Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Texas Ethics Commission - Time to Reboot?

The Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) was established in 1992 to ensure
fair, consistent, and tough enforcement of campaign finance, lobby, and other ethics laws.

TEC’s Key objectives are outlined in Chapter 571 of the Texas Government Code:

  1. Control and reduce the cost of elections.
  2. Eliminate opportunities for undue influence over elections and government actions.
  3. Disclose fully information related to expenditures and contributions for elections and for petitioning the government.
  4. Enhance the potential for individual participation in electoral and governmental processes and
  5. Ensure the public’s confidence and trust in the government. 

In 2014 the Legislature increased TEC’s funding in order to roll out a new electronic filing system that was described as an
“intuitive …system that will provide feedback for clearly wrong entries to help reduce filing errors…result in more accurate information for the public. The new electronic filing system will contain comprehensive management tools, including a robust database that will allow the Commission to verify the completeness and accuracy of disclosure information.”
And of course, the new system required new tax-funded staff positions to provide more robust training and enforcement. 

It sounded good at the time. The TEC using advanced technology to keep track of electronic filings by candidates made sense. After all, computers are great at mundane tasks such as making sure reports are filed on time and checking basic math.

But, a closer look…a look at an actual candidate in 2016…shows TEC’s expensive new technology and staff are NOT catching even the most basic noncompliance issues.

Thus, the TEC is NOT ensuring full disclosure of campaign finances.

Example: Judge Elaine Palmer – Harris County 215th Civil District Court 

Elaine Palmer was elected Judge of the Harris Count 215th Civil District Court in 2012.

She is currently running for re-election. She was on the ballot in both the 2016 Democrat Primary and the Democrat Primary Run-off. She won the run-off and is now on the 2016 General Election ballot.

As a current office holder, and a currently opposed candidate, she is required by law to file numerous campaign financial reports by specific dates throughout the year. 


In July of 2015, Judge Palmer did not file her semi-annual report with the TEC.
What did TEC do about it?


In January of 2016, Judge Palmer did not file another semi-annual report with the TEC. What did TEC do about it? 


In February of 2016, Judge Palmer failed to file her “30 days before the Primary Election” report. What did TEC do about it? 


In February of 2016, Judge Palmer failed to file her “8 days before the Primary Election” report. What did TEC do about it?


In May of 2016, Judge Palmer failed to file her “Run-off Election” report. What did TEC do about it? 


In July of 2016, Judge Palmer failed to file yet another semi-annual report. What did TEC do about it? 


In short – a current office holder and candidate did not report anything about her campaign finances for over a year before the election, during her primary election, or during her primary run-off....

And the TEC, the government agency whose duty is to ensure FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE of candidate expenditures and contributions did NOTHING…


Judge Palmer’s reporting issues don’t end there.

In September of 2016, six months after the primary election, Judge Palmer finally filed late reports going back to 2015.

That same day she filed a “FINAL REPORT.”

That’s right….a current officeholder…and currently opposed candidate…filed a “FINAL REPORT” ending her campaign reporting right in the middle of the General Election!
“I do not expect any further political contributions or political expenditures in connection with my candidacy. I understand that designating a report as a final report terminates my campaign treasurer appointment. I also understand that I may not accept any campaign contributions or make any campaign expenditures without a campaign treasurer appointment on file.”

According to TEC records, since terminating her campaign treasurer on 5/14/16, Judge Palmer has still not filed a new treasurer appointment ….

and yet…

She has claimed over $26,000 in new campaign contributions, while continuing to list her terminated treasurer on her reports, and not having a current campaign treasurer appointment on file with the TEC.

And that’s still not the end of Judge Palmer’s reporting issues.

Two PACs reported Judge Elaine Palmer Campaign contributions to the TEC that Judge Palmer did NOT report.

The Harris County Democrat Party reported receiving $1,000 from The Elaine Palmer Campaign on August 3, 2016. But Judge Palmer did not report that contribution on her campaign financial report. 

The Texans for Good Leaders PAC reported making the following contributions to the Elaine Palmer Campaign
   $5,000   on   2/18/16
 $10,000   on   2/25/16
   $1,000   on   7/18/16
But Judge Palmer did not report receiving these three contributions totaling $16,000 on her campaign reports.

