Bill White at Reverchon Park: ‘We need a governor who will treat everybody with respect’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White addresses the media in the gym inside the Reverchon Park Recreation Center in Dallas on Tuesday.

During an Election Day campaign stop at one of Dallas’ most heavily gay precincts, Democrat Bill White made a final plea Tuesday for voters in North Texas to get out to the polls.

Flanked by Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and a dozen volunteers who lined the bleachers behind him, White addressed a handful of TV news crews in the gymnasium at the Reverchon Park Recreation Center.

“We need a governor who will treat everybody with respect and who will cultivate a culture of respect,” White said in response to a question from Dallas Voice about his message to LGBT voters. “The fact is, Rick Perry helps his friends, his friends help Rick Perry. He appeals to a portion of Texans, and there are places within this community, there are places within this state, where Rick Perry has never visited. Yet there are people who are working hard every day, paying taxes, and they’re entitled to be at the table where decisions are made as well. That’s why we’re going to win this election and make some history tonight.”

Earlier, Congresswoman Johnson addressed frustration in the community over a perceived lack of progress on LGBT issues in Washington.

“Staying home doesn’t help at all,” said Johnson, a staunch LGBT ally. “I think instead of staying home, we need to vote harder.”

Asked whether she’s confident about the outcome of her race against Republican Stephen Broden, Johnson said: “If I get a majority, I’ll be so grateful. If I don’t, I’ll retire.”

Neil Emmons, an openly gay former Dallas city plan commissioner who helped organized White’s appearance, said the precinct was a “natural choice” for the event, in part due to its high concentrations of Hispanic and LGBT voters.

“This precinct represents the future of Texas,” Emmons said.

—  John Wright

Eddie Bernice Johnson at Stonewall Democrats, and The DMN’s big Stephen Broden cover-up

We’ve had some difficulty posting the above clip of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson speaking at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas on Tuesday, Oct. 19. Then again, if we had posted it last week as originally intended, we wouldn’t have been able to talk about Republican challenger Stephen Broden’s comments two days later saying that a violent overthrow of the government is “on the table” if this year’s elections don’t produce a change in leadership in Washington. Broden, a member of the Tea Party, told WFAA-TV reporter Brad Watson that a violent overthrow is “not the first option,” but is “on the table.”

“We have a constitutional remedy,” Broden told Watson. “And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

Doesn’t Broden, who’s African-American, realize that if the Tea Party were to take over, racial minorities would be in serious danger? The sad thing is, many in the Tea Party likely agree with Broden. What’s also sad is that The Dallas Morning News had endorsed Broden.

Well, a day later Broden backed away from his comments, and The DMN retracted its endorsement. “In 2010, the only way to bring about change is through the ballot box,” Broden insisted.

The DMN went on to say that its editorial board had decided to withdraw its recommendation of Broden in the race against Johnson, and instead was making no endorsement. Do you mean to tell us that they just now discovered that Broden is a total nutjob? Check out this passage from The DMN’s story:

As Broden’s interview drew more attention, other details of his background emerged Friday.

He confirmed having been arrested in May 2009 outside the White House. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he was praying in a restricted area and was cited for failing to obey a lawful order.

Broden said he was doing so on the National Day of Prayer to protest President Barack Obama’s decision not to mark the day with a public ceremony.

After a series of warnings, Broden and another pastor were arrested. They were released after paying a small fine – “less than $100,” he said.

Wait a second, do you mean to say that The DMN hadn’t been aware that a candidate for MAJOR office has an arrest record? The newspaper conducts backgrounds checks on all candidates, from Congress to school board, but they hadn’t discovered this? Give me a break. They’ve known about it for a long time, but they chose to withhold it from their readers because they supported Broden.

All you have to do is Google Broden’s name and you’ll come up with several stories about his arrest for praying outside the White House during the National Day of Prayer in 2009, in protest of President Barack Obama’s decision not to participate in the event. According to the stories we found about Broden’s arrest, he told the media that one of the reasons for the protest was his opposition to gay marriage:

“We prayed that God would either stay the hand of judgment or quicken the hearts of men and women of faith for them to recognize that they need to come to the streets, they need to come to the public square and make it clear that we are not in favor of same-sex marriage, we are not in favor of this scourge … [of abortion], we are not in favor of the kind of trickery and gamesmanships that are being played in the house of Congress and the house of the Senate. We are fed up, and we are tired of what this nation is doing and what our leaders are doing relative to their role and responsibility for protecting our freedoms.”

