Burnt Orange Report

News, Politics, and Fun From Deep in the Heart of Texas

Ad Policies

Support the TDP!

Get Firefox!

October 27, 2005

Rep. Chisum Violating Election Law?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yesterday's post by Phillip brought to light yet another offense that seems to have been committed by Rep. Warren Chisum, making this pattern egregious enough that as of 3 pm this afternoon, I have filed an official complaint and "request to investigate" these actions with a special prosecutor in the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's office.

You can download my official filing: page 1, page 2, page 3.

So what did he do?

The following files outline what I see as a breach of state limitations on use of public funds and offices for the purpose of the promotion of the passage of Proposition 2. Below is the text of my filed criminal complaint.

"On a letter to Texas Pastors dates Sept 16, 2005, printed on Rep. Warren Chisum's official House of Representatives letterhead and signed by Rep. Warren Chisum (HD-88), Rep. John T Smithee (HD-86), and Rep. David Swinford (HD-87), statements were made encouraging involvement in the Nov. 8th Constitutional Amendment Election. Included in the letter were documents labeled "VOTE FOR PROP 2" and promoting the www.texansformarriage.org website. Staffer for Rep. Chisum Annette Glass is listed as a contact in the letter, listing her official House e-mail and the office number for Rep. Chisum.

Additionally, Rep. Chisum's office on October 25, 2005 distributed a Press Release through the Capitol e-mail system entitled "False Campaign Meant to Destroy Prop 2" in which Annette Glass is again listed as the contact with Re. Chisum's primary office phone number."

The following are .tif image files of the September 16th Letter sent to pastors, forwarded to me by e-mail.

Sept. 16th Mailer (The Letter .tif format)
Included Letter Document (Page 1 | Page 2)

Key things to mention here. The included documents with the letter are clearly promoting the election or defeat of the amendment as they are titled with a bold VOTE FOR PROP 2 title. Included on the Chisum letterhead are key phrases such as, "To save marriage as we know it, and prevent activist judges from ruling in favor of same-sex marriages, the churches of this state must actively work to get out the vote. ... It is clear the churches can stand in the gap and make the difference in this election." The letter closes urging pastors to "contact my office at 800/692-1389 or e-mail annette.glass@house.state.tx.ud" which seems to be an addition clear violation of the use of his public office for the campaigning for this amendment.

The full text response of Rev. William D. Nix, Jr. of Canadian, TX to Rep. Chisum is included in the extended entry. He was by no means pleased, as a faith leader, receiving this letter from Rep. Chisum and Company. It is from him indirectly that I received this information.

I was shocked to receive your letter of September 16 addressed to “Senior Pastor” which I assume was sent to all churches in your district and to those of Messrs. Smithee and Swinford, who also signed the letter. Regardless of one’s views on Proposition 2 or the issues it raises, the letter and its enclosures are offensive to all mainstream Christians and Texans of other religious preference for whom freedom of religion is among our most cherished rights. For elected officials to attempt to influence elections by exerting pressure on churches is an abuse of the public trust and an infringement of the Constitutionally-guaranteed separation of church and state.

The enclosure promoting Proposition 2 is an even more blatant violation of the separation of church and state. The organizations cited as sources include Jerry Falwell’s “Liberty Council,” James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” and other extreme-right Christian lobby groups. The suggested sermon points include a mixture of half-truths, misrepresentations and demagoguery, all calculated to arouse homophobic anxiety in the public. And their very inclusion in a letter from members of the legislature should be offensive to all theologically-educated clergy.

On the face of it, Proposition 2 is a thinly-veiled attempt to write discrimination toward gay and lesbian Texans into the Constitution. The existing “Protection of Marriage” law is discriminatory enough, denying basic legal protection and spousal benefits to anyone whose sexual orientation or committed relationship differs from the norm. And the promoters of Proposition 2 are aware that it is probably doomed to be found unconstitutional by the courts - thus their rush to write it into the Constitution.

Whet a pity that the last Legislature will be known primarily for failing to fund our children’s education and for attempting to deprive many Texans of their rights! Please don’t compound the error by eroding the wall of separation of church and state.

The Rev. William D. Nix, Jr.
Canadian (Texas)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at October 27, 2005 03:52 PM | TrackBack


Don't you realize yet that laws don't apply to Republicans? Laws are things you use against other people.

Posted by: Baby Snooks at October 27, 2005 05:11 PM

Best of luck to you, K-T. Maybe we can get some other blogs and local press to keep up with this, and put some pressure on these guys.

Posted by: Phillip Martin at October 27, 2005 08:17 PM

The law is catching up with the GOP, it's just that the law is the turtle....

