Setting The Record Straight: The TRUTH
About Appropriate Political Expenditures
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
Shortly before the May 2019 election, the Texas Ethics Commission (“TEC”) dismissed out-of-hand the misguided and incorrect claims made by the negatives and naysayers regarding Mayor Joe Chow’s political expenditures. Confirming what I had written about Mayor Chow’s appropriate expenditures, the TEC found the allegations made by the negatives’ designated complainant wholly without merit.
It was yet another brazen effort by the negatives and naysayers to influence Addison voters with false and misleading information. It was the same tactic employed by the negatives during the 2017 mayoral election, when Mayor Chow defeated the same negative candidate. The timing of these attacks – on the eve of early voting – was very much by design. This left Mayor Chow with precious little time to correct the record before Addison voters headed to the polls.
Most incredibly, as with the 2017 election, this year the negatives and naysayers knew they were wrong in advance of the election. But as they did in 2017, the negatives and naysayers once again withheld the TRUTH from Addison voters, continuing their shameful legacy of deceit.
We’ve waited to address this and other issues to see whether the negatives and naysayers would do the right thing and correct the record. And, apologize to Addison voters for misleading them. But that hasn’t happened. Nor have they apologized to Mayor Chow for attacking him without any basis for doing so. Nor to me for falsely claiming that I condoned Election Code “violations,” when in TRUTH and fact, my analysis was 100% correct, as subsequently confirmed by the TEC. Given their recalcitrance, it is up to us to correct the record and discuss the TRUTH.
Start here. The negatives’ first blog on this issue was published on April 17, 2019, a mere five days before early voting began. The negatives’ designated bloggers claimed that Mayor Chow’s campaign expenditures were improper, based on their (incorrect) views of the requirements of the Election Code. These misguided bloggers then claimed that it had “come to their attention” that an ethics complaint had been filed against Mayor Chow, and they proceeded to discuss the content of this alleged complaint in detail.
There was just one problem: As of April 17, 2019, no complaint had been filed. And that’s an important fact, because it confirms that these negatives are all coordinating their efforts. Far from being some clever news “scoop,” this was a coordinated attack on Mayor Chow’s candidacy. Which provides us with yet another confirmation that far from being a journalistic endeavor, the negative blog is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the negatives and naysayers. It is all about spin, misinformation and deceit. And most certainly not about TRUTH.
Back to our story. Later in the day on April 17, 2017, I wrote about the TEC’s 2013 Resolution that condemns publicizing the filing of an ethics complaint so as to attack a candidate for office. (http://truthinaddison.com/?page_id=1969). The TEC’s Resolution explains that anyone can file a complaint and that the TEC investigates all complaints, so the mere filing of a complaint does not establish a violation. Therefore, publicizing the filing of a complaint “provides no meaningful information to the voting public,” and is an “improper attempt to mislead the public” and “an unfair practice.” The TEC’s Resolution specifically condemns the use of statements like, “the Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint,” or “a sworn complaint has been filed” against a candidate, the latter being almost word for word what the negative bloggers wrote.
In other words, the TEC Resolution forcefully condemns exactly what the negative bloggers did on the eve of the election. And that’s before you consider the fact that they violated the TEC Resolution before any complaint had actually been filed.
My article about the TEC Resolution gave the negatives an opportunity to retract their inappropriate blog. But they didn’t. Instead, they doubled down. On April 19th, their blog repeated their meritless accusations against Mayor Chow, now using the fake question and answer format so often used by the toxic ex-mayor. They made the inexplicable argument that the TEC Resolution didn’t apply to them because their blog wasn’t a “campaign communication.” How absurd.
Think about it this way. The point of the TEC Resolution is that publicizing the mere filing of a complaint to disparage a candidate is wrongful because its misleading. That’s solid logic, and it should apply to anyone trying to influence voters. That the negatives and their bloggers see it differently speaks volumes. And, it confirms that their tactics are not grounded in decency or TRUTH. So, I guess we should not be surprised that their response was to claim that it is their birthright to mislead Addison voters.
Later on April 19th, I wrote another article (http://truthinaddison.com/?page_id=1989) addressing the substance of the meritless expenditure allegations. Among other things, I pointed out that they were citing a non-existent statute, and that the quote they included in support of their contentions didn’t even appear in the correct statute. I (correctly) concluded that their allegations were meritless.
Three days later, on April 22, 2019, the TEC received a complaint against Mayor Joe Chow. This was five days after the negatives’ blogger first claimed that one had already been filed. Then on April 24, 2019, the negatives’ designated bloggers took an interesting position. They accused me of being a hypocrite because I (correctly) argued that their accusations against Mayor Chow were wrong. They accused me of defending “one candidate’s violation,” which effectively restated their (incorrect) accusations, thereby misleading Addison voters for a third time.
That brings us to April 29, 2019, when the TEC notified the negatives’ designated complainant of its rejection of his allegations relating to campaign expenditures. Most notably, this included confirmation that Mayor Chow’s use of May Dragon for campaign events was appropriate. It also confirmed my analysis, and my conclusion that the negatives and their designated complainant had grossly misread the law. Mayor Chow was vindicated. Truth in Addison was vindicated. TRUTH was vindicated.
And, in the end, these negative tactics didn’t work. Addison voters reelected Mayor Chow and Councilmembers Ward, Braun and Hughes. These elected officials have proved to be trustworthy and earnest in embracing the Addison Way and moving our town in a positive direction. That we have another two years with them is a true blessing for our Town.
The TRUTH has indeed set us free, and Addison is moving on, distancing itself from these tactics and the toxicity of the negatives and naysayers.
The Addison Way continues!