—  John Wright

Meet every candidate and their brother at Ojeda’s tonight

With midterm elections exactly two weeks away, and early voting already in full swing, you can bet it’ll be standing room only at Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ monthly general meeting at Ojeda’s tonight. SDD is the largest LGBT political group based in North Texas, and many of its endorsed candidates will undoubtedly be on hand for the last meeting before the Nov. 2 vote. One who’ll definitely be there is Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who’s scheduled to speak. Also addressing the group will be the Dallas Police Deparmtent’s LGBT liaison officer, Laura Martin, and Youth First Texas’ Sam Wilkes. Besides, it’s worth it just for the margaritas.

DEETS: Ojeda’s, 4617 Maple Ave. Dallas. Free. StonewallDemocratsofDallas.com

—  John Wright

Mid-term elections to determine 8 Dallas, Tarrant House seats

Scandal could hurt area’s lone House Democrat, but Johnson still expected to win re-election

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

As the midterm elections grow closer, Republicans are hoping to ride a wave of anti-incumbent sentiment to majorities in both houses of Congress. That would mean hanging on to the seven seats already held by Republican incumbents in Dallas and Tarrant counties, and possibly ousting a longtime Democratic incumbent who has recently been rattled by scandal.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas has held the District 30 seat in the House since 1992 and hasn’t faced a serious challenge to re-election — until this year. In early September, her Republican opponent, Stephen Broden, released documents showing that Johnson had funneled several thousand dollars in Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her own relatives and to the children of one of her top aides.

Johnson has since apologized, repaid the scholarships herself and restructured her committee that allocates scholarship funds. But the scandal has given Broden a seemingly secure foothold in his campaign for what has long been considered an unassailably Democratic seat.

Johnson’s district includes a large LGBT population, and Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said this week that if Broden were to defeat Johnson, it would be a significant blow to those LGBT constituents.

Johnson has long been considered one of the community’s staunchest allies in the U.S. House. She has consistently received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which ranks Congress members based on their votes on LGBT issues.

Johnson has supported federal legislation to ban employment discrimination against LGBT people (ENDA), federal hate crimes laws including LGBT people and efforts to repeal the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military (DADT), according to the nonpartisan website OnTheIssues.org.

She has voted against an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment and a bill that would have banned adoption by gays and lesbians, the website notes.

OnTheIssues.org ranks members of Congress, based on their voting records and stated positions on specific issues, on a spectrum ranging from “hard-core liberal” to “hard-core conservative.” Johnson, according to the website, is a hard-core liberal.

Broden, on the other hand, has publicly stated his opposition to legislation banning anti-LGBT discrimination in employment and to LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation. The candidate recently appeared on The Glenn Beck Show on Fox News, and said that the hate crimes law is “used to knock Christians around and keep them silent, from speaking out in America today,” and that employment non-discrimination legislation is “bullying people and pushing Christians into hiring people they should not hire.”

On his campaign website, Broden lists “Family and Faith” among the issues important to him, saying: “As the family goes so goes the nation. I will fight for policies that strengthen marriage, not destroy it. I firmly believe that our nation was founded on the principles of the Judeo-Christian heritage. These principles are the bedrock of our success as a nation and as a people. Our nation’s traditions of faith are under attack by the forces of political correctness. I intend to reinforce those principles and traditions while serving in our nation’s capitol.”

Moore said this week she expects Johnson to win re-election, but not by as wide of margins as in the past.

“I think he [Broden] is going to hurt her [Johnson],” Moore said. “I don’t think he will win, but he will hurt her. She has had 80 percent to 100 percent approval ratings [from her constituents] all along, but I think this race will be a wake-up call for her.”

Moore acknowledged that Johnson “has surely made some mistakes,” but said Stonewall Democrats are still endorsing her re-election bid.

“She has been an exemplary representative for her district and for civil rights through the years, and we still strongly endorse her. But this [scandal] is a big chink in her armor, and she needs to get out there and work to win some voters back,” Moore said.

