Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HCRP Chairman Woodfill Speaks to Greater Houston Pachyderm Club

Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) Chairman Jared Woodfill was the featured speaker at the weekly meeting of Greater Houston Pachyderm Club Tuesday.  The title of Woodfill's presentation was Vision For Victory 2014.

As a side note, Woodfill made mention that the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club was his first membership when he graduated from law school in 1993.  He received a warm welcome. Several candidates were present and they were introduced to the crowd.

Some interesting facts came forth in Woodfill's presentation.  Some well known and standard in his speeches, some were breaking newsworthy.  Let me go through his PowerPoint presentation and then I'll give some comments.

With two million registered voters in Harris County, it is the largest Republican county in the country. It is Ground Zero for keeping Texas a red state.  Liberals are making hay by claiming it is now a blue county and Woodfill wants you to know he does not agree with that claim.  He notes that 2010 was the best election cycle for the party in county history.  50,000 more GOP straight ticket voters went to the polls and State House Districts 133 and 134 turned to red from blue. And, the District Clerk race was won by a Republican.

In the national 2012 election cycle, GOP incumbents won in Harris County.  60,000 more straight ticket voters.  To make his point, Woodfill is often heard saying that Senator John Cornyn lost Harris county in 2008 but Ted Cruz won the county in 2012. And, Mitt Romney lost Harris county by less than 1,000 votes.  "Harris County is a long way from turning purple."

To get out the vote in 2014, Woodfill said the party is employing a "leave no precinct behind" action.  Precinct chairs and block captains are being recruited and deployed in all neighborhoods.

To combat problems like the three million Evangelical Christian voters who Woodfill alleges stayed home rather than going to vote in 2012, Woodfill proposes utilizing technology, as he acknowledges the party lags behind in that arena. In order to micro target voters, especially those with a particular issue that would move them to get to the polls and to work for candidates, Woodfill said HCRP should purchase software called "r Votes" - an advanced 
election system.  This is a product from a Silicon Valley software creator who successfully worked with Democrats in the 2008 election cycle.  The DNC eventually switched over to the system and used it in all 50 states.

rVotes was originally designed from the ground up, to empower the many State Political Parties and their allies, who all desperately needed a way better, unified election management system than the mediocre tools they were being provided from their National Party or any other vendor. Once you have rVotes as your core campaign and election technology, you will never understand how you worked without it. It will quickly become your ‘secret weapon’, and give you reliable tools that you previously only dreamed about. rVotes allows your organization to coordinate and run one or thousands of campaigns of any type or office, across any political boundaries within your entire state. Individual states are then tethered together to allow fully functional, national system, empowering your group with a centralized command and control center that’s actually a blast to use!

rVotes is also perfect for PACs, SuperPacs, Special Interest Groups, Church groups, the NRA – really any organization that wants to observe and/or influence the masses. Your data is all kept secure and private. By default, it is not accessible by any other campaign in the system. As the ‘parent’ organization, however, you can easily coordinate and control the efforts of all campaigns within the entire state that you oversee. You can instantly respond to the amazing details you can now see about your voters within all the sub-campaigns — down to the tiniest race for “Town Dog Catcher”.
Woodfill believes that time is of the essence and Harris County cannot not sit around and wait for the national party or the state party to get on board with this software.  He sent several people from the local party headquarters to Austin to learn about the software.  If heard correctly, Woodfill said the software purchase and implementation would involve a contractor with a 2 year contract and a price tag of $500,000.  He said he is meeting with donors next week and also hopes the state party will kick in to finance the venture.

To raise money for the local party, Woodfill touts the annual Lincoln Day Dinner, which brought in $150,000 this year and also the 12 For 12 program.  A donor commits to donating $12 a month to the party. 

Woodfill concentrated on growing the party through coalition building with the African America community.  While acknowledging the need to build coalitions with Hispanic and Asian communities, he spoke of the work being done by two long time party activists - Bill Calhoun and Mona Lisa in the African American community.  He noted that the African American voter pool is the 2nd largest by race.  The program put together is called TICKET - Target vacant precinct, Identify voter file, Contact, Keep in contact, Energize and Incentivize, and Train and develop chairs and candidates.  He noted that Texas doesn't identify race on voter records and Texas doesn't register voters by party.  With 25 precinct chairs now, the goal is to increase the number of African American precinct chairs to 100, and to have 100 delegates to the state convention.

Woodfill mentioned he is moving away from using the term "outreach" in favor of "connecting with the community".  

Woodfill spoke of working with the Liberty Caucus members, as well as Tea Party members. He spoke of a mentorship program that pairs judges with African American, Hispanic and Asian youth.  He spoke about the town hall meetings he has been conducting around the county.  

Under the name of "Integrated Conservatism" Woodfill said he wants to unite economic conservative and social conservatives to work together to put Republicans into office. He wants to draft conservative candidates who represent all communities.

On September 5, there will be a signing party for judicial candidates at the Westin Galleria.  He noted that this event was booked the farthest in advance that it ever has been in the past.

