Many delegates to the upcoming Republican Party of Texas Convention have reported receiving an email from an unfamiliar organization attacking incumbent chairman James Dickey.

Sent from “Texas Conservatives for Liberty and Freedom,” the email accuses Dickey of “misplacing thousands of dollars” as chair of the Travis County GOP and lying to RPT delegates — two lines of attack that have been trumpeted by Cindy Asche, Dickey’s challenger for the RPT chairmanship — accompanied by photos of Dickey covered in blood spatter.

As several grassroots members that received the email have pointed out, the organization doesn’t seem to have any history of engagement before today. Indeed it seems to have been created for the purpose of electing Asche at the convention.

As of today, no information on the group is available from the Texas Secretary of State. The footer of the email lists an address, but the address does not seem to exist. A Google Maps search only shows an empty sidewalk across from an east Austin Planned Parenthood.

As for the allegations made regarding Dickey’s time as head of the Travis County GOP, Matt Mackowiak, current Travis County GOP chairman who also served with Dickey, painted a far different picture:

First, in the 2014 cycle, TCRP solicited new, outside funds to conduct an independent expenditure in support of three qualified Austin city council candidates all of whom won. Electing Republicans is why we exist and we were proud to help those candidates. Anyone who claims we did something wrong here is either uninformed and being misleading.

Second, we did conduct an audit while he was chairman to reconcile a marginal amount of funds that was unaccounted for. Our records were inadequate at that time and the audit provided clarity. There was no malfeasance whatsoever and our processes improved after the audit. When James left TCRP to lead RPT, I inherited a healthy organization with a solid balance in our account in June 2017.

Although Mackowiak is holding out on making an endorsement in the race until later, he added, “In my view, James Dickey did an excellent job as TCRP chairman and it was my honor to serve as his vice chair and succeed him as chairman. I have no concerns about his record, leadership or experience. I have always found him to be honest, capable, positive and supportive.”

Dickey himself also denied the “grossly mischaracterized” allegations in a statement released this afternoon:

So far in this campaign for State Party Chairman much has been said about integrity and the desire for truth and transparency to win out. I could not agree more with those sentiments and I have worked hard in the last 10 months to bring the highest level of transparency to the Party in all we do – finances, convention, primaries, meetings, and the day-to-day operations. We have passed every audit, raised record-breaking funds for the Party, and have found ways to be the best stewards of those funds, and we will continue to do so.

Reached for comment by Texas Scorecard, Asche said she was wholly unaffiliated with the organization and had no knowledge of the existence or management of “Texas Conservatives for Liberty & Freedom.”

Asche also said that she had no evidence that supported the allegations made and condemned the characterization of Dickey as a “dishonest con man.”

“I don’t believe that language is appropriate or productive for the future of our Party,” said Asche in a statement.  “I do believe there is a history as evidenced by court documents of knowingly and intentionally misleading investors, and a lack of integrity when it comes to our current Chair. However, I do not condone the language.”

Asche is referring to a civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Dickey and a former business associate in 2004, which alleged he engaged in wrongdoing in the marketing of securities.

At no time were any criminal charges made, but Dickey did agree to settle the matter in early 2006 for $35,000. The terms of the settlement prohibit Dickey from making any public statement denying the allegations of the complaint.

A number of those who have reviewed the matter have concluded that it is likely Dickey was innocent but chose to settle the matter to avoid a long and costly legal saga.

As Mark McCaig wrote on the matter for Big Jolly Politics earlier this year:

I suspect that Dickey was faced with a Hobson’s choice when given the opportunity to settle the matter with the SEC: he could pay a modest sum, not admit any wrongdoing, and make the matter go away, or he could incur financially ruinous legal bills (that would almost certainly be exponentially higher than what he would have to pay to settle) to fight the virtually unlimited resources of the Federal Government. I don’t think anybody can blame a father of a young family for choosing the first option.

Unfortunately, Mr. Dickey is legally unable to substantially address the allegations against him due to a provision in his settlement required by SEC regulations. Ms. Asche is unfairly exploiting this for her political advantage.

Texas Scorecard has also reached out to RNC Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell, who has served as one of Asche’s most active supporters, for comment.

This article will be updated with any response given.


Byron Schirmbeck, Campaign for Liberty Challenging mud-slinging attacks on Chairman James Dickey

I am still looking for specific names… “the who is this “you” that you keep referring to “? 

