More on the office of the Harris County Tax Assessor – Collectors office

The Houston Chronicle picks up on Tax assessor’s shady shenanigans and has an op-ed in today’s paper.

One of the company’s more valuable assets is a paid director, Ed Johnson, who doubles as the associate voter registrar for the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office. The firm sells county and state voter data to customers. Johnson is paid with taxpayer dollars to supervise voter registration in a nonpartisan manner.

“We’re the business behind winning campaigns,” declares the CDS Web site. “Allow us to partner with you and put our expertise to work!”

And a quote from my good friend Dr. Diane Trautman:

Democrat Diane Trautman, who narrowly lost to Bettencourt, called for Johnson’s removal before next November’s elections. “Vasquez should be responsible for background checks on second forms of employment for his people,” noted Trautman. “I just wonder how many other employees there are in the tax office who have the same conflict of interest as Johnson.”

You know, no matter how they try to paint it, saying “he’s honorable man”…it’s still a conflict of interest and it still smells to high heaven!aying

Something smells in the Harris County Tax-Assessor Collectors office

Just when I seemed to be resting on my laurels. This just in, first from Dr. Diane Trautman, our Democratic nominee for County Tax-Assessor in 2008 who should have beaten Paul Bettencourt and this mess would have already been taken care of, has a few comments to make, then the story! And a side note, finally a few employees speaking out, and apparently now…not afraid to.

“We have an election coming up in November and we need Ed Johnson removed from office NOW! It is essential that Leo Vazquez work quickly to restore confidence in the Harris County electoral process.

Vazquez should be responsible for background checks on second forms of employment for his people. So this doesn’t speak well for his administrative abilities. I just wonder how many other employees there are in the tax office who have the same conflict of interest as Johnson.

I also call upon Mr. Vazquez to do the right thing and remove Ed Johnson immediately.”

Then, below, find the information concerning this bruhaha!

On the web at LoneStarProject.net

KHOU Report: Harris County Voter Registrar a GOP Consultant
Lone Star Project Documents Reveal Johnson Paid by Republican Candidates

With documents obtained from the Lone Star Project, KHOU
(Houston) aired a story last night revealing that Ed Johnson ,
the assistant director of voter registration for Harris County,
is a paid Republican campaign consultant. His company,
Campaign Data Systems (CDS), has numerous Harris County
Republican candidate as clients, including the Conservative
Republicans of Harris County PAC, Senator Dan Patrick,
and Congressman Michael McCaul.  Republican State
Representative Dwayne Bohac (HD 138) is also a principal
owner of CDS.
Johnson and Bohac are both listed on the Articles of Organization
and on the CDS website as a person to contact.
It is unacceptable that a county
employee with unimpeded access to Voter Registration records, who can grant or
deny the ability to vote to an individual, also works as a partisan political consultant.

Johnson Reviews Ballots for Harris County Races
Ed Johnson is a high-level employee in the Harris County voter registration
department. In sworn testimony he has been described as, “pretty much
the one that does everything.”
(Deposition of Elizabeth Hernandez
. Clerk/Processor
)

It was also revealed that Johnson reviews provisional ballots in Harris
County. Michelle Dixon, a 12 year veteran of the voter registration
department said under oath that Johnson “opens the sealed envelopes
of provisional ballot affidavits.”
17 year employee Kim Shoemaker said
that “Ed Johnson will stand over us” during provisional ballot review.
(Depositions of Michelle Dixon and Kim Shoemaker). The Houston Chronicle
reported that white out was used on many provisional ballots before delivery
to the Ballot Board. (Houston Chronicle, 11/12/08) Dixon also said that
Johnson was in charge of purging voters from the system.
(Depositions of Michelle Dixon)

Johnson Makes Big Money off Republican Candidates

Ed Johnson and Dwayne Bohac’s company has collected
more than $145,000 from Republican State Candidates alone
.
The Federal Candidate disclosures are harder to search,
but CDS received more than $11,000 from Michael McCaul
(CD-10) and John Culberson (CD-7).
Harris County Candidates
use Campaign Data Systems too. Republican Harris County
District Attorney Pat Lykos paid CDS more than $7,000
last cycle
.
Many of the people who paid CDS have competed
in hotly contested races including Ken Legler (HD-144 in 2008),
Martha Wong (HD-134 in 2006), and Talmadge Heflin (HD 149 in 2004)
who lost his race by just 33 votes.

Payments to Campaign Data Systems
Campaign Amount Paid
Jim Murphy

$13,074

Texans for Joe Nixon

$12,475

Randy K. Weber

$9,694

Texans for John Davis

$9,404

Friends of John Zerwas

$8,810

Ken J. Legler

$8,381

Robert E. Talton

$7,836

Ralph E. Sheffield

$7,319

Dan Patrick

$7,141

Conservative Republicans
of Harris County PAC

$5,451

Texans For Lawsuit Reform PAC

$5,281

Friends Of Kyle Janek

$2,802

Others Republicans

$47,843

Total Texas State Candidates

$145,512

Why didn’t Dwayne Bohac disclose Johnson Connection?
Ed Johnson has testified at least twice in the Texas Legislature about Voter ID.
A search of the records show that Johnson has never publicly disclosed his
relationship with Republican candidates or his role as a Republican consultant.
More troubling is that Dwayne Bohac sits on the House Elections Committee
that listed Johnson on its official list of Republican invited witnesses, but did
not reveal that he and Johnson are business associates engaged in partisan
political activity. (Election Committee Hearing; April 6, 2009)

Ed Johnson Misleads at Voter ID Hearing
Ed Johnson’s problems testifying at voter ID hearings don’t end there. He has
misled State Legislators with his testimony to the point that two representatives
have called for his removal.

