Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Republican Scheme To Divert Votes From Democrats In November?

Updated July 6, 2010 @ 9:10 p.m.
Dallas Morning News - July 6, 2010: A Republican consultant with ties to Rick Perry - and to the governor's biggest campaign contributor -- is cited in court records among a growing number of GOP operatives involved in efforts to put the Green Party on the Texas ballot. At issue is the legality of a GOP-backed petition drive bankrolled with $532,000 through an out-of-state corporation to gather over 90,000 petition signatures to put Green Party candidates on the November general election ballot. Court records include a Green Party email that names Anthony Holm as, "a Republican in Texas [who] wants to give us 40 percent of the cost of petitioning." Holm, who had previously worked as a Perry staff member responsible for "Special Projects," heads a consulting firm that has been paid over $148,000 by the Perry campaign. The Texas Supreme Court has allowed the Green Party to certify its candidates while it reviews the case.

Originally Posted June 24, 2010 @ 5:10 p.m.
Early in June month the Dallas Morning News reported that the Green Party's petition drive to gain ballot access in Texas this November was set up by Arizona-based Republican consultant.

The news broke a week after the Green Party of Texas submitted 90,000 signatures to the Texas Secretary of State. Kat Swift, the state coordinator of the Green Party of Texas admitted, in the DMN story, "If it hadn't been for that donation, we wouldn't have been on the ballot." The Green Party had been struggling to get the required 43,991 petition signatures for its candidates to make the ballot.

A Green Party slate on the November ballot would likely drain votes from Democrat Bill White giving incumbent Republican Rick Perry an electoral advantage in the election for the governor's office.
DMN: Green Party officials said an outside group gathered the 92,000 signatures and gave them as "a gift" to the party, which delivered them to the secretary of state, who oversees Texas elections. If the secretary of state determines that enough of them are valid, the party will be able to field a slate of candidates for statewide offices for the first time since 2002.

"It's good news for Rick Perry, in the sense that the Green Party label draws votes away from White rather than Perry," said Rice University political science professor Mark Jones.
The Texas Democratic Party then filed for a temporary restraining order in State District Court to prevent the certification of Green Party candidates pending a fast track discovery process to gather facts to determine whether out-of-state Republican operatives used money from illegal corporate sources to gather the 92,000 signatures for the Green Party. Texas Democratic Party press release:
The Republicans secretly funded and organized a ballot petition operation that may have been funded by illegal, anonymous contributions, according to reports published this week by the Dallas Morning News. The TDP was forced to take legal action because those involved with this dubious secret Republican-Green Party scheme have refused to be upfront with Texans about the nature of this political contribution, and legal discovery would serve the public interest by shedding light on a murky transaction. As the Dallas Morning News stated in an editorial yesterday, "the legality of the money behind the Green petitions needs to be tested in court."

Texas Tribune interview with
TDP General Counsel Chad Dunn
Today State District Judge John Dietz issued an injunction blocking Green Party candidates from the November ballot after hearing arguments and sworn testimony. Judge Dietz said that restricted corporate money was used to support the signature drive and did not comply with state election law. Dietz said he expected his injunction against the Green Party, disqualifying them for a spot on the November ballot, will be stayed by a higher court. The Green Party, represented by former Republican state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Smith, plans to appeal to the high court on Monday. (Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2010)

A key witness testified under oath today that a top member of Rick Perry’s inner circle paid him about $12,000 to convince Green Party of Texas leaders to participate in an elaborate ballot petition scam. University of Texas student Garrett Mize testified that he was approached in late 2009 by Mike Toomey and Stuart Moss about contacting the Green Party to discuss raising money from wind energy proponents for a signature-gathering effort. Mize said Toomey paid him $2,000 a month but that he quit in April when it became clear there was no money to come from wind-energy advocates and that all money would likely come from Republican donors and "interests that did not want Democrats to do well." (Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2010)
Lone Star Project: Mike Toomey, the former chief of staff for the governor, paid Garrett Mize, a 22-year-old University of Texas student, from his personal checking account to present a formal proposal to Green Party leaders. The proposal suggests using out-of-state funds to gather signatures needed to field candidates [to bleed votes away from Democratic candidates] in the upcoming Texas [November] election. The memo notes that, “many of the donors will be people that simply do not want to see the Democratic Party win.” (The proposal by Mize can be seen here.)