So, all of the above was included in Woodfill's presentation and speech to the crowd.  The two areas of breaking news as far as surprises go, for me, were the $500,000 price tag and proposed expenditure for the new - to us - software program and person to implement it (contractor) and the fact that he so casually incorporated it into the presentation.  Where did all of this come from?  Who is behind the idea and what is to be gained by those involved - particularly financially speaking.  We know the county party is usually strapped for cash.  Why hasn't this process been more transparent?

The second area of concern was the coalition building with the African American community plans but very little said about Hispanic or Asian coalition building measures.  The Asian community is the fastest growing community in Houston, though you would think it was the Hispanic community.  Traditionally, Asian Americans have been natural Republican voters.  This community should be a priority for the local party leadership.  Growing African American voter participation for our candidates is fine but it is a tough slog, especially in the near future.  Calhoun and Chambers are to be commended for their efforts, but, to be blunt here, they have been working this issue for quite some time with little proven results. Perhaps a foundation can be made but the growth that local Republican candidates will need in the next few elections will not be seen through the African American community in Harris County.

It is of concern that Woodfill continues to think that the 2010 election cycle is the new normal, rather than the 2008 and 2012 ones where Republican suffered losses.  Most who study elections think, as Judge Emmett does, that 2010 is an unusual case, not the new norm.  The Tea Party had a hand in the 2010 election successes for Republicans, as it was the fresh and newly enthusiastic voting crowd but that enthusiasm has evaporated in large part  now and cannot be counted on for reliable success at the polls.

Woodfill did not state that he is running for re-election.  He did, however, make a point of stating that he wants to "work with everyone" in the next elections. I'll leave it to you to determine what that means. No other declared or rumored candidate challengers against Woodfill in the upcoming primary race were present.  That was a mistake and a missed opportunity. Woodfill is not present frequently at events where the audience has the chance to ask questions.  This Power Point presentation is professional and loaded with numbers and facts.  Woodfill is a good cheerleader for the county party - which is, after all, at the top of his job description.  

Monday, May 27, 2013

True the Vote Files Lawsuit Against IRS and Its Employees

Last week, True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht held a conference call for media with the group's well known D.C. attorney, Cleta Mitchell, to announce that a lawsuit has been filed against the I.R.S.  There are three counts to the lawsuit. Mitchell is of counsel to True the Vote and ActRight Legal Foundation, a 501(c)3 fundamental rights and public interest law firm representing True the Vote. 

Count One:  Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to  26 USC § 7428.
Count Two:  Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote's constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote's exempt status.
Count Three:   Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.
“This is just the first of several cases ActRight Legal Foundation plans to file against the IRS and those within the agency who have violated the constitutional rights of these citizens’ organizations,” said Dr. John Eastman, Chairman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and of Counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation. 
That's right.  The headline here is that True the Vote is not only suing the I.R.S. but also those employees who participated in the witch hunt. 

Here are some named respondents you may be familiar with:

Acting Commissioner Douglas Shulman, Lois Lerner, Susan Maloney, Ronald Bell, Janine L. Estes, and Faye Ng.  

This is described as a demand for the truth.  During the IG's audit process, the employees were questioned without being sworn in.  The IG was clear in reminding the House committee during the hearings that the audit was not technically an investigation.  So, True the Vote wants to know why their tax exempt process has been so long in the making - over three years now - and how was responsible for making these requests.

Seems fair enough, right? 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Battleground Texas Turns to Houston Again

So, Jeremy Bird is headed back to Houston.  Attention Harris County Republicans - Battleground Texas is holding another meeting in our city.  To be held in another union headquarters, naturally, a request to RSVP is included in the announcement via email, as "the last time we were in Houston, it was standing - room only". 

Battleground Texas Senior Adviser, Jeremy Bird, is coming to Houston and he wants to meet you. Mark your calendars for May 30, 2013 from 4-6pm at the Communications Workers of America, Local 6222 Hall. 
Houston and it’s surrounding counties are critical to the effort of turning Texas into a battleground state. To date, we have helped over 1,200 volunteers become deputized to register voters in their community -- and we're just getting started.
At this grassroots meeting we will officially kickoff our voter registration drive, lay out the plan for the next few months and get imporant feedback from you.The last time we were in Houston, it was standing-room only – so RSVP today. See you there,
Jenn BrownExecutive Director, Battleground Texas

You remember Jeremy Bird, right? He's described as "National Field Director for the 2012 re-election campaign of President Barack Obama", by the Huffington Post,  he now has his sights set on turning Texas blue.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the efforts of Texas County Democratic Campaign Committee in relationship to the turning Texas blue momentum. The group is now moving right along, or wants us to think they are. On Facebook they continue to raise money.

From Facebook:

254 counties. Contribute a dime (or even a penny!) per county every month, and help us recruit and support Democrats for county offices across the Great State of Texas. Step up today with a recurring contribution of $2.54 or $25.40 and tell our local Democrats you've got their back!
You may remember that Team Obama was able to turn small money contributions into quite a game changer in the world of campaign money.  They caused a stir with the number of online small donations, for example, and the system which allowed those donations to be free of some traditional reporting requirements. 