What we are really talking about is the same fight that has been going on since at least 2008 in response to Obama’s election and the Republicans working with him against our values with massive taxes, spending debt and Obamacare. This is the same struggle between the grassroots who care about principles and the cocktail class Republicans,  with not dime’s worth of difference between them and the Democrats. Attacking the grassroots directly wasn’t working for them, so the new tactic by the establishment folks is to paint all opposition to them as just coming from “interlopers” who aren’t really Republicans. It would be laughable if there weren’t so many gullible people that could fall for it. That the Libertarian party,  who cannot get their own people elected as dog catcher in local elections, a minor party that can barely get national candidates on all the ballots, somehow have organized and masterminded a takeover of one of the two major political parties in the country and were so well organized and influential that they not only got a Texas Senator elected but also were responsible for the last two GOP presidential defeats is laughable. So if you are pushing this lie then you are firmly on the side of McCain who cast the last vote against ending Obamacare, you are on the side of Lindsey Grahamnesty and Mitch McConnell.  I also find it laughable that someone who says they are a Trump supporter is staunchly in the same camp as the establishment GOP who have been working to sink our President since the beginning.

Interesting you talk about the platform, most of the complaints I have heard from people accusing the grass roots TEA party people of being “Libertarians” has been over the “Libertarians” expecting elected Republican officials to follow the platform like constitutional carry and were deeply involved in pushing the rule 44 against Straus and Cook for not following the platform all the while the establishment Republicans were saying we shouldn’t “attack” Republicans for not following the platform. They are also the ones pushing for reducing the platform size so it would be harder to force elected GOP officials to follow it.

But, let’s be accurate, you actually are not talking about Libertarians. You are talking about Liberty leaning Republicans. Virtually all of the Liberty leaning Republicans that I know and that Asche and Company want thrown out of the party are staunchly pro-life.

It is interesting you talk about the platform, most of the complaints I have heard from people accusing the grass roots TEA party people of being Libertarians  has been over said  “Libertarians” expecting elected Republican officials to follow the platform, such as constitutional carry,  and were deeply involved in pushing the rule 44 against Straus and Cook for not following the platform. All the while the establishment Republicans were saying we shouldn’t “attack” Republicans for not following the platform. They are also the ones pushing for reducing the platform size so it would be harder to force elected GOP officials to follow it.

Brett Rogers Answers the Republican Label Question

All of this from the current challenger to Chairman James Dickey  using divisive words to label those she disagrees with regarding the RPT Platform.

Brett Rogers – I’ve never heard of Duke Machado. Evidently, he has a blog. He wrote a post urging that we “end the Libertarian takeover in the GOP.”

He focuses only on labels: Libertarian and Republican. A wise man once taught me to crave function, not title. In other words, labels (nouns) mean nothing and activity (verbs) define us.

The Republican party was long known as the party of low taxes and smaller government. The Democrat Party was known as the party of higher taxes and bigger government. In the last twenty years, maybe thirty, the Republican Party shrugged off that reputation and simply became the party of slightly less growth of government, brief periods of lower taxes, but always increased spending.

That opened the door for an alternative, the Libertarians. They believe in less government, but are too lazy and unorganized to really win anything above mayor of a small town.

So people like Duke Machado get all itchy when real Republicans (the ones that want to do what Republicans used to do – shrink government) look like today’s Libertarians (who talk about shrinking government, but can’t win elections to effectively shrink government). The reason they get all itchy? They’ve shrugged off the Constitution and embraced big government. They loathe a republic and instead crave a centralized national government.

In short, they look nothing like Republicans. Because they aren’t.

Just as there is no compromise between a socialist and a capitalist, there is no compromise between big government Republicans and small government Republicans. People such as Duke crave the Democrat model of growing government as long as those doing so call themselves Republican.

Which is why real Republicans should completely ignore people like Duke Machado.

And Matt Armstrong chimes in –

Great post and Duke and his ilk are the “norm Adams” wing of the party talking!
Image may contain: one or more people and people standing
If you are not attending the Republican Party of Texas State Convention next week, why pardner, you’re missing out. Stay tuned. You, too, can chime in, leave me a comment.

Texas Republicans Face Existential Fight For Party Leadership (Asche Versus Dickey): Will The GOP Stand On Its Platform Or Let It Slide?

On Wednesday, May 23, 2018, Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey spoke to the Harris County Republican Party candidate forum with his opponent for State Chair Cindy Asche sitting listening (right, under flag).

Austin, Houston, and Conroe, May 30 – Texas Republicans face an existential threat in their choice of the leader of the GOP at the State Republican Convention in June. Since 1968, Party leaders have steadily lost influence, thanks in large part to the shift away from Party caucuses and conventions for the selection of Republican candidates to Republican primaries where even democrats can vote for the Republican nominee should they decide to switch parties for the primary election. In 2016, however, Republican state convention delegates fought back for the first time in half a century in passing a mechanism to require Republican elected servants to follow the Party Platform.

The existential threat is in the race for State Republican Chairman. The incumbent is James Dickey. His opponent is Cindy Asche. In order to understand why Asche is a threat to the very existence of the Republican Party, it’s important to see the contest in its historical context.

Rule 44: should the Republican Party insist that Republican candidates and officeholders stick with the Republican Platform? 

