Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seasons Greetings With A Christmas Carol

As a holiday offering to all our readers, again, here are the 1938 and 1939 Campbell Playhouse radio broadcast productions of "A Christmas Carol" featuring Orson Welles and Lionel Barrymore. [Mercury Theatre Info]

1938 version featuring Orson Welles as Scrooge. Play starts at 5:30 minutes [MP3]

1939 version featuring Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge (My favorite) Play starts at 3:00 minutes [MP3]

Scrooge Gets A Tax Cut
Political Cartoon by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rick Perry's Cover-Up and Corruption

From the BOR:

Additional Sources

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dallas Morning News Endorses White for Governor

Dallas Morning News Editorial: We Recommend White for Governor: Rick Perry's campaign suggests that his cowboy swagger and his disdain for Washington, D.C. should be enough to convince voters that he's the leader Texas needs.
The state's longest-serving governor is so certain his tenure should be extended that Perry has glided through this re-election bid with an impervious air, shrugging off tough questions and offering few specifics. Trust me, Perry tells voters, I know what I'm doing.

But in fact, Perry, 60, has done relatively little during a decade at the helm of state government. He can lay claim to few signature achievements. He lacks allies in the Legislature, and whether the issue is school finance, transportation or juvenile justice, he has not managed to see needed reforms through to conclusion.
The Republican governor is counting on the state's relatively strong economy to secure his third full term in office. But Texas' business-friendly environment predates Perry and will extend beyond his time in office. And now, with a deficit of up to $21 billion looming, more than budget bravado and a "taxes bad" mantra will be required to keep Texas on solid financial footing.

The state needs a solutions-oriented leader who is focused on bolstering Texas – not on doing battle with Washington.
Record of pragmatism

Democrat Bill White is better-suited to steer this ship of state through the challenges ahead.

The former mayor of Houston is a fiscal conservative with a progressive bent. He's more pragmatic than partisan. He's proven himself competent in business and in public office. Indeed, he's a bit of a throwback – in the best Texas tradition of the businessman governor.

We don't make this recommendation lightly. This newspaper has a long history of recommending Rick Perry for office against Democrats ­ from agriculture commissioner to the governor's office. But Texas requires a different kind of leadership at this important juncture.

Bill White is an entrepreneur and an energy expert who succeeded in the private sector before branching out into public service. White, 56, has no use for Perry's swashbuckling, coyote-shooting style. The Democratic candidate is meticulous and analytical, hesitant to overpromise but determined to solve Texas' most pressing problems.

As Houston's mayor, White proved himself to be adept at balancing budgets, managing to cut property tax rates repeatedly. He drew national acclaim for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And White laid waste to the idea that environmentally friendly policies inevitably were bad for business – a myth that Perry perpetuates as he fights to maintain Texas' right to pollute with impunity. In Houston, White struck a careful balance, proving that a city could go green and still be open for business.

As governor, White would be well-positioned to deliver in areas where Perry has fallen short.

For example, Texas' transportation infrastructure needs are daunting and urgent. Yet Perry seems to be stumped when it comes to offering workable funding options for building roads. The governor's go-to move is to blame Washington – and he does, for not sending more money. That's a fine lament, but it won't pay for any new lane miles.

White recognizes the need for new revenue sources and supports allowing counties to call elections to raise funds for transportation projects. This local-option approach has the support of North Texas transportation leaders but would stand a better chance in the Legislature with the backing of the governor.
The blurring of lines

During Perry's decades in elected office and two-plus terms as governor, ethical lines have slowly blurred as more and more high-dollar campaign donors have received appointments or state funds. Perry surrounds himself with a sea of people echoing his views. And he wields his power forcefully, making clear that those who dare to disagree with him can be replaced. When a Texas Tech regent endorsed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP gubernatorial primary, he said he was pressured to resign by a Perry emissary delivering a definitive message: The governor expects loyalty.

Even more troubling is the governor's apparent loyalty to campaign donors. Perry has played a pivotal role in awarding millions of taxpayer dollars from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to companies with investors or officers who also happen to be the governor's campaign donors – an uncomfortable and unacceptable arrangement that cries out for an overhaul.

Fortunately, White has outlined a number of ethics reforms that would change the way the governor's office operates. His common-sense proposals include limiting contributions from appointees, extending the waiting period before governor's staff members can work as lobbyists and requiring gubernatorial staffers to file personal financial statements.

While White is better-equipped to navigate the state's budget woes and handle a number of other difficult tasks, his ideas about education have disappointed thus far. He has complained about the emphasis on high-stakes testing but failed to offer a specific alternative that would hold schools accountable. White's views may yet evolve in the realm of education, and this one point of disagreement does not outweigh the Democrat's many other good ideas.

Perry's strident, tea party tone and strong-arm style won't serve Texas well for another four years. While White's focus has been on finding solutions in Austin, Perry has done little more than rail against Washington's problems. The governor's gaze seems to have drifted from the tasks at hand, as he openly discusses his aspirations of elevating his national profile.

White is right when he says that leadership has little to do with delivering a speech and much more to do with having a sense of mission. White is a man with a mission, a leader who will bring a purposeful determination to the governor's office.

Libertarian Kathie Glass, 57, a lawyer, and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto, 71, a retired teacher and business owner, also are on the ballot. But White's broad base of expertise and modern managerial style make him the best choice for governor and earn him our recommendation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Texas Deficit Balloons

From jobsanger.blogspot
by Ted McLaughlin

We have known for several months now that there will be a deficit in the next biennium for the state of Texas. I say biennium because the Texas legislature only meets once every two years, so they do budgets for two years instead of one. For quite a while now, Texas government has operated with a surplus -- so much so that they have been able to put a little over $8 billion into a "rainy day" fund. But those good economic times are over and its starting to rain -- really hard.

A few months ago it was believed that Texas would have an $8-$10 billion dollar deficit in the next biennium. It didn't take long for that estimate to rise to between $12 and $15 billion dollars. Now the politicians are telling us that the deficit will probably be up above $21.5 billion dollars.

The state's Republican leadership has ordered state agencies to cut their budgets by 5%-10% several times, and those agencies are currently under a new order to cut their budgets one more time. One politician has even said the legislature will have to take a "meat cleaver" approach to the budget next year. Both parties are trying to fool the voters into thinking this huge deficit problem can be solved by simply cutting state services. Unfortunately, that is a lie.

Most state agencies are already operating on a bare bones budget. If much more is cut from their budgets they will not be able to deliver the services to the people that they are mandated to give. And what good is an agency that is incapable of delivering services? The answer to that is no good at all.