Battleground Texas organizers admit that Houston and the surrounding area is crucial to turning Texas blue. Keep informed, Harris County Republicans.  Knowledge is power. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Greater Houston Council Updates Membership on PAC Treasurer Rules

The bi-monthly general membership meeting of Greater Houston Council of Federated Republican Women was held Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Sosa Center.  President Sherry Peterson presided and the program was a workshop-like information session on PAC Treasurer information.  Cynthia England, TFRW Treasurer and Julia Morton, TFRW PAC Treasurer distributed information handouts and explained laws and regulations for filing reports.  They answered the many questions posed by members in the audience.

A tribute was held for longtime Republican Woman volunteer and organizer, Lilian Norman Keeney who died recently, quite unexpectedly.  

Some candidates were acknowledged for their presence including Becky Berger, running for Texas Railroad Commission, and a representative from Jerry Patterson's office and Lt. Governor campaign.

Debbie Fancher, President of Spirit of Freedom Republican Women PAC, spoke about her opportunity to team up with Kim Chambers from TFRW and Lisa Roper from NFRW to work on Hispanic coalition building from the local, state and national level.  As an outgoing, enthusiastic Republican and Hispanic woman, Debbie is a good fit for the job.

Cheryl Daulton, President of Daughters of Liberty Republican Women PAC, spoke about some suggestions for future GHC meetings put forth by herself and other club presidents during a President Lunch with Sherry Peterson recently.  Many of the suggestions were good ones but have been done in the past with little or mixed results.  One suggestion was to have more workshop oriented programs instead of the usual mix of speakers featured by everyone else at meetings. 

I wish I had heard the need for coalition building with women in general, not just a focus on the Hispanic community.  Though the Hispanic community is important, women in general make up 56% of total voters and in order to win elections, the votes of women are needed.  According to this recent article, those at the national level realize the need for promoting and electing women candidates at the state and national levels.

Republicans’ quest for more women elected officials on their side continues today, with the Republican State Leadership Committee’s re-launch of its program aimed at electing more women down-the-ballot.RSLC Chairman Ed Gillespie, a former national party chairman, announced new leadership as well. Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will serve as co-chairs of the so-called “Right Women, Right Now” initiative.“We believe that one of the ways to grow our Republican Party is to create a strong pipeline of diverse leaders to put some new voices on the escalator to higher office,” Gillespie said on a call with reporters. “The first steps of that are these state offices.”
A new and improved Facebook page has been created.  Everyone is encouraged to ask friends and family to "Like" the page.  

West Pearland Republican Women PAC announced a fundraiser, featuring Fox News contributor and stand up comedian, Steven Crowder.  The date is August 24 and tickets can be purchased soon, so keep an eye on their website for updates: http://wprw.org/

Each Thursday a new video is put up by Crowder here: http://www.youtube.com/stevencrowder

Having Steven Crowder was a keynote speaker will sell tickets for younger women guests, which is a good way to build a coalition of up and coming Republican women activists.

The next general meeting is scheduled for September 17, 2013 at the Sosa Center.

Monday, May 20, 2013

We Are All Oklahomans Now

Monday we were all Oklahomans.  Well, mostly all of us.   

This is how Democrats reacted to the horrific tornado that touched down in Moore, Oklahoma Monday afternoon.

There was, as the devastation on the ground was beginning to make the breaking news report, the creator of the darling of liberal cable faux news shows, The Daily Show, taking to Twitter to declare that God targeted Oklahoma because of the conservatives living there.  Or something.

She did get around to apologizing for her behavior as she actually took a look at the news reports, instead of just knee jerking political hate speech. 

There was blaming Republicans for climate change.

Senator Whitehouse, in his lispy speaking voice, at the time the tornado was destroying entire swatches of Moore, Oklahoma, thought it was time to criticize Republicans for not agreeing on his ideas about climate change:

You've got a real winner there, voters of Rhode Island. Oh yeah, someone should point out to the intellectual senator from Rhode Island that it was a tornado that destroyed lives and property in Oklahoma, not a cyclone.

Back to Twitter, a reporter for Roll Call tweeted some snark to blast Republican lawmakers who want offsets to federal funding of disasters. By the way, it is Oklahoma's own Senator Coburn who usually tries to bring that into the equation, so there's that.

So, that is an example of liberals behaving badly in the midst of a crisis from the entertainment field, the U.S. Senate, and the world of journalism.  

There is a time and place for political discussions. As bodies are pulled from rubble and towns are destroyed from natural disasters is not that time.

The number of those who are dead continues to rise.  Twenty-four third graders are among that number. Hold the people of Moore, Oklahoma in your thoughts and prayers. Thank the first responders who run towards the rubble. Thank the volunteers who are moving supplies to the area.

Here is how you can help out, if you are able:
1. Samaritan's Purse: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/oklahoma-tornado-response/
2. American Red Cross: redcross.org
3. The Salvation Army: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/uss/eds/aok

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Carpe Diem, Republicans. Seize A Golden Opportunity

The days following the exposure of the abuses carried out by the Internal Revenue Service have brought about some interesting reactions.  We have seen and heard reactions across the political spectrum.  While Democrats hope to assure the public that this is something that both parties have engaged in over the course of history and Republicans are busy trying to lasso President Obama into every devious action, I continue to believe this is a golden opportunity for Republicans, both on Capitol Hill and in their local communities. 

