Posts by Aaron Harris

House Ballot Fraud Bill – HB184 vs. HB47

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The special session is nearing an end and the Governor’s call for increased penalties for mail in voter fraud has stalled in the House in the form of HB 184.

There is a lot of discussion, driven largely by our office, as to the differences between HB184 by Goldman and HB47 by Schofield. We are fighting FOR HB184;, let me tell you why.

First, let me back up and discuss something that happened during regular session. The TX Legislature passed a bill we now refer to as the “nursing home” bill. This  flew under the radar and was added at the last minute as an amendment. This bill opens up every nursing home in Texas to ballot harvesting. It creates an unfunded mandate on every county, and many, many other problematic details. The Democrat party has been bragging about getting this bill passed. One party official even bragged that the Dem party has already calculated this bill will get them nearly 300,000 additional harvested ballots. They did the math;, they wrote the bill;, they got it passed. THIS IS A VERY BIG PROBLEM. This week over 100 county election administrators signed a letter opposing this legislation.

The main difference between HB184 and HB47, both as amended, is that HB184 FULLY REPEALS the nursing home bill. Let me be clear – the “nursing home” bill is flawed at every level, it cannot be “fixed”, but  must be repealed. HB47 naively attempts to patch the “nursing home” bill. This is like trying to fix Obamacare. Repeal and Replace is the only viable choice. This difference alone is worth the fight.

Aside from that, HB184 differentiates itself from HB47 in several ways., I’ll list some of them here:

HB184 prohibits electronic signatures on applications and carrier envelopes. HB47 does not.

HB184 requires original copy of applications, no more faxed or emailed mail in applications. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds preservation of ballot materials including canceled ballots and a mandatory reporting to the AG’s office. This is vital to track and document fraud for the long term elimination of it. HB47 does not.

HB184 includes voter impersonation penalties for using a mail in ballot., HB47 does not.

HB184 clarifies that the two signatures on the application and carrier envelope must both be that of the voter, not just match. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds liability to ballot board members who accept invalid signatures. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds new wording to Sec 276.013 of the election code which defines voter fraud more clearly and gives law enforcement the tools they need to go after violators

HB184 simply covers more detail and stitches up the existing problems in a more solid manner. This is largely due to the fact that HB184 was written by a team: from the AG’s office, to Rep. Goldman’s office, Governor’s office, Sen. Hancock’s office and others. HB47 has 9 sponsors, while HB184 has 81 Authors and Co-Authors. 81!

HB184 is the better bill. The clock is running out.

 

 

Where is the Republican Caucus Leadership?

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The Texas Senate is calm. After all, they’ve finished their work, for now.

The Texas Senate has passed legislation relating to 18 of the 20 priorities called for by Abbott. The Texas House, on the other hand, has passed 2.

The House is a hot mess. It’s difficult to overstate the circus, unless you’ve been in Austin to witness the clown-show firsthand. Other than the Freedom Caucus members, state representatives are irrationally stressed. This paranoia is driven largely by the fact that no one appears to be in charge. There is no plan, which would normally emanate from the Speaker’s team.

House Speaker Joe Straus has effectively lost control of the chamber.

Last week we saw Rep. Tony Tinderholt call points of order, only to see Speaker Straus hide his right hand in his pocket as it shook uncontrollably, day after day. Joe is scared.

The conservatives disdain Joe, the moderates are mad at him for putting them in this special session conundrum. It’s a lose-lose situation. The democrats are mad because he doesn’t follow the rules and the special session gives them no place to hide their radical and unpopular agenda to create, raise, and increase taxes. Everyone is mad at Joe.

This should be a unique time for the Republican Caucus to shine…but it cannot.

Or, perhaps it will not. Much like the House itself, the Republican Caucus has no real leadership. State Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) has fully embraced Obama’s mantra of “leading from behind.” Caucus members are looking for leadership, but they selected an empty suit for that position. Tan is incapable of leading, except when corporate handouts are at stake—he’s all but proven as much to capitol onlookers.

Last week, without input from the caucus, Tan published talking points for members to use to reassure their constituents. Members were simply embarrassed by these blatantly false talking points. I’ve attached them to this article below.

Tan has chosen to fully embraced Straus’ tactic of blaming the rules, when convenient, while talking out of both sides of his mouth. In one sentence he brags about filing 209 bills, while following up with complaints the special session and calendar don’t give them enough time to act, because the House has so many more members than the Senate.

The truth is simple: Tan and Joe will always come up with ways to “get things done” when asked by the lobby, whether it’s the Texas Medical Association or the Texas Municipal League. When pressed by their taxpaying constituents, they’ll come up with little more than excuses.

Tan has chosen to demonstrate no leadership in regards to advancing popular priorities called for by Republicans. Tan needs to step aside, and let the caucus appoint new leadership.

Tan and Joe share a lot in common. Hopefully they will share a loss in March.

We’ve Come a Long Way Baby! — On Voter Fraud

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Direct Action Texas went public with it’s Tarrant County vote harvesting investigation last October – a mere 8 months ago – and we’ve come a long way since then.

At the time, voter fraud was a thing of conspiracies, crazy talk. The main stream, respectable folk did not speak of such things. Fast forward to last Monday. I sat at Texas Public Policy Foundation’s policy orientation for the special session, and as I opened their handbook I found multiple pages dedicated to mail in ballot fraud policy. This is huge because TPPF has had a longstanding policy of not discussing or engaging in election law or reform. Now they have a published stance. Yesterday I watched as Chuck DeVore, Vice President of TPPF, testified on behalf of SB5, the voter fraud bill before the Senate. This is simply unprecedented.

At that same special session policy orientation, Governor Abbott gave the opening comments and mail in ballot fraud was a major part of his message. Out of all the issues facing Texas, Governor Abbott included mail in voter fraud among the 20 he felt deserved to be included in the special session. In a few short months this issue went from outside the mainstream to a priority of the Governor of Texas.

You see policies have a process they go thru. It looks something like this:

From Radical to Acceptable to Sensible to Popular to POLICY.

This process usually takes years. I sat in the Senate yesterday, a Sunday, on the threshold of this issue becoming policy and realized we went from Radical to Popular in a short 8 months. This is a reality because of voters in Dallas who came forward and said their votes were stolen just this last May. This is a reality because of hard work by folks at the Office of the Attorney General. This is a reality because voters and activists made it a priority to their elected officials. Politicians don’t act on issues unless they believe there is enough pressure to use their political capital and receive a return on that capital.

We are almost there. SB5 passed the senate committee and will most assuredly be passed out of the chamber tomorrow. Meanwhile, watch HB184 as it proceeds thru the Texas House.

Texans made this issue a priority. For that I say – Well Done. Lets continue to the finish line.

The Ritchie Scandal – There’s an Audit

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Another Tarrant County official is under fire from county auditors for alleged violations of state law. But unlike Democrat Constable Ruben Garcia’s recent scandal, it appears the local District Attorney’s office is taking action to prosecute either a judge, his staffer, or both.

Last week we unveiled Garcia’s scandal, which involved several possible violations of state law, including failure to document drugs and other property seized, along with cash collected by field deputies. Shockingly, Ritchie’s audit revealed alleged offenses similar to the Garcia scandal. while the laundry list of offenses documented in Garcia’s audit was lengthy, Ritchie’s is even longer.

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