at $1.37 million by the Travis County Appraisal District in 2013.

In all, the judgment states that the David Dewhurst Committee and Dewhurst for Texas campaign accounts should receive $3,750,000 from the Barfield properties. It lists seven Barfield companies, including Alexander Group Consulting, which conducted campaign work for Dewhurst and other candidates.

Evidently there is some fire behind all that smoke. (Also, it appears that Betsy Woodruff was right (and I was wrong) to describe Barfield as having embezzled “millions” plural rather than singular.) Also, this evidently doesn’t get him off the hook for possible criminal charges, which I understand are at both the state and federal levels (the latter for violating federal campaign finance laws for Dewhurst’s losing 2012 U.S. Senate race).

Still unanswered is just how bad is David Dewhurst’s oversight that someone managed to steal $2 million from his campaigns and he didn’t notice for years?

(Speaking of disorder in the Dewhurst campaign, according to this story I missed from last year, he evidently still owes vendors over $1 million from the Senate campaign. I sent out some queries Friday to the vendors named in the story to see if Dewhurst has paid those bills in the interim, but have yet to receive a reply from any of them.)

The Ted Cruz Victory: One Year Later

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Travis McCormick notes that exactly one year ago, Ted Cruz beat David Dewhurst in the 2012 Republican Senate runoff. (He also demolished a number of myths in the process.) And pretty much every day Ted Cruz has been in Washington, he’s confirmed that Texas voters made the right decision.

Can anyone imagine Dewhurst leading the fight against illegal alien amnesty? Or schooling Dianne Feinstein on gun control? (I can imagine Dewhurst voting against gun control, but not leading the fight against it.) Or holding the feet of other Republicans to the fire on conservative principles? (As I said then, “We sent Cruz to Washington to shame Republicans into acting like Republicans.”)

No wonder Cruz is getting buzz as a 2016 Presidential candidate. I don’t see anyone else better on the horizon…

Nitpicking National Review On Dewhurst

Monday, July 15th, 2013

When you’re a domain expert in something, sometimes you agree with the central point of an article, but enough details ring false that you wonder how closely the reporter has been following the story. For example, this Betsy Woodruff piece in National Review gets the big picture right (David Dewhurst’s loss to Ted Cruz has weakened him politically), but gets numerous details wrong.

“Only one person has ever lost an election to Ted Cruz, and he’s not doing so well right now. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst,”

No. The proper way to start that sentence is “Only one person has ever lost a runoff to Ted Cruz.” Paul Sadler lost an election to Ted Cruz, and a whole bunch of other candidates (Tom Leppert, Craig James, Glenn Addison, etc.) lost a primary to Cruz.

“But things went from bad to worse for him when the news broke, shortly after his defeat, that his former campaign manager, Kenneth Barfield, appeared to have stolen millions from the lieutenant governor’s campaign coffers over the previous five years.”

Last I checked, Barfield was accused of stealing a maximum of just over one million (singular), not millions (plural).

“Further, [Dan] Patrick used to be a vocal champion of Dewhurst’s. During the contest for the senatorial nomination, Patrick strongly defended the lieutenant governor on his radio show.”

This is not how I remember things. Patrick contemplated a run against Dewhurst himself, criticizing Dewhurst at length over his handling of the anti-TSA groping bill. He did finally come down on Dewhurst’s side against Cruz very late in the game, i.e., only a week before the runoff, but I don’t recall him being particularly vocal. (Granted, I don’t listen to Patrick’s radio show. Maybe he was far more vocal in support there in that last week.)

The piece is otherwise fairly reasonable, but I found it just wrong enough to merit correction…

Well, Who Hasn’t Misplaced $600,000?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Top David Dewhurst campaign aide Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield has been accused of embezzling at least $600,000 from the Dewhurst campaign, starting all the way back in 2008. (This news evidently first came to light December 28, but I was distracted by tidings of comfort and joy.)

I’ll just wait a moment while that sinks in. $600,000 is pretty freaking big chunk of change. It’s only a little bit less than Democratic Senate nominee Paul Sadler raised during his entire campaign. I can’t imagine how Barfield thought such a sum wouldn’t be noticed, even in such a cash-flush environment as Team Dewhurst. The news reports don’t entirely make clear whether the funds were embezzled from Dewhurst’s 2010 Lt. Governor re-election campaign, his losing 2012 Senate run, or both, since Barfield worked on both.

