Rough Week

Dunn and his cronies had a tough week despite having become part of the Austin establishment.  The leak by Regent Hall of the impending UT President choice ( who Hall and Dunn operations lobbied hard against) let the Dunn lobbyists have a reason to work themselves up into a frenzy and work against the appointment. As with their full court press against Abbott and his Regent nominees, the board vote Friday showed they have no clout.

Events even brought Dunn lobbyists Mike Sullivan and baby lawyer Tony McDonald out to the lobby pit and testifying in committee.

Sullivan was overheard in the pit talking to members he called out from the floor, and McDonald did a masterful job parroting his clients desire to keep his operations in the dark when testifying against disclosure.

This is an interesting position for Dunn to take. And not just because they openly claim to be about transparency ( while thriving on and wallowing in dark money). Rather its because the tea party conservatives are strongly for disclosure and told Dunn so on the grassroots call last Sunday. Perhaps because Dunn is about to open his temple on Congress Avenue ( albeit 4 months behind schedule and several million over budget), has joined the Austin establishment ranks by being involved in Austin business trade groups and Patrick’s advisory group, he no longer cares to use the tea party groups to prop up his operation. By formally joining what he has for years referred to as “rent-seekers” in Austin, he hopes to protect his state subsidized businesses, particularly as the price of oil reins in his ability to solely fund his myriad lobby and media operations.

While Dunn and his cronies have never been particularly successful at their lobby or campaign operations, by hiding in the shadows and hiring legislators they have somewhat been able to create an appearance of success. As they move into the public through participating in Austin establishment groups, their lack of effectiveness is coming to light.

There are about 8 weeks left in the session. That’s about 8 more bad weeks for Dunn and his fringe beliefs.

Character Revealed

As I have posted earlier, the true character of a person comes out eventually and they can no longer keep up the facade to be what they are not.

The last week has proven out that Tim Dunn and his cronies are only in the process for self aggrandizement and ego.

Although Lt. Gov. Patrick made Dunn a part of the establishment class when he put him on his “advisory ” board to protect his state subsidized businesses of for profit charter schools, Dunn has even turned on this statewide official, the only one that pays him any attention other  than the Attorney General. And even that attention cost Dunn a cool $1M to get.

When the senate rolled out their tax plan, Dunn panned it as a bad idea. This forced Patrick, much the same as he had to do on his gun stance, to pivot and come out with another plan, even worse than the earlier one. This too was not supported by Dunn.

Then comes the full court press by Dunn to bust the appointees of the Governor, even sending one of his lawyers, although a very low level, ineffective, freshly licensed one, to testify on his behalf against the appointees. Dunn even summoned disgraced and grand jury investigated Regent Wallace Hall at the last moment to work the senate against the Abbott appointees.  As with the rest of his legislative program, Dunn failed at this challenge to the Governor and the senate overwhelmingly approved the nominees. Thus giving Dunn ( and Patrick, who Dunn and Hall plan to back against Abbott in 3 years) a Heisman of epic and very public proportions.

Close out the week with a public pronouncement by Dunn that he prefers the state stay mired in debt rather than put itself in a healthier fiscal position by paying off the huge debt load currently choking the state and threatening its rating. Financial experts uniformly agree that ridding an entity of budget stifling debt is a fundamental planning tool. Even the policy drones at the Dunn-owned TPPF couldn’t go with Dunn on this one.

There’s no way to know if Dunn is a prodigious spender in his private businesses, as he keeps everything in his life in the shadows. He has expended significant resources to keep the light from shining on his political and lobbying expenditures, so much so that the discussion has turned to the question of what is he hiding that is so bad that he has to spend millions to keep it hidden. It could be that he is a big believer in debt and that his businesses are burdened with so much that he has been forced to join the establishment in Austin to protect his lifestyle through legislative maneuvers. Becoming what his cronies refer to as “rent -seekers” in his quest to protect his shadowy operations. A cursory review of the property tax renditions in his home county quickly reveal that he is not paying anywhere near what he should be. By failing to accurately render his property holdings , he is able to shift the burden onto other taxpayers that fully report their business property holdings.

Dunn finished out the week with the revelation that, Glenn Beck, his cohort in the effort to replace Straus as Speaker, and exhorter of all things Rick Perry and any position Dunn wants him to take, had publicly declared what all suspected: he isn’t a republican. I have noted before that Dunn and his operations have done much to defeat Republicans in prior election cycles and have spent very little, if any, to defeat Democrats. This revelation by Beck is yet another sign that Dunn may stand for something, but Republican governance  is not it.

There will be more revelations as the session moves forward and Dunn and his cronies publicly engage as members of the elite Austin establishment. These actions will show that they have no principles for which they stand, other than those that give their ego a stroke. And that they will continue to turn on those like Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick, who Dunn has supported in the past but is already attacking because they won’t promote his world view, whatever that is on any given day.

