Kirkland, a close friend of Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s, served as a Harris County state district judge from 2009 until 2013. He was defeated in the 2012 Democratic Primary by Elaine Palmer, who ran an anti-gay campaign funded by a vindictive attorney against whom Kirkland had entered a judgment. Kirkland says that same attorney, George Fleming, is financing his current opponent in the March 4 primary, Lori Gray.
In recent days, Kirkland has been the target of misleading robo calls, radio ads and mailers calling attention to his arrests for drunken driving and public intoxication 30 years ago. The ads, paid for by a PAC tied to Fleming, reportedly suggest the arrests were far more recent. Kirkland, who has been sober for 29 years, details his recovery on his campaign website. He also details Fleming’s vendetta against him.
“How can Lori Gray be a fair judge if she allows her campaign manager to keep spreading lies? How can she be the defender of justice when she is part of Fleming’s effort to buy judges?” Kirkland writes. “Justice in Harris County should not be for sale. Judges should be selected on their qualifications, not lies and deceptions. I’m putting my faith in the people to join me and protect our courts.”
There’s no question that Fleming is financing Lori Gray’s campaign. You just have to look at Gray’s campaign finance reports – her only other donor of any significance is Paul Kubosh, who was also a contributor to Elaine Palmer in 2012 – the finance reports for the Texans For Good Leaders PAC, and the finance reports for the Moving Texas Forward PAC, which appears to be the financier of those calls, ads, and mailers.
Speaking of mailers, I got a copy of that nasty and misleading attack mailer that Texpatriate wrote about. You can see it here and here. Note the lack of any date on the arrest files, plus the 2012 date on the photo of Kirkland; very classy, that. Clearly, Lisa Falkenberg wrote that column too soon. Claiming she had no connection to Fleming was questionable at best to begin with, but now that Fleming has gotten up to his usual tricks means Lori Gray cannot avoid the association at all. As Mark Bennett likes to say, when you outsource your marketing, you outsource your ethics. If you don’t approve of what someone else is doing on your behalf, it’s your responsibility to get them to stop, and if they refuse it’s your responsibility to publicly distance yourself from what they’re doing. In the absence of any such action on her part, it’s fair to assume that Lori Gray approves of what George Fleming is doing. She deserves as much approbation as Fleming.