Plus, don't forget, pigs get slaughtered.

Posted by: Harriet Miers' Law Partner at October 27, 2005 09:19 PM

Very proud of you K-T.

Posted by: othniel at October 28, 2005 08:34 AM

Thank you KT!

Posted by: original TREY at October 28, 2005 10:34 AM

excellent job KT! i havent been following the Lege as close as perhaps i should, so thanks for stepping up to do the right thing!


Posted by: mario at October 28, 2005 12:28 PM

So now libs are using Ronnie Earle to open the door for courts to declare a gay marriage ban unconstitutional?

Posted by: Trey at October 28, 2005 01:52 PM

That's great, Karl-Thomas! You're doing wonderful work, and I for one appreciate the action you are taking.

Posted by: Max Starkenburg at October 28, 2005 02:00 PM

Are you suggesting that legislators can't use their letterhead to advocate for the passage or defeat of legislation or constitutional amendments? You'd better add every memeber of the House and Senate to your complaint, because every one of them is guilty.

Posted by: Carrie at October 28, 2005 04:05 PM

David Swinford's Carrie, is that you?
Campaign is defined as: a series of actions advancing a principle or tending toward a particular end; or several related operations aimed at achieving a particular goal -- both of which the parties involved are engaging in. This is why the State of Texas has campaign laws which regulate these activities.

Officials can advocate for whatever they please, but they are supposed to do so with private funds, not with taxpayer dollars.

Why don't we do this: All of the officials who disagree with the amendment, send out mailers (using tax dollars mind you) to your "base", whomever that might be. Do that, and see how your counterparts react. There would be bedlam.

Regardless of whether or not Chisum, Swinford, and co. are criminally negligent here, they are guilty of being irresponsible with hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Bad judgement I tell you.

Posted by: Blue at October 28, 2005 04:44 PM

off topic and incorrect

Posted by: Trey at October 28, 2005 04:59 PM

It's one thing to advocate for legislation that is being passed, or a plan for this or that. But the House website, repeatedly during session, denied to send out press releases and post them on their website, claiming they were "too political" in nature. This happened, primarily, when some of the moderate R's wanted to explain why they wouldn't vote for the Hochberg plan, and when Democrats try to do most anything.

But, since homosexuality is evil and the Republicans are running the show, Chisum's letter was sent out no problem.

Fact is, all Rep. Chisum's office had to do was write a press release that said "when I drafted HJR 6, which is now Prop 2, the language clearly said this and that. Anyone who says otherwise is full of crap." BUT, b/c he is so caught up in his own homophobic self-righteousness, he didn't stop and think.

Of course, it's also nice when you know the rules will be ignored b/c your a member of the party in power.

Posted by: Ms. Politics at October 28, 2005 08:49 PM

William D. Nix, Jr. Democrat and contributor.
So what else is new.
Mock outrage is an old Democrat tactic.
Like Adams said: When the Law is against you argue the facts, when the facts are against you argue the law, when both are against you argue against the other guy.
More bilge from the files of Ronnie Earle.
Why don't the Democrats tell us what they are for and let us vote, but crafty moves to get things in front of their last bastion, the partisan judges will eventually bite them in the butt. I am true Burnt Orange and sorry to see this pitiful site and pitiful rants by people that are only tainting our beloved Longhorns.
Try to rename your site or deal with issues that affect Burnt Orange.
B.S. Phr '75, born in Austin and direct descendant of 1822 Immigrant Edward R. Bradley and friend of Stephen F. and great great grandson of patriotic soldier of the First War for Texas Independence.

Posted by: R Archer at November 1, 2005 03:41 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?


January 2006
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        

About Us
About BOR
Advertising Policies

Karl-Thomas M. - Owner
Byron L. - Founder
Alex H. - Contact
Andrea M. - Contact
Andrew D. - Contact
Damon M. - Contact
Drew C. - Contact
Jim D. - Contact
John P. - Contact
Katie N. - Contact
Kirk M. - Contact
Matt H. - Contact
Phillip M. - Contact
Vince L. - Contact
Zach N. - Conact


Tip Jar!

