Spin Class

Voters across the state rejected the candidates funded by the dark money operations of Tim Dunn and Jeff Sandefer. In race after race, the legislative cattle of those two men’s operations were led to slaughter.

Voters didn’t appreciate out-of-district dark money operations trying to purchase new players for their legislative team. Stuck at a roster of 15 low-performing members, Dunn and Sandefer can’t find a winning effort at all.

They quickly had their press operation crank into gear to try and spin the run-off election results as a vindication of their multi-million dollar, sole source funded “grassroots” political operation by taking credit for victories in races in which they were bystanders. But in every case where Dunn/Sandefer money was trying to buy off the electorate, whether through Texans for Fiscal Responsibility hidden spending, Empower Texans open spending, Accountability First and Luke Macias’ pitiful performance in campaign operations (0 for all), the pay-to-play slate cards of Empower Texans and Dr. Hotze, and paid legislator block walkers like Representative Stickland, the voters rejected their extremist out-of-district efforts to buy the seat and elected rational, common-sense true Republicans.

Dunn and Sandefer can try to spin last night in their favor all they want, but in the true grassroots races, where people are closest to their elected officials, their dark money efforts were soundly rejected.

Diminishing Returns

texas conservative reality

The filing of spending reports always prompt emails from alert readers that give me good leads.  It doesn’t hurt that Mike and the other Tim Dunn/Jeff Sandefer underlings spend a lot of time in Starbucks (that’s fiscal responsibility for you) running their mouths in earshot of my readers.

Empower Texans and Dunn continue to maintain that they are the embodiment of the grassroots movement and Mike pipes out his contrived message, claiming that, thanks to them, their “conservatives” (as defined by MQS, Dunn & Sandefer supported “scorecards”) are taking over the legislature.  Let’s take an objective look at that…

Excluding the corporate dark money operations of Texas for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Public Policy Foundation, Empower Texans PAC has spent about the following per cycle:

2010: $150,000

2012: $150,000

2014:  over $3,800,000 and counting 

What did that buy Dunn?  Using their own analysis, consider:

Empower Texans/ Dunn’s Scorecard GOP Average:

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Empower Texans= Ethical Issues, No Problem!!

After months of loudly and proudly proclaiming their support of Ken Paxton for Attorney General, the dark money operation of Tim Dunn and Jeff Sanderfer has suddenly gone silent on this race. This silence coincides with the public revelation of the incredible ethical illegal actions by Paxton in failing to disclose information required by law on his public filings, as well as failing to register with the Securities Board. 

Interestingly, the multiple failures of Mr. Dunn’s operations to comply with disclosure requirements of the Ethics Commission are being investigated at the same time as Senator Paxton’s  This is not the only example of Tim Dunn supporting candidates with ethical and legal problems:

Phillip Eby running for House District 58- rumored to have recent run-ins with law enforcement authorities

T.J. Fabby running for House District 10- supports legalization of recreational marijuana

Jonathan Stickland representing HD 92- double dipping in expense reimbursements of the same type that led to the end of the political career of Rep. Joe Driver.

Matt Rinaldi Republican Candidate for HD 115 – recipient of questionable stock gifts by donor Monty Bennett.

Ted Seago running for House District 16- multiple departures from previous church employers under questionable circumstances; payments to his dependent with campaign funds.

Bob Hall running for Senate District 2- subject to a restraining order granted to an ex-wife.

And there are more…

See the pattern? Tim Dunn, Jeff Sandefer, their spokesman Mike Sullivan, and their dark money operations have no problem supporting candidates with a problem complying with the law.

To close, let’s review the oath of office:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the duties of the office of __________ of the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this e state, so help me God.

The Candidates listed above have already proves that they cannot comply with this oath. Why should these voters trust them to comply with it going forward? 

Diminishing Returns

The filing of spending reports always prompt emails from alert readers that give me good leads.  It doesn’t hurt that Mike and the other Tim Dunn/Jeff Sandefer underlings spend a lot of time in Starbucks (that’s fiscal responsibility for you) running their mouths in earshot of my readers.

Empower Texans and Dunn continue to maintain that they are the embodiment of the grassroots movement and Mike pipes out his contrived message, claiming that, thanks to them, their “conservatives” (as defined by MQS, Dunn & Sandefer supported “scorecards”) are taking over the legislature.  Let’s take an objective look at that…

Excluding the corporate dark money operations of Texas for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Public Policy Foundation, Empower Texans PAC has spent about the following per cycle:

2010: $150,000

2012: $150,000

2014:  over $3,800,000 and counting 

What did that buy Dunn?  Using their own analysis, consider:

Empower Texans/ Dunn’s Scorecard GOP Average:

2009:  82.25

2011:  82.5

2013:  63.8

Dunn’s “Passing” legislators:

2009 – 64 members.  around 84% of GOP members in 2009

2011 – 82 members.  around 82% of GOP members in 2011

2013 – 38 members.  around 40% of GOP members in 2013

2015 – probably about 23 members?  Can’t quantify a percentage but I expect that Empower Texans will not help their members in the general election… funny how they don’t mind spending big bucks to beat other Republicans but aren’t nearly as interested in beating a Democrat???

Another interesting statistic is their growing dependence on freshman House members and their inability to maintain influence with the same members from one session to the next:

In 2009 there were 2 freshman House members out of 23 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (8.9% Freshmen)

In 2011 there were 10 freshman House members out of 28 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (35.7% Freshmen)

In 2013 there were 12 freshman House members out of 19 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (63.16% Freshmen)

The only members to maintain their “A” rating from 2011 to 2013 were Jodie Laubenberg, Bill Zedler, Van Taylor, David Simpson, Bryan Hughes and Stephanie Carter. Shocking, huh?

Empower Texans spends a lot of money attempting to buy members of the legislature but once they are sworn in, they have a very difficult time maintaining any control. I hear countless stories of “I didn’t know this is what they are REALLY about…” and then they choose a lower “grade” because they want to vote their district. Plus members are becoming wise to the fact that Empower Texans and Dunn cook the books on their scorecards.  They pick hundreds of votes that they lobby members to take a position on, then cherry picks less than 10 of the votes to form their “scores”.  They do this to ensure that the members they currently own outright get high scores; those that choose instead to represent their district are given low scores. 

So in rigging the scores and feeding their legislative cattle with generous jobs, contributions from all of Dunn’s various operations and “research” from his public relations from, Texas Public Policy Foundation, they have unintentionally revealed what members understand:  whatever influence they have is dropping like a rock and Dunn’s reputation is taking a beating.  Empower Texans is not able to have longstanding allies as Dunn spends millions of dollars hiring substandard, underperforming lobbyists, bloggers, lawyers and spokesmen. He watches as all of his efforts fail.  The number of members associated with his operations has plummeted.  His “policy” machine, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is wholly ignored by the legislature, implementing none of their recommendations.  That’s in spite of TPPF’s rumored $20 million building and their $6.5 million yearly budget.  Empower Texans and Mr. Dunn’s operations are under investigation by state agencies, and he has been relegated to supporting candidates that are subject to restraining orders and have various legal issues—from securities violations to double-dipping expense reimbursements.

Now he can certainly make the point that while the number of members that he holds sway over has dropped dramatically, but the ones he has are totally beholden to him financially and are much louder:  valid. 

But as for the effectiveness of his operations at affecting legislation and electing more “conservatives” as defined by Dunn, the return on his and Empower Texans increasingly expensive expenditures to buy the legislative process is having significantly diminishing returns.