Dunn’s Legal Team Loses Again

While Tim Dunn’s legal team continues to make missteps and lose rulings, his public relations machine is in high gear attempting to skew what it really happening.

The Quorum Report, reported last Friday that Daniel Greer of AgendaWise and his Tim Dunn hired lawyer, Joe Nixon, lost their defense of their defamation case in which a trial court already found they made claims against a citizen of Canadian, Texas that were “…were false and without foundation.”

When Greer isn’t dispersing single-minded, ideological rhetoric attacking what he calls the “ruling class”, some of my readers may remember that Mike and Tim asked Mr. Greer to take a leave of absence for making gay slurs on his Twitter feed.  Mike Sullivan and Dunn are on the Board of Directors for AgendaWise.

Considering his past transgressions and the current headaches he has caused, I wonder if Daniel is worried that Dunn and Sullivan are not putting their best legal foot forward in supporting him? Surely Daniel saw Joe Nixon’s performance during the two-year investigation in which the Texas Ethics Commission concluded Mike Sullivan was guilty of failing to register as a lobbyist.

At what point do Dunn’s minions begin worrying that he’s not spending enough on quality representation to protect them? That said, if Dunn’s legal team is floundering, his PR machine is in full force…

In a sure sign (and probably the first of many to come) of the impact of the TEC’s record fine against Mike last week, surrogates for Tim Dunn’s PR operations (and reported recipients of his financial largesse) have stepped in to fight on his behalf.

Remember, in it’s ruling the TEC found that Mike:

“…destroyed or lost thousands of emails sent to members of the Legislature during 2010 and 2011, despite having received written requests for such information in 2012…”

In attempting to hide the truth and keep the public’s eye away from these violations, Dunn has had the Home School Coalition file suit against the TEC to spin the same false narratives about free speech, and continue his incongruous fight to block transparency in campaign disclosure. (On a side note: the Texas Tribune, a real—albeit leftist—news organization, discloses its donors in plain view. If Empower Texans is a “bona fide” news organization, why doesn’t it do the same?)

Dunn has since used his contacts at the Wall Street Journal to once again weigh in on non-finance related issues and defend the Home School Coalition’s lawsuit. I really wonder who he bought on the Journal’s Editorial Board.  (My sources tell me that Stephen Moore is a close friend of the Dunn network, but I’m not sure he still has a direct line.)  Just like Watchdog Texas, we are seeing an inordinate amount of editorials that read like they were drafted by Empower Texans staff. Maybe they were??

Look for more of the same as the truth about Dunn, his operations, and actions of his employees come to light. In the meantime, I bet Dunn’s staffers are wishing his legal team was as good as his PR machine.

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MQS = Chief of Staff?

There was chatter last week from more than a few of my sources that Dan Patrick is very seriously considering asking Mike Sullivan to take over as Chief of Staff after he crushes Van De Putte in the election and takes the helm as Lieutenant Governor.

Why would Patrick consider someone to lead his team who has been fined for violating Texas Ethics laws and could possibly be facing criminal penalties for destroying evidence? Furthermore, how would he continue his Empower Texans gig? And, how would legislators react to interacting inside the capitol with someone who:

“…notified members of the Legislature directly that if they did not vote on pending legislative matters in the manner advocated by Empower Texans and its related entities 80% of the time, the members would not receive the endorsement of Empower Texans and its related entities, and would be subject to a political challenge. “

The word is that Mike Sullivan is actively pursuing the job and is using all the “good will” (read: money) that Tim Dunn has contributed to Patrick’s campaign as leverage to get his foot in the door.

I’m getting conflicting reports on whether this is a done deal. It’s hard for me to imagine that Patrick would hire Mike – someone who had such disdain and disregard for a state agency full of conservative board members charged with holding accountable politicians and lobbyists that he provided:

“…baseless arguments that would destroy the ability of the State of Texas to require public registration of paid lobbyists, while never denying that he was paid to tell legislators how to vote.”

Patrick is an independent thinker and I just can’t see him cowing to Tim Dunn’s wishes, no matter how much money he gives him.

This will be an ongoing theme to watch: whether Patrick forges his own path as Lieutenant Governor, or becomes beholden to Mike’s mouth and Tim’s money.

Visions of Grand Jury

Well, the Texas Ethics Commission finally issued their judgment on the complaints that Mike “Don’t Call Me Lois Lerner” failed to register as the paid lobbyist he really is. The verdict? Guilty. They laid out his violations rather clearly, gave him the maximum fine possible, and alluded to some possible future legal issues.

Here is the bottom line (as I predicted):

“…Sullivan is a paid lobbyist who is required to register under Texas law.”

The Commission was also not amused with the way Mike refused to testify, and they made Mike’s lawyer, Joe Nixon—who himself has been fined by the TEC—look like he had a half-baked game plan and a rather weak grasp of constitutional law:

“Mr. Sullivan’s lawyer explained that Mr. Sullivan was asserting his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment as a basis for his refusal to testify. Mr. Sullivan did not invoke a Fifth Amendment right not to testify.”

