Friday, February 14, 2014

Simpson and Woodfill Spar Over Pay for Play Endorsements

A couple of interesting political events this week have brought about even more interesting results. The hot topic remains the issue of the pay for play endorsement slates in the Harris County Republican primary.

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee met and a resolution was passed condemning the pay for play endorsement slate system. The resolution is the product of a conservative blogger.  As written in Big Jolly Politics:
Precinct Chair Greg Aydt, who started working on the resolution a couple of weeks ago and gathered six co-sponsors to help passage, deserves major kudos for making this happen. Greg also happens to be a prolific conservative blogger at RhymesWithRight ...

Here is the resolution:

WHEREAS the Republican Party has long taken the lead in fighting for the integrity of the electoral process, andWHEREAS the 2012 Republican Party of Texas platform opposes conflicts of interest in the form of attempting to influence votes by appointed or elected officials on behalf of paying clients, and
WHEREAS the 2012 Republican Party Platform calls upon "every citizen. . . to preserve the integrity of the vote", and
WHEREAS we recognize that the appearance of impropriety is itself a form of impropriety, and such appearances in campaign and electoral practices undermine the confidence of voters in the integrity of our electoral system,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Harris County Republican Party condemns the practice of "pay to play" endorsements, in which supposedly independent individuals, groups, or organizations request, solicit or require any fee, payment, or contribution as a condition of making or publicizing said endorsement;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Harris County Republican Party opposes the practice of groups, clubs, or organizations requiring candidates for office to pay a sum of money as a condition of being placed on the ballot for any straw poll, whether this is called a fee, contribution, sponsorship, or any other name;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Harris County Republican Party urges all elected or appointed officials of the Harris County Republican Party, Republican Party of Texas, Republican National Committee and any affiliated or associated club or organization to refrain from offering endorsements of any primary candidate when the candidate is a paying client;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Harris County Republican Party opposes the practice of providing money to "politiqueras" or other paid agents of campaigns so that they may provide money or any other thing of value to a voter in return for casting a ballot for a candidate;
AND BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT the text of this resolution shall be posted under the "Voter Info" section of the Harris County Republican Party website within 48 hours of its adoption by the Executive Committee. Furthermore, within one week of its adoption a copy of this resolution shall be distributed to all candidates currently seeking a contested or uncontested nomination in the Republican primary and that it shall be distributed to all candidates at the time of filing for office in all future Republican primaries.
Greg Aydt -- Precinct 333
Rudy Balciunas -- Precinct 473
Cyndi Lawrence -- Precinct 804
Dee Carroll -- Precinct 728
Ed Sarlls -- Precinct 644
Jeff Larson -- Precinct 349
David Wilson -- Precinct 923

Pretty straightforward, right?  As you can imagine, the small group of men who profit off this corrupt system are not pleased.  You will note that in the last of the resolution, a call to post the resolution on the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) website is made, as well as distribution to all candidates currently seeking the party's nomination in the Republican primary.  That has now brought about a threat of legal action should the chairman move on it.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle has published an interview with Greg, the conservative blogger, and his resolution.  That's right.  Greg is a school teacher on the east side of town.  He's a regular guy teaching the next generation a course in Government.  Leading by example, he is participating in local politics and working for ethical change.

Wednesday night, February 12, 2014, the Texas Asian Republican Club (TARC) held a forum for the two Republican candidates in the Tx District 149 race and for two Republicans on the ballot for Harris County Republican Party chairman.  Current chairman Jared Woodfill and challenger Paul Simpson participated.   Woodfill, while explaining payments to those who endorse in mailers or a newsletter, brought in the name of a party activist who challenged Woodfill in a past race for HCRP chairman. In the case of this person, he used his former challenger's name as an example of one who ran for the office and when he wasn't successful, continued to work with the party and for the benefit of the party, unlike how he characterized Simpson, who is now challenging Woodfill for the third time.  Simpson has his own questions to answer on participating in the pay for play system, as he did give money to one of the big three participants in this corrupt practice.  If a candidate is to speak out about a system while it is a popular topic of conversation, yet then participate in that system, however limited, questions arise.  The only way to kill off the system is for all candidates to refuse to participate.  As long as some do, others will see the real challenge of ignoring the system in place.

Thursday, February 13, 2014, the Texas Conservative Review went out via email.  Along with updates on endorsements, the piece went on the attack against those speaking up against pay for play slates.  Just like clockwork.  And, conveniently, the author also drags in the name of a former challenger of Mr. Woodfill in a previous race.  The author of this email claims it is those who are not endorsed by the system that are now coming out against it.  That is a shallow explanation.  Those who have run for elected office and have spoken with the men who endorse with the payment system see first hand how it works.  Who better to speak against it?  What the author doesn't tell the reader is that the corrupt pay for play slates system discourages good men and women from running for office - especially is the slates are predisposed to endorse others in the race.  Cronyism is alive and well with little room for fresh faces and ideas to keep the Republican party healthy in Harris County.

The fact of the matter is that Harris County is the only county in Texas to be in this mess.  Harris County is one of a very few counties in the whole country to allow the corruption of pay to play come in and take over.  It is not the norm, no matter how the men in charge of this system try to justify it.  That is just lipstick on a pig.

It's big money, don't kid yourself.  It is not thousands of dollars at play here.  It is hundreds of thousands of dollars.  There is already an action in play to take this act on the road - some involved want to take their system statewide.  It has to be stopped.  Texas is on the brink of some really ugly times for Republicans.  There is no time to waste.

HCRP should have condemned this process long ago.  Thanks to a conservative blogger who wrote the resolution and organized support for it,  HCRP is now on record against the pay for play endorsement system.  Now the candidates must step up and say no.  They must go back to campaigning and meeting the voters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Thursday, February 13, 2014, the Texas Conservative Review went out via email. Along with updates on endorsements, the piece went on the attack against those speaking up against pay for play slates."

Meanwhile, in a blog post on 2/18/2014, Charles Kuffner wrote, "I’m just going to say this: Most Democrats I know are rooting for Woodfill to win. Those of you that vote in the Republican primary, make of that what you will."

That should tell folks everything they need to know about the race for HCRP Chairman.