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

Gallup: Gov't Debt Is Tea Party Supporters' Top Concern

According to a USA Today/Gallup national poll released Monday, 61 percent of self-described Tea Party movement supporters say that the federal government's debt is an extremely serious threat to the country, with only 29 percent of those who do not identify with the Tea Party movement saying that the debt is an extremely serious threat.

Leading conservative economist Bruce Bartlett says that those who blame Democrats and Obama for the huge national debt have it wrong—the person they should be angry with left the White House a year and a half ago.

Forty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters say the size and power of the federal government is an extremely serious threat, with only 12 percent of those who do not identify with the Tea Party movement agreeing.

Tea Party activists say one of the aims of their movement is to reduce the size of the federal government. Eight out of 10 Tea Party supporters questioned say that the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and business. That drops to 27 percent among those who do not identify with the Tea Party movement. Only 17 percent of Tea Party activists say the government should be doing more to solve the nation's problems. That figure jumps to 64 percent among those who do not identify with the Tea Party movement.

The survey also indicates that the concerns of Tea Party supporters align with the Republican Party. Gallup published another poll last week that found most tea party supporters are right wing Republicans. "Their similar ideological makeup and views suggest that the Tea Party movement is more a rebranding of core Republicanism than a new or distinct entity on the American political scene," Gallup Poll director Frank Newport wrote in an analysis of the results. Newport adds: "Republican leaders who worry about the Tea Party's impact on their races may in fact (and more simply) be defined as largely worrying about their party's core base."

Gallup Poll Question
Tea Party
Gov't doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses 80% 81%
Gov't should be doing more to solve country's problems 17% 13%
Gov't should promote traditional values 57% 63%
Gov't should not favor any set of traditional values 39% 32%

The Daily Beast:
Where is the evidence that everything would be better if Republicans were in charge? Does anyone believe the economy would be growing faster or that unemployment would be lower today if John McCain had won the election? I know of no economist who holds that view. The economy is like an ocean liner that turns only very slowly. The gross domestic product and the level of employment would be pretty much the same today under any conceivable set of policies enacted since Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect.
In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit this year of $1.2 trillion before Obama took office, with no estimate for actions he might take. To a large extent, the CBO’s estimate simply represented the $482 billion deficit projected by the Bush administration in last summer’s budget review, plus the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which George W. Bush rammed through Congress in September over strenuous conservative objections. Thus the vast bulk of this year’s currently estimated $1.8 trillion deficit was determined by Bush’s policies, not Obama’s.

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.

Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.In a larger sense, the extremely poor economic performance of the Bush years really set the stage for the current recession. This is apparent when we compare Bush’s two terms to Bill Clinton’s eight years. Since both took office close to a business cycle trough and left office close to a cyclical peak, this is a reasonable comparison.

the economy performed very, very badly under Bush, and the best efforts of his cheerleaders cannot change that fact because the data don’t lie. Consider these comparisons between Bush and Clinton:
  • Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real GDP grew 34.7 percent. Between the fourth quarter of 2000 and the fourth quarter of 2008, it grew 15.9 percent, less than half as much.

  • Between the fourth quarter of 1992 and the fourth quarter of 2000, real gross private domestic investment almost doubled. By the fourth quarter of 2008, real investment was 6.5 percent lower than it was when Bush was elected.

  • Between December 1992 and December 2000, payroll employment increased by more than 23 million jobs, an increase of 21.1 percent. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it rose by a little more than 2.5 million, an increase of 1.9 percent. In short, about 10 percent as many jobs were created on Bush’s watch as were created on Clinton’s.

  • During the Bush years, conservative economists often dismissed the dismal performance of the economy by pointing to a rising stock market. But the stock market was lackluster during the Bush years, especially compared to the previous eight. Between December 1992 and December 2000, the S&P 500 Index more than doubled. Between December 2000 and December 2008, it fell 34 percent. People would have been better off putting all their investments into cash under a mattress the day Bush took office.

