Posts Tagged ‘2018 Election’

Did Charlie Geren Operative File a False CPS Report Against Primary Opponent?

Thursday, January 4th, 2018

This lawsuit alleges that an operative of Joe Straus ally Rep. Charlie Geren carried out one of the nastiest dirty campaign tricks of recent memory against primary opponent Bo French:

Today Bo and Sheridan French filed suit against Charlie’s campaign staffer and well known democrat, David Sorensen, in a story that is very disturbing and challenges our sense of decency.

On Friday February 26, 2016, 4 Days before the primary, CPS, along with a FTW police officer, showed up at the French residence with a complaint that their son had suffered a broken rib and allegations of physical abuse from Bo against the children. This was followed by repeat visits to the home on Saturday and Sunday. Oddly, once the election was over on that Tuesday, they never showed back up.

The Frenches have filed a civil suit against Sorensen, claiming he filed the report with CPS, with the intent to gain an unfair advantage for the Charlie Geren campaign in the final days of the primary. The suit claims: Defamation/Libel; Business Disparagement; Intrusion of Seclusion; Invasion of Privacy; and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.

According to the filing, Sorensen put his scheme into effect by supplying a false report to CPS claiming Mr. French’s youngest son had suffered broken ribs and that the son was not provided adequate medical care. It was further falsely reported that the police had responded to domestic abuse calls at the French residence in the past. CPS’s internal investigation found that the Frenches’ son never had any broken ribs and that the police had never at any time been called to the French residence. After nearly a year the CPS proceeding was closed without any further investigation of the Frenches, but not until after Mr. French lost to Sorensen’s employer in the primary election.

Geren vehemently denies the charges:

The Forth Worth Star-Telegram has more on the story, including that Sorensen worked for the political consulting firm Murphy Nasica.

Geren has also criticized a Facebook page French put up mocking former Dalworthington Gardens Police Chief Bill Waybourn.

French and Geren are fighting a rematch in this year’s District 99 Republican Primary.

Quick Impressions: Texas Fifth Congressional District Race

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

This is the seat Jeb Hensarling announced he was retiring from a couple of months ago, meaning most of the candidates have had to scramble to get campaigns off the ground. The Fifth Congressional District runs from southeast Dallas all the way down to Nacogdoches, and is so safely Republican that Democrats didn’t even bother to field candidates in 2014 and 2016. This race features both a former and a current State Representative, neither of which is likely to be the favorite.

Republican U.S.

  • Danny Campbell has a military background (a plus), but no evident political experience or a proven ability to self-fund.
  • Sam Deen is another veteran, and as a serial entrepreneur, he might be able to self-fund, but it’s unclear he has U.S. Congressional race money at his disposal.
  • Lance Gooden currently represents the 5th state House district. Gooden and Stuart Spitzer have spent turns knocked each other off the Republican primary, with Gooden winning in 2012 and 2016, and Spitzer winning in 2014. His Empower Texans ratings have been all over the map (29% in 2011, 89% in 2013, 42% in 2017), and they’re not fans. Irritatingly, Gooden’s webpage currently features a donation form you can’t bypass to find out such trivia as his stand on issues…
  • Charles Lingerfelt doesn’t have a web page, only a Facebook page, where he’s been endorsed by former Dallas Cowboys Lineman John Niland. Well, that’s something…
  • Bunni Pounds is Hensarling’s former fundraiser, and he’s endorsed her, so she should be a serious contender.
  • Kenneth Sheets is the former state rep in the race. Another impressive military resume, having served as a marine in Fallujah in 2007. He used to represent the 107 state congressional district, where he racked up a reasonably conservative record until he lost to Victoria Neave by less than 900 votes in 2016. A law partner, Sheets should be able to self-fund, and he got endorsed by Empower Texans in 2012.
  • There’s a candidate named David Williams…with no webpage. Sorry, got nothing.
  • Jason Wright was Ted Cruz’s eastern regional director and Cruz endorsed him. A serious contender.
  • Democrat

    The only Democrat running is Dan Wood, a former DA for Kaufman County and a former city councilmen for Terrell (population around 15,000). Wood has raised $27,737 so far in the election cycle, getting a jump on Republicans who came in after Hensarling’s announcement. Except a competent but losing campaign.