In 2016, delegates to the Texas Republican Convention, which was the largest gathering of Republican activists anywhere in history (including national conventions), voted to adopt Rule 44 to the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas. Rule 44 empowered county GOP executive committees to vote (comprised of the Precinct Chairs) to censure a Republican officeholder or candidate by a mandatory 2/3 vote for taking actions which violate the Republican Party Platform while in office or as a candidate. The State Republican Executive Committee then could take the recommendation of the county from which the Republican officeholder or candidate came and vote whether, under Rule 44, to censure at the state level, which such censure would result in the Republican Party withholding funds or resources from the officeholder or candidate.

Rule 44 finally gave Republican grassroots activists a hammer by which the Republican Party could rap the knuckles of “Republicans-in-name-only,” or RINOs. 

Republican activists spend tens of thousands of hours every two years in precinct, senatorial, and State conventions where they carefully write and adopt the Republican Party of Texas Platform. Republican activists have engaged in that process for decades. Adherence to that Platform – and nothing else – is what defines a person as a Republican. There is nothing that distinguishes Bill Clinton from Republicans other than hundreds of major and minor policy issues where there is a difference. Bill Clinton is not Pro-Life, in favor of the rights under the Second Amendment, or for reduced government spending and taxes. It’s in the adopted Planks of the Republican Party of Texas Platform where Republicans define themselves as Republicans, a definition Mr. Clinton could never meet.

Without the Platform, Republicans are little more than a social club. The failure of Republicans at the federal level to adhere to Republican principles is precisely the reason that so many Americans have become disheartened with all three branches of the federal government.

The primary distinction between the two candidates for Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas is precisely this issue. The incumbent State Republican Chairman, James Dickey, supports Rule 44 and voted in favor of a Rule 44 censure on the one occasion when the issue came to a vote before the State Republican Executive Committee on January 27, 2018.

His opponent for State Republican Chair is a nice lady by the name of Cindy Asche. Asche made clear in two important situations that she does not believe the Republican Party should censure or admonish candidates and officeholders who refuse to follow the Platform.

Dickey and the censure of Texas Speaker Joe Straus

On Saturday, January 27, 2018, the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) voted to concur with a resolution censuring Texas House Speaker Joe Straus that the Bexar County Republican Party had previously adopted.  The Bexar County resolution cited multiple occasions where Speaker Straus’ actions hindered and obstructed legislation that would advance Republican Party principles and priorities and requested the SREC to concur and apply the censure penalties available under the Republican Party of Texas’ Rule 44.

Since this censure resolution arose under Rule 44, it required a 2/3rds vote of the full SREC (43 in favor) to pass. After hours of debate, the SREC voted 44 to 19 to grant Bexar County’s request, concur in their resolution of censure, and apply appropriate penalties.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey and Vice Chair Amy Clark cast the deciding votes to pass the resolution. They acknowledged that this was a difficult vote on an issue that has received much discussion. Nevertheless, they ultimately believed it was appropriate and necessary for the Party’s health and unity to recognize the concerns which Republican voters and county parties had raised across the State by adopting this resolution and moving forward.

“Please know, we do not do this lightly, and it does not necessarily reflect any personal opinion on particular details in this discussion,” Chairman Dickey said. “This is us being committed to supporting the convention, the delegates, Republican voters across Texas in unifying our Party to move forward.”

During debate on the resolution, SREC Committeeman and Bexar County GOP Chairman Mark Dorazio stated, “In 1992 we passed the most conservative platform in the history of Texas, and that platform stands today. And all of those grassroots people that we represent have put in years, and money and their sweat and toil just to have their own elected representatives undermined. We have had control of the state legislature and we can’t get bills out of our house because of the obstruction of the speaker. This platform we have is to unify us. ”

“The Republican Party of Texas believes in its principles and supports the work of its delegates, voters, precinct chairs, and elected officials in upholding those principles,” said Chairman Dickey. “We must now move forward and focus on our goal of growing the Party and electing Republicans in critical races up and down the ballot in 2018. That is and will continue to be the Party’s number one priority in the weeks and months to come.”

Asche’s candidacy: the direct challenge to the Republican Party Platform and Rule 44

Less than one hour after Dickey voted with the SREC to censure Straus under Rule 44, Asche announced her candidacy to run against and try to defeat Dickey with Straus supporters Tom Mechler and Toni Anne Daschell endorsing her.

At least twice, Asche has made clear that she doesn’t believe the GOP should use Rule 44 to censure or admonish officerholders and candidates who refuse to follow the Platform. One of those occasions was in writing. The other occasion was at a candidate forum with Dickey just last week.

