Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, he told CNN hosts Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker last month.
It was a familiar line that Perry trotted out at each stop of his post-election, I'm-not-running-for-president book tour. But Spitzer, the former Democratic governor of New York, wasn't about to let Perry drop a political bomb and walk away. What, exactly, did Perry propose to do, Spitzer wanted to know.The Texas Republican hedged, saying we ought to talk about the issue.
"But you've got to have an answer," Spitzer insisted. "I don't expect anybody to have all the answers, but you've got to have an answer. So, having a conversation isn't an answer. Having a conversation is a political punt."
Perry offered the possibility of states allowing people to opt out. Then he took aim at Spitzer.
"I know you're trying to get me in a corner, and I don't corner very good," the governor said. "What I'm trying to do is have a discussion with the people of this country on an issue."
Indeed, 2010 revealed that Perry does not corner very good.
The governor who appeared vulnerable during the lead-up to this election year proved to be a peerless political brawler, notching two decisive wins and catapulting himself onto the national stage.
On the campaign trail, as in the CNN interview, Perry pushed back hard when challenged, deflecting detail questions and closing the deal with his everything's-better-in-Texas pitch. For good or ill , it was a winning strategy. Owing to the governor's lackluster victory in 2006 and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's big lead in early primary polls this year, some had predicted that Perry would finally find himself in a tight spot. They were dead wrong.
After 26 years in public office, Perry still is undefeated. And now, after winning an unprecedented third full term at the helm of state government, he has made history. While his record as governor remains open for discussion, Perry's political instincts have been nearly infallible. With cowboy swagger and bold declarations, he has carved his own path, ducking debates and flirting with secession.
Foes and fans of our polarizing governor both acknowledge Perry's impact on Texas politics. In a weak-governor state, he has seized a bullhorn, making himself heard across Texas and beyond. For those reasons, Perry is the 2010 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
Fence-sitters are rare when talk turns to Rick Perry.
Supporters and allies laud him as a consistent, dependable conservative. He is fiercely protective of business interests and committed to keeping taxes low in Texas – even if the resulting cutbacks are painful. He has become the face of Republicanism in one of the nation's reddest red states.
Perry's detractors – and there are plenty from both parties – point to the consequences of fiscal austerity, including the state's bottom-of-the-barrel rankings in categories from the rate of children without health insurance to the number of adults without high school diplomas. They say the governor is overly concerned about political fallout and alarmingly unconcerned about developing and pushing through a coherent legislative agenda.
To many, Perry appears ruthless, Nixonian even, as he transparently rewards friends and punishes enemies.
His style raises a stream of ethical red flags. And despite his lengthy tenure, Perry can lay claim to few signature achievements, making him a more accomplished campaigner than leader.
With these misgivings in mind, major newspapers across the state endorsed Perry's opponents this year – The Dallas Morning News recommended Hutchison in the GOP primary and Democrat Bill White in November while offering a withering review of the governor's ethics and leadership. While Perry did not earn a vote of confidence, there's no denying his mark on Texas in 2010.
Before the year began, many political pros thought he was hobbling far behind in his re-election bid. Hutchison was a vote-getting machine, and it appeared Perry might have turned himself into a caricature with loose talk about secession.
But Perry was actually sprinting several steps ahead. He had co-opted the "Washington is broken" mantra that would take hold nationally in 2010.
"Perry is Texas government," says Jim Dunnam, the House Democratic leader who lost his bid for re-election in November. "Yet he was able to get everyone who was frustrated with the government to think he was going to lead change."
Such criticism doesn't come exclusively from the left. A number of GOP officials have sharp words about their fellow Republican but are unwilling to go public with their critiques. They complain that Perry lacks core beliefs, dodges tough questions and is adept only at holding his finger up and gauging the direction of the wind.
Still, all admit to grudging respect for the governor – at least as a candidate who refuses to lose – after watching 2010 play out. They concede now that Perry is both lucky and good when it comes to winning elections.
For years, decades even, plenty of folks believed that Perry was simply the beneficiary of terrific timing. First elected as a Democratic lawmaker from West Texas, he was among the House's young Pit Bulls, a small group known for budget-cutting zeal. In his third term, Perry shifted to the GOP as the state moved in that direction.
Perry moved up the political ladder, landing two terms as agriculture commissioner before eking out a win to become lieutenant governor in 1998.
Two years later, he ascended to governor when George W. Bush was elected president, and he kept his winning streak alive with easy re-election in 2002.
But four years later, speculation grew that Perry had lost his magic. He shared the ballot with four other candidates, and more than 60 percent of voters wanted someone else to lead the state. Perry became "Governor 39 percent." With a well-liked senator waiting in the wings, would he call it a career after two-plus terms? Or would he dare take on Hutchison, dubbed the most popular politician in Texas?
"After that election, he was left vulnerable," says Bill Miller, a political consultant and longtime Perry friend. "Thirty-nine percent is one big sign over your head that says, 'You can beat me.'"
The first polls showed Hutchison with as much as a 25-point lead over the governor. And though Perry would not be cowed by this primary challenge, he sometimes appeared to be stumbling toward election season.
During the largely forgettable 2009 legislative session, he pursued a limited agenda and exerted little leadership. He started talking about the 10th Amendment and state sovereignty – hardly hot-button issues at the time. And, inexplicably it seemed, he played along with a serious discussion of secession at a tea party rally.
Perry said he didn't want Texas to secede, but "if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?"
Late-night comics hooted and hollered for days. Some Texans told the governor he had shamed the state. Hutchison quietly declared that Perry had lost the race. She had it backward.
No doubt Perry deserves credit for his political acumen. As usual, though, some amount of luck was on the governor's side as well. Few anticipated that Hutchison would be so ill-prepared and off-key in her effort to unseat Perry. The senator wanted to run for governor in the worst way, and political observers agree she did just that.
Next came his most formidable Democratic challenger yet – former Houston Mayor Bill White, who would become his party's sixth straight general election casualty against Perry.
Perry's strategy was unorthodox – and potentially risky. He campaigned from lectern to lectern, utilizing retail politicking, social media and paid advertising. The plan was executed flawlessly, says Roy Bailey, a Perry friend who was one of the governor's finance chairmen for this year's campaign.
The governor walked the line between tough and angry, tapping into tea partiers' frustrations and building on the idea of Texas exceptionalism. In a state that takes being special very seriously, Perry focused on the strength of the Texas economy, telling voters that the rest of the country could learn a lot from us.
"They say it's not bragging if it's true," says state Sen. Jane Nelson, who calls herself a good Republican and a Rick Perry fan. "He made us feel good about being Texans and about where we're going."
Actually, where Texas is headed is into a budget crisis, as a shortfall of up to $25 billion looms. But that fact didn't happen to come up in Perry's stump speeches. The governor was seldom knocked off his tightly controlled message, as he managed to derail most of the tough questions that come up during the course of a campaign by refusing to debate White and refusing to meet with newspaper editorial boards. (Perry also declined to be interviewed for this article.)
White is experienced, affable and usually the smartest guy in the room. But he drowned voters in essay-length answers and excruciating nuance. Perry pumped them up with a simplistic but effective message: Texas good. Washington bad.
The image of the mild-mannered, balding White was no match for the perfectly coiffed, gun-toting, coyote-killing governor. Texas voters have a penchant for characters, and White wasn't one.
As the race wore on, the governor remained a disciplined candidate who didn't stray from his focus on fiscal issues and states' rights. Perry also counted on an experienced campaign staff that kept turnover and internal dissension to a minimum, says Bailey, the finance chairman.
While Bailey credits the governor for his CEO-like approach to running a campaign, Dunnam, the Democratic legislator, sees cause for concern in Perry's impervious air.