Okay, Nixon…what’s that about? Your client took the Fifth.

The Chair overruled Nixon’s objections and asked him to explain a basis for this purported “right” not to testify. Nixon had none and provided:

“…no support for Mr. Sullivan’s global refusal to answer questions on subjects such as his employment with Empower Texans and related entities and his direct contact with legislators to influence legislation.”

My lawyer friends tell me that is the equivalent of getting dunked on… ouch Joe Nixon. Tim Dunn needs to hire better lawyers for his minion. They went on to point out that his failure to speak only allowed the Commission to assume that he had something to hide:

“However, Mr. Sullivan’s abject and unjustified refusal to answer questions before the Commission permitted the Commission to draw inferences adverse to Mr. Sullivan that supported the allegations of the sworn complaints.”

Oops? I wonder if Nixon thought his strategy through? Probably not.

The most interesting finding was definitely the destruction of records:

“However, the evidentiary record at the formal hearing revealed hundreds of pages of direct communications from Mr. Sullivan located in the files of Texas legislators that were not produced pursuant to the subpoena… Sullivan and Empower Texans have destroyed or lost thousands of emails sent to members of the Legislature during 2010 and 2011…“

Should we start calling him Mike “Lois Lerner” Sullivan? Some are saying this issue could actually create criminal liabilities for Mike.

Before the ruling, Mike appeared on a local TV show in Dallas and acted his usual self-righteous self as he tried to belittle an entity designed to hold people like him accountable. He went on to basically lie in front of the cameras, and God and everyone else, saying that he “rarely speaks to legislators and didn’t destroy emails”.

Coming on the heels of Mike taking the Fifth at the Ethics Commission hearing recently, his comments on TV show why he did so. He parsed his answers very carefully, but even reporter Wayne Slater commented that it was clear that he lobbies the legislature, but more importantly, he probably did destroy emails that were subject of a lawfully issued subpoena.

This is bad stuff, folks. And when this starts rolling backwards on Dunn and his operatives, watch for the smart members to run far away from them very quickly. Being the recipient of the largesse of an entity convicted of violating state civil and criminal statutes is poison to a candidate in a campaign.

In that TV interview, Mike said the Commission had “delusions of grandeur”. His ridiculous refusal to testify during a trial while invoking the incorrect constitutional rights only to not invoke the one constitutional right that would allow him not to testify (and implicate himself) and claim it’s because of some witch hunt against him… one might ask if this “guardian of transparency” is really the one needing a reality check.

You can view the whole order here:
http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/sworncomp/2012/3120488.pdf

Establishment Texans?

Most of my readers know that one highlight during this time of the Texas political season is mid-year campaign reports that are due this week. After reviewing some of what the big boys raised and the smaller fish received, I’m left wondering when the levy is going to break on Mike and Tim Dunn’s patience with regard to “their” candidates becoming “establishment”.

You see, Mike has been very vocal—at Tim Dunn’s direction—about preaching for candidates they are supporting and how they are not part of any “establishment” politics.

As a reminder, here is the list of candidates that Empower Texans is heavily supporting:

Heck, Mike is even going on a tour around the state as we speak, with other so-called “activists” who are telling folks “what really happens in Austin”. A lot of this revolves around the fact that they hate lobbyists and the undue influence lobbyists have on politicians.

To review, here is just a small sampling of quotes from Empower Texans and their subsidiary Agenda Wise, railing against “establishment” politicians and business interests:

“One simply cannot overstate the importance of conservatives winning in the lieutenant governor and attorney general races. Both Patrick and Paxton have established themselves as consistent champions for liberty. They can be counted on to fight the corruption and cronyism being uncovered in the Texas Legislature.” ~Mike Sullivan

“As we have come to expect, advocates of big-spending corporate-cronyism are rushing to the aid of liberal Republicans.” Mike Sullivan

“Is Patterson, or the rest of the establishment for that matter, loyal to party or to power? After all, they like to accuse conservatives of not being loyal to their party.” ~Daniel Greer

So, who are these corporate cronies? Mike lays it out quite well in his piece called “Countering Conservatives” where he decries the business groups as, “the people who feed from the government trough, and worry that their rent-seeking ways are being revealed.”

And who are these lobby groups? Well, it could mean the entire lobby altogether, but here is a handy little screenshot from the Empower Texans website:

Empower Texans Hated Lobbyists

Screenshot from Mike’s “Countering Conservatives” piece

Empower Texans thinks that these groups are bad for Texas:

As I said, this is the week when candidates like to boast about how much money they raised.  So, are you wondering how Empower Texans’ approved candidates managed to raise a bunch of money without taking contributions from these traditional business and lobby interests?  The answer is: they didn’t.  Some of Tim Dunn’s favorite candidates are taking quite a bit of money from these groups that Mike and Tim have worked very hard to get elected. Let’s take a look.