Recent Entries
BOR Edu.
University of Texas
University Democrats

BOR News
The Daily Texan
The Statesman
The Chronicle

BOR Politics
DNC Blog: Kicking Ass
DSCC Blog: From the Roots
DCCC Blog: The Stakeholder
Texas Dems
Travis County Dems
Dallas Young Democrats

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett
State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes
State Rep. Elliott Naishtat
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez
State Rep. Mark Strama
Traffic Ratings
Alexa Rating
Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem
Technoranti Link Cosmos
Blogstreet Blogback
American Research Group
Annenberg Election Survey
Polling Report
Rasmussen Reports
Survey USA
Texas Stuff
A Little Pollyana
Austin Bloggers
D Magazine
DFW Bogs
DMN Blog
In the Pink Texas
Inside the Texas Capitol
The Lasso
Pol State TX Archives
Quorum Report Daily Buzz
George Strong Political Analysis
Texas Law Blog
Texas Monthly
Texas Observer
TX Dem Blogs
100 Monkeys Typing
Alt 7
Appalachia Alumni Association
Barefoot and Naked
BAN News
Betamax Guillotine
Blue Texas
Border Ass News
The Daily DeLay
The Daily Texican
Dos Centavos
Drive Democracy Easter Lemming
Get Donkey
Greg's Opinion
Half the Sins of Mankind
Jim Hightower
Hugo Zoom
Latinos for Texas
Off the Kuff
Ones and Zeros
Panhandle Truth Squad
Aaron Peña's Blog
People's Republic of Seabrook
Pink Dome
The Red State
Rhetoric & Rhythm
Rio Grande Valley Politics
Save Texas Reps
Skeptical Notion
Something's Got to Break
Stout Dem Blog
The Scarlet Left
Tex Prodigy
View From the Left
Yellow Doggeral Democrat
TX GOP Blogs
Beldar Blog
Blogs of War
Boots and Sabers
Dallas Arena
Jessica's Well
Lone Star Times
Publius TX
Safety for Dummies
The Sake of Arguement
Slightly Rough
Daily Reads
ABC's The Note
BOP News
Daily Kos
Media Matters
NBC's First Read
Political State Report
Political Animal
Political Wire
Talking Points Memo
Matthew Yglesias
College Blogs
CDA Blog
Get More Ass (Brown)
Dem Apples (Harvard)
KU Dems
U-Delaware Dems
UNO Dems
Stanford Dems
GLBT Blogs
American Blog
Boi From Troy
Margaret Cho
Downtown Lad
Gay Patriot
Raw Story
Stonewall Dems
Andrew Sullivan
More Reads
Living Indefinitely
Blogroll Burnt Orange!
BOR Webrings
< ? Texas Blogs # >
<< ? austinbloggers # >>
« ? MT blog # »
« ? MT # »
« ? Verbosity # »
Election Returns
CNN 1998 Returns
CNN 2000 Returns
CNN 2002 Returns
CNN 2004 Returns

state elections 1992-2005

bexar county elections
collin county elections
dallas county elections
denton county elections
el paso county elections
fort bend county elections
galveston county elections
harris county elections
jefferson county elections
tarrant county elections
travis county elections

Texas Media
abilene reporter news

alpine avalanche

amarillo globe news

austin american statesman
austin chronicle
daily texan online
keye news (cbs)
kut (npr)
kvue news (abc)
kxan news (nbc)
news 8 austin

beaumont enterprise

brownsville herald

college station
the battalion (texas a&m)

corpus christi
corpus christi caller times
kris news (fox)
kztv news (cbs)

crawford lone star iconoclast

dallas-fort worth
dallas morning news
dallas observer
dallas voice
fort worth star-telegram
kdfw news (fox)
kera (npr)
ktvt news (cbs)
nbc5 news
wfaa news (abc)

del rio
del rio news herald

el paso
el paso times
kdbc news (cbs)
kfox news (fox)
ktsm (nbc)
kvia news (abc)

standard-radio post

galveston county daily news

valley morning star

houston chronicle
houston press
khou news (cbs)
kprc news (nbc)
ktrk news (abc)

kerrville daily times

laredo morning times

lockhart post-register

lubbock avalanche journal

lufkin daily news

marshall news messenger

the monitor

midland - odessa
midland reporter telegram
odessa american

san antonio
san antonio express-news

seguin gazette-enterprise

texarkana gazette

tyler morning telegraph

victoria advocate

kxxv news (abc)
kwtx news (cbs)
waco tribune-herald

krgv news (nbc)

texas cable news
texas triangle

World News
ABC News
All Africa News
Arab News
Atlanta Constitution-Journal
News.com Australia
BBC News
Boston Globe
CBS News
Chicago Tribune
Christian Science Monitor
Denver Post
FOX News
Google News
The Guardian
Inside China Today
International Herald Tribune
Japan Times
LA Times
Mexico Daily
Miami Herald
New Orleans Times-Picayune
New York Times
El Pais (Spanish)
San Francisco Chronicle
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Times of India
Toronto Star
Wall Street Journal
Washington Post

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2b1