"An effective team of advisers allows him to get away with not answering questions or with saying things that are demonstrably not true," Dunnam says. "If you can be accountable only for what you pay to put on TV, then we've lost an important level of accountability."
Perry increasingly has become the Teflon candidate. Hutchison, White and others have raised legitimate questions about Perry's punitive approach to governing. History has shown that those who disagree with this governor – or dare to support his opponent – are expendable. Ethical lines have gradually blurred, as Perry loyalists have been rewarded with appointments and state funds.
But whether the issue is Perry's meddling in the work of the Texas Forensic Science Commission or his troubling role in doling out millions of public dollars from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign donors' companies, the governor manages to brush aside such questions. And nothing seems to stick.
Miller, the political consultant, sees these dust-ups as standard procedure.
"Helping your friends and punishing your enemies is part of the practice of politics. Everybody does it," Miller says.
Admittedly, sprawling swaths of gray area exist in this realm. But many politicos assert that Perry pushes the boundaries of ethical behavior. And his longevity only compounds the quandary. With a record-setting decade as governor already under his belt, Perry has, over time, selected appointees to serve in every nook and cranny of state government.
The checks and balances that holdovers from previous administrations might provide are gone now. And Perry allies are everywhere.
When hints of trouble emerge, Team Perry responds swiftly. He has a cadre of gatekeepers who limit access and tamp down controversy before it gains traction. They swat away pesky questions and fiercely guard the governor's privacy. And while this lockdown likely benefits Perry the politician, some of his friends lament the fact that we never glimpse Perry the person.
Voters had a sense at least of the offstage life of George W. Bush, the brush-clearing, bike-riding governor/president you'd like to have a (non-alcoholic) beer with. But Perry reveals little about the motorcycle he rides, the hunting he does or the runs he tackles (except when he shoots a coyote), leaving voters to wonder whether they'd enjoy having a beer with this governor.
Multiple friends describe Perry as a "guy's guy" from Paint Creek who loves sports, the Aggies, hunting and time with his family. His wife, Anita, wins high praise from all corners; his harshest critics are quick to say that she is what they like most about Perry.
Those close to the governor say he's a loyal friend, ready to help in a time of need, whether the issue is political or personal. Nelson, the senator from Flower Mound, still appreciates the shoe leather and support Perry lent to her first legislative campaign. Paul Sadler, a former Democratic legislator, says his friendship with the governor does not depend on the two of them walking in political lockstep. Perry provided comfort when Sadler's son was in a serious accident. And the governor planted a big leaf maple tree in Sadler's backyard to symbolize friendship and respect.
Perry also raised money for Sadler's opponent in a state Senate race, but that's politics – not personal, says the former lawmaker who now serves as executive director of the Wind Coalition.
"I do consider him a friend. You're not going to get me to criticize him," Sadler says.
Plenty of public officials, both past and present, have no such qualms.
While Perry's predecessor emphasized compassionate conservatism and bipartisanship, this governor has veered hard right. So Democrats' frustration with Perry is unsurprising and understandable.
But the scathing reviews offered by some senior GOP officials are perhaps the most telling – and the angriest – assessments of Perry's performance. Republicans who did not want to be quoted by name bemoan Perry's unwillingness to stake out unpopular positions, his reluctance to commit to details, his arm's-length approach to tough issues.
While governor, Bush constantly summoned state lawmakers to his office so he could pick their brains or make a pitch; Perry does little to engage them, many legislators say.
The result, they worry, could be a leadership vacuum during the 2011 session, when closing the gaping hole in the budget will be a particularly gruesome affair.
For his part, Perry has shown more interest in declaring war on the federal government. Most prominently, he has been battling Washington regulations that threaten the wide berth Perry has given polluting Texas industries. And in his new book, Fed Up, and on his national book tour, the governor takes on that kooky Ponzi scheme called Social Security.
The national media blitz was not a preview of a presidential bid, Perry insisted at every stop. But all that airtime and exposure sure couldn't hurt if he happened to have a change of heart.
While Perry's friends and allies don't publicly admit to any definitive knowledge of his game plan, many think his aspirations extend beyond Texas. And few believe that he would bypass a chance to run for president – or vice president – if national party leaders wooed him (or perhaps even if they did not).
Miller, the political consultant, says his longtime friend is ambitious and emboldened after a triumphant 2010.
"My prediction is that he's running for higher office," Miller says. "He's confident. He's feeling great. And he thinks the national stage is the next step."
Critics note that after 26 years in office, Perry doesn't have a career to fall back on. His best job skill is winning elections, they say, so why wouldn't he run?
If nothing else, Perry has made himself the face of our state. On TV screens nationwide, he's the brash, cowboy-boot-wearing archetype of a Texas governor.
While the other GOP candidates at the top of the state ballot actually garnered more votes, Perry was good enough and lucky enough to secure a longer chapter in the history books– whether good, bad or in-between.
The Dallas Morning News acknowledges the impact Perry had in 2010 by naming him our Texan of the Year. After all, he says that the most important job in American politics is governor – well, kind of.
As Perry told Fox News in a recent interview: "I think being president – or, excuse me, being the governor of a state like Texas, or, for that matter Oklahoma or New Mexico, is a more pivotal job in the future."
Monday, December 27, 2010
A. The census is finalized,
B. The State of Texas mandates creation of the position,
C. Until legislation by the Texas Legislature to raise the population threshold can be considered.
We believe that taxpayers money could be saved or put to other use during the period of Jan 1, 2011 and the date the state would require an auditor.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Christmas is often the time of year that we are reminded of the best parts of life. We celebrate the fact that our Savior came down from heaven and was born into this world to free us from the bondage of sin. We have parties and family dinners with relatives and friends. And the tradition of giving gifts helps us to remember the abundance with which we have been blessed and our ability to do something good for our neighbors. I am further thankful that we have the freedom to celebrate openly and to say "Merry Christmas" here in East Texas--since we wouldn't have the Christmas holidays without Christ.
After the holidays are finished, I hope that many of you will get to meet my new chief-of-staff, Jay Wiley, my legislative director, Cassie Daniel, and my administrative director, Amanda Robertson. They have recently joined my legislative staff in Austin for the upcoming session. Jay is an experienced campaigner and staffer, having worked several sessions in other legislatures. And Cassie and Amanda come to us with lots of energy for defending the conservative values that we all hold dear here in East Texas. If you have questions about policies or issues that need to be taken up with state agencies, they are here to help you resolve everything as quickly as possible.
ALERT: MONDAY IS THE LAST DAY TO RESERVE A ROOM AT THE LA QUINTA INN RIGHT BY THE CAPITOL FOR THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY!
There are just 10 rooms left at the special rate at the La Quinta Inn (map), which is just one block from the Capitol! They have free breakfast and free internet.
Rate for 1 person: $99 + tax
Rate for 2-4 people: $109 + tax
Date: January 10th (the next morning, Jan. 11th a little before noon, is the ceremony)
To reserve a room, call the hotel at 1-866-527-1498. Tell them that you are with the Erwin Cain Campaign and give them this confirmation number: 0907GROKWR
May your holiday be filled with happiness and joy as you celebrate Christ's birth with your family and friends. From the bottom of my heart I wish you all a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
RPT Pledges Support of Dan Neil Effort
RPT State Chairman Steve Munisteri announced today that the state party has committed a minimum of $10,000 to the Dan Neil election contest in a show of support for Neil's contest.