Some articles suggest that Barfield embezzled the funds to make up for losses on business deals.

There was also this:

There also were reports of friction between Barfield and others on Dewhurst’s campaign team over what strategy to use against rival Ted Cruz before the GOP Senate primary.

While some thought it best to ignore Cruz as much as possible, Barfield pushed for the campaign to sharpen its attacks on Cruz, efforts that many analysts now believe were too exaggerated and turned voters against Dewhurst.

So the guy stealing money from the campaign was also the guy who managed to lose the campaign.

How convenient.

I think the embezzlement is a symptom of the disorder within the Dewhurst campaign, not the cause. Having a flush campaign papers over many flaws, but if a guy steals $600,000 from you over four years, you have some serious oversight problems. I think that if someone stole $600,000 from me, I would notice, even if I were a quarter-billionaire.

Of course, as of this moment Barfield does not appear to have been indicted, much less convicted. But if true, the story should really give hope to Jerry Patterson and anyone else gunning for Dewhurst’s current job, as it suggests that Dewhurst’s attention to detail is somewhat less than total…

Step 1: Stop the Hispanicing

Monday, December 17th, 2012

I’ve held off on offering up immediate judgment on the election because I’m incredibly lazy to get past the panic and knee-jerk reactions. The world hasn’t ended, Republicans are not doomed to permanent minority status, and the cause of smaller government is not lost forever. Go over that list of bright spots again. Republicans did not do as badly as they did in 1932, 1964, 2006 or 2008. And we survived those elections, just as the Democrats survived 1994, 2004, and 2010. We’ll survive this one.

One persistent theme in a lot of recaps is how badly Republicans did among Hispanic voters, and that Republicans must immediately cave on the issue of illegal alien amnesty to have any chance of courting Hispanic votes. Though no one can dispute that Republicans need to do better among Hispanics, much of the panic over the 2012 Hispanic vote (and the resulting predictable knee-jerk push for amnesty among prominent RINOs) has been overblown, for a number of reasons:

  • First, we don’t actually know how well Republicans did among Hispanics because the AP and the networks decided not to do detailed exit polling in Texas and 18 other states, the vast majority of them red states. Thus we don’t know the true percentage of Hispanics who voted for Republicans, as states where Republicans would do better among Hispanics have been systematically excluded from the count.
  • The Hispanic vote did not cost Romney the election.
  • Romney did worse than Bush not only among Hispanics, but among several other demographic groups, most notably white voters.
  • There are several reasons to doubt liberals’ demographics are destiny theory.
  • Those who think that caving on illegal alien amnesty is the key to Republicans winning Hispanic votes are deluding themselves.
  • Indeed, it’s more likely to destroy Republican competitiveness for the foreseeable future.
  • So take a deep breath. Republicans are far better off trying to pitch the ideas of freedom and limited government to Hispanics, and running conservative Republican candidates who happen to be Hispanic like Ted Cruz, than transparent and incompetent pandering via illegal alien amnesty.

    Bright Spots

    Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

    Well, that could have gone better.

    As an effort at alleviating depression among the vast right wing conspiracy, here are a few glimmers of hope amidst the dismal news:

  • Republicans kept the House.
  • Ted Cruz won. And here’s his victory speech:

  • Democrats picked up senate seats, but they still don’t have a filibuster-proof majority.
  • Randy Weber won.
  • Republicans hold as many statewide offices in Texas as they did before, i.e. all of them.
  • Republicans won all four seats on the Third Court of Appeals.
  • Donna Campbell won.
  • Tony Dale won.
  • In the real-life 2012 version of Atlas Shrugged, Texas has taken the place of Colorado, i.e. the redoubt of a dynamic economy, freedom and limited government in a country grown ever-more statist. Thankfully, it’s not the only one, and red states are still outperforming blue states by a good measure. A narrow Obama victory can’t change that. We’ve got to keep on fighting the good fight.

    We lost the battle. The war goes on.