Libertarian J.B. Oswalt is also running for the District 30 seat. Moore said she knows nothing about Oswalt, or any of the Libertarian candidates on the ballot, and Dallas Voice was unable to find a website for Oswalt.

According to CampaignMoney.com, as of the latest reporting deadline, he had not raised any campaign donations, nor had he reported any campaign expenditures.

District 3
Republican Rep. Sam Johnson has held the District 3 seat in Texas’ Congressional delegation since he was first sent to Washington in a special election in 1991, and like his Democratic colleague in District 30, has rarely faced any serious opposition to his re-election.

Moore, however, said Democratic candidate John Lingenfelder is putting up a good fight this year.

District 3 has been called “the most Republican district” in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex — the office having been held by a Republican since 1968 — and Sam Johnson has been one of the most conservative lawmakers in Congress during his 20 years in office.

He has consistently received a score of 0 percent from HRC, having voted against ENDA, against hate crimes legislation and against the repeal of DADT. He has voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and in favor of a bill that would have banned adoption by same-sex couples in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his 0 percent rating by HRC, Sam Johnson has received a 7 percent rating on civil rights issues by the ACLU, an 11 percent rating by the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

OnTheIssues.org classifies Johnson as a “hard-core conservative.”

“Sam Johnson is pretty vehement on our issues, and he is vehemently against us,” Moore said. “Still, he’s not one of the ones who is out there authoring or championing legislation against us. He just always votes against us. He is pretty much just a seat warmer.”

Lingenfelder asked for and received Stonewall’s endorsement, and Moore said he is “a good guy who’s running a pretty good campaign. But like always, beating an incumbent will be hard, especially in some of the outlying regions of the district.”

She added, “We always try to do what we can to support a Democrat running against an entrenched Republican like Sam Johnson, the kind who aren’t really moving toward anything but are just holding the ground they have.”

The Libertarian in the District 3 race is Christopher J. Claytor of Plano. On his website, Claytor says he is “habitually devoted to the principles that the United States was founded on: personal freedom, individual responsibility and limited government as stated in the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights.”

His primary focus is promoting “fiscal responsibility and smaller government,” and according to his website, Claytor is “socially tolerant, desiring that every American should be able to live their life the way they want, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same.”

District 5
Republican incumbent Jeb Hensarling faces challenges from Democrat Tom Berry and Libertarian Ken Ashby in his bid for re-election in District 5.

Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Berry in that race. But, Moore said, “I haven’t seen a lot out of his campaign, and I’m really not willing to comment on that one.”

Berry’s website includes no information on LGBT issues, focusing instead on Berry’s call to “put America back to work.”

Hensarling is another Texas Republican with a consistent 0 percent rating from HRC. He also earned a 17 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

He has voted against ENDA, against the hate crimes law and for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment. OnTheIssues.org describes Hensarling as a hard-core conservative.

Ashby lives in Plano, but Dallas Voice was unable to locate a website for the Libertarian candidate. CampaignMoney.com lists no donations to or campaign expenditures by Ashby.

District 6
District 6 has long been a Republican stronghold, with Rep. Joe Barton winning re-election easily in every election since he first took the seat in 1984, following Republican Phil Gramm who left the House to campaign for — and win — one of Texas’ two seats in the Senate.

But his comments to BP CEO Tony Hayward during a congressional hearing on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in which Barton apologized to Hayward for the Obama administration’s “shakedown” of the company, may have opened the door to his opponents this time around — at least a tiny crack.

OnTheIssues.org ranks Barton has a hard-core conservative, and his votes on LGBT issues have always shored up his conservative credentials. He voted against ENDA, against repeal of DADT and against hate crimes legislation, and for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Barton has a 0 percent ranking from HRC, a 7 percent ranking from the ACLU, a 19 percent ranking from the NAACP and a 0 percent ranking from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

David Cozad, his Democratic opponent, has the endorsement of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. A spokesman for the group said Tarrant County Stonewall had endorsed the full slate of Democratic candidates, but was not actively working for Congressional candidates because “we are a state PAC, so there are limits to what we can do for federal candidates.”

Cozad’s website does not include information on LGBT issues.

Libertarian Byron Severns is also challenging Barton. Severns’ website does not include information on LGBT issues, but does note that he is pro-life and advocates for the reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.