Empower Texans, one of the largest grassroots conservative organizations in Texas, sent a candidate questionnaire to Asche and Dickey for the Republican Party of Texas Chairman race. In response to one of the questions, the Rule 44 issue came to the fore. A screen shot of the question and the Dickey and Asche answers follows:

Liberty-minded Republicans become the new scapegoat in the RPT State Chair Race

Jeff LeBlanc of the Republican Liberty Caucus thinks that Cindy Asche’s comments are offensive to his group and urges members to vote for James Dickey.

james dicky cindy asche

From the InBox:

The Republican Party Of Texas State Chairman race is heating up. Recently, establishment challenger, Cindy Asche, has turned her fire on what she perceives as ‘Libertarians’ in the Republican Party who she would like to purge. The use of such language is nothing new for any Liberty-Minded Republican. It is quite common when one calls for adherence to the principles of the party over just ‘talk.’ Something must be amiss, so it/s time to scapegoat a group as infiltrators challenging the status quo.

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas has always stood for Liberty above all else. We function in our party because we believe that the GOP was founded on liberty and remains the best avenue for promoting freedom for the nation. We don’t seek solutions from government, but a reduction of it. We’re proud our platform includes issues such as: Abolish the Federal Reserve, Sound Money, Ending blanket Foreign Aid, Abolishment of the IRS, The NDAA, the War Powers Act and many other pro-freedom ideas from the right to buy raw milk to the ability of citizens to purchase automobiles directly from manufactures.

Liberty is not a new idea and it is not an alien idea to the GOP. Many of us have worked in the Republican Party in some form or fashion for decades. It is disingenuous to be branded as not the party we belong in. Such comments do nothing to grow the party. In fact, we would argue, seeking to purge any voices in disagreement with you is, in fact, secluding and shrinking the party. Once we fall into the trap of no longer allowing the freedom of ideas to be discussed and debated, we have lost all Liberty we claim to be champions of.

This caucus made the decision to proudly support James Dickey. We will continue to stand by that endorsement. James has given the grassroots a renewed enthusiasm. It continues to baffle us why the challenger sees things as a negative when the body functions as intended. The chair allows the body to work. He allows open debate without placing a thumb on the scales for a desired outcome.

For us the choice was clear, and it should be to anyone who believes in the basic principles of the party. One leader offers a party that works from the bottom up. One leader believes that we should trust our delegates and SREC members with their decisions. The other seeks to instill top down leadership. The other seeks to return to a time that only leadership has the answers to all issues, despite the will of party members and their representatives. And, according to recent statements, even gets to define who can belong and be called a Republican and who cannot.

Additionally, last night in Harris County Ms. Asche continued her assault on the RLC. You can view the video below:


We continue to urge all our delegates and all our partner organization delegates to vote for James Dickey at the upcoming RPT State Convention.

In Liberty,
Jeff LeBlanc
Chairman – RLCTX

A Defeat, And an Opportunity, For the Harris County Republican Slates

harris county republican

scott bowen
Scott Bowen

For as long as I’ve been a Republican precinct chair, my fellow activists have loudly opposed “pay-for-play” slates. Big Jolly Times readers are already familiar with the concept: candidate slates are mailed to subsets of Republican primary voters, and they purport to identify the most qualified or conservative candidates on the ballot. In exchange for these endorsements, candidates are pressured to donate money to support the mailer or purchase advertising inside it. Candidates who refuse to participate find themselves penalized on Election Day.

Anti-slate sentiment has reached a fever pitch in the wake of the May 22 runoff election for CD2 between Dan Crenshaw and Kevin Roberts. Roberts was supported by the three best-known slates: Terry Lowry’s Link Letter, Steve Hotze’s Conservative Republicans of Texas, and Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review. The Link Letter dove straight into the gutter to attack Crenshaw and support Roberts, baselessly accusing Crenshaw of bashing Christians and President Trump and of wanting to impose new taxes. This backfired badly: prominent Crenshaw supporters like radio host Michael Berry drew unprecedented attention to this issue using their own independent platforms, and Crenshaw won the runoff with 70% of the vote.

History leads me to part company with the many who wish to see the slates ended completely. When founded, these slates filled an important gap by supporting social conservatives at a time when social liberalism was much more widespread within the Republican Party than it is today. Pro-life and pro-family platform planks, now nearly ubiquitous, were controversial when first introduced—but the organizations behind the slates correctly sensed that the Republican Party could reap enormous electoral benefits by appealing to the majority of Americans who held socially conservative views. Older voters still reward the slates for the trust they built with the electorate during the 1990s—before the Internet came along, they were the only local alternative to the liberal media for conservatives trying to research downballot candidates.

Until recently, most efforts to combat the pay-for-play slates have met with failure. Competitor slates have been introduced, but they have a long way to go to build enough rapport with voters to truly wrest support for their candidates away from the old guard. Warnings on social media and practical efforts such as “Trash the Slates” receptacles at voting locations are not widespread in their reach. The best approach, in my opinion, is to lean into the problem: so long as we have one of the longest ballots in the country, accept that slates will play a role in the way many people vote. The Harris County Republican Party should take an active role in encouraging ethical slate behavior, while maintaining its own neutrality when it comes to the candidates and issues endorsed.

