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Allen Blakemore

Boats N Hoes

With friends like these

The name of a fundraising group made waves in the tug-of-war between Republicans and Democrats over women voters on Wednesday.

Political consulting firm employee Shaun Nowacki registered the political action committee, “Boats ‘N Hoes PAC,” with the Texas Ethics Commission on April 1, according to state records.

Nowacki is listed as comptroller for Blakemore and Associates Consulting Firm, whose namesake, Allen Blakemore, is the “senior strategist” for Republican Dan Patrick’s lieutenant governor campaign. The firm also advised Greg Abbott, the GOP nominee for governor, during eight previous campaigns from 1991 to 2004, according to Blakemore’s website.

Democrats on Wednesday were quick to pounce on the unorthodox PAC name, calling it “derogatory and offensive” toward women. Abbott, meanwhile, quickly distanced himself from the group.

“The terminology used in the name of this PAC is reprehensible and Greg Abbott denounces any person or entity that uses such offensive language,” said Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch, emphasizing that the consulting firm has not worked for him in years.

Abbott would not take money from the committee, Hirsch said.

That didn’t stop state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, from suggesting a correlation between the language and her opponent’s policies.

“Greg Abbott’s consultants are clearly taking their cues from Abbott himself, who campaigns with an admitted sexual predator of underage girls, who pays women less than men for doing the same work and who forms his education plan with the ideas of a man like Charles Murray, who argues women are inferior to men,” said Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña. “The language used by Greg Abbott’s consultants is offensive to every Texas mother and daughter — and the men who love them — and has no place in politics.”

Nowacki and Blakemore each did not return requests for comment. The name appears to be a nod to a gag in the 2008 movie “Step Brothers.”

For your edification. The lyrics are Not Safe For Work, so shut your door or plug in your headphones.

I almost feel a twinge of sympathy for poor Shaun Nowacki, who I’m guessing is a 20-something bro that maybe likes Will Ferrell movies a little too much and doesn’t have the sense God gave a turnip if it didn’t occur to him that maybe “Boats N Hoes PAC” wasn’t such a hot idea. I will note that this story has gone national, and all I had to do at Youtube to find that video was type in “boats” – autofill knew exactly what I was looking for. I should probably have something more intelligent to say about this, but I’m laughing too hard to think straight. I bet so is Molly Ivins, wherever she may be.

Why stop at one veto of an ethics bill?

Why not veto them all?

Allen Blakemore has launched an effort to recruit about 30 fellow Republican political consultants and their clients to push the governor to veto the omnibus ethics bill.

Blakemore, who lobbies for the Conservative Republicans of Texas and Houston conservative crusader Steven Hotze, said his concern is a requirement to disclose who paid for the message on political ads.

By his reckoning, the disclosure announcement at the end of a recording amounts to about six seconds of a 30-second ad. Most ads already require some disclaimer, but the proposed new law would also apply to Internet ads, automated phone calls and ads from political action committees.

“It’s unnecessary and is nothing more than a ‘government taking’ from political campaigns,” Blakemore wrote in his email.

Bill author Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said Blakemore is mistaken and that there are no new audio requirements for candidates to say they authorized the ad. That language was stripped from the proposal in the last days of the Legislature.

Bonnen said having lobbyists oppose his bill doesn’t bother him.

“It’s only aggravating when it’s not based on fact,” he said.

Campaign watchdog Texans for Public Justice said there is nothing partisan or ideological about the bill. “Disclosure is good for everyone,” said director Craig McDonald. “All voters deserve to know who is paying for the political message appearing before them.”

I believe the bill in question is SB219, for which Bonnen is the House sponsor, not the author. As we know, Perry has already vetoed the so-called “dark money” bill, which was also about disclosure. This bill was a lot less controversial, however. The friction appears to be over the resign-to-run provision that it includes for members of the Railroad Commission; as an update to the story notes, Blakemore represents RR Commish Barry Smitherman, who is eying the Attorney General job in the event Greg Abbott heads for greener pastures. Nothing says “in the public interest” like a campaign consultant lobbying on behalf of a client, am I right? Perry has till June 16 to make his decision on what to sign and what to veto.