Toomey’s direct involvement elevates the matter to a level of wrongdoing not seen since the Sharpstown scandal of the 1970s. Mike Toomey is a member of Perry’s inner circle and described as “close friends” (Source: Texas Monthly, February 2005). It is irrational to believe that Toomey would have made such an elaborate -- and likely illegal -- effort to field Green Party candidates without the knowledge and approval of the governor.

The morning testimony left it unclear what happened after the original plan proposed by Mize fell apart. A second plan was formulated just two weeks before the deadline to turn in ballot petitions. This second plan funneled $532,500 in corporate money [from Missouri-based Take Initiative America headed by Charles Hurth III, a Republican lawyer. The Missouri-based corporation founder has worked on similar efforts in the past with Perry's chief political strategist. ] to pay for the effort to gather signatures for the Green Party in order to qualify candidates for the Texas ballot. [The $532,000 to gather the signatures is deemed an in-kind contribution to the Texas Green Party.] Documents and testimony in the coming days should reveal whether Toomey masterminded this plan as well. (Source: Austin American-Statesman, June 24, 2010)

The Dallas Morning News broke the story that a secret donor funneled money through a non-profit corporation to finance the Green Party of Texas ballot initiative. The Lone Star Project has detailed the connection between the Republican operatives running the signature gathering effort and Perry’s top campaign consultant, Dave Carney. Today’s revelation connects the Green Party/GOP scam directly to Perry again by exposing his close confidant, Mike Toomey, as the mastermind behind an effort to field Green Party candidates.

This would not be the first time Mike Toomey has used secret corporate donations to illegally help elect Republicans in Texas. Toomey was implicated in the TRMPAC scandal and the Texas Association of Business lawsuit after the 2002 elections. The TRMPAC “indictments …noted that TAB board members Mike Toomey and Eric Glenn, both lobbyists, played prominent roles in soliciting money.” (Austin American-Statesman, September 8, 2005)

Toomey was sued alongside the Texas Association of Business for illegally using corporate money in elections. According to the Statesman, “Although state law generally forbids the spending of corporate money in connection with campaigns, Toomey and the corporations argue that the corporate money at the heart of the litigation was for issue ads - … and that therefore they were not required to tell the public who was paying for them….Other documents confirmed Toomey as a primary fundraiser among the 30 corporations that spent the money under the business association's name without revealing their identities.” (Austin American-Statesman, September 7, 2006)
Recanting earlier statements, Rick Perry chief consultant, Dave Carney, now admits knowing Tim Mooney and the Republicans who orchestrated this plan. Carney initially denied even knowing Mooney to the Dallas Morning News, then later admitted to the Texas Tribune that he did, in fact, know and work with Mooney in the past. (DMN: Perry political chief: May I amend my remarks?)

In legal action to place Green Party candidates on the November ballot, Green Party officials have called on several prominent Republican lawyers. Among them are Andy Taylor, who represented business interests in Republican Tom DeLay's effort to use corporate money to redraw congressional districts; Cleta Mitchell, co-chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association; and David Rogers, a plaintiff in the Hopwood court case over affirmative action at the University of Texas.

Perry became only the third governor in state history to have been elected by a plurality of less than 40 percent of votes cast in the 2006 election. In 2006 Perry faced a six-way race with former Democratic Congressman Chris Bell, Libertarian candidate James Werner; and three independent candidates – outgoing Republican state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, well-known Texas humorist Kinky Friedman, and write-in candidate James "Patriot" Dillon. Perry won with 38% of the vote.

GOP strategist Royal Masset says of Perry's 2010 opponent, “He (White) is plain-spoken. He is very specific-oriented. He’s kind of our nightmare ..." [The Houston Chronicle]

According to a new poll on the 2010 Texas gubernatorial race released by Public Policy Polling, Democratic challenger Bill White is running neck and neck with incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Perry. They each have 43 percent of the expected vote.

Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the governor had "nothing to do with the Green Party efforts" (Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2010)

Bill White campaign video on Mike Toomey & the Green Party

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