Empower Texans Newsletter – January 31, 2014

Today’s QUOTE…  This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.” — Winston Churchill 

We must not ever expect to agree completely with everyone who runs for office; philosophical and practical differences are the hallmark of the process. Indeed, as advocates for self-governance we rejoice in and encourage the debates and disagreements as signs of a healthy and vibrant political marketplace.

What cannot be tolerated, of course, are politicians who trade in deceit. We need daring leaders who exude honesty and character, first and always.

Opiela’s Deception…
Our general counsel, Tony McDonald, has written today about such deception occuring in the race for Agriculture Commissioner. He has found a disturbing pattern emerging in the campaign of House Speaker Joe Straus’ one-time lawyer, Eric Opiela.

Right now, Opiela is portraying himself as a rancher, when in reality his primary occupation over the past several years has been serving as Straus’ lawyer. That’s a small fib, mostly innocuous.

But in a recent email to supporters, Opiela tried to claim grassroots support, asserting that he had “won every statewide straw poll” in the race. While that isn’t totally a lie, it is a severe twisting of the facts.

Opiela won one online straw poll, but when the results were recalculated to allow only one vote per computer, the poll wasactually won by TFR-endorsee Sid Miller. Likewise, when Young Conservatives of Texas held an online straw poll, Opiela appeared to be the winner. Then it was revealed 58.7% of Opiela’s votes came from out-of-state! When only Texas votes were taken into account, Opiela was soundly defeated by Sid Miller.

The bigger lie Tony uncovered from the Opiela campaign, however, was a list of endorsements. In the same email to supporters, Opiela claimed a huge list of endorsements by GOP activists. However, when we started checking-out some of the prominent names, we found that they hadn’t endorsed Opiela at all. (Read more.)

But misleading voters about straw polls and endorsements isn’t the limit of Opiela’s deception. He also has misled voters about how much money he has raised. Opiela has crowed on his Facebook page and website about outraising his opponents. He even goes so far as to say that a “breakdown” of his fundraising demonstrates “grassroots strength.” After filing a campaign finance report (that he was later required to correct) Opiela claimed that he raised $898,063.18 in the latter half of 2013. However $850,000 of that money came from Opiela himself. He gave himself a half million dollar loan and then contributed $350,000.

All told, after the corrected report is taken into account, Opiela has given or loaned to his campaign $1,450,000.00 of his own money.

Andy’s Taxes
And then you have Andy Cargile, the hapless former school bureaucrat who was recruited by moderate Republicans and Democrats to challenge conservative stalwart Jonathan Stickland in House District 92 Republican Primary. Mr. Cargile has outted himself as a proponent of much higher taxes, telling an Austin political gossip page that he is considering throwing support behind a 50% hike in the state’s gasoline tax.

Former State Rep. Vicki Truitt was tossed from office by Tarrant County voters on that same idea, and it hung like an albatross around the neck of now-former State Rep. Todd Smith who misrepresented HD92 until Jonathan Stickland arrived on the political scene.

The folks in Tarrant County know the score. When Stickland had a campaign kick-off rally, more than 600 grassroots volunteers and supporters showed up. So far, Mr. Cargile is getting his GOP primary support from Democrats.

Cruz’ing For Education Reform
Ted Cruz recently spoke at a school choice rally, celebrating the kickoff of National School Choice Week.

Ross Kecseg, who heads the Metroplex office of Empower Texans, notes that report estimate more than 315,000 children in poor urban areas are trapped in schools the state has categorized as “failing”. We’ve previously emphasized the need for substantive education reforms that would better address the needs of individual students.

On the May 2012 GOP primary ballot, more than 84 percent of Republican primary voters agreed with Sen. Cruz’s position, saying they want to empower parents and improve efficiency by allowing funding to follow the child.

Unfortunately, politicians from both parties united in opposition against such reforms. One of House Speaker Joe Straus’ favored freshmen, the ‘F-rated’ Republican Bennett Ratliff of Coppell, joined with a Democrat in offering an anti-student amendment to the state budget explicitly prohibiting more parental engagement in education.

Speaking Of A Speaker…
One legislator who has taken a strong stand in favor of meaningful, child-focused and parent-centered education is State Rep. Scott Turner, a conservative (and former NFL) star. He recently declared his candidacy for speaker of the Texas House, and you will not find a man of greater integrity and character. I hope you will take a moment and check out the speech he recently gave at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2014 Policy Orientation.

Do you know where your candidates for the Texas House stand on the speakership? After all, it will be the very first vote they take.

Statewide Slate
We have begun mailing out our statewide slate of endorsements, individualized from governor to state representative — they are the 2014 Pro-Taxpayer Team! You can see the full list of endorsements on our website, and download the slate of statewide offices.

For Texas!
Michael Quinn Sullivan
& the EmpowerTexans.com Team

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