Fundraising: Harris County

The top story for the Harris County money race is that County Judge Ed Emmett has a big lead in financial resources over challenger Gordon Quan.

Gordon Quan said he knew from the start that challenging County Judge Ed Emmett would be a David and Goliath race. Their bank accounts now confirm this: Quan has $63,000 to sling against Emmett’s million-dollar might.

[…]

“The onus is on Gordon to close that gap, and quickly, if he’s going to have a shot,” said political consultant Keir Murray, who is not affiliated with either campaign.

Nonetheless, Murray and others said, the race is not over before it really has started. Quan still has time to raise money.

County races also are influenced by top-of-the-ticket contests, such as this year’s gubernatorial election between Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White. Emmett and Quan’s names are deep into a ballot that in some places will be dozens of pages long.

“When you have a ballot with over 100 names on it, I don’t know that people are going to be looking for just my name or his name,” Quan said.

The surgery took him away from the campaign for six weeks, Quan said, but he now is in the midst of a schedule of speaking at ethnic gatherings, Democratic club meetings and senior citizens events.

You can see Quan’s report here and Emmett’s very large report here. Prevailing conditions, straight ticket voting, and GOTV efforts will likely have more of an effect on the county races than campaign finances will, but as we saw in 2008 that only goes so far. Emmett has incumbency, greater name recognition, and modulo what may happen this season, he still wears a halo from his performance during Hurricane Ike. He’s got to like the position he’s in right now.

Nobody else has anywhere near Emmett’s resources, which is not surprising given that with the possible exception of Tax Assessor, none of these offices are high profile enough to draw a lot of interest from the contributing classes. Here’s what I found poking through the county’s campaign finance reports page.

Ann Harris Bennett Contributions - 34,010.00 Expenditures - 7,130.36 Loans - 0.00 Cash on hand - 26,728.24 Stan Stanart Contributions - 2,425.00 Expenditures - 2,314.81 Loans - 20,000.00 Cash on hand - 13,415.56

Bennett got $10,000 from Annie’s List, $3,000 from the ROADWomen PAC, $1,500 from EMILY’s List, and a decent assortment of other donations besides. About half of Stanart’s expenditures were listed on the Schedule G form, which is for expenditures made from personal funds. He likes the Spaghetti Warehouse – I counted a dozen entries for what I presume was lunch for himself there, ten on the Schedule Fs and two on the Gs. His loan must have been made in a previous reporting period, as it was not documented in this report.

Diane Trautman Contributions - 60,566.00 Expenditures - 18,323.00 Loans - 0.00 Cash on hand - 74,766.04 Don Sumners Contributions - 1,500.00 Expenditures - 2,501.76 Loans - 0.00 Cash on hand - 1,500.00

Sumners had four contributors – former Coucil Member Bruce Tatro, both Kubosh brothers, and a woman named Mary Williams. Trautman had nearly 50 pages’ worth of contributors, including the same donations as Bennett from Annie’s List, EMILY’s List, and the ROADWomen. She also got $1000 from her peeps in the Kingwood Area Democrats. I am deeply gratified to see her do so well in comparison to Sumners.

Loren Jackson Contributions - 63,030.16 Expenditures - 42,617.70 Loans - 0.00 Cash on hand - 49,396.30 Chris Daniel Contributions - 32,000.00 Expenditures - 45,989.86 Loans - 20,000.00 Cash on hand - 2,148.56

The money race between Loren Jackson and Chris Daniel may appear competitive, but if you go through Daniel’s report, you’ll see he had two enormous contributions from family members (his mom, and I believe his sister), totaling $29,100. As it happens, one of his expenditures is for that exact amount, with the explanation that it’s the payment of loans from earlier in the cycle. In other words, taking out that bit of churn, Daniel raised less than $3,000 and spent about $17,000 on actual campaign-related things, $5,000 of which was money going into Allen Blakemore’s pocket. Jackson had a $4,500 contribution from the Texas Democratic Party plus a few $2,500 donations.