I advocate a three-pronged approach:

  • Candidates will be offered the opportunity to forswear any payments in exchange for endorsements, and those candidates who sign such a pledge will be listed as having done so on the website and will be encouraged to mention it in their campaigns.
  • Organizations will be allowed to certify with HCRP that they have not accepted any such contributions, and in exchange will be offered an easily-recognizable symbol or statement to include on their mailers indicating as much.
  • Voters will be informed about the existence of pay-for-play slates through HCRP’s outreach efforts, and they will be encouraged to ignore any mail that does not include a statement indicating that no endorsements on the mailer were granted in exchange for payment.

I do not suggest this lightly, and I understand if such a program were improperly implemented, it could lead to violations of neutrality. But provided that those complications could be overcome, it is past time for the Harris County Republican Party to ensure its primaries are conducted fairly and ethically. If you agree, let me know via email.


Scott Bowen
Senate District 11 Chairman
Harris County Republican Party

May Day is Payday

Houston Conservative Forum

Conservative political thought in the Houston region

May Day is payday in the world of post-Harvey infrastructure spending by Harris County and the contractors who support the elected officials. The smell of a $2.5 billion bond for Harris County matched with another $2.5 billion from the feds brought out all of the swamp creatures at the May Day meeting of the Harris County Commissioners Court.

The real issue of this May Day meeting – to decide the date for the largest bond in Harris County history, presumably for Harvey infrastructure. But, the meeting was hijaked by a group seeking concessions for a county MWDBE program.

Commissioner Rodney Ellis seemed to know all of the new swamp creatures – in keeping with the Workers’ Party theme of the day. This new group talked of economic justice, environmental justice, social justice, affordable housing, resiliency, and disparity studies. Ellis had lots of leading questions for these speakers and his goal was a new MWDBE program for the county akin to the city.

May Day Harris County
Memorial Day Flood

This discussion did not include information about which liberal politicians required payback in order to participate in the program. I’m sure that Dwight Boykins is already looking for a new vacation home. Maybe Chris Oliver can participate when he escapes the federal prison.

Commissioner Ellis wanted it known that he was planning to make it rain cash money in his precinct. Ellis threatened to campaign against the bond unless his constituents were paid – regardless of the damage they suffered as a result of Harvey. The bond amount swelled from a billion to 2.5 billion.

The money grubbers were not limited to Precinct One – they showed up countywide. One minister presented spending priorities to Commissioner Jack Cagle. The smell of money brings out all of the bad actors throughout the city and county.

Commissioner Steve Radack had a ball with these social justice warriors. Radack pointed out the fact that the city dumped tons of raw sewage into westside homes, including neighborhoods surrounding the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. Radack was trying to stick it to Ellis with this fact.

For many years, the county was a shining example of good stewardship while the city’s political cesspool grew with each election. Now, it appears as though the county is taking direction from the city – at least with the suggestion of a MWDBE program modeled after the city’s program which is wrought with fraud and corruption and is a bastion of liberalism.

Of course, no argument from city swamp people would be complete without an old reference to the “not more than a Starbucks a month” argument. This poor argument is exacerbated by the failure to thoroughly analyze the flooding issues before spending money.

The NOAA Atlas 14 report was delayed to include the Harris County Harvey rainfall amounts. The correct interpretation of the rainfall and how it relates to the area watersheds and their infrastructure is critical. The interpretation of this data and how it relates to the new 100 year flood plain and 500 year flood plain will determine what infrastructure projects we need to prevent Harveyesque events. These new flood plains are years away from being identified. So, the stack of unfinished or yet to be completed projects are irrelevant until the new flood plains are defined, which we be a long process.

May Day Payday Harvey
Jeff Lindner

As if the backlog of irrelevant projects isn’t bad enough, these outdated projects could be adding to the problem by adding water to systems, which adds to the flooding problem. The truth is that we just do not know the honest facts about the contributors to our flooding problems. These issues are complicated and our drainage systems all impact each other. A thorough and complete understanding of how these systems work together after Harvey is needed before we spend one dime one on any bond. Any influence by the engineers who have been paid to mitigate costs for their clients is certainly not the answer.

Back to the meeting. The issue of the day was Ed Emmett’s insistence on a bond election months before the general election in November.

Ellis wanted a $2.5 billion bond as compared with the initial $1 billion amount and he insisted that his precinct receive a good share of the bond, even though that allocation would not match the Harvey damage. Ellis is a true liberal and he is very good at spending other people’s money for his social engineering and environmental justice causes.

If you ever wanted to know why people elected Donald Trump look no further than the issues surrounding the Harvey spending. I say, keep it up Rodney! And, thank you! You gave us Donald Trump and we are not tired of winning. I digress.

The election date was a big fight among the commissioners. Emmett wanted August 25, the anniversary of Harvey’s landfall in Port Aransas. Ellis wanted November. Emmett advocated for the August date because he said that Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz will be running commercials about property tax reform in advance of November’s general election. Emmett did not want the county to have their hand out to voters for a bond that will undoubtedly increase property taxes. County Judge Emmett stated he could campaign for bonds or reelection but could not do both.