From my representative in Congress, Congressman John Culberson writes:

The politicization of the Internal Revenue Service is Nixonian in its means and un-American in its ends. Respect for the rule of law is the foundation of our Republic, and the Administration’s complete disregard for it is frightening. I am actively working with other Members of Congress to find those responsible, hold them accountable, and make sure that this cannot happen again. I have already contacted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asking for answers about the scandal. Additionally, I have cosponsored theTaxpayer Nondiscrimination and Protection Act , which reaffirms the Constitutional right of political expression and makes it a federal crime for the IRS to discriminate in this manner.

Here is the opinion of Dan Pfeiffer, spokesperson for President Obama. The law is irrelevant. Ponder this arrogance for a moment:

So, we have conservatives demanding accountability, which is good, and sponsoring additional legislation, which may or may not be necessary.  On the other hand, we have a member of Team Obama dismissing the rule of law as irrelevant.  

My argument would center around the opportunity for Republicans to really get out there and promote the core of Republican philosophy - the country is better served by smaller, more efficient government.  The liberal push during the Obama years has been to expand government at every opportunity.  The IRS scandal is a prime opportunity to shine a light on the impending disaster of the IRS involvement in the implementation and enforcement of Obamacare.

Not only are the officials involved in the IRS abusive actions still employed and on the job, but some were actually promoted and received generous bonuses for their work.

The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.
While the talking point still being used is that the sheer number of applications for tax exempt status increased in 2010 and resulted in putting the additional - abusive - scrutiny on mostly conservative sounding groups and individual, even this has been debunked.  

But Todd Young, a Republican congressman from Indiana, pointed out atFriday's House Ways and Means Committee hearing with former acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George that this was not the case, according to the very data the IRS provided to the Treasury IG's office. 
There were, he noted, actually fewer applications for tax-exempt status by groups seeking to be recognized as social-welfare organizations that year than the previous one, according to this IRS data. The real surge in applications did not come until 2012 -- the year the IRS stopped the practice of treating the Tea Party class of groups differently from others.

For an example of abuse of an individual, Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot,'s story tells the tale of what he experienced after generously donating to the campaign of Mitt Romney.

So, when Mr. Miller showed up to testify about the whole mess before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, he became the face of an inefficient and bloated bureaucracy gone wild.

Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who was fired by President Obama this week but is sticking around to help with the transition, was almost casual about the pattern of biased enforcement that cost him his job. Earlier this week he blamed the political targeting on "rogue" officials in Cincinnati, but on Friday he said the behavior was "obnoxious" but that he does "not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the inspector general's report." He even took issue with the word "targeting."
Mr. Miller said the whole thing is a misunderstanding based on 
Mr. Miller said the whole thing is a misunderstanding based on some "foolish mistakes" made by "people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection." What really happened at the IRS wasn't an attempt to silence the Administration's political enemies during an election season but a simple case of "horrible customer service," he said.

This is where Republicans come in.  This is where Republicans can seize the day and explain to the voting public that taxpayers are not customers of the IRS but that taxpaying is mandatory in our society.  There is no choice to avoid all taxes and remain within legal boundaries of doing so.  Our bloated, invasive tax code must be reformed and made more manageable so that abuses are not occurring in the future.  The answer is not to write more laws, it is to explain that the IRS is comprised of thousands of employees, not to mention that lots of people are dependent on the the tax business of clients to help wade through it all - accountants, CPA's, tax lawyers, and so on. The tax paying process must be streamlined and made less complicated.

Republicans can now easily point to the mess that the IRS will make of the implementation of Obamacare in the very near future.  Already HHS Secretary Sebelius is on the hot seat for reaching out - some say strong arming - private companies to finance the latest behemoth brought to us by big government liberals.

 A handful of congressional committees are looking into Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ solicitation of monetary contributions from private companies to help fund an organization that promotes Obamacare.Sebelius sought donations from various groups after Congress failed to make appropriations to Enroll America, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to promoting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and making sure the public is aware of its potential benefits. The group is operated by Anne Filipic, former White House deputy director for public engagement.An HHS spokesman initially denied that Sebelius was seeking the contributions. But the agency reversed course and later maintained that the secretary was authorized to seek assistance under the Public Health Service Act, which permits the secretary to work in behalf of nonprofit groups that offer health information. Justice Department regulations further permit cabinet members to seek contributions to organizations as a private citizen as long as they don’t use their official title or “solicit funds from a subordinate or from someone who has or seeks business with the Department.”Sebelius has denied asking for money from any firm regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Carpe diem, Republicans.  Seize a golden opportunity when it presents itself.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Texans Deserve Protection Afforded by Cook Amendment

My fellow Texans, State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook needs your support.  It is time for activists to do what they do best - get on the phone and get online and tell your elected officials that you expect them to do the right thing and support  his amendment, which was to be a part of driver license bill (SB 1729) but was pulled due to a point of order Friday.  Chairman Cook vows to fight on.

