You Have the Right to Remain Silent?

Yesterday’s Ethics hearing was entertaining, sad, predictable and ironic.

The coverage was interesting. San Antonio Express-News had a decent piece. Even the liberals had a pretty good synopsis of how it played out.

Mike Sullivan, of course, declared victory over the whole ordeal.

I was told that Mike was going to pull this maneuver – to refuse to participate in the hearing, but I wasn’t sure what reasoning he would have. Well, his bully of an attorney, Joe Nixon, proudly proclaimed that it was because he was invoking his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Okay? Then he proceeded to tell the commissioners that he didn’t have to tell them exactly why those constitutional rights allowed him to do so. Then he said he was NOT invoking the Fifth Amendment right to protecting himself from self-incrimination. Huh? Interesting tactics, but it sure made it look like Mike had something to hide. I mean, why else would you not testify?

The Chairman of the Commission, Jim Clancy, really said it well when he asked Mike what his agenda truly was about. He clearly pointed out that, in the past, Mike had registered to lobby as he received compensation for advocating positions to elected officials, and that he had stopped registering while continuing on with the same actions while being compensated. It was pretty cut and dried: Mike failed to register, so he was being fined. Clancy wanted to know (and I think we all do) how that has now turned into some kind of crusade. Of course, Mike just sat there refusing to say anything.

Texas Ethics Commission agendas are chalked full of circumstances where someone failed to correctly fill out (or forgot to fill out) the paperwork and the commission issues an order with a fine and proceeds to give a much smaller fine if the party agrees to correct the filing/mistake. Joe Nixon, himself a former state representative, has received a hefty fine from the TEC: http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/sworncomp/2006/2612261.pdf

Nixon also represented other clients who had to pay fines, like Judge Sharon Keller, who had to pay $25,000 to settle an ethics violation. Regarding this, Nixon proclaimed:

“Let me be very clear, there is no finding at any time of any kind of unethical behavior — none. The question is: Did you fill out the form right?”

So, what is different here? Someone busted Mike for failing to register as a lobbyist and all of the sudden it’s a jihad against a body made up of staunch, credible conservatives designed to make sure that people are playing by the rules? What is Mike Sullivan hiding? How is refusing to testify at a hearing doing anything except avoiding self-incrimination? And why is Joe Nixon and his firm leading Mike Sullivan down this path. Is Nixon hiding something? Is he just still peeved about receiving an ethics violation? Maybe he’s just still upset that Dan Patrick beat him so badly…who knows?

One of the most telling moments was when commissioner Bob Long, a pastor and stalwart of the Republican party (He was the state party Chaplain for years), finally just called Mike out for his antics. He basically said that he even agreed with a lot of Mike’s ideas and political philosophy, but that this “venom” was too much and that he did not understand the reasoning behind all of his actions.

This hearing, and everything surrounding it, should once again be a clarion call to all Republicans: these guys are not your friends. They are only out to push their own agenda. (I can’t wait to see what happens when Tim Dunn turns on Dan Patrick, or any of the other minions they helped get elected.)

It’s easy to run your mouth about generalities and ideology, but when the time comes to govern, the people will be watching and the people the elected will have to work. This is inevitably when Tim Dunn’s disappointment will set in because he will be reminded he doesn’t live in an utopian state. Dunn is no better than the Communist who pines for the perfect world so that their set of morals and ideas will fit perfectly into society and all will be well. This is the real world. We have real important issues to address, and leadership means taking them head on. Most of the time it won’t be perfect, but, by God, we have to come together and get something done for this great state. If Dunn was so good, he should crawl out of his bed of money and run for office.

Mike thinks he’s so righteous, but he’s really just blindly following orders and convincing himself it’s in the name of whatever cause Tim Dunn told him. Mike Sullivan looked like a changed man today. He wasn’t the typical emboldened, ideological warrior he prefers to portray. Today, he was more like a robot who had been programmed — a manchurian talking head. Mike: you’re more formidable when you run your mouth and think for yourself. Your employer and legal counsel may be leading you down the wrong path, and you are blindly obeying them. Next time, you should think about it when Tim Dunn and Joe Nixon tell you that you have “the right to remain silent”.

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