CampaignMoney.com lists no donations or campaign expenditures for Severns.

District 12
Rep. Kay Granger became the first Republican woman to represent Texas in the U.S. House when she won her first term in Congress in 1996. Her only serious challenge to re-election came in 2000 against Democrat Mark Greene.

Like other North Texas Republicans, OnTheIssues.org ranks Granger as a hard-core conservative, and HRC has consistently given her a 0 percent rating on LGBT issues. She has received a 14 percent ranking from the ACLU and a 22 percent ranking from the NAACP.

Granger has voted against ENDA, hate crimes legislation and repeal of DADT, and she voted for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

Granger faces Democrat Tracey Smith and Libertarian Matthew Solodow in the 2010 election.
Smith also has the endorsement of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats, but his website includes no information on LGBT issues.

Solodow also does not address LGBT issues on his website.

District 24
Republican incumbent Kenny Marchant has no Democratic challenger in the general election, but does face opposition from Libertarian David Sparks.

Marchant, who lives in Coppell, won the District 24 seat in 2004 from longtime incumbent Democrat Martin Frost after the district was significantly reconfigured by the Texas Legislature in 2003. Marchant was in the Texas House and serving on the Redistricting Committee at the time District 24 was redrawn.

Since being elected to Congress, Marchant has voted against ENDA, against the hate crimes law and in favor of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

He has been given a 0 percent rating by HRC, a 22 percent rating by the NAACP and a 0 percent rating by Americans for Separation of Church and State. OnTheIssues.org calls Marchant a hard-core conservative.

Sparks is a minister who lives in Carrollton, and according to his website the primary issues of his campaign are “lower taxes, less government and more personal liberty.” However, his website also describes him as “an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values.”

District 26
Democrat Neil L. Durrance of Denton is challenging incumbent Republican Michael C. Burgess in District 26, and Moore said the Democrat is “a good guy with a good record in Denton County.”

Durrance is “a very strong candidate, and he has a really good chance in this election,” Moore said.
She said Stonewall Democrats have endorsed Durrance in the race.

Burgess first won the District 26 seat in 2004 after defeating Scott Armey in a Republican Primary runoff. Scott Armey was the son of longtime District 26 Congressman Dick Armey and was expected to win the race, however local media reports that he had used his influence to get county jobs and contracts for his friends.

Burgess has carried on Dick Armey’s congressional legacy of being an opponent of LGBT rights, voting against ENDA and for the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.

He has a 0 percent rating from HRC, a 36 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

OnTheIssues.org describes Burgess as a hard-core conservative.

Libertarian Mark Boler is also running for the District 26 seat. Dallas Voice was unable to find a website for Boler’s campaign, and CampaignMoney.com lists no donations and no campaign expenditures for him.

District 32
Incumbent Republican Pete Sessions faces Democrat Grier Raggio and Libertarian John Jay Myers in his bid for re-election in District 32, and Moore called the possibility of a Democratic win in that race “the holy grail.”

“We keep trying to win that one, and trying hard,” Moore said. “There have been some more or less significant candidates running in that district, but Sessions is still there.”

Moore said Raggio has “a good name and a significant history in Texas politics, and I really hope we do pull that one out. It would be cause for celebration, for sure.”

Raggio is an attorney whose parents were also attorneys well known for their work in civil rights. His mother, Louise, was a national leader in winning equal rights for women, and his wife, Lorraine, is a civil district judge in Dallas County.

Moore said that Stonewall Demo-crats have endorsed Raggio, adding that “there are three levels of candidates that we endorse. There are the advocates who really get out there and fight for us. There are the allies who vote with us but don’t initiate legislation on our behalf. And then there are the ‘do no harm’ candidates, the ones who don’t fight for us or always vote with us, but who don’t fight against us, either.

“Grier Raggio is certainly not a liberal. He is very moderate in a lot of ways, but he has been very supportive of Stonewall Democrats, and he has been supportive of our fiscally supportive issues like ENDA,” Moore continued. “When it comes to [same-sex marriage], he is a middle-of-the-roader, someone who supports civil unions but not marriage. But given that district, he is probably the only kind of Democrat who could possibly win. And given who is in there now, I will gladly wear a Raggio sign ’til Election Day if that will get him elected.”