SB 1729, as reported HERE, is sponsored by Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, and he thought that if Cook's amendment was attached to his original bill, Governor Perry would veto it upon arrival on his desk.  So, to save his bill, Taylor called a point of order on the amendment, thus killing it.  As the article states:

His amendment to SB 1729, a driver’s license bill, would have required that undocumented immigrants get a new permit if they are going to continue to legally drive in Texas. Until a change in the law in 2011, people did not have to prove they were in compliance with federal immigration laws to get a Texas driver’s license. Now, many who had licenses cannot renew them.
 His amendment to SB 1729, a driver’s license bill, would have required that undocumented immigrants get a new permit if they are going to continue to legally drive in Texas. Until a change in the law in 2011, people did not have to prove they were in compliance with federal immigration laws to get a Texas driver’s license. Now, many who had licenses cannot renew them.
Let's ponder this for a moment.  Why would an elected official fear a veto from Governor Perry on this amendment, which, in fact, amounts to a public safety issue?  It is because the governor could face criticism for requiring undocumented immigrants to legally drive in Texas?  If a driver does not have a current drivers license or permit, that driver is denied auto insurance.  If an uninsured driver hits you or your loved ones in an automobile accident, how does that person seek compensation?  

Furthermore, with a legal driving permit, drivers in Texas are in the state database and are, therefore, traceable.  This is just common sense.  It is not a soft on undocumented immigrants issue, it is a public safety issue.  A legal driving permit in no way changes a person's legal status in our country or in our state.

Chairman Cook has the support of " the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Restaurant Association, the Greater Houston Partnership and multiple other heavy hitters in the business community".  This is smart business practice.  “Texans shouldn’t wait for a federal solution that may take years,” Cook, R-Corsicana, said on the House floor.

How about that part of the equation?  Texans pride themselves on a spirit of independence from the federal government, right?  This amendment allows Texans to move forward and not wait for whatever policy comes out of Washington, D.C. in the form of immigration reform.  Much like the issue of undocumented immigrants  and state college tuition which provides educated young people to our society though they are here by no course of action of their own, this is just smart public policy for Texas.  

Chairman Cook vows to put his amendment on other bills, where appropriate.  

“This is all about making sure that drivers drive with licenses or permits and insurance,” Cook said. The same language passed out of State Affairs Committee as a stand-alone bill with bipartisan support. He pointed out that the language that caused the issue in the first place was in the fiscal matters bill in 2011, so lawmakers didn’t vote on it separately at that time.
“You have a whole group of people that have historically driven legally and responsibly with insurance and can no longer renew their driver’s license,” Cook said.

Chairman Cook should be applauded for his courage of conviction.  He has written good public policy, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, and the amendment deserves a vote.

House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on IRS Abuse Scandal

The very bad week for President Obama was pulled together in summary like this:

Any administration is led from the top down.  As a matter of fact, this White House is fond of declaring that this president is very hands-on.  Their story line is President Obama micro-manages all aspects and decisions.  You may remember that even in the raid on bin Laden's estate, the President all but took credit for pulling the trigger and shooting the world's most hunted terrorist.  Hollywood made a movie about that raid.  The White House released a drama riddled photo with Hillary Clinton clasping her hand over her mouth as Team Obama watched the event in real time.  Though President Obama has claimed that the buck stops with him a few times, he has yet to declare that the recent scandals coming to light are brought about by failures in his leadership.  He doesn't appreciate the comparisons with the disgraced Nixon administration, either.

Republicans have a real opportunity here. No one is making a better argument for smaller, more efficient government - the very core of Republican philosophy - than Barack Obama and his merry band of big government loving fellow liberals.  Case in point - the televised House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the IRS abuse of power, as shown in the targeting of conservative groups and individuals alike.  The acting commissioner, Steve Miller, has resigned at the request of the White House, though he was scheduled to retire in a couple of weeks anyway.  Miller was held out as a measure of accountability taken by President Obama as he made a very brief, and essentially meaningless statement Thursday after it became clear he could not postpone weighing in any longer. In reality, the man is retiring with full benefits and perks even though he knew about the scandal a full year ago and said nothing.  It is noted that Miller knew about the targeting of conservatives back in May, 2012.  

 But if all of this is such a non-issue, why did it take the department so long to acknowledge its mistakes? The Treasury Inspector General report released this week shows that Mr. Miller knew about the use of conservative keywords in tax-exempt vetting in May 2012, months before the Presidential election. Republicans were asking about it at the time. If it wasn't a political bombshell, why didn't he make it public immediately?

And it is being conveniently overlooked by a less than vigilant press that Miller admitted that the person who admitted the abuse - Ms Lerner - during a question and answer period after a speech last Friday, thus getting out in front of the Treasury IG's report. She was even in cahoots with the questioner.

Instead, the agency's Tax Exempt Organization Director Lois Lerner broke the story last Friday in response to a question at a meeting of the American Bar Association in Washington. She implied at the time that her apology for the targeting, conveniently timed to front-run the Treasury IG report, was a spontaneous answer to a surprise question from the audience.
But Friday's hearing revealed that the IRS planted the question that was asked by Washington tax lawyer Celia Roady, who serves on the IRS's Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities. So it was an inside job, and Ms. Lerner knew the question was coming. This may seem a small bit of spin-control hoping to minimize the story before a spring weekend. But if Ms. Lerner fibbed so casually about that, what else are we supposed to trust her on? 
Mr. Miller said this was not some intentional abuse implemented from political ideology on the part of those in the IRS taking wrong headed actions. No. It was bad decisions and really bad 'customer service'. 