"Our office has been in close contact with the Dan Neil legal team led by former Party counsel Donna Davidson. I have reviewed the evidence developed so far and am convinced that there are sufficient irregularities in the vote to warrant an effort by Dan Neil to seek redress with the Texas House of Representatives. The Republican Party of Texas pledges to assist Dan Neil in his fight to ensure that every vote is counted. It is apparent that the County Clerk made serious errors by sending out the wrong ballots, by counting Democrat ballots from overseas but not those of Republicans, and then re-voting for Republicans without their knowledge. There is also been information developed which indicates that a possibility that deceased persons may have voted. In addition, a large number of felons voted, approximately 1900, some of whose eligibility are in question. We are confident that at the end of the day, that if all votes are counted, that Dan Neil will be the winner of the race. It is the hope of the Republican Party of Texas that the Texas House will take appropriate action by either declaring Dan Neil the winner outright, or at the very least, ordering a new election.
Chairman's Update: Six Month Report
Just like the football coach who after a big win, tells his team to enjoy the victory that night, but to be prepared tomorrow to re-focus on the next game - the morning after the November 2nd election, I held a staff planning meeting to start plotting our course for the 2012 Elections. The staff and I discussed lessons to be learned from the 2010 campaign, as well as what steps to undertake immediately to prepare for 2012. We decided that the party should begin immediately to plan voter registration, ballot integrity, minority outreach, and opposition research efforts. We also had a meeting with representatives of most of the major statewide office holders and Comptroller Susan Combs to discuss how to proceed forward for 2012. I was especially interested in receiving input from Comptroller Combs as she and her Executive Director Jarod Love did a fabulous job running the Victory operation and demonstrated how to be more efficient with campaign dollars.
In addition to planning for 2012, we also had to turn our attention to finishing up the 2010 election contests, as three contests actually continued beyond November 2nd. Two of these contests yielded recounts – the Solomon Ortiz vs. Blake Farenthold race in CD 27, and the Dan Neil vs. Donna Howard race in HD 48. The RPT was involved in the Farenthold race as we sent a team of RPT staffers down to the district to assist in the monitoring of the recount. Meanwhile, at headquarters, both myself and staff continually monitored the situation and put resources in place to be deployed in the event they were needed.
Fortunately the recount resulted in Solomon Ortiz conceding, and we did not need to be involved in a legal challenge. This was not the case for Dan Neil, as the RPT not only has been monitoring that situation in close consultation with the Neil campaign and legal teams, but the RPT has also committed financial resources to both the recount and election contest. The recount’s efforts resulted in the margin being decreased from 17 to 12 votes. RPT has determined that dozens of Republican votes for Dan Neil were not counted. Moreover, it appears as though the possibility exists of both dead people and ineligible felons having voted. The Neil campaign has determined that they will push forward with an election contest, and the State Party will be supporting his efforts.
Once the dust from the election settled, it was time for me to get back on the road and visit some of our Republican clubs, and to make public appearances on behalf of the party. The week after the election, I appeared on Bob Ward’s Austin radio show, met with Tom Leppert, the Mayor of Dallas, traveled to Southlake to speak to the Republican Women of North Texas, met with Senator John Cornyn, spoke to the Sun City Republican Club in Georgetown, and finished off the week participating in a debate-style forum at the Annette Strauss institute of the LBJ School of Government, featuring Michael Moore the campaign manager for Bill White, Matt Angle the head of the Texas Democratic Trust, Rob Johnson, campaign manager for Governor Rick Perry, and myself. I am biased, but I think Rob and I trounced them!
The next week I hit the trail again, speaking to the Ronald Reagan women’s club in Houston, keynoting the New Braunfels Republican Club dinner, speaking at the Horseshoe Bay Republicans luncheon, attending receptions for Republican legislators John Davis, Jim Murphy, Jason Isaac, Larry Gonzales, Stefani Carter, Larry Philips, Jim Keffer, Jose Aliseda, Connie Scott, Joe Driver, John Garza, Senators Kevin Eltife and Joan Huffman, and speaking to Senatorial District 5 leadership in Huntsville. On November 17th, I also held the first budget meeting as required under our bylaws to review the proposed 2011 budget.
The week of Thanksgiving started off with my appearance as the luncheon speaker for the Magic Circle Republican Women’s club in Houston, and culminated in a true day of Thanksgiving as we had a press conference in Austin to announce the party’s “Rainy Day Fund.” This event was well-attended and featured Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. The purpose of the press conference was to announce that the party had set up, with backing from Lt. Governor Dewhurst, a "Rainy Day Fund" and that Gov. Dewhurst had raised $100,000 for the party for that purpose, which has already been set aside in a CD.
The week of November 29th was a busy one, as both myself and the staff had to prepare for the fourth quarterly meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee meeting (a full report is below). I did make time that week to attend a fundraiser for Sarah Davis in Houston, a Marva Beck fundraiser in Austin, and a dinner reception for the Republican freshman legislators as well as a Center-Right Coalition meeting in Austin. Finally that weekend, we had an excellent meeting of the SREC here in Austin.
After the SREC meeting, it was back to my duties which included attending a Todd Hunter fundraiser, Senator Craig Estes’ fundraiser, a speech before the Georgetown Republican Women’s Club, attending the annual Associated Republicans of Texas dinner, attending a fundraiser for Judge Melissa Goodwin, and ending the week attending a fundraiser for Senator Dan Patrick at the home of former State Representative Brad Wright. Former Rep. Wright is a favorite of mine, having been named multiple times as the "best legislator" by conservative groups and maintaining a perfect 100% conservative rating during his term in the legislature. In between these speeches, I had an opportunity to meet with the telemarketing account representative and our direct mail representative to plan fundraising for next year, as well as meeting with RNC Chairman candidate Saul Anuzis here in Austin.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at the Republican Caucus staff luncheon in Austin, and then spent the rest of the week getting back to the business of fundraising. That week, I also spent time visiting with Reps. Aaron Peña and Allan Ritter, as well as local party leadership regarding their possible switch in party affiliation. These efforts along with the efforts of Governor Rick Perry, Speaker Joe Straus, numerous State Representatives and State Senators, and local party officials, yielded us some tremendously good news.
Two formerly Democratic members of the State House, Rep. Aaron Peña of Edinburg and Rep. Allan Ritter of Nederland, joined the Republican Party of Texas. The reason this is such tremendous news, is that it puts us at 101 Representatives with the election of John Kuempel in last Tuesday's special election. This means that we have a two-thirds majority in the Texas House. This is significant because a two-thirds majority means the Republicans by themselves have a quorum, so that Democrats can’t hide out in Oklahoma again to prevent the business of the Legislature. It also means that we can suspend the rules, and pass constitutional amendments without Democratic support. In talking to the two representatives, it was clear that their decision to switch was based on their conscience and the fact that they felt the Democratic Party’s shift to the left was not consistent with their personal views. Representative Peña showed unusual political courage since his district normally only votes in the mid-20th percentile for Republican candidates, and no doubt would have easily won re-election if he had not changed parties.
In addition to the great political news that we have reached a super-majority in the State House, our RPT finances are stable and the party machinery is operating relatively smoothly. For more details, see the SREC report below.
This week marked the six month mark of my term as Chairman which means I am a quarter of the way through this term. The time has certainly flown by, as evidenced by the fact that we are now in the holiday season. In these last days of 2010, I would like to take the opportunity to wish everybody a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and a Happy New Year.
Chairman, Republican Party of Texas
The State Republican Executive Committee met on December 3-4 in Austin, TX. Friday the 3rd, was taken up with committee work. These committees included the convention committee, volunteerism committee, auxiliaries committee, resolutions committee, rules committee, organization committee, and redistricting committee. There was also a meeting of the committee chairs and myself on Friday morning. With the Officials Committee and other committee chairs, Chairman Munisteri discussed the budget which was to be presented at the SREC meeting and answered any questions. He then sat in on the Convention Committee, and was pleased to learn that they are already busy working on the 2012 convention including obtaining lists of possible vendors, setting up site meetings with the Fort Worth Convention Bureau, and investigating hotel alternatives.