It all boils down to character. Every day brings revelations that fun and his cronies are characters, but have none.

AWOL

I did a quick search to confirm what I thought I had seen, or rather not seen, in the last few works from the various “conservative” groups regarding border security. My search confirmed my recollections: not anything from these groups supporting a border security plan that was shepherded through the House last week with overwhelming support. Actually, the only attempt to kill the bill was brought by Reps. Simpson and Stickland. Stickland was obviously fed his remarks by his handlers, Dunn cronies.

Why is a supposed “conservative” like Stickland working to kill a border security bill for Dunn and Mike Sullivan? Sure, he voted for it at the end because he can’t have a vote against border security be on his record next election cycle.

But this is another example of the character of Dunn and the so called “conservative ” groups he owns and controls being ABC–anything but conservative. They exist only for purposes of self-aggrandizement and protection of various state subsidies from which they benefit. Represented by people like Glenn Beck, who recently renounced and abandoned the Republican Party and Mike Sullivan who was a press person for Libertarian Ron Paul, Dunn and his groups were opposed to he border security issue when it came before the House. Arguably one of the most important bills that will be considered this session, as it deals with the daily security of the state and is consistently the top polling issue among Republicans, these “conservative” groups were AWOL in the topic.

Whether it is due to the fact that the House tackled this important issue early while the Senate was dallying with sure-pass gun bills, or whether it is because the data gathering, law enforcement and transparency provisions of the bill concern Dunn and his shadowy operations we may never know. Perhaps their plan is to work to kill it in the senate where Dunn sits on advisory panels for the Lt. Governor.

But one thing is known: when this important policy matter was being considered last week, Dunn and his cronies were working to kill this conservative legislation.

Interesting Read- John Danforth Blasted Political Bullying in a Moving Eulogy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/03/everyone-in-politics-should-read-john-danforths-moving-eulogy-for-tom-schweich/

A funeral for Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich, who committed suicide last week amid a whisper campaign about his Jewish heritage, was held Tuesday. Former senator John Danforth, a political mentor of Schweich’s, delivered a stirring eulogy for his protege that doubled as a condemnation of political bullying.

As someone who was bullied badly in the ninth and 10th grades, I felt Danforth’s words resonate deeply. And what Danforth said raises questions about where (and whether) lines need to be drawn about what is and isn’t acceptable to say about a rival — and what the cumulative cost of the mantra “everything is justified in pursuit of winning” really is.

I’ve excerpted a few of my favorite passages from Danforth’s eulogy below but you really should read the whole thing.

* “We read stories about cyberbullying, and hear of young girls who killed themselves because of it. But what should we expect from children when grownups are their examples of how bullies behave? Since Thursday, some good people have said, ‘Well that’s just politics.’ And Tom should have been less sensitive; he should have been tougher, and he should have been able to take it. Well, that is accepting politics in its present state and that we cannot do. It amounts to blaming the victim, and it creates a new normal, where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused. Indeed, if this is what politics has become, what decent person would want to get into it? We should encourage normal people — yes, sensitive people — to seek public office, not drive them away.”

* “There is no mystery as to why politicians conduct themselves this way. It works. They test how well it works in focus groups and opinion polls. It wins elections, and that is their objective. It’s hard to call holding office public service, because the day after the election it’s off to the next election, and there’s no interlude for service. It’s all about winning, winning at any cost to the opponent or to any sense of common decency. The campaign that led to the death of Tom Schweich was the low point of politics, and now it’s time to turn this around. So let’s make Tom’s death a turning point here in our state.”

* “We will see bullies for who they are. We will no longer let them hide behind their anonymous pseudo-committees. We will not accept their way as the way of politics. We will stand up to them and we will defeat them. This will be our memorial to Tom: that politics as it now exists must end, and we will end it. And we will get in the face of our politicians, and we will tell them that we are fed up, and that we are not going to take this anymore. If Tom could speak to us, I think he would say about the same thing. To borrow a familiar phrase, he would approve this message. But Tom is at peace, and it’s for us to take up the cause.”

Wallace Hall Working the Halls

Several reports from staffers of Regent Wallace Hall visiting their bosses this week. I even spotted him in our hall Monday afternoon.

Reports came in that Mike Sullivan was accompanying him on some of his visits. Sullivan wasn’t present when I spotted Hall near our office.

Several of the staffers also report that in addition to lobbying members to pursue investigative actions against President Powers at UT, he was also heard to be advocating, on the Senate side, against the confirmation of two of the recent Abbott appointees to the UT Board.

While Dunn and his cronies have been open in their working against Governor Abbott and his appointees, this is the first report we have heard of a sitting Regent doing so.

Good to see that the criminal investigation into Hall, and his involvement in advocating for admittance of sub-par applicants to UT and other institutions is going well enough that he has time to lobby and meddle in the new governor’s appointments.

If only he would spend this much time on making my alma mater a better university rather than trying to tear it down.