Friday, October 15, 2010

King Street Patriots are breaking the law -- again

If you see any of these thugs at your polling place on Election Day -- or, for that matter, at an early voting location -- call the Harris County Sheriff's Department immediately.

A video shows Texas House District candidate Jim Murphy (R) engaging in political speech at a King Street Patriots event to which opponent state Rep. Kristi Thibaut (D) was not invited. In the video, Murphy talks about his candidacy for office, criticizes Thibaut numerous times and appeals to the audience for help with his campaign.

“I think it’s blatant electioneering. What the King Street Patriots are doing as a nonprofit is prohibited under law,” said Craig McDonald, director of nonprofit watchdog Texans for Public Justice. “If they want to do that kind of one-sided politicking, they need to be a political party or a political committee. They can’t hide behind nonprofit laws to do political campaigning.”

KSP is registered with the Texas Secretary of State as a nonprofit corporation, and, according to KSP representatives, is a nonprofit 501(c)4 corporation. A 501(c)4 group does not have to disclose the source of its donations. Violating state campaign finance laws against corporate contributions is a felony that can carry thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail.

They're in league with the outgoing Harris County voter registrar Leo Vasquez, also a violation of the law which has resulted in yet another lawsuit filed against that office. The Harris County GOP is working in concert with them to "train pollworkers". They intend to intimidate and harass voters on Election Day.

Glenn Smith, Stace Medellin, and I have previously documented these violations. What these radicals have already done, however, pales in comparison to what they plan to do in the coming election period.

The video, posted Oct. 6 to by a user named King Street Patriots, opens with text introducing Murphy as a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 133. (There are only 32 congressional districts in Texas — Murphy is a candidate for the Texas House.) The text also identifies Catherine Engelbrecht, president of KSP and its 501(c)3 nonprofit True The Vote, and dates the video Sept. 20, 2010.

In the video, Engelbrecht introduces Murphy: “He is, as we all know now, up against Kristi Thibaut” — someone off-screen shouts “ACORN” — and Engelbrecht smiles and says, “Hmmm, really….”
Engelbrecht continues, “Without further ado, let’s bring up our soon-to-be Rep. Jim Murphy.”

Murphy begins his speech by thanking KSP for its work challenging voter applications sent in by nonprofit Houston Votes, a project of Texans Together Education Fund. Thibaut has a leadership position in the organization, and also received $43,000 in political contributions in 2008 from Texans Together’s affiliated political committee, which, unlike KSP, is registered with the Texas Ethics Commission.

In the video, Murphy calls on Thibaut to resign her position with the group, denounce its activities and to “return that tainted money.”

Murphy tells the audience that he lost his 2008 Texas House reelection bid to Thibaut by a mere 453 votes: “But who’s counting?” he jokes. (Murphy actually lost by 497 votes, according to the Texas Secretary of State.)

Murphy introduces his wife to the crowd, as well as his campaign manager Tom Holloway and assistant campaign manager Rachel Nicholson, identifying them by name.

“I point them out because they want you to get to work, and they want to see you after this presentation, so we’ll get to that,” Murphy says before launching into the subject of the Texas Legislature.

At the end of his roughly 30-minute talk, during a Q&A session with the audience, Murphy appeals for their help in electing more Republicans to the Texas House, in order to replace House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) with someone more conservative.

“We need about another eight Republicans across the state,” Murphy says. “And you have friends in Dallas; you have friends in East Texas; you have friends in Central Texas that can influence these elections, that will give us the numbers we did [before the 2008 elections].”

At one point in the video, after making an awkward joke about heterosexuality and marriage, Murphy laughs and says, “Is this being filmed? You can edit that part out.”

He continues, “We’re among friends.”

The Texas Ethics Commission has a procedure for filing a complaint against this illegal activity as the first step in citizen action. You may call them for more information at 1-800-325-8506.


* Houston tea party group King Street Patriots may risk violating state, federal laws, experts say
* Houston tea party-trained poll volunteers not expecting voter fraud, are prepared to address it, group leader says
* Harris County GOP directs pollworkers to training from tea party group
* Harris County spokesman: Democrats’ $1.5 million voter records request vastly different from tea party’s $1,000 one
* Rabid Dog Briefly Mistaken for Tea Party Candidate (Andy Borowitz)
* Right wing anxiety over voter fraud grows

And an excerpt from that last link ...

Emerging from the resulting hysteria has been a concerted effort among some tea party groups, most notably the one in Harris County, to conduct training sessions for poll workers and recruit volunteers to monitor the polls during election day. This development, in turn, has alarmed voting experts who are less concerned about dead or imaginary people showing up to vote than poll watchers who might unfairly challenge votes because they are partisan or don’t understand the rules of polling places.

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