Did the IRS's systemic harassment of conservative groups stem from bad intent or bad management? "From my understanding, it was bad management," Mr. Miller asserted. There were a "lack of controls," and "foolish mistakes" were made "by people who were trying to be more efficient in their workload selection."
Thus, by Mr. Miller's lights, IRS agents were merely trying to do their jobs better and got a little sloppy. Perhaps Mr. Miller expects taxpayers to be grateful that their well-intentioned public servants were so dogged and diligent. He did, however, apologize for the agency's "horrible customer service," as if the IRS's targeting conservative groups is tantamount to a McDonald's MCD +0.42% employee forgetting the pickles and tomatoes in a Big Mac. 

Conservative columnist and pundit George Will notes that Barack Obama has lost the American people's trust in expanding the federal government.  Obama's very bad week shows that the growing scandals reflect a collapse in confidence that an already grossly inefficient, lumbering federal bureaucratic system will only be more so as liberals rush to write even more laws and regulations to 'fix' the holes popping forth.

In the case of the IRS abuses, this is a perfect opportunity for Republicans to promote tax reforms, streamlining the tax code, and make a more people friendly system of filing tax reports.  Too many people make lots of money off a dinosaur system for that all to happen quickly but Republicans can begin chipping away at the system now in place.

Mr. Miller inadvertently showed the face of big liberalism.  He was the face of the ultimate government bureaucrat.  His performance was less than stellar before the House committee and at times showed himself to be petulant and snappish in his answers.  Much like his boss, President Obama, he tried to present himself as the fall guy without actually taking responsibility.  He was quick to point at others, including his employees in offices like those in Ohio with whom the original stories originated.  Democrats were quick to blame George W. Bush, as is their habit, because he appointed the former commissioner.  I'll note that he also appointed the Treasury IG, Mr. George, who was also before the committee and provided nothing but professional reporting of his investigation.  The Democrats didn't have the nerve to question his ethics for partisan reasons.  Somehow, it makes sense to Democrats to blame George W. Bush for appointing someone who was in place when the abuse began, apparently for partisan reasons, though Bush was from the other party.  Only in Washington.

To date, none of this is directly linked to Barack Obama.  This is not the time for Republicans to personally attack the president, other than noting that leadership comes from the top and that the president sets the tone for his administration.  That's legitimate criticism.  But, the focus has to remain on the contrast in political philosophy between those conservatives promoting smaller, more efficient government versus liberals who demand ever growing government programs and agencies.  

Elections can be won in 2014 and especially in 2016 if Republicans are willing to work smart now.  Resist the temptation to go after Barack Obama personally.  Go after the behemoth that is the federal government.  Candidates promoting solutions involving states and local governments over federal government interference will find an audience in the upcoming election cycle.  On that you can be sure.

Reflecting the citizen outrage at an abusive IRS, Congressman Mike Kelly received a standing ovation during the committee hearing for this:

Work smart, Republicans.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weekly Update on Battleground Texas

From an email received last weekend from Jenn Brown, Executive Director:

I am amazed. Less than three weeks ago we launched a program to have Texans trained by their counties to register new voters. And in the first few weeks, over 1,000 Texans have already been trained. Can you imagine -- 1,000 grassroots volunteers working shoulder-to-shoulder with our field organizers making sure that every voice and every vote counts. And we're just getting started
Then the appeal for donations, with the intended use of said donations stated as:
...it allows us to hire more organizers, to open more field offices and to communicate with more voters. In short -- what you donate makes all the difference. 
That is something Republicans aren't doing - raising money and hiring professional organizers to get out and register voters, train and deputize people to register voters, and setting up enough field offices around the state.  This is the problem with complacency and continued denial of oncoming battles.

And, Democrats are good at asking for the small donations, too.  In Thursday's email, three blurbs about volunteers active in Battleground Texas, according to Executive Director Jenn Brown, was used as a tie-in to asking for $3 donations to help support the group.

Recently, we asked Battleground Texas supporters like you what you're fighting for -- and the outpouring of responses was inspiring.
Bill, a retired teacher, spent many years on the front lines of our broken public education system, witnessing the consequences of cuts to teacher pay and overcrowded classrooms. He volunteers with Battleground Texas to advocate for the millions of Texas schoolchildren left behind by Republican policies.
Jessica, from El Paso, is fighting for access to health care. Her brother received treatment for his liver disease because he qualified for aid, but she knows too many other families who haven't been as lucky. As a newly deputized voter registrar, she's dedicated to spreading the message of affordable health care as a basic human right.
Barbara, from Houston, started organizing for the first time in 2008 at the age of 72. Today, she runs phone banks, organizes in her neighborhood, and registers new voters.
This is just a snapshot of the volunteers who make Battleground Texas strong, and the fact is their work -- and this organization -- depends on grassroots support from people like you. It takes resources to build the organization we need to support and train volunteers like Bill, Jessica, and Barbara, and every dollar that comes in the door puts more boots on the ground across Texas.
Help Battleground Texas grow and support these amazing volunteers -- donate $3 or more today. 