Sessions was first elected to Congress in 1996 as the District 5 representative, and was re-elected twice before redistricting in 2000 made that district more Democratic. He then moved to District 32 and won that congressional seat in 2002.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Sessions has consistently voted against LGBT issues, including ENDA, DADT repeal and hate crimes legislation. He has voted in favor of the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Sessions has gotten a 0 percent rating from HRC, a 7 percent rating from the ACLU, an 8 percent rating from the NAACP and a 0 percent rating from Americans for Separation of Church and State.

Sessions has, in the past year, appeared at meetings of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, and last month received an award from the national Log Cabin Republicans organization for “serving [the] country with distinction in the model of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater.” Sessions had agreed to attend Log Cabin’s national dinner, at which the award was presented, but canceled shortly before the dinner in order to attend a House GOP Caucus meeting.

Myers, on his website, does not specifically address LGBT issues, but lists “personal freedom” as one of his priorities.

“Any government that dictates morality and invades privacy is not a small government,” Myers’ website says.

“What part of America being a free country do they not understand?”

Although not specifically mentioning same-sex marriage, Myers does address the issue of marriage in general on his website:

“The reality is that marriage is none of government’s business. People do not have to ask permission to get married; it’s their right to do so with whomever they please, whenever they please. When we surrender the power of marriage to government by asking for their permission, we give them the power to deny our rights, just as recently happened in Louisiana when a couple was denied a marriage license on account of their skin color. We should never give power over marriage to government. People are free to retain that power themselves,” his website says.

Anti-Democrat wave?

Although Republicans are hoping to ride the energy of the Tea Party movement to majorities in both houses of Congress, Moore said this week she thinks the idea of voters being anti-Democratic or anti-incumbent are too simplistic.

“I don’t think it’s anti-Democratic, and I don’t think it’s anti-incumbent,” Moore said. “I think it’s anti-inheritance. And by that, I mean that the ones who have held their seats forever and done nothing will get ousted. … People are really paying attention now, and they are not giving anyone a free pass anymore. If you are an incumbent who’s doing a good job, you’ll be OK. But if you have been just a seat warmer, then you are in trouble.”

Rob Schlein, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Dallas, did not return calls seeking comment for this article.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Broden makes his position on LGBT issues clear

Stephen Broden is running for Congress against Eddie Bernice Johnson. He is the Republican even though his web site and campaign literature mention “Tea Party” but do not say “Republican Party.”

After we mentioned in a previous post that Broden’s literature uses anti-gay buzz words, John Charles McKee pointed us to the above clip of Broden on Glenn Beck’s show, where he was quite specific about what he thinks about equality for gays and lesbians. The 30th district includes a large LGBT population.

Broden states his opposition to hate crime legislation that includes the LGBT community and to employment non-discrimination. Here’s what he says toward the end of the above clip:

BRODEN: I just want to beg to differ with my colleagues there. I think the failure of pastors to take the lead in this issue — on these issues is the reason why we are seeing the kind of problems or melees that we’re seeing in our culture today.

In addition to that, I want to introduce my friend to the idea of hate crime legislation, introduce them to the idea of a 501(C)(3) that is used to knock Christians around and keep them silent, from speaking out in America today.

I want to introduce them to the idea of ENDA, which is Employment Non-Discrimination, which is bullying people and pushing Christians into hiring people that they should not hire.

McKee wrote to us, “It’s vital for both our community and decent people everywhere that Stephen Broden is not just dog whistling anti-gay policies, he has stated his desire for the gay community to be persecuted by Christians flat out.”

The Morning News endorsed Broden on Monday. The basis of the endorsement is their disenchantment with Johnson who funneled scholarship money to relatives. Broden’s hatred of the district’s huge LGBT community did not figure into their endorsement. They wrote:

He pastors a small mission church near Fair Park, whose goal is to transform the lives of pimps, prostitutes and addicts. Having seen the district’s needs from the ground up, he believes much more could be done to create jobs and stability.

Apparently The DMN believes those jobs for pimps should come from the LGBT community.