In addition, there are some agencies for which if more is cut serious problems will arise. Two of these that instantly come to mind are the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). There is a point beyond which these agencies cannot cut more and still deliver a level of service that protects both the public and state inmates. It would be unacceptable to all of us if the agencies can no longer protect the public, and if the inmates can't be protected from abuse then we are looking at court cases that could cost the state far more than proper budgets for the agencies would cost.

Do we want the state to stop funding the repair and renovation of our roads and bridges? Do we want the state to stop covering children with health insurance, or providing services for mental health and mental retardation? Do we want the state to adequately fund our schools? Do we want enough highway patrolmen and Texas Rangers on the job to protect the public from criminals not in TYC or TDCJ? Do we want the oil & gas industry, the chemical industry, and energy providers to be policed to make sure they are not poisoning our air and water?

As you can see, most (if not all) state agencies provide vital services that the state simply cannot do without. And only a moron could believe a deficit of over $21.5 billion could be eliminated by cutting the money these agencies get. Since the state constitution mandates that the state must balance its budget in each biennium, something else must be done.

Like it or not, taxes are going to have to be raised somehow. And it doesn't matter whether the Republicans or the Democrats win in November, there will be more tax revenue raised. There is simply no other option.

Even though you won't hear it from the politicians new tax revenues and income sources are already being considered. Texas already has one of the highest sales taxes in the nation (Texas loves regressive taxes that hit the poor harder than the rich), but there are many things that have been exempted from that sales tax. That is probably going to end for many of those things.

State leaders will probably not raise the sales tax rate, but they will almost certainly increase the number of things that will be covered by the tax. They'll do it that way so they can say they didn't raise the tax (even though paying a tax on new things is definitely a rise in taxation).

There is also talk of allowing casino gambling which could be heavily taxed, and a new state property tax which would be dedicated to education. About the only new tax that won't be considered is a state income tax (because that would affect the rich, and we can't have that).

So don't be fooled. There are going to be more taxes. It's just a question of what kind and how much.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back To Basics Ad: "Rick Perry Thinks You're a Sucker"

Houston Chronicle: The Back to Basics political committee is hitting Gov. Rick Perry again in a new television commercial. Spokesman Cliff Walker would not say where the ad is running, but said it is a "six-figure" television buy.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner responds: With his failing campaign quickly running out of money, liberal trial lawyer Bill White has pulled his advertising from 22 television stations in seven different Texas markets: Abilene, Amarillo, Beaumont, Harlingen, Midland-Odessa, Shreveport, and Waco.

Bill White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said Perry's campaign is wrong about the television buys. Bacon said White is on the air in all the markets mentioned in Miner's release. "They're making things up again," Bacon said.

Titled "Rick Perry Thinks You're a Sucker," the ad juxtaposes Perry encouraging viewers to send a letter to Washington saying what they think about "all this stimulus, all this runaway spending" with a letter Perry sent President Barack Obama in February 2009 saying Texas would welcome Federal stimulus funds. Perry's Feb. 18, 2009 letter, posted on the governor's state website, certified that Texas would accept federal funds.

The Houston Chronicle Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News has previously published news articles stating Perry accepted more than $12 billion in stimulus money to balance the state budget.

Perry has not welcomed all federal funds. Last year, Perry opposed about $550 million to fund the state's unemployment trust benefits. The governor said businesses would have had to pay higher unemployment taxes after the federal dollars ran out. An effort by some legislators to overrule Perry died in the state House. And this year, Perry did not to apply for federal education funding in the competitive federal grant program known as Race to the Top.

Gov. Perry Approved $4.5 Million For Donor's Start-Up Firm Without Oversight Board's OK

From the Dallas Morning News, "Gov. Rick Perry approved $4.5 million for donor's start-up firm without regional board's OK":
Gov. Rick Perry approved a $4.5 million award from the state's technology fund to a company founded by a major campaign donor despite the company's failure to win the endorsement of a regional screening board, The Dallas Morning News has learned.

The money was awarded in August to Convergen Lifesciences Inc., founded by Perry contributor David G. Nance. Convergen was allowed to bypass a key part of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund's extensive process for vetting applications, and to proceed for approval to a statewide advisory board appointed by Perry.

A spokeswoman for Perry said Tuesday that the money was properly awarded to Convergen because the law establishing the tech fund allows applicants to appeal decisions by regional reviewers.

However, the law makes no mention of such appeals.

The chairman of the regional board in Houston, one of the state's largest, told The News he had never heard of an appeals process. Walter Ulrich, also a former member of the tech fund's statewide advisory committee, said approval by regional boards is mandatory.

"It cannot go to the state without our board's approval," he said. "I've never seen that happen."

Walt Trybula, a nanotechnology expert at Texas State University who reviews tech fund applications for the Austin regional board, said the ability to appeal would undermine the process.

"If you've got a way to go around a review committee," he said, "why do you have a review committee?"

And the chairman of the state House committee that oversees the tech fund said the "extraordinary" process that awarded the money to Nance's firm shows that reforms are needed. "This is the most troubling case that I've seen come through" on the fund, said Rep.
Bill White has released this statement:
"Rick Perry uses the governor's office to benefit his friends, his contributors and himself. The only way to end Perry's abuses is to elect a new governor. In the meantime the appropriate authorities need to investigate the corruption in the governor's office right away," said Bill White.

"I demanded last week that Perry disclose all personal and state financial ties with Mr. Nance and Perry refused. Now we see why. This is a bombshell," said White
White's campaign released the following video supplement to the press release:

Monday, October 11, 2010

What Do Americans Really Want ?

Sometimes it is hard to figure out just what the American people really want?
Not very important...............4%
Not very important...............5%
Not very important...............9%
Not very important...............17%
Not very important...............36%
Not very important...............9%
Not very important...............9%
Not very important...............10%
From jobsanger.blogspot

Unfortunately, a new Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll contains some puzzling information and may well create as many questions as it answers. The poll surveyed 2,054 adults between September 22nd and October 3rd, and has a margin of error of 2.5%.

I don't think there's any doubt that if asked whether they support a smaller federal government, a clear majority of Americans would probably say yes. And a couple of the polls answers would tend to support that.
About 55% of respondents think the federal government is focused on the wrong things and another 52% believe the governments impact on their daily lives is mainly a negative one, while only 7% believe they get more value from the government than they pay in taxes (and 55% say they get less value).
Those beliefs would make someone think the majority of Americans would be in favor of drastic cuts to the federal government.
However, when they are asked about individual government programs, the poll responses shows that Americans think those programs are important and don't want to see cuts in them. Consider the response results in the table right:
Those are all the programs that cost the government the most money. It would be impossible to think of cutting the size of the federal government without also drastically cutting most or all of these programs, and yet a clear majority in each case doesn't think these programs should be cut.