  • Finally, conservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Annual Ann Richards Dinner- Saturday Aug. 7, 2010

Save the Date - Saturday August 7, 2010

Annual Ann Richards Dinner
Featuring Democratic Nominee for Governor
Bill White
Plus Other Statewide, Regional, & Local Democratic Candidates
The Democratic Party of Collin County
honors legendary
Governor Ann Richards
With Its
Annual Ann Richards Dinner

August 7, 2010
5:30 pm Social
6:30 - 9:00 pm Dinner
Location: Hilton Garden Inn, Allen
The Democratic Party of Collin County
2504 K Avenue, Suite 200, Plano, Texas 75074

Comparison Of Texas Democratic and Republican Party Platforms

Both the Democratic and Republican parties have now crafted tangible statements of their governing priorities at their respective state conventions. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, released a comparison Tuesday between the Democratic and Republican party platforms drafted at each party's convention.
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Solve the Dropout Crisis: “Proper funding of all our schools to meet the needs of students who are most at risk of dropping out is essential. Specific solutions include:
  • school-community collaboration that brings educational and social services together under one roof to help at-risk students and their families;
  • expanded access to early childhood education, targeting at-risk students;
  • dual-credit and early-college programs that draw at-risk students into college and career paths while still in high school;
  • equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers, to change current practices that too often match the most at-risk students with the least experienced and least prepared teachers;
  • enforce daytime curfew laws to reduce truancy; and
  • providing access to affordable programs for adults who have dropped out of the education process.”
Ignore the Dropout Crisis : [Nothing]
Maintain Class Size Limits: “To make public education our highest priority, we believe the state should…enforce and extend class size limits to allow every student to receive necessary individualized attention.” Eliminate Effective Class-Size Limits: “Create flexibility for school districts under the class size limit mandate.”
SBOE: Put Experts in Charge of Curriculum: “Any substantive changes to curriculum must be reviewed by non-partisan experts, and that review must be made public prior to any changes in curriculum by the State Board.” SBOE: Put Ideologues in Charge of Curriculum: “The SBOE must have sole authority over all curricula content and state adoption of educational materials and ancillaries, (regardless of methods of delivery, including but not limited to textbooks, laptops and electronic delivery systems.”
Support Pre-K & Early Childhood Development: “To make public education our highest priority, we believe the state should provide universal access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten.” “Proper funding of all our schools to meet the needs of students who are most at risk of dropping out is essential. Specific solutions include…expanded access to early childhood education, targeting at-risk students.” Oppose Pre-K & Early Childhood Development: “We believe that parents are best suited to train their children in their early development and oppose mandatory pre-school and Kindergarten. We urge Congress to repeal government sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.”
Provide Necessary Public Education Funding: Texas Democrats believe:
  • the state should establish a 100% equitable school finance system with sufficient state revenue to allow every district to offer an exemplary program;
  • the state should equitably reduce reliance on "Robin Hood" recapture;
  • state funding formulas should fully reflect all student and district cost differences and the impact of inflation and state mandates.
Provisions that Restrict Education Funding: “We urge the Legislature to abolish property taxes for the purpose of funding schools.” “The Party calls upon the Texas Legislature to repeal the revised franchise tax.”
Oppose School Vouchers: “We believe the state should oppose private school vouchers.” Support Tax Dollars for Private Schools: “We encourage the Governor and the Texas Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Oppose Republican Attempts to Repeal Rights of Health Care Reform: “Texas Democrats:
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the ban on preexisting conditions;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal sweeping small business tax credits;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the ban on rescissions, where insurance companies shove individuals off their health insurance coverage if they develop a catastrophic illness;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal tax breaks for Americans to aid in the purchase of health insurance;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the closure of the Medicare prescription drug donut hole that forced seniors to pay exorbitant prices under the Republican Medicare Part D plan;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the expansion of health insurance to uninsured Americans, including 4 million Texans;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the ability of parents to insure their children up to age 26;
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal the creation of health insurance marketplaces where consumers can shop for and compare affordable, quality health insurance plans; and
  • oppose Republican attempts to repeal a healthcare system based on prevention and wellness.
Repeal Rights of Health Care Reform: “We urge the Congress to defund, repeal, andreject the national healthcare takeover, also known as “ObamaCare” or any similar legislation.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Raise the Minimum Wage: “To improve wages and working conditions, we believe the minimum wage must be raised, enforced, and applied across-the-board meaningfully to restore lost purchasing power of all workers. It must be indexed to keep it from eroding again. Employees should be paid a living wage with provisions for decent health care and retirement benefits.” Repeal the Minimum Wage: “We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.”
Oppose Sales Tax Extension and Increases: “Enact a constitutional amendment to prevent extending the sales tax to food and medicine and oppose efforts to impose a national sales tax.” Increase & Expand Sales Tax: “We recommend a national sales tax.” “We urge the Legislature to abolish property taxes for the purpose of funding schools and to shift the tax burden to a consumption-based tax while maintaining or reducing the overall tax burden.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Protect and Preserve Social Security: “We oppose privatization of the Social Security program as fiscally irresponsible, and consider the use of our tax dollars as capital to invest in the stock market as a threat to the income security of working Americans.” Privatize Social Security: “We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out the Social Security tax.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Reform Insurance Regulation; Roll back Rates: “Texas Democrats support the strict enforcement of policies requiring insurance companies to roll back their rates to provide Texas homeowners, renters and drivers fair and affordable insurance.”