And the math Judge Palmer used in her report covering 2/21/16 thru 5/14/16 doesn’t add up either.

Starting cash on hand
$     8,233.17
$       8,233.17
Monetary Contributions
   +  9,350.00
     +  9,350.00
Total Expenditures
   - 34,055.00
     - 34,055.00

Ending Cash on Hand
$        964.92
$  (16,471.83)

A discrepancy of over $16,000…yet again…no red flags by the TEC’s new electronic reporting system and expert staff? The ones the Legislature was told wouldallow the Commission to verify the completeness and accuracy of disclosure information?

As a taxpayer, I find the lack of public disclosure being allowed by the TEC very disturbing.

In Summary

The TEC has been entrusted to ensure the public’s confidence in our government by ensuring full disclosure by candidates in Texas elections. 

The TEC “self- reported” to the Legislature that the TEC works hard to ensurefair, consistent, and tough enforcement of campaign finance, lobby, and other ethics laws.

The TEC purchased a state of the art technology system that they claimed would "allow the Commission to verify the completeness and accuracy of disclosure information.

Yet, one candidate breaks multiple compliance rules:

  1. Fails to file campaign reports for over a year 
  2. Fails to file any reports during a Primary Election
  3. Fails to file any reports during a Run-off Election
  4. Files a FINAL REPORT during a General Election and then continues to receive campaign donations
  5. Accepts over $26,000 without a current treasurer on file
  6. Fails to report $17,000 in donations reported to the TEC by PACs
  7. Math errors totaling over $16,000

And the TEC does NOTHING….

.......ABSOLUTELY NOTHING…. to inform the voters.

The TEC did not place Judge Palmer on their “delinquent filer list in 2015 or 2016.

The TEC did not have Judge Palmer’s campaign report issues on any meeting agenda during 2015 or 2016…and...

The TEC do not have Judge Palmer on their sworn complaint order list for 2015 or 2016...

...even after I personally filed sworn complaints concerning Judge Palmer's lack of campaign reporting.

So next week, Harris County voters will go to the polls not knowing a very important fact... 

...the fact that a candidate for the 215th District Civil Judge….a position which imposes penalties on others who do not live up to their responsibilities….completely ignores her own legal responsibilities in campaign reporting.

They will not have the facts because the Texas Ethics Commission is incapable of detecting simple, basic violations of campaign finance reporting laws….even with the newest technology and additional staff.

As a taxpayer, it makes no sense to me for Texans to continue funding the TEC. We should cut our losses, admit the TEC is a complete failure, and turn the responsibility of ensuring complete and accurate campaign reporting over to someone who IS capable of doing this important job for Texas.

Preferably a commission elected by the people of Texas. A commission which answers directly to us. So when they don't do their job, we can vote them out of office.

Colleen Vera

Friday, September 9, 2016

4th Grade Propaganda in Texas

Why should Texas parents read their child’s homework assignments?

Just ask Harris County ESD9 Commissioner, Scott Debour.

His 4th grade son, who attends Moore Elementary in Cy-Fair ISD, brought home this “writing” assignment yesterday.

Simple enough…read a passage and find the errors in capitalization, punctuation, spelling and grammar.

No problem, until his dad read the passage…

…and found “writing” being used to push the liberal animal rights agenda on his 4th grade son.

You can read the full passage here.

Or read just a few lines…and you will get the idea…

  • If you ask me, I believe zoos should close…
  • “Another example of mistreatment at zoos is the chimps…”
  • “Another chimp named Mimi knows over 300 words in sign language. She’s as smart as a 2 year old. So if chimps are kept in zoos, why aren’t toddlers…”
  • “That’s why I believe all zoos are not animal friendly and should be closed down.

Does Cy-Fair ISD really think the Houston Zoo, the closest zoo to Moore Elementary, is a horrible place for animals?

Because most Houstonians would describe it as a wonderful zoo.

Not only are the animals living in natural habitats

…the zoo keepers work hard to keep the animals stimulated. 
Watch the clever way the African lions are fed at the Houston Zoo:

The Houston Zoo also offer a variety of hands-on animal encounters for kids…Animal encounters which could never be matched with just a picture or film.