The Resolutions Committee considered a number of resolutions, but did not recommend any to the full body. The Auxiliaries Committee met to make recommendations on which auxiliaries to approve.
On Saturday, December 4th, the main business of the day was to go over and approve the budget for 2011, and to receive staff reports as to the overall status of the party. Prior to the reports, Chairman Munisteri reiterated his desire to conduct as much of the party business in public as possible. Consistent with his pledge for transparency, he announced that for the second meeting in a row, he did not plan to have any business conducted in executive session so that all interested Republican leadership that attended the meeting could be apprised of the current status of the RPT. Chairman Munisteri led off the meeting with his Chairman’s Report, in which he presented a slide presentation showing the financial history of the party. This slide presentation demonstrated that as far back as the staff has records for, which is 1992, the RPT has continually had debt until December 1st 2010, at which time the Chairman instructed that all bills be paid, leaving the balance of debt at zero. He also presented slides showing that the Party had a cash balance of approximately three quarters of a million dollars, after all election bills had been paid. He noted that the party was able to spend approximately $900,000 just in the month of October on elections, and had paid off all of the related election bills. He also noted that the staff had prepared a 16 page report detailing the RPT’s elections activities. You can view a full copy of this elections report at http://recap.texasgop.org
Melinda Fredricks presented a Vice-Chairman’s report detailing her efforts to oversee ballot security. She made note of the fact that she was able to put together legal teams across the state to ensure ballot integrity. She also presented an audio demonstration of the calls that were received by her hotline team, and how such calls were handled.
Borah Van Dormolen gave an RNC committeewoman’s report in which she detailed her activities as well as noting that she had been appointed to the RNC’s convention arrangements committee.
Bill Crocker put on a report detailing his recommendations which the Chairman supports for how to make the Republican Party of Texas more relevant in the presidential primary process. Specifically, he recommends the party hold a straw poll in the fall of 2011, and that the RPT ask the Republican legislators to move back the party’s primary to May. This would allow the RPT to adopt a winner-take-all delegate system so that Texas will have a large and attractive bloc of delegates as a prize that would encourage candidates to come to Texas and stay in the Presidential race at least until the Texas primary.
Staff reports were then given, which included a video presentation by Executive Director Jesse Lewis who showed numerous examples of websites and mailers that the RPT was involved in during the elections. The RPT sent out over 2.1 million pieces of direct mail in judicial, state house, and Congressional races this fall, as well as paying for automated phone calls, tv and radio ads, and led the coordination of three statewide blockwalks. Organizational Director Jenny Sykes presented a slide show detailing the number of offices that Republicans won as well as the results of county elections. The final count on the 2010 elections show that Republicans gained 324 new office holders across Texas, with 270 of those coming at the county level. Political Director Travis Griffin provided a written report on the political department’s activities. This report detailed the volunteer mobilization efforts of the RPT through the Texas Trailblazer program and Online Volunteer Center through Hands Off Texas. Travis also reported on details relating to the recount support in CD27 and HD48. Communications Director Chris Elam provided a report on online election activities, the party's election recap, ongoing website plans and media relations. He also spoke to the members about the importance of building the RPT's Grassroots Club, the monthly $8.25 program designed to provide a stable and ongoing base of fundraising for the party. Outreach Director Justin Hollis reported that we had finished cataloguing all minority groups in the state, and creating a calendar of their events and detailed his efforts to obtain surrogate speakers to appear at these groups meetings on behalf of the Republican Party.
Youth Director Austen Bailey provided a report which included his announcement that the Republican Party of Texas sponsored newspaper New Texas Forum was ready. You can view a copy of this by going to the New Texas Forum website.
Comptroller Susan Combs provided a keynote speech about her new rating system for school districts called FAST (Financial Allocation Study for Texas). This study examines how our school districts and campuses spend their money, and how this spending translates into student achievement.
The afternoon session was taken up in large part by the Chairman presenting a detailed budget for 2011 and explanation. The budget he presented called for base spending of $98,000 per month which is down from $149,500 a month when he took office on June 13th. He explained that there was enough cash on hand to sustain party operations for almost a year if telemarketing and direct mail revenues came in as projected, but that an additional approximately $600,000 needed to be raised next year to maintain the present level of cash and provide for the base budget and several hundred thousand more than this needed to be raised in order to provide the proper level of staffing for the party to provide all the basic services that it should. He detailed fundraising plans to accomplish this.
Although the budget was approved overwhelmingly, the Chairman indicated that he would not spend on items in excess of the base budget unless the money was raised first, as it is his desire to never see the party slip back into debt. He also explained that he would expect the party’s cash to fall approximately $100,000 from the time of the SREC meeting to the beginning of 2011, for the reason that the Party did not plan any fundraisers or fundraising during the month of December and the holiday season. He estimated that the party still should have in excess of half a million dollars in cash reserves on December 31st, and he anticipates the Party’s debt to remain at zero as of that date. The SREC also approved the continuation of the Victory committee and authorized the Chairman to expend funds for Victory, as long as his expenditures do not exceed what is raised for Victory. Likewise they approved a redistricting fund under the same restrictions.
A resolution relative to the two-thirds Blocker Rule of the State Senate was presented by Clint Moore, requesting the Senate to lower that threshold to 60%. That resolution passed 31 to 26.
The next meeting of the SREC will be March 26, 2011.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The situation remained comparatively quiet until May 1773, when the faltering East India Company persuaded Parliament that the company's future and the empire's prosperity depended on the disposal of its tea surplus. In the American colonies the tea market had nearly been captured by tea smuggled from Holland, Parliament gave the company a refund of the entire duty, enabling the company to undersell the smugglers. It was expected that the Americans, faced with a choice between the cheaper company tea and the higher-priced smuggled tea, would buy the cheaper tea, despite the tax. The East India Company would then be saved from bankruptcy, the smugglers would be ruined, and the principle of parliamentary taxation would be upheld.
In September 1773 the company planned to ship 500,000 pounds of tea to groups of merchants in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. The plan might have succeeded had not the company been given what amounted to a monopoly over tea distribution in the colonies. With the threat of other monopolies, alarmed conservative colonial mercantile elements united with the more radical patriots. Merchants agreed not to sell the tea, and the designated tea agents in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston canceled their orders or resigned their commissions.
Meanwhile in Boston the tea consignees were friends or relatives of Governor Thomas Hutchinson, who was determined to uphold the law. The opposition, led by Samuel and John Adams, Josiah Quincy, and John Hancock, was determined to resist Parliamentary supremacy over colonial legislatures.
When the first ship, the Dartmouth, reached Boston with a cargo of tea on November 27, 1773, the Committee of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty prevented owner Francis Rotch from unloading the tea, but they could not force the consignees to reject it. Rotch and the captains of two newly arrived ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver, agreed to leave without unloading the tea, but they were denied clearance by Governor Hutchinson.
According to the law, if the tea was not unloaded within 20 days by December 17, it was to be seized and sold to pay custom duties. Convinced that this procedure would still be payment of taxes, the patriots resolved to break the deadlock. On December 14th, Rotch was called before a mass meeting and ordered to seek clearance again to sail from Boston; neither the customs collector nor the governor would grant it.
There was wide spread opposition to landing the dutied tea, and on December 16, a crowd of several thousand persons assembled in the Faneuil Hall-Old South Church area and shouted encouragement to about 116 patriots of whom 60 were disguised as Mohawk Indians, and in order to gain access to the ships armed themselves with hatchets and axes. The patriots boarded the Beaver, Dartmouth, and Eleanor, located at Griffin's Wharf at 7:00 pm. Griffin's Wharf no longer exists due to landfills in the 19th century.
