Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Greens appeal to Texas Supremes

 All lawyered up with no place (yet) to go, the Greens plead for help from the highest (corporate) court in the state. Bold emphasis is not mine but Gary Scharrer's ...

The Green Party is asking the Texas Supreme Court to nullify a district court ruling prohibiting the party from certifying candidates for the November election ballot because of an "unauthorized illegal contribution."

A Republican front group - with help from Texas Republicans - raised the money to help the Green Party get enough signatures to make the ballot. But the money came from a corporation and anonymous donors, which violates Texas election code, claim Texas Democrats, who say Gov. Rick Perry's GOP friends want a Green Party gubernatorial candidate on the ballot to siphon votes from Democrat Bill White.

The court must rule by Friday, which is the deadline for parties to certify their candidates.

"This case matters because voters should have an alternative to entrenched career politicians. Despite the signatures of over 90,000 Texans, entrenched career politicians and their lawyers want to deny voters the right to choose in November," said David Rogers, one of the Green Party lawyers.

A trial has been scheduled for January.

"However the Texas Supreme Court rules, we're going to continue with this lawsuit, and we're going to get to the bottom of what happened," said Chad Dunn, a lawyer for the Texas Democratic Party.

This appeal could work out well for the Greens, since the SCOTX is 100% GOP, they favor defendants 86% of the time, and the Citizens United case decided in the SCOTUS last month in favor of corporate campaign contributions could be cited as precedent. We shall see ...

Update: From Jason Embry, public comments from two attorneys associated with each side ...

Election lawyer Buck Wood, who often helps Democratic candidates, said Monday that the Green Party leaders who certify the ballot could be susceptible to criminal charges if the Supreme Court agrees with (state district judge John) Dietz that the money that got the Greens onto the ballot was an illegal corporate contribution. Or, more to the point, if they do not disagree with Dietz.

They would become vulnerable if they followed through with their plan to certify the candidates on the ballot, Wood said. The key is that they now know that it was a corporate contribution that came in from Take Initiative America, which paid for the petition drive that appeared to make the Greens eligible for the ballot.

“They’ve been told it’s illegal. They’ve got knowledge now,” Wood said. “If I were their lawyer, I’d say, ‘You go ahead and certify those names and hopefully the Travis County district attorney’s office won’t take an interest in you.’”

David Rogers, a lawyer for the Green Party, said, “With all due respect to Mr. Wood, who is a very fine election law attorney, I believe he is misreading the law in an attempt to gain an electoral advantage for the Democratic Party. He is a consultant for the Democrats in this matter, and all his comments regarding the law in this case need to be considered with that in mind. Texas allows corporate contributions for ‘normal operating expenses’ of a political party. If getting on the ballot isn’t a ‘normal’ expense of a political party, what is?”

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