It's no wonder that the Republicans, while preaching cutting government, can't name a single thing they would cut. It's one thing to talk about cutting government in general, but quite another when it comes to cutting specific (and popular) programs. Americans may say they want a smaller government, but they only want it in theory -- not reality.

In fact, reality may not enter into people's view of the federal government very much. About 50% of the people said they believed that the federal government budget could be balanced just by eliminating wasteful spending.

But where is that wasteful spending? And could there possibly be trillions of dollars in wasteful spending? Frankly, it is amazing that half of the population could believe that.

While there is undoubtedly some wasteful spending, it is extremely unrealistic to believe it could even come near the federal deficit. [With defense spending nearly 60% of the total discretionary budget that is the best category of spending to trim back, but even that seems to be off the table.]

Another question also pointed out this schizophrenic nature of Americans. About 77% of the people believe that the United States has the best system of government in the world.

But then when asked if the government is run for the big special interests or the benefit of all citizens, a full 65% said it was run for the big special interests. How can those two statements be reconciled? Are all other governments in the world even worse than a government run for big special interests?

I'm amazed. Evidently we need a smaller government, but this must be accomplished without cutting programs. Where is reality?

The Republicans like to talk a lot about how horrible our national debt is, but when they are in power they are the worst contributors to increasing that debt. Isn't it time to stop listening to what they say and pay attention to what they do?

And, by the way, under the leadership of Republican Gov. Rick Perry and a Republican controlled legislature the Texas budget deficit is now $21 billion in the hole!

Kuff Interviews Weems, Uribe, Gilbert and Radnofsky

Interview with Jeff Weems by Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff

Jeff Weems is the Democratic candidate for Railroad Commissioner. Weems is a Houston-based attorney whose practice is entirely focused on the energy industry. It’s hard to overstate how much better qualified Weems is for this job than his no-name, no-experience opponent, who isn’t just ducking debates, he’s skipping TV appearances (though he did participate in this Trib face-off video) and avoiding editorial boards as well. Basically, he’s hoping that the R next to his name carries him across the finish line. If you want to know what a Railroad Commissioner does, why we should be calling the Railroad Commission something else, and why Jeff Weems should be doing the job, give a listen to the interview:

Download the MP3 file

Interview with Hector Uribe by Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff

Hector Uribe is the Democratic candidate for Land Commissioner. Uribe is a former State Rep and State Senator from the Rio Grande Valley and a movie actor as well as [Kuff's] favorite candidate from this cycle. He’s running against two-term incumbent Jerry Patterson, who to his great credit has willingly engaged in open debate with Uribe, thus setting him apart from pretty much all of his Republican statewide colleagues. Though the tone of this campaign has been remarkably civil, there are many issues on which Uribe believes Patterson has done the wrong thing. You can hear all about it in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

Interview with Hank Gilbert by Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff

Hank Gilbert who is running for Agriculture Commissioner. Gilbert ran in 2006 and was the top non-judicial vote-getter for the Democrats that year. Gilbert is a rancher from the Tyler area who has remained actively involved in state politics since his 2006 campaign. Other than the Governor’s race, this one has gotten more attention than any other. Gilbert has relentlessly attacked incumbent Commissioner Todd Staples on a wide variety of issues. You can hear more of that in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

Interview with Barbara Radnofsky by Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff

Towards the top of the ballot is Barbara Radnofsky, who is the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. Radnofsky, the 2006 Democratic nominee for Senate, is an attorney and mediator who has remained very active in state politics since her previous run. Radnofsky has been strongly critical of two-term incumbent AG Greg Abbott for his headline-seeking (and frequently hypocritical) legal filings, as well as for the one he has chosen not to do, about which [Kuff] interviewed her before. All that and more in this interview:

Download the MP3 file

The Trib did an interview with Radnofsky a few weeks ago – audio and a transcript can be found here.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Texas Polls Showing Rick Perry Leads Bill White Might Be Wrong

Earlier this week a Belo poll suggested Republican Gov. Rick Perry leads Democratic challenger Bill White by a 50 percent to 36 percent margin. John Reynolds reports in a Quorum Report article (subscribers only) that Lone Star Project's Matt Angle believes a Belo poll screening question disproportionately disqualified likely Bill White voters and thus discredits the survey. Specifically, Angle said that the survey screened respondents by asking if they voted in most or all school, local and primary elections. Angle said that is a very different screening question from the more common "Are you likely to vote in the next General Election?"

Angle said the Belo screening question eliminated voters who might not vote in every election, but would come out for a higher profile gubernatorial election. In addition, he said the screen question concentrates Republican respondents who tend to be the higher income homeowners who regularly turn out for local school elections. He said that the poll fell outside the range seen in other polls because it is unintentionally skewed to favor Perry.

Angle is correct in his assessment that Belo's screening question heavily skews the poll's coverage to favor Perry, but that is not the whole story. A second factor further skews toward the Republican side of the question in this and most other national and Texas polls.

Most pollsters, from national pollster Rasmussen to small Texas pollsters, call only people with published number landline telephones. Political polls that do not include respondents who subscribe exclusively to wireless cell phone service produce results that skew six or more points toward the conservative or Republican side of the question. The adoption of wireless-only phone service by major segments of the U.S. population has occurred so rapidly that political experts and pollsters are scrambling to adjust to the ramifications of this telecommunications earthquake.

Over the last 10 years pollsters have increasing relied on statistical weighting of landline telephone samples to correct for the omission of wireless-only households that new research reveals have a decidedly progressive tilt. According to Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog statistical weighting no longer sufficiently compensates for the omission of the 30% of U.S. households that have dropped traditional landline telephone service. (It is estimated that 30% of all U.S. households have become wireless-only during the last half of 2010.)

The rapid increase of wireless-only Americans now has a quantifiable impact on political polling results. Specifically, excluding wireless-only adults from political surveys has a statistically significant, negative impact on Democratic performance in political polling. This was confirmed in a recent study by Pew, which compared the national generic ballot preference of a landline-only sample of 4,683 registered voters with a combined landline and cell-phone sample of 7,055 registered voters:
In the landline sample, Republican candidates have a 47%-to-41% margin over Democratic candidates on the 2010 generic horse race, but in the combined sample voters are evenly divided in their candidate preferences for this November (44% for each party). A majority of cell-only voters (52%) say they will support the Democratic candidate in their district.
There is still a margin of error in a poll with such a large sample size, but it is just barely over plus or minus 1%. As such, with an overall six-point gap, the survey shows a statistically significant difference between polls that include cell-phone only adults and polls that do not.