  • Lying to Representatives
    Ed Johnson testified at the State Senate voter ID hearing and was listed on the official witness list for the House hearing this spring. His testimony attempted to greatly discount his role in the voting registration and ballot review process. Johnson’s testimony was so dishonest that State Representatives Garnet Coleman (HD 147) and Ana Hernandez (HD 143) called on Republican Tax Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez to dismiss Johnson on April 13, 2009. (Source: Houston Chronicle, April 13, 2009 )
  • Lying by Omission
    Ed Johnson also failed to disclose to Members that he is a paid consultant working exclusively for Republican Campaigns.
  • (Too) Eager to Testify
    Ed Johnson was so eager to testify in 2007 that he took a personal vacation day to testify and again made bold claims with little evidence and again failed to disclose his work as a Republican Consultant.
Johnson’s actions already subject of court inquiry
Johnson has been embroiled in controversy for several months involving improper political activity by his office that is overseen by Harris County Republican Tax Assessor Collector, Leo Vasquez. Harris County is currently being sued for failing to properly process registration applications for thousands of Harris County voters during last November’s election forcing many voters to cast provisional ballots that ultimately were not counted.

Vasquez

Leo Vasquez

Will Leo Vasquez fire Johnson?
Recently appointed Republican Tax Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez is already under fire for conducting a partisan elections office. Earlier this year State Representatives Ana Hernandez and Garnet Coleman detailed partisan actions by his office and called on him to dismiss Ed Johnson.Vasquez has failed to do so. With revelations of Johnson’s work as a paid Republican consultant, Vasquez should be under even greater pressure to fire Johnson and clean up an overtly partisan Republican elections office.

To see as website click here

The Lone Star Project is an activity of the Lone Star Fund.
Contributions or gifts to the Lone Star Fund are not tax deductible.   All contributions are subject to the prohibitions and limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.  Federal Law requires us to use best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer of individuals whose contributions exceed $200 in a calendar year.

Eagles – Pretty Maids All In A Row

Doing my never ending research, I stumbled upon this, for some strange reason. This is by far my favorite from the DVD/CD “Hell Freezes Over.” Just try to get past the horrible quality, but this is very hard to find. Wasn’t even on the CD of the same DVD.
.

Voter ID testimony heats up in Austin

I have links and coverage of the voter ID testimonies from Austin today over the controversial voter ID bill. More than a dozen experts testified, including our own Diane Trautman. Her report here, and the TV coverage here. And the Waco Trib has more here.

Diane passionately pleads,

“Elections must be free from fraud and intimidation, as we encourage full participation by every citizen who is eligible to vote. That should not be a Democratic or Republican value. Having taught ethics and leadership classes to young people, I abhor the cynicism bred by fraud and cheating, but I am concerned that proposed Voter ID legislation won’t do a thing to stop fraud, and it could make it harder for many Texans to vote.”

[…]

“Instead of enacting restrictive measures that keep people from voting, let’s bring our elections system up to 21st century standards to make voting both easier and more secure. Taxpayers have a right to expect at least that much from our government.”

Mark Veasey – (D) Fort Worth sums it up well:

“Can you really sleep with yourself knowing that if this bill passed, that most of the people that would be denied the right to vote are going to be black, brown and poor?”

Ride My Sea-Saw

Old foggies still got it:

Real Time Web

the-webNot sure if that is a “coined” phrase or not, but if not, it’s mine! I’ve been blogging on texaseducation, twittering, and signing up for a few other web thingys, like friendfeed. I seem to like that one the best, so far and I try not to commit to much else, it’s all so overwhelming.  I found the term, “real time web” from a new twitter friend, he uses twitter peep, like that better Jesse Newhart had much to say about twitter and all things twitter.

Real Time Web is something I’ve been a bit fascinated with and sort of keep coming across lately, especially being on twitter. When I tell friends I’m twittering, they usually  reply “what is that?” I sent my sister an invite, and low and behold I found out that when you do that and they sign up, you automatically follow them too…interesting. She signed up, but has yet to tweet something other than that first tweet.

What I have found is, one of the fascinations with twitter is, the “real time web.” Tweeple find out things, new stories, whatcha doing kinds of things, and just about anything else you can type about, in real time. I sometimes think that may be one of the biggest reasons twitter is catching on and becoming so big. But hey, that’s just IMHO.

Also another new phrase, I see constantly popping up on the web is “Social Networking”, and although social networking is possible in person, especially in schools or in the workplace, it is most popular online. Using such things as twitter, facebook, friendfeed, and many others are pretty much considered social networking.

I’ve come a long way from the days of emailing and a list serv that I joined almost a decade ago. Robert Scoble (the Scobleizer) has much to say about where he thinks twitter should go.

I Twitter!!

200px-twitterWikipedia says Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ updates, tweets, which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Updates are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them.

I must say, I was extremely hesitant to start up something else with a website, log-in, another id and password to keep up with, but hey, gotta say…I’m hooked. I’m following TEA, CNN and David Gegory, moderator of Meet the Press (gotta see on Sunday morning, “If it’s Sunday…it’s Meet the Press.” I get updates, I love it. I was also playing around with it and I’m following John Cleese, have always been a big fan. So far, it’s great. I’m keeping up with national news, fun stuff, meeting new friends all across the country. Sure makes you feel good when someone is following you, too!

Just a few Twitter terms:

Tweetaholism – the continued use of Twitter as an addiction that is difficult to control

Tweeter – A user of Twitter (compare: Twitterer).

Tweet – Not only a message on Twitter but another term for a Twitter user (often jokingly mistaken for a Twit).

Tweets – Posts on Twitter by twitterers.

Twittering – To send a Twitter message.

I can be found at Texas Education (my other blog)

Good twittering…