In the iconic 1846 lithograph above by Nathaniel Currier entitled "The Destruction of Tea at Boston Harbor"; the phrase "Boston Tea Party" had not become standard.
With the aid of the ships' crew, the patriots in three hours dumped all of the chests of tea, valued at between £10,000 to 18,000 into Boston Harbor. Today this tea would be valued at approximately a million dollars. When the Boston Tea Party was over, 90,000 pounds of tea in 342 split open chests were left floating in the frigid harbor waters.
A furious royal government responded to the Boston Tea Party with the so-called Intolerable Acts of 1774, practically eliminating self-government in Massachusetts and closing Boston's port. In the months that followed this historic event, other American seaports took similar action in boycotting British tea. All of which was a prelude to the War of Independence.
Boston Tea Party Historical Society (http://www.boston-tea-party.org/)
Boston Tea Party (www.u-s-history.com/pages/h646.html)
Mark T. Wendell Tea Company (marktwendell.com)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
An Outreach Call To Arms
This is an Outreach Call to Arms! As we enter a new year, we look back upon a successful election, but we also remember - there is still much work to be done, and need your help for 2012.
Make no mistake, President Obama and his liberal cronies are already organizing and preparing finances for his re-election bid, and Texas is sitting directly in their crosshairs. There will be a battle for votes in the minority communities of Texas, where Obama and the Democrats have used outrageous rhetoric and deception to attack Republicans. We need your help to combat the opposition with the truth, and to introduce these communities to the principles and values of the Republican Party.
Your help will be critical, and here are some numbers to put things in perspective as to why.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 estimates, Texas has close to 24 million residents. Of those 24 million residents, 36% are Hispanic, 11.5% are Black or African American and 3.4% are Asian. Simply put, almost 51% of our state’s population comes from these three communities. Recent polling from Gallup currently shows that President Obama has a national approval rating of 63% in the Hispanic community and 89% in the African American community.
These numbers indicate why it is so important for Texas Republicans to continue the hard work of outreach into these communities here in the Lone Star state. If we allow the Democrats to continue painting the picture, Texas’ days of being a red state will soon come to an end. The RPT has already begun organizing a plan for expanding our outreach, and here’s some ways in which you can help!
- Be a surrogate and speak to an organization in your community
- Identify minority organizations and outreach initiatives in your community
- Organize an outreach event with a Republican elected official
- Join one of our Auxiliary organizations
As we saw in this past election, Republicans can win in our growing minority communities by hard work, communication and standing firm on our conservative values. This success is just another reason why the liberals in D.C. strive so hard to find wedge issues and spread misinformation in these communities, instead of working toward consensus.
The RPT has already begun the organizational work, we have started reaching out, but even more can be done with your help! Please contact our Outreach Director, Justin Hollis at (512)879-4053 or send him an email at email@example.com to learn more about how you can help today.
Gov. Rick Perry today issued the following statement regarding U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson’s ruling in Virginia that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate violates the U.S. Constitution:
“Today’s court decision on the federal health care bill is promising news for Texans and all Americans, who have had enough of the ongoing federal intrusion into their lives, and who reject this one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with health care.
“The federal government’s attempt to force every American to buy government-approved health insurance is an egregious violation of our Constitutional rights. The 10th Amendment and individual liberties must be protected, and I am committed to fighting the overreach of Obamacare and challenging these unconstitutional mandates, which have gone far beyond both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s challenge, as well as Texas’ challenge in a separate lawsuit with 19 other states, maintains that Congress does not have the authority to force individuals to buy health insurance. This administration continues to spend excessively and impose unfunded mandates upon the states, including this federal health care reform bill that will cost Texas taxpayers more than $27 billion over 10 years for the Medicaid expansion starting in 2014.
Monday, December 13, 2010
By Brad Knickerbocker, Staff writer, The Christian Science Monitor / December 12, 2010
From the start, Michael Steele was not only a historical figure in the Republican Party but a controversial one as well. Now he may be on the way out.
Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, is expected to announce his intentions about running for reelection to the top party post Monday evening. Several sources are reporting that he is expected to step down when his two-year term ends in January.
“Steele … has built no known reelection team or structure, making a campaign unlikely in the face of competition that grows fiercer by the day,” reports Politico.com. “Key supporters expect him to drop out of the hotly contested race.”
As the first African American to head the RNC, Steele was seen as a counterpoint to the first African American president.
But the former Maryland lieutenant governor was gaffe-prone in his outspokenness, and critics within the GOP saw him as inept at fund-raising. Put off by Steele’s personal style and RNC management, some major donors began shifting to congressional campaign funds, the Republican Governors Association, and other conservative causes.
“The party, under his leadership, failed to raise the major-donor money that is required to defeat Barack Obama,” former RNC finance director Gentry Collins told the Wall Street Journal. Collins had resigned over alleged fiscal mismanagement by Steele.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Connecticut Republican Chairman Chris Healy blames narrow GOP losses for governor in Oregon, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut in the recent elections on the RNC's failure to provide more money for voter turnout.
“Clearly, the whole Steele administration has really been about promoting Mike Steele for whatever future role he was going to play in the American political debate and not really focused on what the core mission of the Republican Party is,” said Healy.
In one memorable kerfuffle early in his tenure, Steele dismissed talk show host Rush Limbaugh as “an entertainer” whose program was “incendiary.” When Limbaugh bristled, Steele called to apologize – which only reinforced criticism from the left that the GOP was actually run by Limbaugh and other fire-breathing conservatives.
Steele won no friends among social conservatives – an important segment of the GOP base – when he suggested that abortion was “an individual choice.”
It would have been a difficult time for any RNC chairman, particularly with the rise of the tea party movement. Tea partyers can be just as critical of establishment Republicans as they are of Democrats. In several recent races, tea party-backed primary election candidates ousted more mainstream Republicans – including incumbents.
In a recent letter to members of Tea Party Nation, one of the largest organizations in the movement, founder Judson Phillips wrote, “Capturing the chairmanship of the RNC is important to the Tea Party movement.”
"We need a conservative in as Chair of the RNC,” Phillips writes. “If not, we will end up with the same class of GOP knuckleheads that blew it so badly in 2006 and 2008.”
“If we do not win this battle for the heart and soul of the GOP, we will end up with either a second Obama term or perhaps as bad, a [Mitt] Romney presidency,” Phillips warns fellow tea partyers.
Those who’ve announced their candidacy (or been prominently mentioned) as the new RNC chair include: Gentry Collins, Wisconsin Republican Chair Reince Priebus, former RNC co-chair Ann Wagner of Missouri, Bush administration transportation official Maria Cino, tea party favorite Saul Anuzis of Michigan, and Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
According to an e-mail he sent, Steele will make his intentions known Monday in a private conference call with RNC members.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Attorney General Abbott Appoints Texas Solicitor General, New Executive Staff
AG also names Director of Defense Litigation, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice
AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today announced several senior staff appointments, including a new Solicitor General, Director of Defense Litigation, and Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice.
Effective immediately, Jonathan Mitchell will serve as Solicitor General of Texas. As the State’s chief appellate lawyer, Mitchell will oversee both criminal and civil litigation before state and federal appeals courts and will represent the State of Texas before the U.S. Supreme Court. As a senior member of the executive leadership team, Mitchell will also serve as a top legal advisor to Attorney General Abbott.
Mitchell succeeds outgoing Solicitor General James C. Ho, who departed the agency to return to private practice after nearly three years of dedicated service.