Telephone surveys since the 1960's, when they first grew to prominence, have traditionally relied on samples from published landline telephone numbers. The explosion of unpublished number wireless-only phone service over the last 10 years, and more recently Internet-based VOIP phone service, places a rapidly growing number of "unpublished phone number" Americans out of reach of those surveys. Nationally, more than one-in-four U.S. households now have no "published number" landline telephone, considerably more than in the early 1960s when telephone surveys were considered unreliable because so many households were unreachable by telephone.

While some pollsters are starting to include wireless-only respondents in their surveys most do not because of the higher cost to reach those wireless respondents. Many pollsters, particularly smaller local pollsters don't include wireless-only respondents because the cost of calling wireless numbers is more than double the cost of calling published number landline phone respondents.

It is difficult and more expensive for pollsters to interview wireless-only Americans because of the provision in the 1995 Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act (TCPA) that places restrictions on unsolicited calls to mobile phones. The TCPA forbids calling a cell phone using any automated telephone dialing system (autodialer) without prior express consent. This rule applies to all uses of autodialers and predictive dialers, including for survey and opinion research. So, when live-interviewer pollsters want to interview respondents on their cell phone, they must first surmount the problem of compiling a list of unpublished cell phone numbers. Then the live-interviewers must place the calls by manually dialing each number.

The most recent survey from the CDC covering the period of July-December 2009 shows that 24.5% of US households, and 22.9% of US adults, were wireless-only by the second half of 2009. This is a sharp increase over the past two years.

Adults living in U.S. households with wireless-only phone service.
Source CDC/NCHA, National Health Interview Survey.

In the second half of 2009 nearly half of adults aged 25–29 years (48.6%) lived in households with only wireless telephones. More than one-third of adults aged 18–24 or 30–34 (37.8% and 37.2%, respectively) lived in households with only wireless telephones. As age increased from 35 years, the percentage of adults living in households with only wireless telephones decreased: 23.9% for adults aged 35–44; 14.9% for adults aged 45–64; and 5.2% for adults aged 65 and over. Adults of all ages living in or near the poverty level, Hispanic adults and non-Hispanic black adults are also more likely to live in households with wireless-only phone service. The most progressive segments of the population are rapidly going wireless only.

When the CDC releases its second half of 2010 wireless-only report it is expected that more than 30% of all U.S. households will have unpublished number wireless-only phone service. Last May Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, wrote an interesting piece examining the effect wireless-only households now have on political polls. Silver predicts that if the current adoption trends hold, the percentage of wireless-only households could be in the mid to high 30s by election day November 2012. Furthermore, the CDC wireless-only figure does not fully reflect so-called "cellphone-mostly" households. Cellphone-mostly households are households that do have a landline, but that line is used for FAX or home security systems and it rarely or never used to receive incoming calls; another 15% of the population falls into this category.

The recent explosion of unpublished number Internet-base VOIP landline service subscriptions further increases the percentage of unpublished phone number households in certain metropolitan areas with high broadband Internet coverage. Collin Co. has very high residential broadband Internet coverage.

Previous research has shown that Rasmussen's use of a likely voter screen is not the reason why their polls now differ strongly from the trendline of all other polls. Since Rasmussen excludes wireless-only adults from their surveys (possibly due to restrictions on automated phone calls to cell phones), it is likely that the wireless-only effect is one of the main reasons that Rasmussen's likely voter polls are about six points more favorable to Republicans than other likely voter polls. Also, Rasmussen polls of all adults are six points more favorable to Republicans than other polls of all adults. This six-point pro-Republican tilt in national polling results is exactly the gap found by Pew in their landline-only sample.

State-level estimates for 2007 show that wireless-only adults are particularly prevalent in Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas. While 13.6% of the nation as a whole was wireless-only in 2007, Arkansas was already 21.2% wireless, Kentucky was 21.6% wireless and Texas was 20.9% wireless (PDF, page 5). Wireless-only households in these states likely continue above the national trend line, which means the percentage of wireless-only households in these states may already be in the low to mid 30's. The lack of wireless-only adult survey coverage by Rasmussen may explain why Rasmussen polls in Kentucky and Arkansas have skewed toward the most conservative candidates in primary and and general election surveys.

While Texas is one of the states leading in wireless-only adoption the metro areas surrounding Dallas and Austin lead most other Texas counties in unpublished number wireless-only phone coverage. Given the trends nationwide, it is likely that roughly one in three of all adults in Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas are now wireless-only. This would make for an even more pronounced localized landline only coverage effect gap than the national discrepancy found in Pew's 2010 study.

So, Belo's poll showing Republican Gov. Rick Perry leading Democratic challenger Bill White by a 50% to 36% margin is very likely skewed more that six points toward the Republican side of the question by the landline only coverage effect found in Pew's study, in addition to the right skewing nature of the Belo's "likely voter" screening question.

A just released Texas Lyceum Poll shows Perry leading White 48 percent to 43 percent, a margin of only five points. Adjusting the Texas Lyceum poll results for Pew's six point landline only coverage effect puts White dead even with Perry. If the landline only coverage effect is indeed greater than six points in Texas because Texas residents have a significantly higher wireless-only adoption rate, then White could even lead Perry in a dual-frame survey including both landline and wireless-only respondents. (also see Texas Lyceum Summary of Trial Ballots)

The rapid rise in wireless-only adults, along with the confirmation that those adults have a decidedly progressive tilt, helps explain some, and possibly all, of the recent right skewing of polls from Rasmussen and other polling firms. Americans are dumping landlines at a rapid rate, and those Americans do skew heavily toward progressive political viewpoints. Pew's "landline only poll coverage effect" finding puts a lie to the national media's mime that the nation's political mood has shifted so far right that the Tea Party movement now represents mainstream America. The truth is that Tea Party supporters still rely on old "copper wire" landline phones and they are the people being polled while everyone else who has gone totally wireless are not being polled.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Democrats go after Gov. Perry in Texas

By Dan Balz - Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 27, 2010; 11:07 PM

In a surprise move, the Democratic Governors Association has decided to up the ante in Texas, with plans to launch an attack ad against Gov. Rick Perry.

The ad assails him as a career politician who has lost touch with the people of the Lone Star State.