“We support providing the Insurance Commissioner the authority to deny or approve rates.”

Democrats support measures to reduce and eliminate unfair underwriting and rate setting practices, such as the use of credit scoring, redlining and other discriminatory practices. We support the enforcement of penalties when such practices are used. Texans must have access to affordable insurance to protect our homes and businesses from flood and windstorm damage. We also support more thorough oversight and regulation of homeowner’s insurance through greater consumer representation in the form of an official advisory committee or requirements that the Insurance Commission include consumer representatives.”
No Regulation of Insurance Rates, Companies: “Free Market for Utilities and Insurance – We encourage free market solutions for providing utilities whenever possible. We support that all property insurance rates should be set through free-market forces alone. We support efforts to shrink the Texas Insurance Association to reduce the liabilities it imposes on state taxpayers.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Responsible Regulation of Utilities: “Texas Democrats support responsible regulation of utilities to provide a level playing field for regulated industry, through reasonable policy to prevent predatory pricing. Texans should not be expected to become experts on all the factors that determine energy costs in order to pay lower, reasonable prices for utility services.” No Regulation of Utility Rates, Companies: “Free Market for Utilities and Insurance – We encourage free market solutions for providing utilities whenever possible. We support that all property insurance rates should be set through free-market forces alone. We support efforts to shrink the Texas Insurance Association to reduce the liabilities it imposes on state taxpayers.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Oppose State Law That Could Deny the Rights or Endanger the Safety of Citizens: “Texas will not become Arizona, and we strongly oppose…any law that would…
  • • through its enforcement, result in discrimination; intimidation or victimization of citizens based on their race, ethnicity or appearance;
  • • force law enforcement agencies to divert limited resources and manpower from their primary duty to protect citizens and prevent crime.”
Create a New State Offense for “Illegal Aliens:” “Create a state offense (Class A misdemeanor) for an illegal alien to intentionally or knowingly be within the State of Texas.” “We support…empowering state and local law enforcement agencies with authority and resources to detain illegal immigrants.”
Texas Democratic Party Platform Republican Party of Texas Platform
Protect Voting Rights for All Texans: “We support redistricting standards and practices that demand compliance with the Voting Rights Act, discourage savaging regions and communities for partisan gain, and preserve the constituent-representative relationship to the extent possible to give voters the right to elect their representatives instead of letting representatives pick their voters.” Eliminate Minority Voting Districts: “We oppose any identification of citizens by race, origin, or creed and oppose use of any such identification for purposes of creating voting districts.”

Entire 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform - PDF .