A judge in Austin has ruled in favor of the Texas Democratic Party in a motion to bar the Green Party from the ballot this fall on the grounds that the funds used to collect their signatures were illegal corporate contributions.
Attorneys for the Green Party said they would quickly appeal to the Texas Supreme Court in hopes of meeting a July 2 deadline to get the list of candidates to the state secretary of state for a spot on the ballot.
“We have to have the right to carry these nominees over to the secretary of state’s office and if that’s prohibited, the election moves on without the Texas Green Party nominees,” said attorney Steven Smith, a former Republican state Supreme Court Justice who is representing the Green Party.
State District Judge John Dietz ruled that restricted corporate money was used to support the signature drive and did not comply with state election law. The judge said he expected an appellate court to stay his decision.
“We’re obviously never happy about making it difficult for parties or interests to get on the ballot, but we couldn’t stand for corporations coordinated by the inner circle of Rick Perry’s office trying to buy access for another party,” said Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party.
The most interesting testimony concerned Rick Perry’s former chief of staff.
Mike Toomey, a lobbyist and former chief of staff to Gov. Rick Perry, personally paid for an aborted effort to qualify the Green Party of Texas for the ballot, according to court testimony Thursday morning.
The testimony came from Garrett Mize, who led the failed petition effort beginning last fall. He said Toomey paid him $2,000 a month for about six months with a personal check.
Mize was approached to run the effort by a family friend, Stuart Moss, who at the time worked for a Republican political consulting and public relations firm run by former Perry communications director Eric Bearse. Bearse said Moss no longer works for him.
Mize quit the effort in April after he grew uncomfortable that Republican interests were driving the initiative and not informing the Green Party.
That wasn’t the only money being spent by Republican operatives working hard to get the Greens on the ballot, of course. There was a whole lot more where that came from.
A group with ties to Republicans paid $532,500 to gather petition signatures to land the Green Party of Texas on this year’s state ballot.
At least one high-ranking Green Party official thinks that money was a corporate donation.
In a June 10 e-mail to other Green Party officials, state party treasurer David Wager said, “I was promised by a representative of Take Initiative America that the organization was not a corporation and that he would comply with all disclosure requests. Today I was informed that the organization is in fact a corporation and they will not disclose their donors. They claim that their collection of signatures and in-kind contribution was not political. I don’t agree. In my opinion, we have no choice but to refuse the signatures.”
That sure sounds like a problem to me. Did you notice how many professional Republicans are helping out the Greens in this effort? Smith, Toomey, Andy Taylor, David Rogers, Cleta Mitchell – it’s almost as if this were really important to them.