So a few weeks ago, this group called the Greater Harris County Democrats, whom no one had ever heard of and who listed no actual members on its web page appeared and circulated via email a group of candidates they endorsed. It caused a bit of a stir, partly because of the "who the heck are these guys?" question, and partly because some of the candidates they backed were not exactly racking up the endorsements elsewhere. I didn't blog about them at the time because I thought there was no need to give a phony group more attention, but some other folks did, and raised a few more questions about them.
And now we have some answers, thanks to a little sleuthing by the Chron's Alan Bernstein, who looked into their contributors after receiving a mailer from the group:
There is no information on the card about the folks who are making the endorsements. Ditto for the group's website. But the Houston Politics blog solved the riddle in a suave snap by going to the Texas Ethics Commission website.
The 10 contributors to the organization include state Rep. Kevin Bailey ($1,000), Constable Gary Freeman ($250) and state House candidate Jose Medrano ($50).
Lo and behold, Bailey, Freeman and Medrano also are on the list of candidates endorsed by the Greater Harris County Democrats. Essentially they paid money to advertise themselves.
Another endorsed candidate is judicial contender Marc Isenberg, shown on state records as having paid $1,500 to political consultant Sheryl Roppolo. And guess who contributed $1,000 to help circulate the endorsement list? Ms. Roppolo, of course. She serves on the Texas Democratic Executive Committee with Joy Demark, whose home is listed as the address for Greater Harris County Democrats.
Meanwhile, in Endorsements That Actually Mean Something, Congressman Gene Green sent out the following email yesterday in support of Bailey's opponent, Armando Walle:
I want to let you know I am supporting Armando Walle in his race against Kevin Bailey in Texas House District 140. I know Armando very well. He has worked on our congressional staff for six years. I saw him tackle tough projects, deal directly with constituents and represent me out in the community. Armando always showed high character and great devotion to service.
At the same time I have watched as Kevin Bailey has become a political opportunist-- whether it be attacking Armando's character in his negative mailings or supporting Republican Speaker Tom Craddick. And while I find Bailey's campaign tactics disappointing, it is his support of the Republican speaker that is most upsetting.
By supporting Speaker Craddick, Bailey has enabled some of the worse legislation in Texas history to become law. Bailey's actions have helped the Republican speaker:
- take away the health insurance of hundreds of thousands of Texas children
- raise college tuition by 70% at the University of Houston
- pass an "education" bill that did not give one new dime to schools
- block all efforts to rid our air of dangerous chemicals
Kevin Bailey will say he did not vote to do these things, but by voting for and supporting the Republican speaker he is every bit as responsible.
That is why I am asking you to join me in supporting Armando Walle for State Representative. Please click here to contribute to Armando's campaign.
Congressman Gene Green
And finally, in Austin, actor Mike Farrell, best known as BJ Hunnicutt from M*A*S*H, is supporting Rick Reed for Travis County DA. The email he sent out was very strongly anti-death penalty (Farrell is a longtime death penalty opponent), and despite my own deep misgivings about the death penalty, it came across as a bit harsh and off-putting to me. To be honest, it would probably not have the intended effect on me, but I'm not voting in Travis County, so no harm no foul. I've reproduced it beneath the fold, so you can judge for yourself.
A message from Mike Farrell regarding the race for Travis County District Attorney in Texas
Yes, in Texas, prosecutors can pursue the death penalty for some types of crimes.
We can strap human beings to a table, inject them with a chemical cocktail that anesthetizes, paralyzes, and triggers cardiac arrest, resulting in what some would call a "humane death."
Texas can hope new technologies won't exonerate these men and women in the future. We can look the other way from all the inequities in death sentencing by race and economic class.
We can even punish people with lethal injection and feel justified that ... well, at least we're not hanging, electrocuting or standing them in front of a firing squad...
...but we don't have to.
Just because you can do something in Texas doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
Rick Reed is the only candidate for Travis County District Attorney who has pledged to halt the practice of seeking the death penalty.
Rick Reed is positioned to win this race and strike a major blow against the death penalty in Texas.
Only one thing stands in his way -- getting this television ad on the air. Unfortunately, many Travis County voters will never hear Rick Reed's message...
...unless we have your help. TAKE ACTION TODAY!
If 199 other opponents of the death penalty will join me and contribute just $100 to the Rick Reed campaign, we can purchase the television time we need to get our message in front of Travis County voters.
Go online now and make a secure contribution with a credit card. $100 is ideal, any amount will help.
Forward this message to others you know who care about this issue. Ask them to also help.
Because we can do something about the death penalty in Texas ... and it's the right thing to do.