    I expect this race to come down to come down to Pounds and Wright, with the two state reps on the outside looking in, though if I were to pick one of them to edge into the runoff, it would be Sheets.

    Quick Impressions: Texas Third Congressional District

    Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

    Republican incumbent Sam Johnson announced he was retiring way back in January, so the field for this open seat has had a lot more time to develop than the Second or the Twenty Seventh. The district, made up of suburbs and exurbs Northeast of the Metroplex (including a good chunk of Plano) is heavily Republican; Johnson garnered over 60% of the vote in 2016, and Democrats didn’t even bother to run anyone against him in 2012 or 2014.

    Republicans

  • State Senator Van Taylor is probably a heavy favorite. He’s raised more than $1 million for the race and racked up a number of conservative endorsements, including Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Right To Life.
  • Roger Barone seems to be running as the “More Trump Than Thou” true believer, and has over 14,000 Twitter followers. Hedge fund guy, so he could theoretically self-fund, but I see no evidence of that yet. A quick look through his website suggests a lack of polish.
  • The same website concern (and then some) applies to Cyrus Sajna. While it’s good to see more African Americans involved in the Republican Party, Sajna’s website is a weird mishmash of fringe tax proposals (“NFL Concussion Tax”) with, at most, a one line descriptions. And “Plano School Bond Reform” does suggest a lack of focus on national issues…
  • Democrats

  • Since incumbent Republican Sam Johnson is retiring, would you believe that a different Sam Johnson is running as a Democrat? (You do if you remember the days of the perennial Texas statewide Democratic candidate named Gene Kelly.) A strong runoff contender based on (mistaken) name recognition.
  • Adam Bell was the Democratic candidate the last time around. He lost to Original Recipe Sam Johnson by about 85,000 votes.
  • Medrick Yhap is going to have trouble getting past his name.
  • Lorie Burch is “currently, the only North Texas attorney certified as an LGBT Business Enterprise by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.” Thus far she’s raised the most money among Democrats in this race with $30,274. Right now she’s probably the favorite to make the runoff against New Coke Sam Johnson.
  • Bottom line: Strong Republican hold.

    Blake Farenthold Withdraws From Primary

    Thursday, December 14th, 2017

    Breaking news:

    U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, under fire over a sexual harassment lawsuit, will withdraw from the March 6 Republican primary.

    Mike Bergsma, chairman of the Nueces County Republican Party, told the Caller-Times he was told this morning by Farenthold’s campaign team he will not seek re-election next year.

    “It’s a damn shame,” he said. “He’s been an excellent congressman, and I’m sorry this has happened.

    “One wonders whether anyone could have survived scrutiny that intense.”

    A statement from Farenthold’s camp was expected later this morning.

    News of Farenthold’s decision comes as two prominent Texas Republicans, one a sitting member of Congress and the other a former congressman and presidential hopeful, are supporting challengers to Farenthold in the primary.

    Former Congressman Ron Paul, who retired after seeking the 2012 presidential nomination, said he is backing longtime Victoria Republican activist Michael Cloud.

    “I know him to be a man of his word, principled, trustworthy and hardworking,” Paul said in a statement distributed by the Cloud campaign. “I hope my former supporters will get behind him because our country desperately needs leaders with integrity, courage and moral character. Michael Cloud is that kind of leader.”

    U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, meanwhile, announced his support for Bech Bruun, the Corpus Christi native who last week resigned as chairman of the Texas Water Development Board to challenge Farenthold. Williams is the first member of the Texas GOP delegation in Washington to publicly break with the incumbent.

    “Bech is exactly the kind of person I would be proud to call a colleague in the United States Congress,” Williams, R-Weatherford, said in a news release distributed by Bruun. “Bech knows what it means to be a good steward of your hard-earned tax dollars.”

    Farenthold, who is seeking a fifth term representing the Coastal Bend, has been under intense fire since it was disclosed that he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide with $84,000 in taxpayers’ money. He has said the settlement was a strategic decision to put the matter to rest even though he insists the charges are untrue.

    It would have been better had Farenthold resigned ahead of the primary filing deadline, but since there were already six Republicans and three Democrats gunning for his seat, voters will not lack for choices…

    Quick Impressions: Texas U.S. Second Congressional District Race

    Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

    I was going to do one big roundup of competitive Texas U.S. Congressional races, but the more I started digging in, the more I thought each race deserved its own entry. So let’s start with the Second Congressional District.