 

Dan Patrick raised $511,030.84 from 70 lobbyists or lobby firms. Here are some totals:

Texans for Lawsuit Reform $58,930.84
Association of General Contractors $10,000.00
Texas Association of Builder $10,000.00
Texas Bankers Association $10,000.00
HillCo PAC $4,881.95

 

Ken Paxton raised around $320,000 from over 50 lobbyists or lobby firms. He took money from:

Texas Association of Realtors $25,000.00
Association of General Contractors $5,000.00
Texas Association of Builders $10,000.00
Texans for Lawsuit Reform $9,000.00
HillCo PAC $1,000.00

 

Even some of  Empower Texans’ favorite members in the House have taken money from Texans for Lawsuit Reform:

Charles Perry Campaign $25,000.00
Craig Goldman Campaign $1,000.00
David Simpson Campaign $1,000.00
Drew Springer Campaign $1,000.00
Giovanni Capriglione Campaign $1,000.00
James Frank Campaign $1,000.00
Jodie Laubenberg Campaign $1,000.00
Lois Kolkhorst Campaign $2,500.00
Ron Simmons Campaign $1,000.00
Jonathan Stickland $5,000.00

I would love to hear what Mike or any of his other Libertarian minions have to say about these candidates that they have propped up to be so righteous and not part of the “Austin establishment”.

Why hasn’t Daniel Greer, or Tim Dunn, or Mike Sullivan said anything about this?   Have they secretly made deals with these businesses and lobby groups? Have the politicians told them to hush?  Do they really even believe all the hogwash they promote about not being beholden to the “ruling class” or the “establishment”?

Or is it that, just maybe, Tim Dunn and his army of neophytes are going to find out that their “pure” candidates are going to dash their hopes and dreams and probably play ball with the “establishment ruling class” that they so seem to loathe.   I really cannot wait to see the scorecards and the reporting when all of these “Empower” candidates become “Establishment” candidates.

 

Dunn PR Machine Continues to Fixate on Powers

I know it when I see it….

The latest Dunn PR machine put out an article talking about the latest UT leak from Regent Hall. This article is interesting to look at from many facets.

First, let’s not lose sight of the fact that this rant about transparency at the UT System is coming from a group steeped in dark money, including some from Regent Hall. Let’s also recall that this group has been lobbying for years, recently decided not to register any longer, and is subject to ethical investigations from the state, with significant civil and criminal penalties likely for ring leader Mike Sullivan. The possible civil and criminal penalties result from failing to comply with any tiny bit of transparency. And for, frankly, acting nothing at all like the Eagle Scout he claims to be.

Second, let’s move on to what is behind the Richie Rich temper tantrum of Regent Hall. If he found wrongdoing, why not bring it to light? Instead, he has hidden behind years of manipulation pointed at one person: President Bill Powers. Along the lines of his dark money political contributions, he has hidden in the dark on what are likely his true motives: bring down the flagship UT System so that Texas A&M can move to first place. No way you say?

Why not? Hall’s fellow dark money buddy Jeff Sandefer, with the encouragement of his Aggie pal Governor Perry, has been trying for years to turn UT into a technical college after being dismissed from teaching there. Hall isn’t trying to fix anything. He’s worked steadily to destroy something. And why wouldn’t his friend Mike Sullivan help out on it; he’s an Aggie as well (much as I’m sure they’d like to undo whatever influence he had to use to get in there).

Look, everyone bored enough to follow this drama over the last year knows this is about Perry tearing down UT to build up A&M. What hasn’t worked well for him is that Hall had to manufacture some reason to remove a major obstacle to destroying UT: Powers.
And now, supposedly the smoking gun is a trumped up admissions office scandal involving admittance favors?

News flash (and spoiler, where Hall and Perry outsmart themselves): there’s all kinds of folks that try to help kids get into UT, A&M, Tech, Baylor, you name it. Legislators, donors, Regents and (gasp!) even Governors. That’s right: when all the smoke clears that Hall is setting to cover up his real plan, and the Tribune, Chronicle or whoever gets a response to their open record request for the name of every important person that tried to help a kid get into school comes out, it will reveal that legislators are probably the ones that ask the least. Some sitting Regent and the sitting Governor will be at the top of the list of admission interveners. And then what will Hall use for his excuse for the useless trouble he had caused? That his pal Perry didn’t really make the call?

Does anyone else find it odd that UT has apparently gladly relinquished letters of recommendation, while A&M has opined that these are confidential and asked for an AG ruling on whether it is appropriate to release these? And if the AG opined that it is not, had UT, to the glee of Hall and buds, stepped off into it again? And what of Baylor, TCU and other fine institutions? Anyone think it eerily quiet that their admission policies aren’t being drawn and quartered by their Trustees and by Mike Sullivan and his “source”?

Shouldn’t find it a bit odd. This whole thing has been about the systematic dismantling of the UT System to benefit A&M, and the dream Perry has of someday landing a plum retirement job there.

This is another classic Perry arm twisting move. The real question is when Perry pushes hard enough to get the UT President out, will he be gracious enough to let Abbott take the lead on the next chapter at UT? No way…

I know it when I see it, and this is an old play run by new players that are not very good at the game.