Ed Emmett Flooding May Day Payday
Black Hawk over the GRB during Harvey rain

Ultimately, the group settled on August 25 as a bond election date, which is problematic for two reasons. First, conservative voters are concerned about holding an election at an off time, which guarantees a low voter turnout. Second, this date is two days before kids return to HISD after summer break.

Emmett’s date required special permission from the Governor designating the issue an emergency. The establishment thinks this is an emergency because a November election would have conservative voters influencing the vote against special interest pork for meaningless projects.

The original vote was 4-1 with Ellis against the bond election. Emmett, in his calm persuasive way knew exactly which buttons to push to get Ellis to switch his vote – that Ellis would be the fall guy if the vote failed. You see, Ellis owns a side business of selling bonds and those folks would never forgive him if the vote failed. After the public blackmail, Radack demanded a new vote, which was 5-0 for the August 25 bond election.

Local engineering and construction firms being sued for incompetence over Harvey flooding are expecting a big payday with this new bond. Stephen Costello, Houston’s Flood Czar aka Resiliency Officer, is leading the charge for these needless government projects. He needs money to pay his lawyers.

Maybe the contractors who built the county criminal courthouse monstrosity that has flooded twice in the last 18 years could get a payday. Why not? The chain of wrongdoing starts with the elected officials, then the contractors and engineers who line the pocketbooks of the elected officials. As the world turns.

Take a look at these Harvey “advisory” committees. They are filled with engineers tasked with flood mitigation work in their day job and deciding how to spend the bond largess in their off time. Does that sound right to you? It is disappointing that the city corruption [think Karun Sreerama, think Stephen Costello] seems to be seeping over to the county. The engineers who have gotten rich reducing the costs of flood mitigation are the deciders of the Harvey largess. These folks are expected to fund the up coming political campaigns.

On May 7, Governor Abbott granted the emergency exception to allow the August 25 bond election. That very night, the Harris County Republican Executive Committee held its quarterly meeting. Longtime grassroots activist Clint Moore offered a resolution denouncing the idea of any bond election outside of a general election. If taxpayers are going to pay the bill, they should have a fair opportunity to vote on the issue and be represented at the ballot box. It warmed my heart to see the grassroots stand up to the establishment. Hopefully, this bond can be stopped because it has no useful purpose. Hat tip to all the precinct chairs who stood up to the Governor and Commissioners Court.

About that August bond election for Harris County

Sen. Paul Bettencourt is correct in his opposition to the date of the bond election, which is for an amount not specified and no projects identified.

Been a bit since I’ve agreed 100% with Tio Pablo but his thoughts on the recently ordered bond election in Harris County is spot on. From the Inbox:

Are the “Dog Days of Summer” Setting in on Harris County Taxpayers?
Series of summer special property tax rate election events coming, but still time to move them to November!

HOUSTON – Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston) is speaking out on behalf of taxpayers following the announcement by more than one taxing jurisdictions that special elections to raise property tax rates will be occurring throughout the Summer and better public policy is to hold them on the November General Election date. This is occurring so quickly that the Klein ISD Trustees are voting on a TRE election Monday, May 14.

I am worried about voter fatigue as well taxpayer’s pocketbooks!” said Senator Bettencourt. “Rather than spend money on special elections these taxing jurisdictions still have the chance to do the right thing and schedule their proposed tax rate increase elections in November.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) granted permission for Harris County to hold an estimated $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Control Proposition on a non-uniform election date on August 25th, the date of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. In his approval letter, Governor Abbott highlighted, “…billions of federal dollars either are currently available to Harris County or will be available to the county before it has the ability to issue the bonds requested…”

In their letter to Governor Abbott, Harris County Commissioners Court stated, “We must show the various federal agencies that matching funds are available now in order to apply for Harvey related grants that are already available.”

However, the Governor also stated in his letter, “Congress purposefully provided much of those matching dollars through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds so that local government would not need to match the federal grants.” This strongly suggests that waiting to hold the election in November will not stifle the flow of federal money nor change the facts that the CDBG funds do not need a local match.

At their quarterly Executive Committee meeting this week, the Harris County Republican Party nearly unanimously passed a resolution calling for “Harris County, City of Houston, and Klein ISD governments to schedule their respective bond and/or tax cap repeal elections as part of and on the November General Election date.” Resolution author Clint Moore stated, “Rather than disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, our elected officials should put these tax rate increase elections on the November ballot. I thought we were beyond choosing these sorts of obscure election dates, but I guess not.”

Voters throughout Harris County may return to the upcoming May 22 Primary runoff election, a probable 9 penny June tax rate ratification election in Klein ISD the weekend of the Republican State Convention, a county bond election in August, and potentially the Mayor’s announcement that he wishes to bust the voter approved property tax rate cap by November general election. “It is a fundamental truth that our Republic functions better when more people are able to cast their ballots in a Democracy,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.