    Republican

    This is the retiring Ted Poe’s seat in northern Harris County. It looks like an interesting race, because there appear to be several potentially credible candidates:

  • Houston businessman David Balat looks like he has the money to compete (he’s already raised $155,965) and has been lining up endorsements.
  • Ex-Navy SEAL Daniel Crenshaw is drawing some attention in his first race with a compelling personal story. Losing his right eye to an IED in Afghanistan, Crenshaw also has that Moshe Dyan visage thing going for him:

  • Another U.S. veteran is Jonny Havens, who’s also a lawyer, formerly with Baker Botts, one of the largest and most prestigious law firms in Texas. He might have enough money and pull to run a competitive race,
  • State representative Kevin Roberts has experience and name recognition. (Empower Texans is not impressed with his legislative record.)
  • Kingwood businessman Rick Walker. I actually received an email from his social media team touting his candidacy, so he has more campaign infrastructure than many candidates at this point.
  • Kathaleen Wall doesn’t seem to have a website up yet, but she’s well-heeled and well-connected, always a good combination, and was active into trying to take down Joe Straus lieutenant Charlies Geren. Plus I suspect 2018 will be a pretty good year for women running for office.
  • Just missing the cut: Justin Lurie. Venture capital background, so he could potentially raise the money necessary, but he’s a bit young and has more issues than endorsements or events at this stage.

    Not a leading candidates: the guy who thinks he’s already running for President

    Democrats

    The clear Democratic favorite here is Todd Litton, because as a lawyer whose worked in investments he can scrape up the money for a competitive race, to which end he’s already raised over $200,000.

    The candidate that ran against Poe in 2016 was Pat Bryan. He raised a whopping $4,465 in 2016. (Way to support your candidate, Democrats!)

    It’s a heavily Republican district and none of the Democrats running look capable of flipping it. Keep in mind that the early fundraising totals may be misleading, since Poe only announced his retirement November 7. We won’t get a real bead on race finances until Q4 results are released in January 2018.

    Deadline Filing Passes: Quick Impressions on Texas Statewide Races

    Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

    Monday was the deadline to file for the 2018 Texas primaries. You have to give credit to whoever in the Texas Democratic Party was in charge of candidate recruitment: unlike many previous years, “Democrats put up candidates for every statewide elected post, except one open seat on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, an initial tally of filings showed Monday night.”

    Here are my quick impressions of some of the more competitive statewide primary races to be fought between now and March 6.

    Democratic Governor’s Race

    See this post. The press is going to cover this as an Andrew White vs. Lupe Valdez race. I think there’s a 50% chance Grady Yarborough makes the runoff.

    Republican Agricultural Commissioner’s Race

    This race has already turned nasty, with incumbent Sid Miller and challenger Trey Blocker launching nasty Facebook attack ads at each other. One of Blocker’s consultants is Matt Mackowiak, who was just elected to a 2018-2020 term as Travis County GOP chairman unopposed, and whose Twitter feed I follow.

    Republican Land Commissioner’s Race

    Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has filed to run against incumbent George P. Bush. Patterson is going to have a real uphill fight to unseat Bush, since Patterson lost badly in his last race for Lt. Governor, coming in fourth in a four man race, and the Bush family machine has a legendary fundraising network, having raised more than $3 million in a down-ballot race in 2014. But various Alamo controversies and the fact that Bush has never run in even a slightly competitive race might give Patterson a chance to make the race close. Even so, Bush is still the heavy favorite.

    Tomorrow (hopefully): A look at competitive U.S. congressional district races.

    Have Democrats Found Their 2018 Paul Sadler?

    Saturday, December 9th, 2017

    After having gay leather bar owner Jeffrey Payne and perennial candidate Grady Yarborough as their ostensible gubernatorial frontrunners, Democrats finally seem to have lured someone who’s won at the county level to the race in the form of Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. Valdez was elected to her current post four times, so she has as much electoral experience as Wendy Davis had in 2014. However, she lacks Davis’ celebrity status outside the state, so she’s unlikely to draw anywhere near Davis’ fundraising dollars, surefire donations from Emily’s and Annie’s Lists notwithstanding. Valdez is also a lesbian, so she might split the gay vote (small as it is) with Payne.

