Noriega News: Fair and Balanced?

Following the Noriega/Watts race, I’ve noticed a bias that concerns me.

Take the article about Rick Noriega and Swift Boat funder Bob Perry that just appeared today. Do you think we’re going to see a real debate among the Texas bloggers about the implications of this?

The problem is that the “powers that be” decided a long time ago that Noriega can do no wrong. We saw that with the recent flap over the speech he gave where he said bloggers were “damaging to the political culture in this country.” They crucified the reporter who wrote about it for his paper and instead made excuses for Noriega and accepted his explanation that he didn’t write the speech and was too tired to read it before delivering it.

Now we have the news that Bob Perry has funded Rick (and his wife has gotten even more cash from Perry and I am wondering why all the bloggers, who would normally crucify someone who took money from Bob “Swift Boat” Perry and basically insured this country 4 more years of Bush, remain silent. At the very least, why aren’t they calling their handpicked candidate on the carpet over this?

And here’s the kicker, the same staffer who wrote Rick’s speech bashing liberal blogs went on record saying that Perry started giving to Rick after Katrina, even though the Ft. Worth Star Telegram article makes clear that is not true.

For example, on 10/15/2004, Perry gave Noriega $1,500.00(PDF). The next day, Perry gave the Swift Boaters $1,550,000(PDF).

We’ve got to hold all of our candidates up to scrutiny, even the ones we draft.

Especially the ones we draft, at least those bloggers who did draft Noriega, as they are in the majority, but it wasn’t unanimous.

What will the current gatekeepers of the Texas blogosphere do?

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • With respect to your perception of bias, Hugh at Brazos Democrats is expressing the same concern and so is Texas Iconoclast at Northwest Democrats of Bexar County and Texas Democratic Party Activist in the comments at Bruin Democrats.

    But I wish we could focus on the good news instead of focusing on the biased blogurgitation of the spin which will, ultimately, only benefit Cornyn.

    There is a cool Noriega video where he says “we knew that the Petraeus Report was going to show that the surge operations had not been successful.” I have been waiting for someone to say this.

    There is also a great new Watts video where he says “universal health care is the moral issue of our day … The question is not whether we can do it, it’s whether we have the will to do it.” This is one of a few very critical issues for me so I’m glad to hear one of our candidates endorsing universal health care so strongly.

    Is there lots of bias out there among bloggers who cannot even tell you where their chosen candidate stands on 90% of the issues? Sure. But there is also lots of good news from and about our candidates.

  • Team Watts may want to rethink heading down this road. A glaring omission in today’s Star-Telegram piece was that while Watts has been a generous donor to Democratic causes, he has given substantial sums – well into six figures in the last couple of years — to Republican causes.

    Mikal Watts has attempted to mask many of these donations to Republicans by running them through a PAC — the Good Government PAC — which is funded almost exclusively by his law firm, and by filtering them through another entity. In particular we’re talking about HillCo Partners, Tom Craddick’s consultant. Between 2004 and 2005, Watts’ PAC gave at least $100K to HillCo (more, we might add, than Bob Perry gave during this time), which then gave substantial sums to Tom Craddick, Rick Perry and a number of other Republicans.

    Since 2004, Watt’s PAC has also given substantial sums directly to GOP officials, including $40K to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, $15K to Atty Gen. Greg Abbott, and $5K to then-State Rep. Talmadge Heflin (who, readers may recall, tried to steal the election from his opponent Hubert Vo), who is now the Executive Director of the Texas Republican Party.

    So which is worse, taking $7K from Bob Perry (though it’s had no discernable impact on Noriega’s voting record), or giving $175K to incumbent Republicans in Texas? Again, do the Watts people really want to go down this road?

  • How can Noriega supporters get their panties in a twist over Watts’ donations to a PAC which gave money to Republicans?

    The facts can be confirmed through the Texas Ethics Commission Campaign Finance Reports, the Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Reports, and websites such as FollowTheMoney.Org and OpenSecrets.Org.

    Watts has given more dollars to bi-partisan Political Action Committees (mostly the Good Government PAC) which conveyed some of Watts’ money to Republicans, but Noriega has given a higher percentage of his money to Political Action Committees (mostly Reliant Energy PAC and Centerpoint Energy PAC) which conveyed some of Noriega’s money to Republicans.

    How do those facts provide any basis to condemn one of our candidates but valorize our other candidate?

    Former Rep. Vilma Luna (a Democrat) will tell anyone who wishes to ask about the Good Government PAC, which had an address at the office that she and Watts shared. Luna says that the PAC solicited money from Democrats and Republicans on the promise that the donations would also be bi-partisan and that she gave advice as to which Republicans were at least willing to work with Democrats and those are the Republicans who received some funds from the bi-partisan PAC. The PAC’s donations to HillCo are hardly surprising in that they occurred when Luna left the Texas Legislature and went to work for HillCo.

    It is worth noting that, according to the Texas Ethics Commission Campaign Finance Reports and the Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Reports, HillCo makes bi-partisan donations (including donations to Noriega) and gives a much higher percentage of its contributions to Democrats than either Reliant Energy PAC and Centerpoint Energy PAC.

    How does this issue reflect poorly on one candidate but not the other?

  • Bob “Swift Boat” Perry helped usher four more year of George Bush by attacking a combat veteran’s record. The Bush Administration is the most damaging presidency in our history. We will be repairing his damage for decades to come.

    The Noriega Family has continued to take thousands of dollars of Perry money even AFTER he swiftboated John Kerry. How do you explain that?

    ANYONE? Don’t try to explain by talking about the other guy. Explain why you took Perry’s money.


  • It’s amusing to be admonished to keep positive about what is inherently a negative story.

    Our quick review of the TEC filings showed that the overwhelming funding source for the Good Government PAC was the Watts Law Firm, not a bunch of bipartisan contributers.

    No one is suggesting that the PAC gave exclusively to Republicans, the facts show indeed most of the money went to Democrats. The Telegram piece, however, failed to qualify its characterization of Watts as a generous contributor to Democrats. While Watts does mostly give to Democrats, he has given quite substantial sums to Republicans over the last few years, including (through HillCo) Tom Craddick and Rick Perry, neither of whom could be considered “bipartisan” these days.

    Similarly, while Rick Noriega did receive a modest sum from Bob Perry, it is a tiny percentage of the overall contributions he’s received. Additionally, Noriega’s contributions to the Centerpoint PAC, were tiny in comparison to Watts’s donations. By omitting these important qualifiers about both candidates, the Telegram piece was decidedly one-sided in our judgment, and thus likely spoon-fed from the Watts campaign.

    We’re all for staying positive, but we’re also interested in the full truth.

  • Noriega Stands Up For Netroots
    By: Jane Hamsher

    When Rick Noriega appeared here the other day to talk about a rather unflattering comment he made comparing the liberal blogs to right wing talk radio, one of the concerns people had was whether he would stand up for the bloggers who supported him when given the chance. And when the head of the Texas GOP Hans Klingler was talkin’ predictable trash, Rick did:

    read the rest at FDL

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