Saturday, January 04, 2014

We have our first flashpoint in the Texas governor's race

And it's the loansharks.  The El Paso Times -- you know, the city that has all those Latinos and statewide Democrats running in 2014 -- continues to lead the reporting.

Attorney General Greg Abbott on Thursday called state Sen. Wendy Davis a hypocrite for demanding that Gov. Rick Perry remove William J. White as chairman of the Texas Finance Commission.

In a statement, Abbott pointed out that Davis voted to confirm White after Perry appointed him in March 2009.

"Sen. Wendy Davis' statement is blatant election-year hypocrisy," said a statement by Abbott's press secretary, Avdiel Huerta.

Davis voted to confirm White on May 11, 2011 -- four months after she told the Texas Observer that White's presence on the commission was "the classic fox in the henhouse."

Abbott refused, however, to say whether he supports White, who heads the state agency responsible for consumer protection.

There's a hint at the real story in that last sentence. Not Davis' vote to confirm White...

Davis' press secretary, Rebecca Acuna, said that despite her opposition to White, Davis voted to confirm him because he was part of a large group of nominees and Davis didn't want to torpedo the lot.

"A group of 40, including White, were confirmed in a single vote," Acuna said. "The bigger issue is what he's done since. Our call for him to resign was made in light of recent developments."

Abbott and his spox appear to have preferred that Davis block the mass of appointments with a filibuster.  That would be SOP for a Republican obstructionist, and certainly closer to meeting the description of "political".  But we still haven't reached the moneyshot yet.

(Flack Avdiel) Huerta, Abbott's spokesman, was asked Monday -- and twice Thursday -- whether Abbott supports White, who said people get stuck in payday loans because they do things such as buy $6,000 TVs. Huerta didn't respond to those questions.

He also didn't respond when asked whether the slot on the finance commission for a representative of the consumer-credit industry must go to someone who works for a payday lender or if it could go to someone who works for a credit-card company or some other consumer-credit business.

Abbott has been a big beneficiary of political cash from the payday-lending industry, which the Texas Catholic Conference and Texas Baptist Christian Life Conference say needs tighter regulation.

Abbott received the fourth-most of any Texas politician -- $159,000 -- from the industry between 2009 and 2012, according to a March 18 report by Texans for Public Justice.

Davis, who has pushed bills that would place stricter regulations of the industry, does not appear on the list of big recipients.

According to the Abbott campaign, Davis has received $9,500 from the payday lending industry since 2007.

Huerta did not respond when asked if Abbott supports tighter regulation of the industry.

Let's review: Abbott's mouthpiece won't answer any questions about White or the shylock industry, contests the amount of campaign contributions Abbott received (a number easily verifiable* from required reporting), and then calls Wendy Davis a hypocrite.

You have to like how this is going if you're a Democrat.  Abbott and his people are again committing unforced errors that Davis and her team are capable of exploiting.  It's also moving the skirmish away from the "AB" smears and the moldy oldie of "Clinton Obama Wendy Davis is goin' to take yer guns".  Since the 'mental illness' angle isn't getting any traction either, it looks like Abbott is desperate to attack Davis on something, anything to distract from his abysmally failed record.

I just don't think "hypocrite" is a label any Republican is going to successfully hang on anybody who isn't a Republican.

*Update: Not so easily verifiable, it seems.  The Davis campaign's own unforced error seems to be the point of this piece by David Rauf of the HouCHron, and not that Abbott is on the take from the payday lenders.  Only this last sentence at the very end acknowledges the point...

In all, the Express-News/Houston Chronicle estimates those 13 entities gave Abbott between about $190,000 and $205,000.  

Everything above that (in other words, everything else) is some awfully favorable media spin for the AG from the Hearst flagship.  Abbott has to be pleased about that.

Update II: KHOU has a better version of the story.

Update III: Peggy Fikac at the SAEN/HC covers it a little better, but is still extending the non-story for Monday morning's assist to Abbott.  The trouble with this kind of reporting is not just that the reporters gulped the Abbott campaign spin, but that they continue to make the "gotcha" the news.  And that is a direction chosen by editors at the top of the food chain.


Greg said...

If Wendy Davis had any integrity, she would have voted against the entire slate of nominees because of White's presence on the list. Instead she played "go along to get along" politics when her vote was irrelevant to the confirmation of that slate. I think that speaks volumes about her lack of judgement and character -- but whether that lack was exhibited in 2011 or today is open to question.

But then again, maybe this is all due to the psychological trauma of having been criticized in an editorial somewhere in the state, like happened when she became mentally ill following her city council race when she sued the critical newspaper.

PDiddie said...

Both of these "points" were previously made, linked, and summarily dismissed as petty and irrelevant. Maybe you didn't read all the way to the end. Or the middle.

Now if you want to make a comment on the Davis team's mistakes in interpreting or transcribing the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by payday loansharks to Abbott... go right ahead.

Greg said...

I've got no problem with the owners of legal businesses making campaign contributions -- and will have no problem when Abortion Barbie gets her contributions from the abortion industry. Maybe she can use them to pay for the mental health treatment she will need after she gets her ass kicked in November.

PDiddie said...

Wrong, wrong, and maybe wrong.

533% is usurious and was illegal for decades. Payday lenders are predators. They foster the very worst of corrupt capitalists and by purchasing our government reveal themselves as the purest of modern-day fascists.

There is no such thing as an "abortion industry". This phrase is delusional at best... unless you are confusing Israel with the US.

And while Davis may indeed fail to capture the governorship, it won't be because of any of the "reasons" you cite.

I encourage you, however, to continue these particular smears as it does not help your cause, nor hurt hers, in the slightest way.