The audacious action comes in a state that has been a Republican stronghold for more than a decade. But Democrats have concluded that, even in a year that tilts strongly toward Republicans, Perry is more vulnerable than he has appeared in his race against Democrat Bill White, the former mayor of Houston.

The DGA has already contributed $2 million to White's campaign. The new ad buy, which is scheduled to begin running in the Dallas area Tuesday, represents an independent expenditure on behalf of White. A Democratic strategist said the DGA would spend about $650,000 to $700,000 a week on its ad campaign.

The latest poll in Texas, conducted by Blum & Weprin Associates for a consortium of Texas newspapers, gave Perry a seven-percentage-point lead, 46 percent to 39 percent. The poll was published on Sunday. Perry's lead was consistent with other surveys taken in September.

The public poll showed White and Perry running about even in the Houston area, where White is well known. But Perry held a solid lead in the Dallas area. The DGA hopes its ad campaign will cut into that margin there, which could be the key to White's hopes of winning.

On the issues, 25 years as a politician
has changed Rick Perry ... For the worse.

Perry became governor in December 2000 after then-governor George W. Bush resigned to become president. He has been reelected twice to four-year terms and is now the longest-serving governor in the state's history.

In a year in which incumbents of both parties have found themselves on the defensive, Democrats hope to turn Perry's long tenure against him. The ad concludes by saying, "Twenty-five years as a politician has changed Rick Perry alright - for the worse."

A copy of the ad was made available to the Post before it went on the air.

The ad attacks Perry on several fronts. Among them are ordering 11- and 12-year-old girls to be vaccinated against a virus that causes cervical cancer and proposing a mammoth Trans-Texas highway corridor that would have taken land from many private property owners.

Both proposals eventually were blocked, but Republicans and Democrats have continued to criticize Perry for his actions. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R ) included both in her primary challenge to Perry last spring but fell far short in her bid to unseat him.

Democrats face substantial losses in governors' races this fall, with Republicans looking to finish the elections with at least 30 of the 50 governor's mansions.

But Democrats are running competitively in three of the nation's most populous states, all of which elected Republicans governors four years ago.

In California, Democratic attorney general and former governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. holds a narrow lead over Republican Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay.

In Florida, Democrat Alex Sink, the state comptroller, is running even with businessman Rick Scott, who was the upset winner or the GOP primary in August.

An upset in Texas could provide an improbable sweep of the big Sunbelt states, although defeating Perry is seen as the most difficult of the three. Democratic officials believe it is worth an additional investment in White's candidacy to see how vulnerable the incumbent may be.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The GOP "Pledge"

Political Cartoon by Rex Babin - Sacramento Bee
Choosing The Wrong Driver

The GOP "Pledge": What's Not In It
By David Corn | Thu Sep. 23, 2010 10:06 AM PDT

The House Republicans on Thursday released a manifesto outlining what they intend to do should they triumph in the coming congressional elections.

The glossy document, which is adorned with photographs of the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, and cowboys, is high-mindedly titled "A Pledge to America: A New Governing Agenda Built on the Priorities of Our Nation, the Principles We Stand For & America's Founding Values." And it offers few surprises: tax cuts for all (including the super-rich), slashing federal spending (without specifying actual targets), downsizing government, more money for the military (especially missile defense), and repealing the health care bill. It decries deficits—though it advocates proposals that will add trillions of dollars to the deficit.

It calls for reforming Congress—but in non-significant ways (such as forcing legislators to place a sentence in every bill attesting that the legislation is connected to a principle in the Constitution). It's full of Hallmark-style patriotism: "America is more than a country." It's infused with tea party anger: Washington has plotted "to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values." It is likely to have little impact on the elections.

You can read it yourself. Or peruse the reviews: liberal Ezra Klein dissects its internal contradictions; tea partier Erick Erickson decries the "Pledge" as a sell-out of the tea party movement; Republican curmudgeon David Frum finds it retro and short on "modern" and "affirmative" ideas for governing during a recessionary year.

But here's a short-cut for you. Below is a list of words and phrases and the number of times they are each mentioned in the 45-page "Pledge."

Wall Street: 0
Bank: 0
Finance: 0
Mortgage crisis: 0
Derivative: 0
Subprime: 0
Lobbying: 0
Lobbyist: 0
K Street: 0
Campaign finance: 0
Campaign contribution: 0
Campaign donation: 0
Disclosure: 0
Climate change: 0
Environment: 1 ("political environment")
Alternative energy: 0
Renewable: 0
Green: 0
Transportation: 0
Infrastructure: 0
Poverty: 0
Food: 0
Food safety: 0
Housing: 0
Internet: 0
Education: 0
College: 0
Reading: 0
Science: 0
Research: 0
Technology: 0
Bush administration: 0

That list is as telling as the actual contents.

Monday, September 20, 2010

KERA Interviews Bill White

KERA Interview
Former Houston Mayor Bill White charges that Governor Rick Perry is trying to hide the state's financial problems until after election day.

On Friday Perry told KERA the upcoming budget gap might be around $11 billion.

Bill White tells KERA's Shelley Kofler in this video interview the deficit is probably double that, and there will be an additional shortfall this year [now estimated to approach $21 billion.]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Houston Chronicle Endorses Bill White For Governor

Bill White's endorsement by the Houston Chronicle is the first major newspaper endorsement of the general election.
Houston Chronicle
Sept. 18, 2010

Texas faces an unprecedented budget deficit estimated at $21 billion, faltering health care and public education systems, and demands for new energy sources and transportation funding. For nearly a decade, Rick Perry — the longest-serving governor in Lone Star history — has been at the helm of an increasingly wayward ship.

Texas can't afford four more years of Perry's leadership.
The governor has shown a distaste for dealing with budget details, fobbing them off on the Legislature and even suggesting in a recent news conference that Comptroller Susan Combs had better uses of her time than issuing deficit projections.

Fortunately, voters have the opportunity to replace Republican Perry with former Houston Mayor Bill White, a Democrat with credentials as a successful lawyer, corporate CEO and public servant who demonstrated his management capabilities and hard-work ethic during a six-year tenure at City Hall.

As he did in Houston, White can bring innovative financial solutions, a passion for environmental protection, and a strong bipartisan and ethical commitment to a governor's office tarnished by charges of cronyism, partisanship and catering to contributors at the expense of constituents.

"Today our state is being run like a political machine to perpetuate Rick Perry in office," said White during his screening with the Chronicle editorial board. Gov. Perry has declined to meet with Texas newspaper editorial boards.

"People want a governor who can bring people together to get things done," White continued. "Leadership is not dividing the state into red teams and blue teams, playing people off against each other. Leadership is not having citizens and journalists have to pry information out of the government when it's funded by the taxpayers."