“A true legal scholar, Jonathan Mitchell is an outstanding lawyer with a tremendous legal mind,” Attorney General Abbott said. “After graduating with high honors from top-ranked University of Chicago Law School, Jonathan distinguished himself as a law clerk to one of the nation’s most highly respected appellate judges before earning a prestigious clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court. Since then, as Jonathan dedicated himself to public service and the study of law, he has quickly earned a reputation as a brilliant lawyer who very ably represents Texas before the highest courts in the land.”
After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Mitchell served as a law clerk to Judge Michael Luttig on the Fourth Circuit federal appeals court. Mitchell later earned a rare and prestigious clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court, where he ably served Justice Antonin Scalia. After completing his year-long tenure at the nation’s highest court, Mitchell spent three years in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S Department of Justice. In 2006, the State’s new Solicitor General returned to the University of Chicago Law School as a visiting assistant professor, where he taught until 2008.
With his appointment as Solicitor General, Mitchell departs George Mason University in Virginia, where he was an assistant professor of law. An expert in federal habeas corpus jurisprudence, Mitchell has authored articles in the fields of criminal law and procedure, national security law, and constitutional law. He and his wife, Anne, have a two-month-old son, Nathaniel.
Mitchell succeeds James Ho, who served with distinction as Solicitor General of Texas for nearly three years. His record as the State’s chief appellate lawyer is marked by a string of high-profile victories, including his successful defense of Texas tort reform and open government laws.
As the State’s chief litigator before the U.S. Supreme Court, Ho achieved a rare unanimous summary reversal in Thaler v. Haynes. More recently, he argued Sossamon v. Texas, a significant case concerning state sovereignty and Congressional power. He is also the first state solicitor general in the nation that the U.S. Supreme Court invited to submit briefing expressing the State’s legal view on a case. In addition, Ho has briefed, argued and won numerous cases before the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He plans to return to private practice in Dallas later this month.
“As Solicitor General, Jim Ho was a forceful and highly successful legal advocate for the State of Texas,” Attorney General Abbott said. “For the last three years, the Attorney General’s Office and our state agency clients have benefitted tremendously from Jim’s expert legal counsel. Jim is a remarkable legal talent, and we are grateful for his dedicated service to the State.”
Attorney General Abbott also appointed David Mattax, who has been with the Attorney General’s Office since 1992, as the agency’s Director of Defense Litigation. Prior to the appointment announced today, Mattax served as the Financial Litigation Division Chief. In his new role, Mattax will be responsible for overseeing the following divisions: Financial Litigation, General Litigation, Law Enforcement Defense, Taxation, Tort Litigation, and Transportation.
With Mattax’s promotion to the Attorney General’s leadership team, Assistant Attorney General Jeff Graham will serve as Acting Chief of the Financial Litigation Division. Graham has been with the Attorney General’s Office since 1997 and with the Financial Litigation Division since 2000.
“For nearly two decades, David Mattax has been an institution at the Attorney General’s Office,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Not only is David a very sharp lawyer and cunning litigation strategist, but equally important, he is a revered manager. With David as Director of Defense Litigation, his longtime state agency clients will continue to benefit from his good counsel while at the same time he fulfills an important role as one of my top legal advisors.”
Mattax succeeds Ruth Hughs as Director of Defense Litigation Ruth Hughs. A six-year veteran of the Attorney General’s Office, Hughs filed the agency’s first legal action enforcing state right-to-work laws. As Director of Defense Litigation, Hughs oversaw six divisions and 283 employees.
“Ruth Hughs is not only an expert litigator, she is also a terrific manager,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Throughout her legal career – first as a local prosecutor and more recently as a civil litigator – Ruth has demonstrated remarkable commitment to public service. We are truly grateful to Ruth for her good counsel, adept leadership and tireless commitment to the State.”
In another significant appointment announced today, veteran OAG prosecutor Don Clemmer was named Acting Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice. With more than 15 years of service to the Attorney General’s Office – including previous stints as the Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice and chief of the Criminal Prosecutions Division – Clemmer brings a wealth of experience to the job. As the Acting Criminal Justice Deputy, Clemmer will oversee the Attorney General’s criminal prosecutions, crime victim compensation, and Medicaid fraud prevention divisions.
“For more than a decade, Don Clemmer has ably served the Attorney General’s Office as a senior prosecutor and manager,” Attorney General Abbott said. “The consummate public servant, Don has once again agreed to step up and fill a critically important role as the agency’s top prosecutor. With Don overseeing our criminal prosecutors and crime victim services teams, we are fortunate to have not only a career prosecutor – but also a demonstrated manager – in this very important criminal justice position.”
Clemmer assumes his new role in the wake of Eric Nichols’ departure as Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice. For the last four years, Nichols has overseen the Attorney General’s efforts to crack down on sexual predators, uncover Medicaid fraud, and defend appeals by convicted criminals.
Nichols, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, has also overseen the agency’s successful prosecution of several defendants at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas. Under Nichols’ leadership, seven of 12 YFZ Ranch defendants have been convicted on child sexual assault or bigamy charges – and sentenced to a total of more than 150 years in prison. The remaining five defendants are still awaiting trial.
“A dedicated prosecutor with a remarkable record of success in the courtroom, Eric Nichols did a tremendous job as our top prosecutor,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Under Eric’s steady and tireless leadership, the State has won a string of guilty verdicts in our most difficult criminal cases. Considering his tenure as a federal prosecutor and more recently as our agency’s top prosecutor, Eric has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to both public service and law enforcement.”
Attorney General Abbott also appointed veteran Texas Ranger David Maxwell as the Deputy Director of Law Enforcement. Maxwell joins the Attorney General’s Office after 38 years at the Texas Department of Public Safety, including 20 years with the Rangers. The Attorney General also welcomed Lauren Bean, former communications director for U.S. Congressman Michael C. Burgess, to serve as Deputy Communications Director.
Several key members of Attorney General Abbott’s leadership team were also reappointed, including First Assistant Attorney General Daniel Hodge; Deputy First Assistant Attorney General David Morales; Deputy Attorney General for Civil Litigation William Cobb; Deputy Attorney General for Child Support Alicia Key; Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel David Schenck; Deputy Attorney General for Government and External Affairs Jay Dyer; Deputy Attorney General for Administration Diane Smith; Senior Counsel to the Attorney General Stacey Napier; Communications Director Jerry Strickland; and Director of Law Enforcement Clete Buckaloo.
Friday, December 10, 2010
POLITICO: Boehner will cut Hill budgets by 5 percent - On Congress - Boehner will cut Hill budgets by 5 percent
Incoming Speaker John Boehner said he will propose to cut nearly every office budget by five percent as one of Congress’ first measures next year.
In an interview set to air Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” the Ohio Republican said lawmaker should start shrinking budgets and tightening belts by “cutting Congress.”
“I’m gonna cut my budget — my leadership budget — 5 percent,” he said, in video released by CBS. ”I’m gonna cut all the leadership budgets by 5 percent. I’m going to cut every committee’s budget by 5 percent. And every member is going to see a 5 percent reduction in their allowance. All together. that’s 25, 30 million dollars that likely would be one of the first votes we cast. We can start with ourselves.”
It’s the first real details on the austerity Republicans plan to institute when the GOP takes power in early January.
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, the GOP transition chairman, has said he’s open to making cuts around the Capitol in the party’s quest to cut Congress’s fat. They’ve also altered the institution’s calendar, plan weekly spending cuts and other measures that they believe will control spending in Washington. Boehner has also given up the military airplane that typically ferries speakers to and from their home districts.
Boehner’s appearance on “60 Minutes” illustrates another newfound facet of the Republican leader: his fame. Already this week Boehner, has been the subject of a glowing “New Yorker” profile. That follows on the heels of profiles in The New York Times, Washington Post, Time and Newsweek magazines.