I watched the Commissioner’s Court meeting when they made the decision to hold the election in August. You can watch it by clicking here and then clicking on Item V, (Part 1 of 2). It was a nightmare for anyone that cares a whit about fiscal policy, small government, transparency, open government or basic fairness to taxpayers. Strong statement since I am a huge fan of Judge Emmett and Commissioners Radack and Morman but that is exactly the way I saw it.

The decision basically boiled down to the best guess of the commissioners as to which date it was most likely to be approved by the voters. Commissioner Rodney Ellis was the only one that wanted it in November but it wasn’t for any of the reasons Bettencourt mentions above, he simply thinks that more of the po’ folks will turn out to approve it. He changed his vote at the urging of Commissioner Radack so that the court would be unanimous when it sent the letter requesting permission to hold the election to Gov. Abbott.

Because there has been NO groundwork laid, there was only an open ended conversation about which group of identity politics driven activists would get their fair share. It was disgusting. Speaker after speaker lined up extolling the virtues of their particular identity group wanting a share of the bond money, the bigger, the better. It was like watching a litter of kittens lining up in front of mama cat. This is what happens when government is driven by identity politics and activism instead of sound fiscal and engineering policy.

Maybe I’m being too hard on the Commissioners but I don’t think so. Disgusting.

Mi amigo Neal Meyer weighs in on the issue over at blogHOUSTON.

Third, considering that an August election would result in a very lowvoter turnout, there is an issue of legitimacy. If this election results in a turnout of 50,000 voters voting in favor of the bond, while a mere 30,000 vote against, that means only a tiny percentage (like 2-3 percent) of the 2+ million voting electorate of Harris County ends up making the decision that everyone else has to live with. I’ve long gotten tired of this kind of stuff happening, which is why I’ve been pushing for several years now to require voter quorums for bond elections to pass.

Believe it or not, I might actually vote in favor of a bond proposal for flooding, but only after my concerns listed above are addressed. I would like to see a full vetting of the bond proposal, which means delaying the public vote until the November 2018 election. That would give the electorate another 2 1/2 months to analyze and debate the proposal. The November 2018 election will also result in a higher turnout, which will give the bond vote stronger legitimacy.

There is no need to hurry, so why not wait?

Neal is exactly right. Why not have a full vetting before voting on such a nebulous proposition? Note that he doesn’t sound like an angry voter, just a frustrated one that knows full well there will not be a full vetting and most of the bond is simply going to be guess work on the high side of the equation.

There is no need to have the bond election in August. The only reason to do so is a political calculation on the part of the Republicans on the court. Sad.

Budgetary Stewardship – POTUS Team: “Recission Request” Forthcoming

Senior administration officials are preparing to brief the media on a congressional “recission request” notification:

“Today, senior administration officials will hold a background briefing to preview the Presidents historic rescission request to Congress. The special message to Congress will be delivered Tuesday, May 8, 2018. The briefing will be conducted via conference call at 6:00PM EDT tonight. The information will be embargoed until 9:00PM EDT this evening.”

In essence the administration is preparing to enter into a spending discussion with congress. The White House is actually trying to eliminate unnecessary federal spending. FULLSTOP. Yes, that’s what happens when a businessman, committed to financial stewardship, takes over as executive and reviews spending.

The basic point of “recission” is simple. The Omnibus spending bill contained too much unneeded spending on non-essential budgetary items. A Very Stable Genius President approved the Omnibus to gain the needed financing for the military.

With the military shored-up, the sketchy pork hidden inside the Omnibus needs to be addressed while deconstructing the deep state apparatus.  So,…. the White House is talking with congress about NOT spending the appropriations.

Do You Know There is a Movement Afoot to Allow Criminals Back on the Street without Bail? …and its all about “The Tool”

Arnold Foundation Admits the Truth: It Funded Lawsuits to End Money Bail in Houston and Elsewhere

The Arnold Foundation and the “not so secret” mission to end cash bail…

The Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation has been going around the country promoting its Public Safety Assessment as the gold standard in scientifically sorting defendants into categories and then making recommendations as to what the conditions of release on bail should be.

Curiously, while the tool often recommends detention, the tool never recommends or even contemplates release on a bail bond.  As a result, this “science” is then used to deny a critical constitutional right to bail.

The Arnold Foundation has long claimed that they are simply in the “objective” science business with no skin in the game except to provide judges better information so that they can confirm their “hunches.”

Arnold Foundation Launches Expansion of Public Safety Assessment Tool<,1,f24LNnwHR9R8LBoVWOw_pMkOUmwbSmJ2YG3tlgJZDL8JcA714ntXZFK4ZMEDFTRhgIWuXj68M62CKSUQUdti_9qNGyUAJrifpzyG8VJvRku4REd79eM,&typo=1>

The truth and only the truth.  The Arnold Foundation admitted that it is funding the lawsuits to eliminate bail.  In a recent article, it was noted that the Arnold Foundation is a “important ally” in the legal effort to eliminate all financial conditions of bail.