—  David Taffet

Broden’s campaign literature includes anti-gay buzz words but not his party affiliation

Pastor Stephen Broden with Karl Rove

This morning I had campaign literature for Pastor Stephen Broden hanging on my front door when I left the house. He’s running for Congress against incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson. (I include the title “Pastor” in his name because he does so in the literature.)

I assume Broden is running on the Republican ticket, because his yard signs are red and Johnson is a Democrat. But in his campaign literature he never mentions the R word. Understandable in the heavily Democratic Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn district. But on his website he does mention Tea Party.

On his website, among his list of supporters are a number of people marked “precinct chair.” None of them are listed as “Republican precinct chair,” however.

Broden uses anti-gay buzz phrases to boost his conservative cred. He’s “pro-family” as if he’s campaigning against someone who hates her family.

He’s for a “strong national defense.” Is he talking about keeping a gay translator like Lt. Dan Choi in the military or would that weaken defense? He can’t be talking about Johnson’s House vote for the huge defense appropriations bill that failed to make it through the Senate yesterday because of a Republican filibuster. Note to Broden: Waterboarding might make prisoners talk, but it doesn’t make them talk in English.

He’s for vouchers, so he can send his children to schools that won’t allow gays and lesbians to send their children to those schools. Funny, a few years ago, most Texas schools would have kept his kids out.

His No. 1 reason under “Why I’m running” is “Concern over the turn from founding principles & Judeo-Christian values to socialism.” But he never says which “Judeo-Christian” principles those would be. Probably not the Judeo ones that are quite Socialist. Like commandments about caring for the poor, the sick and treating others as you would be treated — you know, equality.

On issues, he’s pro-10th amendment. That’s the states’ rights amendment. The one that was used to justify slavery is some states since the federal government didn’t prohibit it. The one used to deny blacks the right to vote, since how to register voters was not enumerated in the Constitution and so it was left to the states. Interesting position for an African-American candidate to take.

But I found his omission of affiliation with his party the most interesting part of his door hanger and website. An Independent would actually have a better chance to win that district, but he is the Republican candidate in House District 30.

I’m glad Johnson has an opponent. I’ve lived in her district since she was my Oak Cliff state representative. But no one should be running unopposed. They should have to stand up and defend their record. But candidates should be honest and list their party. Using red ink on printed materials is a wink, wink.

More information you won’t find on his website. Yesterday, Sarah Palin endorsed Broden. On her Facebook page, Palin wrote:

It’s an honor to support Stephen Broden to represent Texas’ 30th Congressional District. As a teacher and pastor he has made it his life’s work to support the good people of the Fair Park and South Dallas areas in the beautiful Lone Star State.

I’m not sure what good a Palin endorsement will do someone in a district that was packed more than 80 percent Democratic in the last redistricting. A better question might be: Why was I reading Sarah Palin’s Facebook page?

—  David Taffet

Dallas congresswoman, staunch LGBT ally says scholarship violations were unintentional

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Dallas Democrat, could face action by the House ethics committee following the revelation that she has, since 2005, awarded more than $25,000 in scholarship funds from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to her own relatives and the relatives of a staff member.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Johnson has given a total of 23 scholarships to two of her own grandsons, two of her own great-nephews and to the children of Rob Givens, one of her aides. The Morning News said Johnson initially defended her choices in awarding the scholarship funds. But in a statement released by her office on Monday, Aug. 30, Johnson apologized for what she said was an inadvertent violation of the rules and pledged to reimburse the funds immediately.

Her statement said:

“I am proud of the work that I have done for the 30th District of Texas. As a public servant, I have vowed to represent my constituents to the best of my ability.

“I have never and never planned to restrict my help to only Texans who reside in my district. My district lines have constantly changed and since I am the only Democrat in the entire North Texas Region, surrounded by Republicans, I have made myself accessible for nearly two decades. Much of my district office casework benefits people outside my constituency. While I am not ashamed of helping, I did not intentionally mean to violate any rules in the process — CBCF Scholarship Rules in particular.

“As previously stated, I was unaware of being in any type of violation and never intentionally violated the CBCF’s rules. Further, to rectify this matter immediately, I will reimburse the funds by the end of this week. Additionally, I have reinstituted a non-biased third party objective review committee to evaluate applications and put forth recommendations for future CBCF Scholarships. Going forward, this will eliminate conflicts of interest and consistently remain in compliance with CBCF Scholarship Rules.