Read the full story at the Houston Chronicle

Gov. Perry Is Running On His Record

One of Rick Perry's campaign ads

One of Bill White's campaign videos
Gov. Perry is running on his record. Gov. Perry's record:

An $18 billion to $21 billion permanent structural deficit in our state budget created by the property tax swap that Gov. Perry and the Republican controlled legislature passed in '06. Texas' state debt has doubled under Perry.

Rick Perry's property tax increase is hurting our local schools

Almost 1 million Texans are unemployed, a state record. Texas' unemployment rate (8.4%) now has been at or above 8 percent for 13 straight months, the longest period since a 23-month run from February 1986 to December 1987, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The Texas poverty rate rose 11% last year. Now 4.3 million Texans live in poverty.

Dallas Morning News - 5,550 Texans continue to lose their health coverage each week. Texas leads the nation in percentage of residents without health insurance with only 49.5 percent of Texas residents covered by employer-sponsored insurance.

Health care premiums have increased 91.6% since Perry became Governor

A recent report showed that Gov. Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund is "not creating jobs as promised." The Texas Enterprise Fund spent $368 million of public funding and only 33% of the projects created the pledged jobs. And Texas companies like Dell, are spending more to create jobs in China at the expense of jobs in Texas or even the United States.

Houston Chronicle - Perry and his family headed to China - But funding raises concerns about the trade mission.

Texas Tribune - Texas college and university tuition skyrocketed by 63 percent while Perry has been Governor. Since 2003, when the Republican dominated State Legislature deregulated tuition by allowing individual boards of regents to set prices for each school, tuition and fees at four-year state schools has skyrocketed by an average of 63 percent, from $1,934 per semester to $3,150 according to the last state figures, from 2008.

Utility rates continue to rise, and some utility companies and Perry thinks that is just fine.

The student dropout rate in Texas is 30 percent and as high as 50 percent in some large urban districts.

Texas currently has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the United States and “the highest rate of repeat teen births.

The rate of student pregnancies has increased as much as 57 percent and rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising in some urban school districts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Children Speak Rick Perry Quotes

A Texas Filmmakers for Bill White web video featuring children repeating Rick Perry's quotes about part-time lifestyle, living in a mansion, the HPV vaccine controversy, and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

When asked for a response to this video by the Houston Chronicle Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said, "It's nice that Bill White put his policy advisers in a video."

In reply to Miner's comment White spokeswoman Katy Bacon said, "Of course Texas children are on Bill's mind when he's thinking about policy for our state's future. It's Texas kids whose future Rick Perry is mortgaging with his fiscal mismanagement and the $18 billion budget hole. Unfortunately, the only thing Rick Perry and his handlers are looking out for are their political friends and special interest lobbyists. That's why we need a new governor."

Sources of the quotes used in the video:
  1. “Texas is still competing and winning because of hardworking visionaries and committed economic development organizations who are willing to think bigger and work harder than anyone else.” (Source: Rick Perry speech, May 26, 2010).

  2. “I absolutely understand they want to get back to their homes. I'd like to get back to the mansion.” (Source: San Antonio Express-News, " Biggest obstacle to Galveston recovery is water" 9/19/08).

  3. “It has been a tragedy of unspeakable consequences that, for decades, activist courts denied many Texas parents their right to be involved in one of the most important decision their young daughter could ever make…” (Source: Rick Perry press release, 6/5/05).

  4. "“The simple truth is: When it comes to roads, we need more of them….And good roads mean a better quality of life for our citizens.” (Source: Austin American-Statesman, "Perry: Legislature 'abdicated responsibility' on transportation," 4/22/08).

Gov. Perry Is Hiding A $21 Billion Texes Budget Deficit

"Saddle bags" by Nick Anderson - Houston Chronicle
Dallas Morning News:
New assessments, obtained by The Dallas Morning News after a recent huddle of senior legislative staff members, show that even if lawmakers decide to spend all $9 billion in the state's rainy day fund, they still would need to come up with almost $12 billion more to close the gap - through some combination of spending cuts, accounting tricks and new taxes or fees.

The figures, prepared by staff at the Legislative Budget Board and then tweaked by House leadership, show the situation has deteriorated since spring.

In May, Pitts, the House's chief budget writer, drew derision from some GOP leaders when he said the shortfall could be between $15 billion and $18 billion. Perry said someone had "reached up in the air and grabbed" the figure.

The latest figures, though, show the gap as high as $20.6 billion.

Revenue is not rebounding quickly from the economic downturn, as Comptroller Susan Combs predicted it would. Population is expected to keep growing rapidly, which swells demand for education and social services, already high because of the recession.

You can watch a video clip here where Rick Perry say that "I've got a lot of confidence in this comptroller." [Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Republican Susan Combs] He goes on to say, "I don't necessarily think it's a particularly good use of the comptrollers time to do a budget estimate every time someone pokes their head up out of a hole and says 'let's do a budget estimate." It's quite obvious Rick Perry does not want his controller to release a budget report that shows a $21 billion budget deficit any time before the election, as the truth about Texas' fiscal health is clearly detrimental to Governor Perry's re-election bid.

Politifact verifies claims from Democratic opponent Bill White that our state's debt has doubled under Rick Perry. When he assumed office in December 2000, Texas held $13.7 billion in debt. Adjusting for inflation, that's today's equivalent of $16.6 billion. As of August 2009, we held $34.08 billion in debt. Rick Perry has more than doubled our state's debt, even after you adjust for inflation.

Perry also claims he's cut state spending as well, but it's actually increased 45%.

He's claimed to have vetoed $3 billion worth of spending, when, in truth, $2.5 billion of that never was passed into law anyway and would not have been spent, regardless of his 'veto'.

Despite all of the above proof that our Governor has failed miserably as a steward of our state's fiscal matters, he's running ads claiming

that, "the economic success Texas is experiencing because of the leadership and pro-growth policies put into place by Governor Rick Perry. The keys to success? Don't spend all the money. Keep taxes low. Keep regulations fair and predictable. Tort reform to prevent frivolous and junk lawsuits. Fund an accountable education system. Then get out of the way and let entrepreneurs and the private sector do what the private sector does best-- create jobs. Since 2005, Texas has created far more private-sector jobs than all over states combined."

We Texans here in Collin County know Perry's political ad claims are half-truths, slanted estimates, and flat out lies.

No wonder Gov Perry is too chicken to debate Bill White. He's tanked our state's fiscal health with one hand and written a book about what a great fiscal conservative he is with the other. In one breath he claims there is no budget crisis in Texas and then he claims Texas' has a financial crisis caused by the Obama administration.