Billy Briscoe Contributions - 16,445.76 Expenditures - 13,671.74 Loans - 2,500.00 Cash on hand - 3,024.02 Orlando Sanchez Contributions - 1,850.00 Expenditures - 1,054.53 Loans - 5,175.00 Cash on hand - 933.76

I had no idea what to expect from Briscoe, who’s seeking the least useful office in Harris County. His total contributions looks good, except that $14,195.76 of it is listed as coming from “Campaign Account of Billy Briscoe”. I guess that’s a transfer from a previous campaign, but I don’t know for sure. As for Orlando, clearly he’s as diligent about fundraising as he is at his job. Having said that, his expenditures report had the best single line item I’ve seen. On page six, the third entry down is $16.00 for a subscription to “Glamour” magazine. I guess he has to do something to while away those lonely hours. All I know is I couldn’t make this stuff up.

UPDATE: Briscoe’s $14,195.76 came from his campaign for State Rep. Thanks to PDiddie in the comments for reminding me about that.

UPDATE: Orlando speaks to the Press about his “Glamour” subscription. Why he didn’t just buy the one issue he says he needed from a newsstand remains a mystery, but at least we now know why he subscribed.

Vasquez and Carrillo

Newly-unelected Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez makes the same complaint about why he is headed for the unemployment line as Victor Carrillo did.

Carrillo started the ethnic angst with an e-mail to supporters indicating racial bias had cost him re-election. That was followed up by Vasquez’s campaign manager and girlfriend, SuZanne Feather, sending out an e-mail saying there were “many similarities” between Carrillo and Vasquez’s loss on Tuesday to tea party activist Don Sumners. Vasquez joined in during an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

“It is perplexing that someone could basically spend no money whatsoever and mount no campaign and win as handily as he did,” Vasquez said. “The same thing happened in the Victor Carrillo race as well.”

But Vasquez’s predecessor in office, Paul Bettencourt said Vasquez lost because he had issues in his personal life that cost him the support of social conservative organizations.

Consultant Allen Blakemore, speaking for social conservative leader Steve Hotze, said Republicans were upset with Vasquez for settling a voter-registration lawsuit with Democrats and for not being as vocal on property tax increases as Bettencourt. Blakemore said the “final blow” came when social conservative leaders learned Vasquez lives with a woman married to another man.

Vasquez admitted social conservative leaders Hotze and Terry Lowry “probably got him (Sumners) another 10,000 votes and maybe even made the full difference between us.”

“The Republican Party, especially in Harris County, has been, unfortunately, overly controlled and influenced by a small, but vocal group on the religious right, and we need to get back to the core principles of fiscal conservative issues rather than these social issues that are being perpetuated by that small, but vocal, minority,” Vasquez said.

You’re just figuring that out now, Leo? What color is the sky on your planet?

As for the justifications Bettencourt and Blakemore give, I’ll say this much. I had heard about Vasquez’ relationship to Feather, and can say with confidence that it would have come up in the general election had Vasquez been the nominee. I have no idea how well known it was among the people who actually voted in that race – Big Jolly mentions it, while also acknowledging Vasquez’ complaint and noting that “there is still a lot of resentment around the county in the wake of Paul Bettencourt’s sudden resignation and Vasquez’ appointment” – but my suspicion is that it wasn’t particularly well known. Had Don Sumners made it a campaign issue, I expect it would have been news, and there was no such news reported. A Google search of “leo vasquez suzanne feather” yields nothing relevant. Similarly, I can’t really evaluate the claim about Vasquez’s settlement of the HCDP lawsuit. Big Jolly didn’t mention it, and a Google search turns up mostly Democratic links. Maybe more people knew about it than I might think, but if it was a campaign issue and not just something that a handful of connected folks were grumbling about, it was a mighty quiet one.