What can Texas parents do?

First, make an appointment with your child’s teacher to preview the materials which will be used this school year. If you find assignments you feel are inappropriate for you child, request an “alternate assignment.” One in which your child learns the same skills, without the left wing bias.

Second, read the assignments your child brings home. If you still find issues, you can work your way up the chain of command – the school principal, curriculum director, superintendent, school board – but that could take months.

If you want faster results, read the problematic lessons to the school board during public testimony at their monthly meetings. Then send the lessons to your State Representative and State Senator so they have examples of the left wing lessons being taught in Texas public schools.

If you would like to voice your opinion on this anti-zoo lesson to the Cy-Fair ISD leadership, contact information is below:

Board President, Darcy Mingoia: board@cfisd.net
Superintendent, Mark Henry:  mark.henry@cfisd.net
Phone: 281-897-4077

Colleen Vera

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

HCDE Declares War on Texas Taxpayers

Since the video surfaced of HCDE’s superintendent outlining his battle plan AGAINST the taxpayers, Texans deserve to know exactly who declared war on them….

It is the two obsolete county school boards left over from 100 years ago when counties operated Texas public schools:

1. Dallas County School Trusteesdba-DCS,Texserve
2. Harris County School Trusteesdba-HCDE,Choice Partners

All other counties in Texas quit electing County School Trustees after all their students moved to Independent School Districts. 

But these two dinosaurs have refused to close.

They continue to operate and tax under a loophole (TEC 11.301) even after the laws governing county schools were repealed in 1995.

The archaic 1930s county school property tax they still collect is called the “equalization tax.“ It was supposed to be used for the public schools in the county. Instead, they use most of it for themselves.

Why should the average Texan care?

Becasue in recent years, these two have developed a new 
“Texas government business model.”

They use public funds from property taxes, fees and bonds to start-up, purchase, and/or operate business enterprises – 
everything from cloud computing to charter bus services.

They aren’t limiting these business enterprises to their own counties. They are selling “services” across the US


because both are actually leftover “county school districts”…. 
their 3000+ employees qualify for the Texas Teacher Retirement System. 

That means the State taxpayers are responsible for providing their employees LIFETIME benefits, as if they were teachers, even when their work has nothing to do with public education – like storing records for the City of Houston or chartering buses for church trips.

If the Legislature allows these tax exempt subsidized business operations to continue, they will be sanctioning public debt to purchase private companies, and using public funds to supplement government owned businesses.

Government businesses which can put private sector companies out of business, and their private sector employees out of work. 

In other words, taxpayers are at war with subsidized public sector, socialistic businesses that are working to undermine our capitalist system.

If you want to join in the battle, you can contact your Texas State Representative and Senator and let them know you expect them to support a bill to close the two remaining county school boards.

You can find who represents you: here 

You can view the Texas Senate Education Committee Hearing held on 8/3/16 when some of their business practices are discussed here. It was a long hearing, but very informative.  (start at 4:28:57)

Colleen Vera

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fact Checking Dr Laura Pressley’s Texas Electronic Voting Corruption Case

Dr. Laura Pressley has been making the rounds speaking to Texas conservative political clubs about her legal case against her opponent in the Austin City Council 2014 Runoff - claiming electronic voting corruption.
As a former volunteer for True the Vote, an election worker, currently a Republican member of Harris County Early Voting Ballot Board, and an active citizen at the Texas Legislature working to improve our Texas Election Code, I went to hear her presentation, ready to take notes on improvements needed in our election processes.

As I listened to her story and viewed her “evidence,” I realized that many of the claims and accusations she made were not consistent with my own experience working elections. So I explored a little deeper when I got home. 

I found so much evidence to refute her implications and allegations that I would need to write a book to cover it all. Because she changed her pleadings at least six times, it is too confusing to cover all her points. So I chose just five of her claims to offer a brief summary.  I am not an attorney so I am including links to documents from her lawsuit so you can read all the details for yourself to make up your own mind.

I am also including a very concerning “coincidence” that I found doing research on this case, because Texas conservatives deserve to know the WHOLE TRUTH.