With the dust largely settled from the November 2010 elections, it is resoundingly clear that the majority of Americans are fed up with a government that has grown drunk on its own power and fat on their tax dollars. Tired of waiting for those in office to do the right thing, they took action and chose a different kind of leader to represent them.
The sentiment that drove voters is the heartbeat of my book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington. In addition to pointing out where and how government has overflowed its boundaries, it explains how liberty is maximized by a limited government set closest to the people.
As a life-long conservative, I was more than pleased at the outcome of the 2010 elections, because I sense people reconnecting with the fundamental precepts of our republic, enunciated so clearly in the U.S. Constitution. As a governor, I’m particularly fond of the Tenth Amendment, and the narrow role it casts for the federal government.
Its key phrase reads…“powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution…nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Bill of Rights’ authors had seen the oppressive effect of a distant, centralized government, while the rugged vitality of the American colonies showed that government closest to the people truly governs best. In short, free people work harder, live better and take better care of one another.
With this embrace of liberty as its starting point, America grew into the greatest nation the world has ever known. Unfortunately, that greatness is threatened because Americans have carelessly allowed Washington to expand at the expense of liberty.
In my view, the decline really began during the Progressive Era, when the 16th Amendment’s taxation powers gave the federal government access to our wallets. It continued with Roosevelt’s New Deal, which left us with a glut of bloated federal programs, including a bankrupt social security system. President Johnson’s Great Society further eroded the founders’ boundaries for government and left Americans holding the bag for Medicare and Medicaid. With more than $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities and zero dollars set aside to pay for them, something has to change.
Having elected leaders willing to fight for their beliefs, Americans must now hold them to their promises to reduce the role of the federal government in our lives. For example, we must repeal or de-fund ALL of the federal healthcare law and involve the states in solving our healthcare challenges. We also need to de-fang agencies like the EPA and its ill-considered mandates that will cripple our energy industry.
At the same time, conservative leaders in Washington, both newcomers and holdovers, should handcuff their free-spending peers by simplifying our tax system once and for all, and restricting federal spending with a balanced budget amendment.
Driving the federal government back into the box described by the Constitution will allow for the states to compete for the best solutions and be the laboratories of innovation they were intended to be. As they prepare for that competition, more than a few states will be studying how we do things in Texas.
The Lone Star State welcomed half of all jobs created in the US between 2009 and 2010 and continues to lead the nation in exports and Fortune 1000 companies, due in large part to the favorable economic climate we’ve created with simple fiscal guidelines.
First, we don’t spend all the money, so we have resources set aside for a rainy day. Second, our predictable regulatory climate enables employers take the risks necessary to grow. Third, our tort reforms have reduced the junk lawsuits that were tying up our employers and doctors in the courtroom. Fourth, a strong dose of accountability for our school system has is producing graduates better prepared to compete in the workplace.
These guidelines won’t solve every problem a state faces, but they restore freedom as an economic force and provide a strong foundation from which the other issues can be addressed.
Restoring a constitutional, limited government will take a massive effort, but our people are more than equal to the task. With bold leadership from elected officials at every level and the vocal participation of citizens everywhere we can surely recapture what is great about America. Together, we can restore this nation to pre-eminence in the world, as a beacon of individual liberty and economic prosperity
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
This past Saturday at the December 4th quarterly meeting of the State Republican Executive Committee, State Chairman Steve Munisteri made the exciting announcement that the Republican Party of Texas was completely debt-free as of Wednesday, December 1st. Chairman Munisteri explained that when he used the term "debt-free" that this means two things. 1) That not only has the RPT retired the $708,494 worth of debt that his administration inherited when he was elected on June 12, 2010, but that 2) additionally, every bill that the RPT has received since then has been paid in full and that the party literally owed zero dollars to any creditor or vendor, as of Wednesday, December 1st.
Chairman Munisteri presented a chart (see below) which illustrates party debt as was reported in the FEC accounts for each year from the end of 1992 until the end of the year 2009. The chart also shows the level of RPT debt Munisteri inherited as of June 13, 2010. As the Chairman mentioned at the SREC meeting, it should be noted that the RPT debt may have even been higher in previous years, as debt is also sometimes carried in the state and corporate RPT accounts, but these records were not readily available. What the chart makes clear, is that the Party has been continually in debt for at least the past 18 years. By contrast, 2010 will be the first year for which the party has records, where the ending balance for accounts payables as of Dec. 31, 2010, is expected to remain at zero.
Chairman Munisteri also presented a chart (a copy of which is below) showing that the RPT's cash on hand in the federal election account was the second highest on record at the end of an election cycle, and that the overall cash on hand (which is substantially higher than what is shown in the federal account) may be an all-time record. This despite the fact, that the State Party expended approximately $900,000 in October on behalf of candidates in the November election. More importantly, in a related chart (see below) Munisteri pointed out that records indicate that the RPT's net worth just taking into account federal election account cash, is the highest at the end of any election cycle for which the Party has records going back to 1994.
Chairman Munisteri stated: "It has been a dramatic turnaround in the Party's financial health - going from a literally bankrupt organization, to one that is financially solvent. The ability to do so in approximately five months is a result of several factors. First and foremost, is the generosity of our contributors. Second, the re-establishment of confidence and credibility of the RPT as an effective political organization. Third, the strong support from our officeholders and Chairman's circle members. Since we have literally thousands of contributors, it is impossible to thank them all individually, but I would like to make special mention of the individuals who have had the largest impact on our finances."
"First, thanks go out to our non-elected official Chairman's circle members: Altria Corporation represented by Jack Dillard, Lynn Lasher, Ross Davis, Dick Saulsbury, Clayton Williams, Neal Adams and Pat Fallon. Also, our elected official Chairman's circle members: Congressman Ron Paul, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, Comptroller Susan Combs, and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. In addition, several other office holders have either raised, or made signficant contributions just below the Chairman's circle level committment. These include: Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, Congressman Kevin Brady, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Railroad Commissioners Victor Carrillo and Elizabeth Ames Jones, State Senators Dan Patrick, Tommy Williams, Florence Shapiro and Joan Huffman, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett."
"We would also like to thank our elected officials who have held successful fundraisers for us - Governor Rick Perry, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, as well as thanking the hosts of those events - The Honorable Rob Mosbacher, Jr., John Nau, Paul Bettencourt (who also gave a substantial contribution), the Honorable Bill Ceverha, Louis Beecherl, Dee Kelly, Jr., Dee Kelly, Sr., State Rep. Vicki Truitt, State Rep. Charlie Geren, Ned Holmes, and Robert Miller. We'd also like to thank several large contributors - James D. Pitcock, Jr. (Williams Brothers Construction Company), Robert C. (Bob) McNair, Sr., Robert A Mosbacher, Jr., The Honorable William Clements, The Honorable Peter O'Donnell, Jr., Harold Simmons, Al Hill, Terry Looper, Bob Perry, William McMinn, Mike Boylan, Chief Pyle of the Choctaw nation, Stephen Jeffrey Davis, David Hartman, Boeing Corporation, AT&T, Anheuser Busch, Verizon, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, Chairman Tom Pauken, Ray Williams and Don Huffines."
"We also had several grassroots clubs and party activists raise substantial amounts of money, which we would like to thank. These include: Dianne Edmondson - Denton County GOP Chairman and Fred Moses - Collin County GOP Chairman, the Star Republican Women club, Texas Federation of Republican Women, the R Club of Houston, the Texas Republican County Chairman Association, Senate District 24, the TFRW Dallas Metroplex Club, as well as those Republicans who joined our Grassroots Club."