    Also, Mark White’s son Andrew has thrown his hat into the ring as well. His myriad political experience includes…being Mark White’s son. That’s it. He’s also making all sorts of bipartisan noises, but when you read his positions, they’re thinly disguised Democratic Party boilerplate, such as supporting the DREAM Act and boosting “sanctuary cities.” He also trots out the “personally pro-life” and “safe, legal and rare” canards, which always amount to “bring on the partial birth abortions!”

    The Texas Tribune has a modestly irksome roundup of the race up. I couldn’t help noticing that one candidate the Texas Tribune omitted a picture for was the only candidate who had previously made it to a statewide ballot in November: Grady Yarborough, who in his 2016 Railroad Commissioner run did not do any worse (38.3% of the vote) than most statewide Democrats did in 2014. And he, like fellow gubernatorial candidate Cedrick Davis Sr., former Mayor of Balch Springs (in Dallas County south of Mesquite), who’s photo is also omitted, is black, while they included the picture of another longshot, distinctly pale former congressional candidate Tom Wakely. Another longshot mentioned in the piece, Dallas investment adviser Adrian Ocegueda (who I’m fairly sure is the only candidate whose webpage talks about contracts in virtual reality), also had his picture omitted.

    Other 2018 Texas Democratic Gubernatorial candidates not even mentioned:

  • Garry Brown, an assistant for Williamson County commissioner Terry Cook (and formerly for Rep. Lloyd Doggett)
  • Joe Mumbach
  • Lee Weaver
  • The press seems to want to this to come down to a White/Valdez race. My guess is they’re half right. I’m betting White does get into the runoff due to the electorate’s lamentable but demonstrated tendency to support political dynasties. However, right now I’d guess that, despite hostile press gatekeepers to the contrary, Grady Yarborough is more likely to make the runoff than Valdez…

    Texas Republicans Behaving Badly

    Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

    Republican congressmen have not been immune to the sexual harassment revelations sweeping the nation. There’s one that has been swept up, and there’s one that really hasn’t, but who’s been swept up into the “sexual misconduct” category anyway, and who’s retiring, so I’m going to talk about both here.

    First, the not-a-sexual-harasser-but-retiring-anyway is Rep. Joe Barton. Barton decided to retire after nude photos of him surfaced on the Internet. It turns out that those photos were taken during consensual sex after Barton had separated from his wife. A definite lapse in judgement, but by the current standards pretty small potatoes, and arguably Barton is the victim of revenge porn rather than the victimizer. But now comes reports that Barton’s ex-wife has accused him of being a serial adulterer, so, yeah, retirement is probably in order.

    More serious are the problems of Rep. Blake Farenthold, who was fingered as the accused in a sexual harassment suit that lead to an $84,000 payout from the secret congressional slush fund we’ve been hearing so much about.

    Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

    Greene said another Farenthold aide told her the lawmaker said he had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about Greene. She also claimed that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess” and told her in February 2014 that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

    When she complained about comments Farenthold and a male staffer made to her, Greene said the congressman improperly fired her. She filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but the case was later dropped after both parties reached a private settlement.

    Wasting $84,000 of taxpayer money because you couldn’t keep from sharing your perv fantasies with a staffer is a pretty bad look for a Republican who brags about their budget cutting. Vowing to repay the money isn’t enough. Farenthold should follow Barton’s lead and announce he’s retiring at the end of his term.

    (I should note that I should know Farenthold, since we were both active in the Austin BBS community at the same time. (Kids, go ask your parents what a “BBS” was.) But I don’t remember him, and we may have just managed not to bump into each other.)

    Dear Jason Villalba: Enjoy This Festive Holiday Primary Challenge

    Monday, November 27th, 2017

    With the retirements of Joe Straus and Byron Cook, Jason Villalba might be the least popular Republican in the Texas House. Which explains why Santa (in this case Texas conservatives) delivered a primary challenge as an early Christmas present.

    With a disastrous record in the Texas House and recent calls for gun control, Texans won’t be surprised to learn that State Rep. Jason Villalba (R—Dallas) could face a tough reelection.

    On Monday, Dallas business owner Lisa Luby Ryan, who operates an interior design firm and the antique home furnishings store Vintage Living in Dallas, validated earlier rumors she was considering a run and announced her campaign against Villalba in the Republican primary.

