QUOTING... "If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth." -- Ronald Reagan
It's a sad truth that conservatives around the state and nation are being bullied. Will we cower in silence, or stand up and fight? At TFR, we're going to fight.
Almost daily we come across evidence of the three-letter agencies – from the I.R.S. to the E.P.A. to the T.E.C. – being used by powerful office-holders as weapons to silence conservatives and attack entrepreneurs. It's time to put a stop to it. Rather than cower at the sucker-punches thrown by political bullies, we're going to be punching back. Hard.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the efforts of House Speaker Joe Straus' allies to silence us through the use of the "Texas Ethics Commission." If you hadn't ever heard of this agency, it's not your fault. Up until now, they have operated deep in the shadows, as a playground for politicians fighting with each other.
For better or worse, Joe Straus' buddies decided to try wildly expanding the power of the Ethics Commission... using us as their guinea pigs. They probably should have started somewhere else.
Make no mistake: they are coming after you if we roll over. But don't worry, we won't.
Without any statutory or constitutional authority, the Texas Ethics Commission is going after us for the crime of speaking out against Joe Straus' misguided public policies. In a "hearing" in August – a hearing we tried to have opened to the public but the Commission chairman, trial lawyer Jim Clancy of Houston, refused to allow it. The Commission staff admitted they had no evidence of wrong-doing; apparently they just don't like conservatives.
The “charges” against us were made by moderate Straus ally Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) most famous for authoring the state business tax and pushing hard against tax relief, and disgraced former GOP State Rep. Vicki Truitt, who was tossed out of office by Tarrant County voters disgusted with her relentless promotion of tax hikes and cronyism.
The Straus lackeys didn't file their complaint under sworn oath, only alleging wild rumors – “information and belief” is how they put it – no evidence of wrongdoing, just innuendo. These are rumors and innuendo the Ethics Commission has spent 18 months perpetuating without any evidence! They have used your tax dollars to prosecute a rumor so they can do what the IRS couldn't: freeze citizens out of state government.
That's why they kept the hearing closed – commissioners didn't want Texans learning what they really are doing. In page after mindless page the Commission made the same wildly intrusive, unconstitutional and irrelevant demands the Obama IRS was making of tea party and conservative groups:
Give us all written communications... The name of every donor... Describe every meeting attended... Print every Twitter and Facebook post...
Harassing questions, irrelevant even to their rumors, and many questions the Commission is not allowed to even ask under law! We responded to all of their questions the same way: go take a long walk off a short pier. (Well, that's how I answered them. My lawyers translated it into legalese.)
Tellingly, Keffer and Truitt refused to swear under oath any actual allegation of wrong-doing against us, they just made up a rumor out of thin air, and told the Ethics Commission to go create facts to support it!
The Commission was all too willing to play along now for 18 months. It’s provided them an excuse to do what state law says they cannot: harass donors to conservative non-profits, and silence critics.
We must to fight this now, or they will be coming for you next.
Commissioners has made it abundantly clear they want to regulate Texans' political speech. The bureaucrats have started taking on powers – not authorized by law, and in some cases specifically rejected – which seek to make everyone in the state who opines about politics subject to their jurisdiction and closed-door, kangaroo-court style of third-world protection-racket.
(Unless you're in with the grow-government lobby and corrupt politicians, in which case the "Ethics" henchmen will let you do and say anything you want.)
Since the Ethics Commission refused to let us open the August “hearing” to the public or record the meeting, my attorneys were told we could access the Commission's own private recording. We requested that tape, but now the Commission has refused to turn it over. They dishonorably refuse to even keep their own word!
With the best defense being a strong offense, we have now filed a lawsuit against the Commission for breaking the state's Open Records laws.
This puts the ball in the court of Attorney General Greg Abbott. As the lawyer for all state agencies, Mr. Abbott will have to decide if he wants to protect the shadowy Ethics Commission, or force them into the sunlight. He will have to side with a lawless state agency, or defend Texans against unconstitutional, bureaucratic power grabs aimed at silencing conservatives.
Because the Commission has repeatedly violated state law in this case, we're looking at all of our options. The Commission has tampered with witnesses, exceeded their authority, and generally proven themselves to be boorish hooligans.
Commission vice-chair Paul Hobby, a liberal Democrat trial lawyer appointed to the post by Speaker Straus, has said he wants the power to regulate (conservative) political speech and get the names of donors to (conservative) non-profits in the state. Why? So he and his buddies in the Obama Administration – and the Straus wing of the GOP – can harass, intimidate and attack anyone who questions them.
It won't come to that because we aren't rolling over, we aren't backing down. We didn't ask for this fight, but we are in it to win. I hope you'll help us by contributing to the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility legal fight.
Just as our friends across the country have used the courts to shine a white-hot light on the abuses and transgressions of the IRS, so too are we going to take a more aggressive stance against the Unethical Commission. These unaccountable political appointees like hiding in the darkness? Well, we're going to get them acquainted with the spotlight!
I hope you will help us turn up the heat and shine a bright light!
These guys are bullies, and we're going to keep punching back. We didn't start this fight, we didn't choose to engage in this manner; but rest assured, we will finish it.
Michael Quinn Sullivan
& the EmpowerTexans.com Team