"Special mention should be given to Rep. Jim Keffer, who put together the House Republican Debt Retirement Committee, which we affectionately called "DebtBusters", whose pledges and cash account for approximately a quarter million dollar contribution to the effort. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and Rep. Larry Taylor are also to be commended as serving as spokespersons for the group. Those State Representatives that have contributed $5,000 or more to the DebtBusters are: Rep. Dennis Bonnen, Rep. Byron Cook, Rep. Charlie Geren, Rep. Todd Hunter, Rep. Jim Keffer, Rep. Susan King, Rep. Todd Smith, Rep. Burt Solomons, Rep. Joe Straus, Rep. Vicki Truitt, and the late Representative Edmund Kuempel. Those State Representatives that have pledged $5,000 or more to the DebtBusters are: Rep. Bill Callegari, Rep. Brandon Creighton, Rep. Dan Branch, Rep. Rob Eissler, Rep. Chuck Hopson, Rep. Tryon Lewis, and Rep. Jim Pitts. Special mention also goes to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for raising $100,000 for our "Rainy Day" fund, and Comptroller Susan Combs, who not only contributed $50,000 from her campaign account, but also left the Victory Committee with a cash surplus."
Munisteri concluded, "It is my hope that the leadership of the Republican Party of Texas will never again allow the state party to accumulate debt. I am gratified that we can now assure future contributors that their monies will go solely to helping elect Republican candidates and promoting our principles, and not toward past debt."
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
Please send a fax to ask Rep. Larry Taylor, the Chair of the House Republican Caucus, to call a meeting to select a conservative Speaker:
Also, please call Taylor's office at (281) 338-0924 and let him know that Texas Republicans want a truly conservative speaker chosen by the Republican majority, not the Democrats.
The race to replace liberal, pro-abortion Joe Straus as Texas Speaker continues. Today, I want to tell you about an opportunity we may have to enable the cowardly Republican holdouts for Straus to do the right thing.
The Republicans in the House have an organization called the House Republican Caucus, which consists of all Republican members and presumably members-elect. This caucus could meet before the session begins and choose a Speaker supported by the majority of Republicans, instead of Joe Straus who was elected by the Democrats and eleven Republican sellouts.
The caucus can meet and call for a secret ballot for Speaker, which Straus is likely to lose because members can vote their conscience without fear of reprisal from Joe Straus and his thugs' unethical intimidation attempts. However, the only person who can call for a meeting of the Republican caucus is Rep. Larry Taylor, its chairman. So far, Taylor has been reluctant to call the meeting.
We may have a real opportunity here, as Taylor was recently attacked by the liberal media over some frivolous ethics charges related to how he handled the accounting of his travel expenses.
Taylor's travel expenses as a state representative are reimbursed by the state (which is reasonable since state reps make only $7200 a year), so to avoid cash flow issues during the delay between the expenses and reimbursement, he used campaign contributions to pay for travel expenses and then reimbursed the campaign once the state reimbursed him. This is perfectly legal and ethical.
However, as we all know, part of the media's propaganda narrative is that all conservatives are "corrupt" and liberals are virtuous. Hence, they always play up purported ethics issues with Republicans while ignoring the outright fraud, vote buying and bribery that is part and parcel of the Democratic machine (see Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, etc).
Anyway, the Houston Chronicle ran a story a few days ago calling attention to this accounting issue with Rep. Taylor, and they also asked Joe Straus his opinion of Taylor's actions. Straus, instead of defending him, threw Taylor "under the bus" and called for new ethics regulations. He did not defend his fellow Republican, but rather took a cheap shot to further enhance his cozy relationship with the controlled media.
Now that Joe Straus has shown where his true loyalty lies, Rep. Taylor should feel relieved of any duty to Straus and call the meeting, especially if pressured to do so by the grassroots.
Please send a fax to Rep. Taylor asking him to call a meeting to select a conservative Speaker:
Also, please call Taylor's office at (281) 338-0924 and let him know that Texas Republicans want a truly conservative speaker chosen by the Republican majority, not the Democrats.
The Peter Morrison Report
Texas will gain at least three and possibly four seats in Congress, as population trends continue to push people out of the rust and snow belts and into the sunbelt, demographers say. With strong GOP majorities in the Texas capitol and all statewide offices in their fold, Republicans are sure to use their new clout to cement their hold on power through the redistricting process and possibly increase their majority in the House.
Republican state Rep. Tommy Merritt, an outgoing member of the Legislature who sits on the House redistricting committee, predicted the Republicans would "go for the gusto."
"I think they're going for three (Republicans) and one (Democrat)," he said. "This election in November dramatically changed the cards. There's a whole new set of cards that have been dealt to the Texas Legislature."
GOP leaders in other states are also pondering the prospect of gaining new strength as redistricting begins over the next few months.
Every decade brings unpredictable and complicated developments in the redrawing of political boundaries, but the shift of seats and their location couldn't have come at a better time for Republicans.
In Texas and across the nation, the GOP significantly increased its influence in the legislatures that will redraw the boundaries of their own districts and for members of Congress. The party picked up almost 700 state House and Senate seats in the 2010 elections, giving Republicans their best showing since 1966, according to an analysis by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The GOP also netted at least five governorships.
The gains were most dramatic in the South, where Anglo Democrats fell like dominoes. In 1990, Republicans didn't control a single legislative chamber in the South; today they have 19 of them.
"In this modern era of redistricting, this is the best position Republicans have ever been in," said Tim Storey, a redistricting expert with the national conference. But Storey said civil rights laws and political realities limit the scope of what Republicans can do and predicted the GOP would be "shoring things up rather than dramatically expanding their majority."
Texas is in a league by itself in reapportionment, the process of redistributing the 435 U.S. House seats according to population growth every 10 years. That's separate from redistricting, a political act to help elect more members of the party in power. The seats go where the people are, and Texas — the second largest U.S. state — grew by almost 20 percent, to nearly 25 million people, from the 2000 Census to July of last year. The gains in Texas are exacting a political cost in places like Louisiana, which lost population to Texas and elsewhere after Hurricane Katrina.
Louisiana is bracing for a loss of one congressional seat, as are Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Ohio could lose as many as two seats. Several other states in the South and West, meanwhile, are in line to pick up a single seat. The results won't be confirmed until final Census numbers are released early next year.
Texas already had the largest Republican delegation in Congress — 20 of the 32 seats. In the 2010 elections, the party picked up another three seats.
Besides drawing congressional lines, the Legislature is tasked with crafting its own new boundaries. Despite controlling all statewide offices and both houses of the Legislature, Republicans face limits on how many seats they can grab.
The Voting Rights Act requires that Texas protect the interests of minority voters, including a provision mandating that redistricting plans be submitted for "pre-clearance" by federal authorities. Democratic redistricting expert Ed Martin said the Texas population growth came most heavily among minorities, who tend to favor Democrats. That will limit the Republicans' redistricting gains as long the GOP adheres to the law. And for the first time since the act was passed, the U.S. Justice Department will not be under GOP control during the redistricting process.
Federal lawsuits are essentially guaranteed as part of the process, and if the past is any guide, the courts will have a huge say in how the lines are finally drawn.
In 2001, the Texas Legislature deadlocked on Congressional redistricting, leaving the federal courts to redraw all the districts. In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that new lines be drawn in several districts to protect the rights of Hispanic voters in South Texas.
Rep. Aaron Pena, a Democrat on the House redistricting committee, said both the law and the desire for incumbents to protect their own districts will restrict what the GOP can do in Texas, but that Republicans are squarely in control of the redistricting machinery in the Legislature.
"We have a two-party system in Texas — and that is between conservative Republicans and the moderate Republicans," Pena said. "The Democratic Party, or what remains of it, is on life support in Texas."