“At present, I am home convalescing from major surgery. However, I am diligently working to resolve these issues as they are very important to me.”

Johnson has long been known as an ally of the LGBT community and has consistently scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, which rates legislators based on how they vote on LGBT issues. She has voted in favor of banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and including protections for LGBT people in the federal hate crimes law. She has also voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

In addition, Johnson co-sponsored several pro-LGBT bills, including one that would equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners and other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries,  and one that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the same immigration benefits as legal spouses of U.S. permanent residents

—  admin

Gay supporter of Eddie Bernice Johnson says HRC's apology for false e-mail not enough

I just received an e-mail from James Nowlin of Dallas, a steering committee member for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s re-election campaign, about the Human Rights Campaign’s e-mail this morning which erroneously said Johnson voted against repealing “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Needless to say, Nowlin is not amused about the gaffe, which HRC has chalked up to a “technological glitch.” I’ve posted Nowlin’s full statement after the jump, but in short he says that in making the error HRC “kicked a true ally.” He adds that, “In the battle for human rights, there is little room for error,” and that, “A simple apology is not enough.”

“My hope is that HRC will understand the seriousness of its error. HRC’s goal should be to win and keep allies, not to mistakenly sully their reputations,” wrote Nowlin, who is a member of HRC’s DFW Federal Club.

Also, I’ve learned that constituents of Illinois Congressman Tim Johnson, who did in fact vote against DADT repeal, may have been on the other end of the glitch. Tim Johnson’s constituents reportedly received e-mails from HRC asking them to thank him for the vote in support of equality. And from what I gather, Tim Johnson’s gay supporters are equally miffed because the e-mail has given people the false impression that he isn’t anti-gay. Oops.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: HRC apologizes for saying Eddie Bernice Johnson voted against DADT repeal

I’m assuming I was not alone in receiving the below e-mail this morning from Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese saying that Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, voted against repealing “Don’t ask don’t tell” last month on the House floor. I’m guessing that the message went out to everyone on HRC’s e-mail list who lives in Johnson’s district. But HRC’s e-mail is wrong! Johnson didn’t vote against DADT repeal; she voted for it. You can see records of her vote by going here or here. Johnson is a longtime, staunch LGBT ally who scores a 100 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for her support of LGBT equality. In short, there’s no way she would vote against DADT repeal. So why would HRC send out this message? I’m still trying to find out, but right now I’m guessing that it’s a computer error. There are four members of Congress with the surname Johnson, two of whom voted against DADT repeal, including Republican Sam Johnson of Texas. I’ve left messages with HRC spokesman Michael Cole, but I haven’t heard back. I’ve also called Eddie Bernice Johnson’s communications director, but was told to call back a little later as everyone was in a staff meeting. I’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: I just received a message from HRC spokesman Fred Sainz apologizing for the error. Here’s what he said:

“Representative Johnson did in fact vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The email that was sent out this morning incorrectly stated her vote and was a technological glitch for which we have apologized. Our president, Joe Solmonese, has placed a call to the Congresswoman to apologize and we have been in touch with both her congressional and district office staffs to let them know that a corrected email will be going out shortly.

“Representative Johnson has consistently scored 100% on the HRC Congressional Scorecard. She has been a consistent supporter of issues important to the LGBT community and we applaud her for her vote to allow gay and lesbian servicemembers to serve openly and honorably in the United States military.”

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—  John Wright

Where are the voices of our straight political allies in Texas on 'don't ask don't tell'?

OK, so this is really one of those Facebook status updates that’s morphed into a blog post. So to my FB friends who’ve already seen it, I apologize for the redundancy. And for everyone else, keep in mind that it’s nothing but an overblown status update, but anyway here goes …

Where are the voices of our straight political allies in Texas calling for the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”? Has anyone heard a peep from any of them? I haven’t. Have you? Now is the time. This to me is a defining moment in our struggle for equality, and the outcome may be decided in the next few days. Where are Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee and Eddie Bernice Johnson? Hell, where is Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White? Sure, our allies in Congress will vote for the repeal when it comes to the floor, but shouldn’t we be hearing their voices loud and clear at this critical juncture?

—  John Wright