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The sweet smell of desperation

Orlando Sanchez may not have scraped the bottom of the barrel yet, but he’s within reach.

Mayoral candidate Orlando Sanchez went on the attack Monday, attempting to link the owner of the company for which opponent Bill White works to international terrorism.


Sanchez started the day with a news conference demanding that White answer questions about why Wedge Group owner Issam Fares defended Hezbollah after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“If he were seeking his old job (as deputy secretary of the U.S. Energy Department), Mr. White’s relationships with a foreign leader and terrorist supporter would likely disqualify him from getting a security clearance,” Sanchez said.

White labeled the allegations “wild and irresponsible.”

“If we drive out international investors with scare tactics and exaggerations, it will hurt our city,” he said.

Sanchez said that White has “tried to dodge the issue by saying that some Republican leaders gave speeches where Mr. Fares was in the room.” Sanchez contended that those speeches occurred “prior to September 11, 2001, and before Mr. Fares made his shocking pro-Hezbollah statements.”

“Desperate” is the only word I can think of that adequately describes this tactic of a Last Minute Shocking Revelation of something that’s been known since White entered the race in February. If this really does demonstrate ties to terrorism, then a few other people have some ‘splaining to do:

Two years ago, a Fares-endowed fund paid incoming Secretary of State Colin Powell $200,000 for a 30-minute talk at Tufts University. Fares also ponied up a $100,000 contribution for President George W. Bush’s inaugural festivities. Media reports focused on allegations that the Lebanese official was trying to buy influence with the new administration.

And from the Chron article:

White’s campaign distributed a videotape of a speech last February in which former President Bush lauded Fares, deputy prime minister of Lebanon, during the annual Issam Fares lecture at Tufts University. Bush made the inaugural lecture of the series in 1994.

“With Issam Fares here I feel blessed by being with a very good close friend and, Issam, thank you for your role in all of this,” Bush said in his February speech.

Bush and wife, Barbara, who live in Houston, endorsed Sanchez in his 2001 mayoral runoff loss to Mayor Lee Brown. They have stayed out of the 2003 race.

Jean Becker, chief of staff to Bush, said Monday that the former president has known Fares for many years and has no reason to believe he is involved with terrorists. Bush is disappointed that this would become an issue during the final days of the mayoral race, Becker said.

Perhaps this is why the Bush family hasn’t backed Sanchez this year. Perhaps this is Orlando’s revenge on them for not backing him. It’s not nice to accuse people who might appoint you to a consolation-prize job of terrorist ties, Orlando.

Early voting ends today, and the election is Saturday. Get out there and vote!

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One Comment

  1. kevin whited says:

    The government of Lebanon is a proxy for Syria, which remains a state sponsor of terror (mainly directed against Israel). It’s still quite a fantastic stretch to link Bill White to Hezbollah. Bizarre, actually, Why not focus on Bill White’s regional moblity gas tax plans, or his waffling on the rain tax? Those are potentially salient issues. Certainly more salient than fantastic allegations like this one!

    This truly is one of the most inept campaigns I’ve seen. I don’t know that Orlando had much of a chance if he’d run a brilliant campaign, given the money White has been willing to spend. At least it gives future mayoral candidates a lesson in how not to run a campaign.