This is how they work.  This is how they register voters - using paid "volunteers".  This is how they raise money - hitting up supporters for small donations on a regular basis.  These small amounts add up over time. Remember, Barack Obama raised record amounts of money in his presidential bids and these are the people who were on the front lines of his campaigns.

Do not underestimate them.  Do not passively sit back and allow state or local leaders to tell you that everything is ok for Republicans holding on to power in Texas.  Get involved.  Recruit viable candidates willing to put in the work to get elected.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Obama Issues Statement on IRS Abuse of Power

So now we know what exactly it takes for the White House press corps to actually hold this White House responsible for its actions.  It takes a violation of their own First Amendment rights for journalists in Washington, D.C. to finally be curious about the workings of Team Obama.  It took the discovery that the Department of Justice was demanding phone records from the Associated Press in pursuit of a source of alleged national security leaks to stiffen the spine of the White House press corps and demand some answers about other scandals, too.

It has been a very bad week for Barack Obama and his loyalists.  With the work week barely half way complete, President Obama was forced to come out before those who cover his every move after 6:00PM and issue a very brief statement on the ever growing scandal concerning the IRS.  He issued no apologies to those conservative groups targeted since 2010.  He took no responsibility - "the buck stops here" was never uttered.

He claimed he was angry over the abusive practices in place used by the IRS to target conservative groups and deny them tax exempt status. He, however, never really either sounded angry or looked angry.

"I've reviewed the Treasury Department watchdog's report, and the misconduct that it uncovered was inexcusable," Obama said in a statement at the White House. "It's inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it."
He said the acting commissioner of the IRS submitted his resignation to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and that resignation has been accepted.

President Obama fired acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller on Wednesday, two days after claiming it was an "independent" agency. That was certainly a rapid re-education. But Mr. Miller shouldn't be the only fall guy, because the 54-page report released Tuesday by the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration makes clear that the tax agency tried to quash the political speech of groups opposed to Democrats during a Presidential election.Beginning in early 2010, the report says, IRS officials in Cincinnati began using "inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention." The Cincinnati workers also developed a spreadsheet that was dubbed "Be On The Look Out" with key words to target conservative groups.Over the next 18 months those groups found their applications delayed, and they were served with aggressive and burdensome questionnaires as part of the process of applying for tax-exempt status. Of the 170 groups that got requests for extra information, the Treasury report finds that 98 or 58% of the requests were unnecessary.

President Obama stated three points in his brief statement Wednesday night - timed beautifully to coincide with the end of the evening news shows - which were: 1. Hold responsible parties accountable. Acting Comm of IRS resignation accepted. 2. Put in place new safeguards. 3.Work with Congress in oversight.  
If he is to hold people accountable, he'll need to fire a few more people than the one he's fired so far. What does it say that he hasn't bothered to appoint a full commissioner to the IRS, going into his second term, anyway? The IRS expands to even larger numbers with the implementation of Obamacare.
Also, it was not the lack of laws that caused this abuse of power. It was the lawbreakers that are responsible for this scandal. The laws are already there.
This president has proven to be completely lacking in leadership skills.  He has been incredibly partisan in his speech, including commencement addresses to recent college graduates.  He is thin-skinned and unable to separate criticism of his political philosophy and policies from himself.  Every criticism is considered a personal attack.  HERE is a good summary of the verbal challenges Barack Obama has issued to the loyal followers in dealing with Republicans or conservatives or any opponent. It is, therefore, rather a stretch to believe his honesty as he calls once again for a united front from all Americans to confront any issue.
This scandal grows by the day.  Barack Obama's very bad week is not over. The AP scandal continues as well as the Benghazi cover-up story.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Democrats Push On to Turn Texas Blue

President Obama comes to Texas Thursday to promote what he refers to as middle class jobs and opportunities.  Sure, we've seen it all before from him and the failed initiatives promoted from his first term, but this time he comes to Texas.  Texas is a model for the rest of the country for job creation and opportunities for all.

Why is the president coming to Texas, after ignoring the state for the last four years?  It is clear to me that this is another cog in the wheel that is the plan to help turn Texas into a blue state in elections.  The groundwork has been laid to make Texas a competitive state for Democrats.  The efforts may not bear fruit as early as the 2014 elections but it will be noticeable in 2016 and beyond if Texas Republicans do not take the efforts seriously.  It is past time to end the attitude that Texas is a solidly red state and the plans of the Democrats are much ado about nothing.

President Obama's campaign partner, Organizing for America, has morphed into an effort to campaign and promote Obama's second term agenda.  They are behind such efforts as Battleground Texas.  All of that group's leadership comes directly from Team Obama.

So far, it’s going very well.“Texans are so excited, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before,” said Battleground Texas’ executive director, Jenn Brown, the 31-year-old community organizer from Southern California who ran Obama’s field operation in indispensable Ohio in 2012. “Texans are ready. It’s time.”Battleground Texas just completed the first phase of its launch – 14 organizing meetings from Houston to Lubbock that drew 3,200 people interested in signing on to the effort, and the kind of breakout coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Economist and the like that accorded the infant initiative serious consideration as at least potentially a bellwether of epochal political change.