    “I’m simply overwhelmed at the initial support we have already earned and grateful for the caliber of individuals joining this campaign,” said Ryan in a news release. “Today’s announcement sends a loud and clear message that this district believes that we can do better than our current representation. I am running to provide voters a clear choice, and with this great support I intend to win.”

    In her campaign announcement, Ryan also released an impressive list of supporters who are already endorsing her campaign. The list includes a bevy of conservative mainstays and a substantial number of prominent community business owners including Brint Ryan (no relation), a prominent tax consultant and chairman of the University of North Texas Board of Regents, who will serve as Lisa Luby Ryan’s campaign treasurer.

    While Ryan’s background certainly plays into the amount of support she’s receiving in the district, and it’s also true that Villalba’s record has declined even further this session compared to his last, it’s likely that the donor community is supporting his opponent because Villalba has exhausted his usefulness.

    While Villalba was, admittedly, a clownish and useless member of House Speaker Joe Straus’ team, he was a part of the team. But now, that team won’t be taking the field.

    Given Straus’ announcement that he will not seek re-election and conservative efforts to amend the Republican caucus bylaws to ensure a more conservative Speaker is elected, Villalba is likely to be left on the outside looking in regardless of who is elected to be the next Speaker of the Texas House.

    And it’s not just Dallas donors who have made that observation.

    Indeed, at a recent lobby meeting hosted by Straus’ chief strategist, Gordon Johnson, Villalba didn’t even make the list of lawmakers that the group would try to “protect” in the upcoming Republican primary elections.

    Given that Straus’ allies in the lobby were forced to spend more than $500,000 to protect Villalba in the 2016 primary, Villalba will be in serious trouble if the Austin political establishment hangs him out to dry.

    Or if his constituents take a look at his record.

    You may remember Villalba from such hits as I’m A Thin-Skinned Twitter Blockhead, Let’s Make It illegal For Gun Owners and Bloggers To Photograph the Police and I Have A Whole Lot of Stupid Ideas.

    Let’s hope Lisa Luby Ryan succeeds in retiring him in 2018.

    Democratic Rep. John Conyers: Two Sexual Harassment Charges…And Counting

    Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

    The first sexual harassment charge about Michigan Democrat John Conyers came out November 20:

    Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

    Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

    Conyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he “vehemently denied” the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.

    This is the rare Buzzfeed piece that’s actually worth reading, and includes a detailed explanation of the torturous process those accusing congressmen of sexual harassment have to undergo to have their allegations addressed. After going through a lengthy bureaucratic wringer, they have the choice of taking the taxpayer-funded settlement and shutting up due to a confidentiality agreement, or taking their chances in a federal court.

    One of Conyers’ former employees was offered a settlement, in exchange for her silence, that would be paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget. His office would “rehire” the woman as a “temporary employee” despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work, according to the document. The complainant would receive a total payment of $27,111.75 over the three months, after which point she would be removed from the payroll, according to the document.

    And when Conyers wasn’t pressuring his staffers to satisfy his sexual desires, he was instructing them to procure women for him on the taxpayer’s dime:

    n her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.

    She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

    In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

    “Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.

    Three other staff members provided affidavits submitted to the Office Of Compliance that outlined a pattern of behavior from Conyers that included touching the woman in a sexual manner and growing angry when she brought her husband around.

    One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

    So not just sexual harassment, but fraudulent use of taxpayer money.

    Now a second accuser has come forward:

    Another former staff member to Michigan Rep. John Conyers alleged that she endured persistent sexual harassment by the congressman, according to court documents.

    A former scheduler in the Conyers’ office attempted to file a sealed lawsuit against him this February in the US District Court for the District of Columbia that alleges she suffered unwanted touching by the Democrat “repeatedly and daily.” She abandoned the lawsuit the next month, after the court denied her motion to seal the complaint.

    The woman was not involved in the 2015 sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal complaint that Conyers settled in 2015, which was revealed Monday by BuzzFeed News, and is now under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

    The lawsuit centered on behavior that took place later, from 2015 to 2016, but involves similar allegations. The woman said that shortly after she started to work for Conyers he began to make sexual advances in the form of inappropriate comments and touching.

    “These behaviors and actions were so common and pervasive that they created a hostile work environment,” she alleged.

    If true, either the sexual harassment or the fraud charges alone are enough that Conyers should be removed from office. And Democrats are already looking for a way to pressure Conyers out before the 2018 elections.