February 11, 2005
Veselka and Taylor

Kristen Mack writes about Larry Veselka and Andy Taylor, the two lawyers involved in the Heflin challenge and notes that for their roles - Taylor for taking up "a cause that made some Republicans uneasy", and Veselka for winning - that both of them have raised their stature in the eyes of their parties.

I did get to hear Larry Veselka speak yesterday. Didn't really get a chance to pursue the questions I had (time was limited), but got quite a bit out of it anyway. One thing he talked about that I want to point out in the Hartnett report (PDF), and that's point three of Will Hartnett's opening statement: "Contestant has produced no evidence of any intentional voter fraud which affected the final vote tally to his detriment." I emphasize that last bit for a reason. Scroll down to page 24 where the vote total adjustments are summarized and you'll see that the categories "double vote" and "non-citizen" both contain deductions from Heflin's vote totals. We already knew about the Norwegian citizen who voted straight-ticket Republican; the one person who admitted to voting twice (she received two mail-in ballots and figured she was supposed to send them both back) was also a Heflin voter. Ponder that for a minute.

(The other main category of alleged fraud was voters from outside Harris County. Most of them were residents of Fort Bend, where as Paul Bettencourt notes, many people don't have a firm lock as to where the county line is. One case that was touted initially was a voter from "as far away as Denton County!" that cast a ballot in the HD149 race. That voter, upon deposition, said she was selling her house in Houston - it was still on the market on Election Day - and was living in a rented place in Denton but was travelling back and forth and still considered Houston her permanent residence; she had not registered to vote in Denton County. Her vote was ultimately counted, as no challenge was raised to it in the evidentiary hearing. She voted for Heflin.)

Go back to Greg Moses' transcription from the hearings, in which Veselka calls BS on Taylor's fraud charges. That sentence from Hartnett's opening was put in there at Veselka's insistence to ensure that the record reflected that there was no fraud, at least none that damaged Talmadge Heflin. There's an old lawyer's saying that goes "When the law is on your side, pound on the law; when the facts are on your side, pound on the facts; when neither is on your side, pound on the table." Veselka had the facts and the law on his side, which is why if you even saw a quote from him in the paper prior to the hearings, he was the voice of calm and reason who stuck to the facts and the law and expressed confidence that House members would do the same. Taylor had nothing, which is why he and his henchwoman Tina Benkiser spent the entire time baying at the moon. Their only hope was for partisanship to win out. It's to Will Hartnett's eternal credit that he was not swayed by them, and it's to Veselka's eternal credit that he recognized his winning hand and played it accordingly. And the real winners are the people of HD149 and honest Texans across the state.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 11, 2005 to Election 2004 | TrackBack