Joining in the efforts, a newly organized group has begun. The Texas County Democratic Campaign Committee has been established with the goal to be "focused on recruiting and supporting county-level Democratic candidates outside of our current urban strongholds." 

This effort fits well with the Battleground Texas agenda.  It's all about micro-targeting voters in all communities, not just traditional areas of support.  With the ever-increasing population gains in Texas brought about by people from other states seeking jobs from other states, the voter demographics are changing.  For example, Republicans now have voters living within inner city neighborhoods and Democrats see an increase in their voter population out in the surrounding suburbs.

We want to start by focusing on the policy and budgeting end of county government – commissioners and county judges, for the most part. Administrative and law enforcement offices are a different animal, and we’ll need more time and study to figure out where those might fit in to our plan. In some counties they carry more authority than others. We don’t want to box ourselves out of anything at this point, so we will certainly examine any opportunity. But the commissioners’ courts are where our focus is for now.

All politics is local, right? Right.

And, to round it all out, a wealthy Texas woman is helping Democratic women candidates win local elections, too.  At a fundraising luncheon this week for a group headquartered in Austin called Annie's List, this success is noted via email:

I can't believe how great the turnout was at our Houston Luncheon yesterday! Thank you to the 500 women and men that attended our 10th Anniversary Celebration as we gathered with Mayor Annise Parker to hear from our keynote speaker, progressive activist and women's rights champion Sandra Fluke.Yesterday, Annie's List Board Chair, Amber Mostyn, announced a call to action for Houston: she and her husband Steve offered to match every dollar raised up to $30,000!  
So, follow the money if you want to know what is going on in the world of politics.  Steve Mostyn is the very wealthy Houston attorney and big donor to Democrats who is now associated with the Battleground Texas effort. His wife is Amber, also an attorney.  Locally, Annie's List has endorsed the re-election of Mayor Annise Parker.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Support SB 346 To Demand Transparency in Pay for Play Slates

SB 346 is exactly the kind of transparency bill that Texans deserve.

Introduced by Rep Seliger, a Republican, SB 346 is a good defense against the corrupt play for pay slates system in place, such as that in Harris County.

SB 346  would end the reporting loop hole for certain tax exempt groups that are politically active but are not filing financial reports thus hiding their donor lists.  This bill, if passed, would require groups – like the “pay to play slates”- that enjoy donor anonymity to fully disclose from whence their funding comes.

This bill has a very interesting history.  It passed easily out of Senate State Affairs committee.   It then went to the Senate floor where it passed 25-4 and was then sent over to the House.  The next day these lobbyists caught on to the bill’s passage and pressured Senators claiming there would be “unintended consequences” to the bill, meaning they would have to disclose which candidates paid for their endorsements and other political lobbying activities.These guys hate the bill so much that, the next day, they convinced the Senate to hold a recall vote on the bill.  Recall votes are a maneuver usually reserved for bills with technical difficulties.

By this time, the bill was already in committee in the House, where it was passed out exactly as it was presented. Sources in the know report that the bill will pass the House but the rumor is that if it survives conference committee, the Governor will veto the bill. Failure to pass this bill will be a slap in the face and a clear sign that the Governor and the Senate believe that we don’t deserve to be fully informed voters.

Please, contact your Representatives, your Senator and the Governor’s office IMMEDIATELY and demand the passage of SB 346 into law. Support the members of the House who showed political courage and did the right thing.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ugly Video Surfaces Featuring HCRP Vacancy Committee Member

If you are keeping up with Harris County Republican Party activities you probably have heard about the whistleblower who is taking on the very corrupt process of filling vacancies of GOP precinct chairs. If not, the whistleblower is a young gay man who applied to fill his precinct's GOP chairmanship, as it was vacant seat. He was denied the spot on a vote of 5-4 by the Vacancy Committee.

A  spreecast  Tuesday night centered on a friend's interview with Chris Busby.  Chris related his interview conducted by the HCRP Vacancy Committee in detail.  It was, frankly, hard to listen to.  It embarrasses me as a Republican woman to hear such heinous behavior representing the county Republican party.

Look what has surfaced.  My friend Felicia put this up in connection to her spreecast Tuesday. Right there in the middle of the protesters against the Log Cabin Republicans at the 1998 Republican Party of Texas' convention in Fort Worth is Terry Lowry.  Watch the video and see for yourself.  His name identifies his face in the video. The video, by the way, was produced by the Log Cabin Republicans in D.C.


The same man waved his own copy of "the gay agenda" and asked Chris about it during his inquisition, er, interview before the HCRP Vacancy Committee.  Aren't familiar with such a document? Me, either, so I googled it.  Here's a link:

Now, why did Mr. Lowry just happen to have a copy on his person that night?  Does he just carry it around, like a pocket sized copy of the Constitution, maybe? Sure sounds like a man with his own agenda to me. Who died and left him King of the Harris County Republican Party?

I think it is important to get this video out and as many eyes on it as possible.  This is what reasonable Republicans are up against within our own party.  The time for change is now.

There was once a time when the Republican party represented a call for ethics in character. Is it ethical that someone who publishes a pay for play slate is a member of the Vacancy Committee?  A Harris County judge I spoke with recently pondered that question, as well.

HERE is a clip of what I'm referring to now on YouTube: