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More strip club cash in the county races

Given the prevalence of strip clubs in Houston, I’m actually a bit surprised we don’t see more of this in our elections.

My, what big wads of cash you have

Four people associated with the strip club Treasures have contributed a combined $48,700 to the Republican challengers for Harris County attorney and a civil district judgeship – men who could, if elected, oversee an ongoing lawsuit against Treasures.

County Attorney challenger Robert Talton reported in a campaign filing on Monday that he got $15,900 from Casey Wallace, $6,000 from Ronald Monshaugen and $5,000 from Al Van Huff, all attorneys representing Treasures, as well as $7,000 from Ronnie Bird, the club’s longtime head of corporate security. The same foursome gave a combined $14,800 to judicial candidate Bud Wiesedeppe, who is seeking the bench in the 164th Civil District Court, where the Treasures case is being heard.

City of Houston and county attorneys sued Treasurers last May, labeling the club “an epicenter of illegal activity” and seeking to shut it down for a year. The club says it is being retaliated against for challenging the city’s sexually-oriented business ordinance. Trial is set for Dec. 10.

Lauren Serper, an attorney for other adult cabarets in the county, also contributed $3,000 to Talton and $2,000 to Wiesedeppe, records show. Serper gave input as the county strengthened its rules on sexually oriented businesses, rules that passed unanimously at Commissioners Court last month.

The five donors’ cash comprised 42 percent of Talton’s total contributions during the Sept. 28-Oct. 27 filing period, and half of Wiesedeppe’s.

As previously noted, Treasures is all in for GOP Sheriff candidate Louis Guthrie. Here’s Talton’s report, and here’s Wiesedeppe’s report. Did you know that Robert Talton and Bud Wiesedeppe both work for Harris County GOP Chair Jared Woodfill’s law firm? That doesn’t have anything to do with this story, I just find it all amusing.

Commissioner Jack Cagle, who led the charge for the county’s new sexually oriented business regulations, said Talton assured him in a Thursday night phone call that he is committed to enforcement.

“There may be a statement that’s being made by some individuals that if you get involved in trying to clean up your streets that someone out there may choose to start making contributions to your opponents,” Cagle said. “Once that occurs, though, there’s no assurance that the opponent is going to agree with their position.”

Houston political analyst Robert Miller said lawyers, and others, have a right to make political contributions.

“That is our system, and our system of regulation is simply to disclose those contributions,” Miller said. “It’s clear that they want to elect (Talton), and voters would have to draw their own inferences as to why that is. Just because they want to elect him does not mean he would necessarily be favorable to them.”

This is all true. It’s also true that there’s a reason you don’t see these contributions earlier in the cycle. This is why the 8 day finance report is almost always the most interesting one to check out.

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2 Comments

  1. Mainstream says:

    I am not a political ally of either Talton or Wiesedeppe, but have met both. Talton certainly comes from a socially conservative, religious fundamentalist world view, and I cannot imagine that he will be any softer on these sorts of prosecutions than anyone else. I have only met Wiesedeppe in passing, but he strikes me as well grounded, mature, and again, I don’t think he is likely to be influenced by these donations.

    I suspect a careful review of donors to the current county attorney would find lots of folks who do business with the county, and for most judges would find lots of folks with cases before their courts. It’s a lousy system, but at least there is a reporting requirement.

  2. […] an amusing tidbit to send you off to your polling or poll-watching place. Remember that story about campaign contributions made by people connected to the strip club Treasures to Republican candidates like Robert Talton? You can see all that on Talton’s eight day […]

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