I don’t doubt that the issues Bettencourt and Blakemore cite affected how some people voted. The question is how many of the 120,000+ people who cast a vote in that race were affected by those particular factors. Unlike David Porter, Don Sumners was at least someone who had been an elected official before, and presumably started out with some kind of base. That in and of itself may have been enough for him to win.

One thing I am sure of is that Vasquez is now officially dead to the Republican establishment. Look at what they’re doing to poor Victor Carrillo:

Republican consultant Ted Delisi said Carrillo spent far less than Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones or Michael Williams did on their re-election campaigns and said Carrillo did little personal campaigning.

“In the end, a bad campaign is just a bad campaign,” Delisi said.

That’s a pretty remarkable piece of disinformation. First, it appears to be comparing Williams’ and Ames Jones’ general election efforts to Carrillo’s primary campaign. I say that in part because Michael Williams had no primary opponent in 2008, so however much money he spent in that race, his renomination was never in doubt. As for Ames Jones, she did have a primary opponent in 2006. Her eight days out report for that race shows that she spent $580,116. Carrillo’s eight days out report, by comparison, had expenditures of $525,666. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t meet my definition of “far less”. Finally, since Porter ran no campaign at all, Delisi is implying that Carrillo’s campaign was not merely inadequate but that it must have actively persuaded people to vote against him. Even by the standards of Republican consultants, that’s a pretty damn brazen thing to say. But it’s the sort of thing they’re going to be saying about you now, Leo. I hope you’re prepared for that.

Mayoral miscellania

A few links of interest about the Mayor’s race. Because I know you haven’t read enough about it already.

Nancy is ready for all the third-party attacks in the race to stop.

Here’s an interview with Annise Parker at Open Left. Thanks to BOR for the tip.

Signs, signs, everywhere there’s Gene Locke signs illegally placed on public rights of way.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is always worth reading.

Steven Hotze in his own bigoted, hateful, ignorant words. Compare what he says to what Rick Scarborough, who is also trying to foment the anti-gay hate, says about The Gay Agenda. Small minds think alike. And then recall that Hotze’s hatchet man Allen Blakemore was also responsible for this piece of racist crap from last year’s election. State Rep. Garnet Coleman has called on Locke to reject Hotze’s endorsement. Doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen.

Finally, if that’s not enough links for you, Martha has some more.

Locke sorta kinda explains the Hotze endorsement

Here it is, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much. I guess if you can truly convince yourself that Hotze’s endorsement wasn’t about Annise Parker’s sexuality, you can believe it’s okay to accept it. I don’t know what there is to say about this that hasn’t already been said, so let me just refer you to a press release from State Rep. Garnet Coleman that calls on Locke to repudiate Hotze and leave it at that. Click on to read it.

(more…)

Oh, and avoid Blakemore, too

We already know why you should stay away from Steven Hotze. But Allen Blakemore is the Horace and Jasper to Hotze’s Cruella de Vil, and the same warning applies to him as well. But don’t take my word for it, listen to a dissatisfied customer of Blakemore’s.

In 2005 Hotze endorsed George Hittner in a race against Anne Clutterbuck for City Council District C. Although it is a nonpartisan race, both candidates had impeccable Republican credentials for that generally Republican district. Hittner is the son of a federal judge and general counsel and vice president for governmental relations for American Traffic Solutions in Scottsdale, Ariz. Clutterbuck had long served as district manager for then-U.S. Rep. Bill Archer.

But Hittner hired Blakemore as his consultant and was endorsed by Hotze. The result was a bitter campaign that, among other things, tried to tar Clutterbuck for being endorsed by the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Caucus.