Houstonians, who re-elected Bill White as mayor with 91% and then later, 86% of the vote, were proud to call him our mayor. It's time for Collin County to elect a Texas Governor in which we can again be proud. Visit Bill White for Texas and read about his accomplishments with the city of Houston that includes job growth and balancing budgets.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Election Day Vote Centers Coming to Collin Co. Again On Nov. 2nd

Late in the 2009 legislative session the Texas legislature passed HB719, which amends Section 43.007 of the Texas Election Code to require the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) to implement a program that allows Commissioner's Courts in selected counties to eliminate election precinct polling places and establish county-wide Vote Centers for certain elections.
These Election Day Vote Centers work almost exactly like Early Voting Vote Centers. During the early voting period for each election cycle, a number of polling places appear through out the county where any registered voter in the county can vote in any of those places throughout the early voting period.
Collin County gain approval from the Texas Secretary of State to use Vote Centers for the first time on election day in the November, 2009 constitutional amendment election.

The Collin County Commissioner's Court today voted to authorize Sharon Rowe, the Collin County Elections Administrator, to notify the Director of Elections in the Texas Secretary of State office, that Collin County seeks approval to implement the County Wide Vote Center Program again for the November 2, 2010 election. The Texas Secretary of State is expected to approve the request.

If approved by the Texas SOS, any Collin County registered voter will be able to vote at any of the 70 proposed countywide Vote Centers located around Collin County on Election Day, November 2, 2010.

In 2009, less than 5% of the voters turned out for the constitutional amendment election at one of the 57 countywide Vote Centers. The 2010 General Elections, which headlines the Gubernatorial contest between former Houston Mayor Bill White and incumbent Rick Perry, will likely have a turnout in excess of 38 percent of registered voters.

The 70 proposed countywide Vote Centers, which allows any registered voter to vote at any voting location on election day, is about half the number of polling locations that would be expected under the old local precinct voting location election model.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

New Republican Collin County District Clerk Plus Five Others Indicted For Organized Criminal Activity.

From the Dallas Morning News
by Ed Housewright:
July 31, 2010 - Patricia Crigger, the incoming Collin County district clerk, and five other office supervisors have been indicted on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.

The indictments stem from a Texas Rangers investigation that alleges Crigger and the others pressured district clerk employees to work on Crigger's spring campaign.

Crigger received about 54 percent of the April 13 Republican primary runoff election vote, defeating law office manager Alma Hays.

She faces no Democratic opposition on the November 2, 2010 election ballot and is therefore due to take office Jan. 1, replacing longtime District Clerk Hannah Kunkle, who is retiring.

The general election is Nov. 2. The deadline to remove a candidate's name is Aug. 20, according to the Texas secretary of state's office.

If Crigger withdraws her name before then, the local Republican Party executive committee can name a replacement to be on the ballot, said Ann McGeehan, elections director for the secretary of state.

The Democratic Party of Collin County Executive Committee also would be allowed to place a name on the ballot, even though the party had no candidate in the primary.

Anyone can file as a write-in candidate through Aug. 24, McGeehan said.

If Crigger doesn't withdraw her name by Aug. 20, she will stay on the ballot. She would win the election if she receives the most votes.

If she is still under indictment, has not been convicted and decides not to take office Jan. 1, the county's state district judges would name her replacement, McGeehan said. The replacement would serve until the November 2012 general election and could seek election for the remaining two years of the term.

A candidate becomes ineligible to serve upon final conviction, McGeehan said. So if Crigger were convicted but appealed her case, she could take office while the appeal is resolved.

The Collin County Commissioners Court sets the budget for the district clerk and other elected officials. But commissioners can't fire an elected official or any of his or her staff.

County Judge Keith Self, who heads Commissioners Court, declined to comment on the indictments.

"Because it's a legal issue, I need to be very careful to make no comment," Self said.

Crigger and the other supervisors could not be reached for comment.

"It's really sad it's come to this," said Fred Moses, chairman of the county Republican Party. "She's worked hard for the party."

A judge issued arrest warrants on Friday and set a $5,000 personal recognizance bond for each. All six defendants appeared voluntarily at the Collin County Jail about 12:30 p.m. to be processed, said sheriff's spokesman John Norton. They left about an hour later, he said.

Under state law, a person can hold office while under indictment but can be removed if convicted.

Engaging in organized criminal activity is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

The one-page indictments were returned Thursday against Crigger, Sherry Bell, Rebecca Littrell, Amy Mathis, Lorrie Robertson and Marcia Simpson.

The identical indictments say the women tampered with government records and committed theft by falsifying time and attendance records to show employees were working when they were not.

"This is a dark day for Collin County and its taxpayers," Hays said in a statement Friday. "I hope the legal process reveals the truth and that the integrity of the district clerk's office is restored. I am proud to say that I ran an honest campaign and that I had nothing to do with this investigation."

The six women indicted are among nine supervisors in the district clerk's office, which has 63 employees.

A search warrant affidavit from the Texas Rangers investigation says district clerk employees were asked to assist Crigger's campaign in "various ways, such as walking neighborhoods and holding campaign signs at polling places."

They were rewarded with paid time off, the document says.

It mentions five unnamed district clerk employees who talked with the Rangers during their investigation.

Armed with a search warrant, authorities seized computer hard drives, memory cards, Crigger campaign literature, calendars and other items on June 3.

At the time, Kunkle released a written statement on behalf of her and her office, which is responsible for keeping state district court records. She criticized the execution of the search warrant.

"If they would have come to me directly, I would have turned over anything they wanted and would not have had to close down the district clerk's office, disrupt county business and cause inconvenience to the employees and citizens of Collin County," the statement read.

Kunkle couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

Moses said he hadn't talked to Crigger since she was indicted. "We want to let the legal system take its course," he said.

Moses said he would talk to state Republican Party officials and the Texas secretary of state's office to determine how to pick Crigger's replacement if she doesn't take office.

"We need to see what our options are," Moses said. "We want to do what's in the best interests of the party."

Six supervisors in the Collin County district clerk's office each face two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity in identical indictments handed down Thursday.

