Tuesday, April 08, 2014

More developments breaking bad for Texas conservatives

-- Battleground Texas won in court yesterday, and the loser was James O'Keefe.  (He's one of life's losers, as we know, and this is confirmation of that.)

Two special prosecutors have rejected public complaints that Battleground Texas violated election laws while registering voters in San Antonio last year.

Three people had alleged that a Battleground Texas staffer violated state election law by mining voters' personal data. The Democratic group has steadfastly denied the allegation as a fiction from conservative activist James O'Keefe III, who's been criticized for dubious and even criminal tactics.

After reviewing a YouTube video based on hidden-camera recordings from O'Keefe's Project Veritas, the prosecutors — one Democrat, one Republican — described it as “political disinformation.” The lawyers said there was “no applicable criminal offense for the alleged act and insufficient evidence to suggest potential offenses.”

Based on their finding, a state district court judge dismissed the case on Friday, officials confirmed Monday.

My emphasis above.  More from KXAN and Media Matters.

-- UT regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, an investigation by the Texas House of Representatives reveals.

A report summing up a House investigation of embattled University of Texas regent Wallace Hall states Hall possibly violated state and federal laws and may face impeachment for abusing his office, according to a San Antonio Express News report.

The report states Hall exposed private student data, was “manipulating” the legislative investigation and “coercing witnesses,” according to the Express News. You can read the report here.

Hall is, obviously, Rick Perry's appointee.  Nick Anderson had this primer of Hall's crony thuggery last year.  Texans keep getting the government they deserve, not the one they (don't) vote for.

-- Houston's city council appears to be one vote shy of passing Mayor Parker's human rights ordinance.  Lone Star Q...

Parker’s fear, according to reports, is that if the ordinance covers employment in the private sector, it won’t have enough votes to pass the City Council.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in housing and public accommodations. But as currently written, it would only cover municipal employees and city contractors when it comes to employment, leaving out the private sector.

It was Texpatriate's post that revealed the whip count.

As I currently understand it, there are eight supporters of the private employment provision (Annise Parker, Stephen Costello, David Robinson, Jerry Davis, Ellen Cohen, Ed Gonzalez, Robert Gallegos and Mike Laster) and five opponents (Jack Christie, Brenda Stardig, Dave Martin, Richard Nguyen and Oliver Pennington). The remaining four Councilmembers (Michael Kubosh, C.O. Bradford, Dwight Boykins and Larry Green) are somewhere in the middle.

Green, Bradford, and Kubosh got a phone call from me this morning asking where they stand.  I'll update here if and when they respond to my request.  I expect this watered-down version to pass, but it needs to be stronger, as Texas Leftist has noted.

Why can't this first version of the ordinance include private employment? In short, the answer is simple politics. Sources say the Houston ordinance will lose votes on Council if it affects private employers. It's true that any step is a step forward, especially in these times of heightened contention in politics. But if a Council Member wants to allow discrimination to continue, they deserve to be put on record with a vote. Instead of protecting them, Parker and her administration should let them deal with the Progressive community's ire.

Lone Star Q cited both TPA blogs in their report, and also TransGriot.

You know as a native Houstonian I believe it's past time we do so, and have already spoken to Houston City Council twice urging them to pass such an ordinance. 

I'm betting the conservahaters lose this one.  Just wish the mayor would stiffen her spine and fight the good fight, and not settle for these half-loaves.

Update: Lord of Entropy in the comments provides a link that shows that Boykins, Green, Bradford, and Christie all said -- during the HGLBT Caucus candidate screenings last year -- that they would support a non-discrimination ordinance.  (None of the three whom I called this morning have yet returned my call.)

Update (4/9): CM Bradford called shortly after 9 a.m. to say essentially the same thing he told Noah at Texpate and John Wright at LSQ; he is supportive but wants to see what the ordinance says (it is still being drafted by the mayor's office).  No callback yet from Larry Green -- my district council member, by the way -- nor Kubosh.  I'll shoot them an e-mail and see if that gets a response.

-- Last, Greg Abbott loses again in federal court.

By way of an eight-page order [.pdf] issued late last week, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has directed the State of Texas to serve the U.S. Department of Justice with documents that relate to the question of whether "state legislators, contrary to their public pronouncements, acted with discriminatory intent in enacting" the Lone Star State's polling place photo ID restriction law.

That law had previously been found to be discriminatory against minority voters in Texas, and thus rejected by both the DoJ and a federal court panel as a violation of the Voting Rights Act. It was then re-enacted by the state of Texas almost immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a central provision of the VRA in the summer of 2013.

As reported by the BRAD BLOG last September, the DoJ and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) filed separate federal lawsuits (now consolidated into a single case, Veasey v. Perry) in which they allege that the photo ID law enacted by the Texas legislature (SB 14) violates another section of the VRA, Section 2, as well as the U.S. Constitution.

It's mainly the e-mail between legislators they want to look at it.  More from HuffPo.

The United States argued that the emails could be the only existing candid evidence about the purpose of the legislation because Texas Republicans coordinated their talking points on the bill and refused to publicly engage with the concerns of minority legislators. If any of the emails reveal discriminatory intent, the U.S. will still have to argue to get them admitted as evidence during the trial phase of the lawsuit.

Only if the GOP Lege members were stupid enough to make racial comments in their e-mail about the law would this stand a chance of destroying their case.  That's a relatively low standard for them to meet.


Gadfly said...

Let's hope that SCOTUS doesn't use either the Texas or N.C. cases to finish gutting the VRA.

Money is speech, no hurdles allowed. Voting? Maybe hurdles are OK.

Unknown said...

Did you see the GLBT Caucus' listing out which city council members (& mayors) had promised to support nondiscrimination ordinance w/employee protections included? https://www.facebook.com/thecaucus/posts/10152320392424153

PDiddie said...

Here's LoE's link activated. It shows that Boykins, Green, Bradford, and Christie all told the HGLBT Caucus during their candidate screening last year that they would support such an ordinance.