Clutterbuck and Hittner were separated by only 42 votes in the first round, but Clutterbuck won the runoff with 58 percent of the vote.

The campaign left not only Clutterbuck’s supporters angry, but Hittner as well. Now a Washington lobbyist, he says he came out of the campaign wrongly portrayed as a right-wing Republican when he is, in fact, moderate.

He pointedly says he recommends to friends who are running for office that they hire political consultant Jessica Colon, who last year faced off against Blakemore and Hotze in a special election for the state Senate.

In addition to Colon, I’d also suggest Jennifer Naedler, who is Clutterbuck’s campaign manager and who is working with Jack Christie in his race, as a better alternative for Republican candidates who don’t want to be saddled with Blakemore’s baggage. Unless Blakemore’s antics are the kind of thing you want associated with your name forever, of course. In which case, knock yourself out.

Locke’s response

So while I was out watching Rice beat Tulane, the Gene Locke campaign released the following statement regarding the homophobic attack on Annise Parker.

“As I have previously stated, I reject any association with the style of campaigning that was the subject of an article in the Houston Chronicle today. We have serious issues to deal with in our city that requires us to work together as one Houston and I trust that Houstonians will choose a new mayor based on the issues that effect our lives every day and not to be swayed by divisive rhetoric.”

That’s a lovely sentiment. I’m sure it’s sincerely spoken. It’s certainly a lot better than the snotty “I know what you are, but what am I?” response that Locke’s spokesperson gave to the Chronicle. And if it were in response to actions made by some unaffiliated group that had crawled out from under a rock, it would have been perfectly fine.

But that’s not the case. Let’s review that Chron story to see why:

[Dave Welch, executive director of the Houston Area Pastor Council] said he had “no doubt” there would be numerous independent advocacy efforts urging voters not to choose Parker, most of which would involve mail.

[…]

[Locke] has made recent efforts to court some of the staunch social conservatives who are either actively planning on attacking Parker’s sexuality or strongly considering it.

He appeared at the Pastor Council’s annual gala last Friday and was encouraged several times by State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, a featured speaker, to stand for conservative values.

Locke has also met with and sought the endorsement of Dr. Steven Hotze, a longtime local kingmaker in conservative politics and author of the Straight Slate in 1985, a coterie of eight City Council candidates he recruited who ran on an anti-gay platform.

The slate was formed to oppose eight incumbents who supported measures aimed at protecting homosexuals from discrimination in city government. The measures were resoundingly repealed by the voters in a referendum, but none of the eight council members lost their seats.

Republican consultant Allen Blakemore, a longtime Hotze associate who spoke on his behalf, said he is considering mailing out a slate of endorsed runoff candidates, and Parker’s sexuality is a “key factor” in his decision.

In other words, before these folks crawled out from underneath their rock, Locke got down there with them to ask for their support. Some acknowledgement of that is necessary for his statement to mean anything. If he’s not actually disavowing Welch and Hotze and Blakemore but merely tut-tutting about the sins he expects they will commit on his behalf, it’s not the least bit penitent of him. He chose to associate himself with them. He shares responsibility for what they do. He has not admitted his responsibility. It’s as simple as that.

Putting this another way, when Welch and Blakemore follow through and send gay-bashing mailers to however many voters with a message to vote for Gene Locke, will he continue to “reject any association” with that style of campaigning? Or will he gladly reap whatever electoral benefit he may get from that because he thinks he’s covered now?

(See here for an example of Blakemore’s work from last year’s election. If someone whose endorsement Annise Parker had courted sent out a similar mailer on her behalf that was aimed at Gene Locke, do you think a statement like the one Locke made here would suffice to distance herself from it?)

So color me unimpressed by Gene Locke’s statement. When he says something meaningful – something that calls out the bad actors by name, owns up to his association with them, and specifically tells them he does not want any of this kind of “help” from them – then we can talk. Stace has more.