Indicted: Patricia Crigger, Sherry Bell, Rebecca Littrell, Amy Mathis, Lorrie Robertson and Marcia Simpson

Count 1: Tampering with a governmental record by making false entries in time and attendance records

Count 2: Theft by obtaining money between $1,500 and $20,000 from Collin County by falsifying time and attendance records

Punishment if convicted: Two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mother Jones: Serial Butt-Biting GOP Operative Sinks Teeth Into Texas Race

Mother Jones: Charles Hurth has a history of biting women's behinds. Now it's Texas Democrats who have to watch their asses.  (Republican Scheme To Divert Votes From Democrats In November?)
By Suzy Khimm - Mother Jones

Meet Charles Hurth III. The Missouri lawyer has a long history of setting up under-the-radar groups to help Republican operatives game elections.

But the most sordid thing about Hurth's past is not his political scheming. He's also what you might call a serial butt-biter, with a well-publicized track record of sinking his teeth into the rumps of college coeds.

He recently struck again in Texas—not by biting derrieres, but by spearheading an apparent GOP dirty trick to derail a Democrat's gubernatorial bid.

Last month, Hurth and two other GOP operatives—one a former top aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry—were implicated in a scheme to bankroll a petition drive to put the Green Party on the ballot. It is an apparent ploy to siphon votes away from Perry's Democratic challenger, former Houston Mayor Bill White. He's an appealing target: Tied with Perry in the latest poll, White's the strongest gubernatorial contender that Texas Democrats have seen in years.

But Hurth's first claim to fame was being sued in 1987 for approaching a fellow law student in a bar and biting her on the buttocks so hard that she required medical attention. During the trial, Hurth admitted that he'd used the same toothy overture to approach two other women at fraternity parties—and he said that his latest victim should have taken the gesture as a compliment. The jurors didn't buy it, and Hurth was successfully sued for $27,500. Since then, he has dedicated himself to being a persistent pain in the butt for Democrats, setting up shop in a tiny Missouri town to create a clearinghouse for Republican electoral schemes. The latest came this spring, when Hurth and his allies succeeded in getting the Greens on the 2010 ballot.
In response, the Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in early June against a Hurth-run nonprofit called Take Initiative America, as well as Arizona-based GOP consultant Tim Mooney and "unknown conspirators" for their role in the effort. Mooney has admitted that he funneled money through Hurth's organization to pay Free and Equal Inc., a Chicago-based petition-gathering company that ended up amassing 92,000 signatures for the Texas Green Party's ballot drive. According to a court document, Hurth's group spent $532,500 on the effort.
Mooney has repeatedly refused to say where the money came from—and denies that it was a GOP plot to bring down White. "Take Initiative America is a nonpartisan organization," he told the Dallas Morning News, which first broke the news of his involvement. "They'd like to see everybody have a chance to get on the ballot—the more choices the better."

Especially if those choices draw votes away from Democratic candidates. This isn't the first time that Mooney and Hurth have resorted to such schemes to help Republicans at the polls. In 2004, Hurth set up an organization called Choices for America that furtively solicited help from Republicans to get then-presidential candidate Ralph Nader on the ballot in New Hampshire, Nevada, and Pennsylvania, among other states. Mooney assisted with Hurth's 2004 effort, along with Dave Carney, George H.W. Bush's former political director who's now one of Rick Perry's top consultants. At the time, Carney acknowledged to the Dallas Morning News that he was trying to gather signatures for Nader in order to help George W. Bush get reelected. According to the script for the petition drive, canvassers were instructed to tell Bush supporters, "Without Nader, Bush would not be president."

Three years later, Hurth undertook yet another effort to manipulate electoral politics to the Republicans' advantage. In 2007, Take Initiative America funded a California ballot initiative that would have distributed the state's 55 electoral votes by congressional district instead of winner-takes-all. Had it succeeded, the effort would have greatly benefited Republican presidential contenders in the state. Hurth similarly refused to reveal the donor behind the effort, who finally came forward after Democrats accused the group of money-laundering and California officials vowed to investigate. Paul Singer, a hedge-fund manager and major Giuliani fundraiser, admitted that he gave $175,000 to the effort. (Hurth himself contributed $2,000 to Giuliani's presidential bid.) Then-Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean decried the initiative and pointed the finger at the Giuliani campaign, which denied any involvement. The Perry campaign has similarly denied any role in this year's Green Party ploy. But the tentacles of the scandal reach dangerously close to his camp.

It was allegedly Perry's former chief of staff, Mike Toomey, who approached a 22-year-old college student, Garrett Mize, to talk to the Green Party about accepting the outside help, according to Mize's court testimony. (Toomey, who's now a lobbyist, also helped mastermind former Rep. Tom DeLay's scheme to funnel secret corporate money to help the GOP's redistricting effort in 2003.) The Texas Green Party eagerly accepted the offer—even though a court-released email between Green Party officials reveals that party officials were acutely aware the money could be coming from Republican sources. The email also mentions Perry's top political consultant Anthony Holm as being interested in paying for 40 percent of the party's petitioning costs, though he's since denied any role in the schme.

The Texas Green Party has refused to withdraw from the ballot, saying it was "misled" about the kind of money that was used to fund GOP's scheme. "It's not like we intentionally did this," said Kat Swift, statewide coordinator for the Texas Green Party, at a press conference in early July. According to her account, the Texas Greens never knew what Take Initiative America really stood for or who might be involved. But Swift has since embraced the GOP help as a form of realpolitik, arguing that Texas has some of the most stringent requirements for getting on the ballot in the country. "Wherever the money came from doesn't bother me," she told the Dallas Morning News. "People are trying to open the ballot to increase democracy and so, who cares how they vote?"

It's unclear, though whether the Green Party's presence on the ticket will actually hurt White's chances, as the recent controversy has divided Green Party supporters. Some of its closest allies have turned against the party for knowingly accepting the GOP assistance—and refusing to back out even after discovering it was paid for by Hurth's nonprofit corporation (which qualifies, for the purposes of campaign-finance law, as corporate money). The Texas League of Conservation Voters, which has often backed Green Party candidates, said the party's "use of corporate, out-of-state money directed from partisan operatives for a petition drive corrupts and manipulates the electoral process." One local Green Party candidate for Travis County Clerk has already withdrawn his candidacy, citing his opposition to the Green Party's acceptance of corporate-funded help—even though the party itself has called for the end of corporate funding in all elections.

Texas Democrats, for their part, have given up their push to keep the Green Party off the ballot: they dropped part of their lawsuit last week after the (all-Republican) Texas Supreme Court decided to let the Green Party remain on the ballot while it reviewed the case. But the state's Democratic party says it will continue with a legal challenge in a lower court to discover who was funding the GOP-backed petition drive, contending that the source and use of Hurth's funds might have been illegal. If even more incriminating evidence surfaces, the Green Party scheme could really end up biting the Texas GOP in the butt.