“Most notably, efforts funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have forged partnerships with local jurisdictions to change how the “front end” of the criminal justice system works, to reduce the number of people swept into the incarceration pipeline.” – With the Backing of Top Funders, This Group is Taking the Criminal Justice System to Court<,1,9Bjbf8GOcmrZk6liSokdhVAgsTWNmx5LXLbpccCseLuXkSjoyj1rX2QscRYFONXp341bue71zqMAToFZEnKc-QDtHYv7YGsT83CCP0FhtfH22R1nOsrIDg76GQ,,&typo=1>

There’s been a dramatic surge of new philanthropic giving in this space in recent years, with funders moving strategically to tackle a decentralized challenge. Most notably, efforts funded by the MacArthur Foundation and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation have forged partnerships with local jurisdictions to change how the “front end” of the criminal justice system works, to reduce the number of people swept into the incarceration pipeline.

That’s where Civil Rights Corps<,1,Dj_dJrbDMkN9n9FuW7h5903uQbcOUirrK4ddQEccj3PV-m2TYiWS2WwcOdW3MeCtYLEbY7y_Sbzyn64VY35Y_WaN16sQSDx0dIBHfnmOJdtyXu0u8SE0cyyzS0zV&typo=1> comes in, an organization dedicated to challenging criminal justice abuses in court. It was founded just two years ago by a young lawyer named Alec Karakatsanis who teamed up with a more seasoned lawyer and nonprofit leader, Eric Halperin—now the CEO—and is staffed by a small but growing team of mostly attorneys. – Inside Philanthropy, April 24, 2018<,1,-lHvOs45-lfyy52p_x2_9G4svmY5iRS5MUyarLgZyzgcYM0-9Dl57cUYWVjriGrLbSY1SO8hljscWfLdAzeUEXMTmVAm42NL3vQsuUkl&typo=1>

Wait a minute, let’s think about this.  The Arnold Foundation goes to Houston and convinces everyone that their neutral version of pretrial risk assessment is something that the County should adopt – which they do – all while funding litigation against the very counties, including Harris County, which it provides services.  Of course, The Civil Rights Corps, the proverbial legal witch hunter for the Arnold Foundation, carries out the marching orders for Arnold by suing the pants off of many jurisdictions.

How any local official can tell the constituents they serve that they have an objective vendor in Arnold is beyond us.  This is a tool that is calibrated to achieve a specific political and legal result, that is now absolutely clear.

We call on the Arnold Foundation to release all donation records immediately so that those who contract with the Arnold Foundation can become aware if Arnold is funding entities that seek to, let’s just say compel, the use of the Arnold Foundation tool when the constitutional right to bail goes away due to the Arnold Foundation’s efforts.

We believe the Arnold Foundation is completely tainted on this issue. What began as perhaps a well-intentioned attempt to improve the pretrial release system in criminal justice under Anne Milgram, former Vice President of Criminal Justice at the Laura and Arnold Foundation, is now nothing more than the think tank behind the wholesale destruction of accountable pretrial release.  Arnold plays architect, validator, and implementor of their risk assessment instrument – while hiding behind an iron clad contract that every jurisdiction that uses the tool must sign.

The Foundation might as well come clean—their goal is to eliminate all financial conditions of bail, and they are spending money directly to make that a reality.  Arnold needs to stop snowing over local officials with their “awe-shucks, we’re just data scientists” routine.  Obviously, this completely calls into question the objectivity of the tool itself, and should leave public officials thinking, what we have gotten ourselves into?  A debacle, that’s what.

The Arnold Foundation has demonstrated an intent to deny the right to bail, and is therefore a co-conspirator in the attempt to trammel the constitutional right to bail for all Americans.

As we continue to expose this tainted Foundation, who is compiling records on millions of Americans with no oversight, we would encourage local officials to start asking hard questions. In Harris County, Texas, where the County had to pay $7 million to defend a lawsuit that their “free vendor” literally funded against them, we’re not sure they would be too happy with such a conflict of interest.

With the Arnold Foundation recently announcing the addition of over 200 more jurisdictions to participate in their “Safety and Justice Challenge,” how many more lawsuits will we see? How many more millions of records will Arnold compile at their New York clearinghouse of criminal information? How many more victims of violence will see their attacker freed on nothing more than just a “promise” to appear?

Jeff Clayton

Executive Director

American Bail Coalition

More about the American Bail Coalition…

The American Bail Coalition is the national trade association of commercial bail insurance underwriters whose members are responsible for underwriting criminal bail bonds throughout the United States of America.

The Coalition’s primary focus is to protect the constitutional right to bail by working with local and state policymakers to bring best practices to the system of release from custody pending trial.

Jeff Clayton, Esq. is the Executive Director/Policy Director and can be reached at<> or (877) 958-6628.