Claim #1 – Dr. Pressley is a strong, active Republican 

When I heard her speak, Pressley claimed to be a Republican Precinct Chair and Delegate to the 2016 Texas State GOP Convention. Both are TRUE.

The Travis County GOP confirmed that she was appointed Chair of Precinct 140 to fill a vacancy on Feb. 9.  She was a delegate at the 2016 Texas GOP Convention in Dallas.


Pressley has a Democrat voting history.  

She voted in the Democrat Primary in both 2012 and 2014.

According to the Austin Bulldog, “Pressley said she does not identify with any particular party, saying, “I’m not a Libertarian, I’m not a Democrat and I’m not a Republican. I’m an Independent, and I vote that way.”

Pressley’s campaign treasurer, Fidel Acevedo, is a strong Democrat.

Not only did he run for 

 he is a delegate 

to the 2016 
National Democratic Convention.

Pressley has made political donations to Democrats in both State and Federal elections.

Examples: John Kerry, Hillary Clinton,

ActBlue Texas, and  Capital Area Democrat Women.

 Full report: here

 Full report: here

Claim #2 – Pressley claims electronic ballot images are not stored according to Texas Law 

Texas Election Code (TEC) is divided into chapters, each covering a different election topic.

In her talk, Pressley quotes Chapter 52 covering paper ballots and then applies the same requirements to electronic ballots.

Pressley does not quote Chapter 124 covering electronic Voting System ballots or Chapter 129 covering Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Machines – the machines used in Harris and Travis Counties.

She also does not quote the Texas Secretary of State (SOS), the chief election officer of the State of Texas, who is responsible for legal interpretations of election law.

The SOS defines an electronic “ballot image” stored by our electronic voting system as “Electronically produced record of all votes cast by a single voter.”

Pressley doesn’t argue that the machines are not recording votes cast. She argues that the printout of the voter record is not a legal “ballot image” because basically it doesn’t look the same as a paper ballot. 

Claim #3 – Pressley claims a legal recount in Texas can’t be done in counties using electronic voting 

The Texas SOS outlines the procedure for a recount from votes cast on electronic voting machines.

Cast Vote Records (CVR), also called “ballot images,” are printed on paper – one per voter - then counted by hand.

Court records show Pressley admitted she was present at her runoff re-count. She personally observed all (aprox. 4000) CVRs printed, sorted and re-counted. She also admitted that she had poll watchers present. She even admitted that the Secretary of State’s Office had an observer present.

She also admitted that the Texas Secretary of State’s Office sent her a letter confirming their representative was present and that a legal recount did take place.

Yet, Pressley still claims a legal recount did NOT take place because of the same argument she used in #2. She doesn’t feel the CVR is a legal “ballot image,” therefore the recount was not legal.

She uses the same argument to claim in her talks that “4000 ballots are missing,” even though she witnessed about 4000 CVRs printed and re-counted.

Pressley argues the electronic “ballot images” as defined by the SOS don’t qualify as ballots, therefore  about 4000 ballots are actually “missing.”

Court records also show Pressley refused to agree that she had received letters from the Texas Secretary of State, even when the letters were on Texas Secretary of State letterhead, because, as Pressley argued, the Texas Secretary of State didn’t actually write the letters herself.

Claim #4 – Pressley claims Early Voting in Texas is corrupt because Zero Tapes are not printed 

During elections, before the poll opens, “ZERO TAPES” are printed to show, by INDIVIDUAL PRECINCT, “0” votes for each candidate on the ballot.

At the end of voting, Result Tapes are printed listing, by INDIVIDUAL PRECINCT, each candidate’s name and the number of votes each received. 

The image on the left shows the type of  machine used in Harris and Travis Counties.

The tape is similar to adding machine paper, only not as wide.

In her talk, Pressley shows a copy of a notice given to Travis County election workers stating, “DO NOT PRINT TAPES.” 

She implies in her talk that this is “corruption” and argues in her court case that it was illegal…even though the Texas SOS issued a waiver allowing a modified printing for Early Voting and countywide voting locations. (pilot program)

Why a waiver? Because when voters are allowed to vote at any polling location, and all candidate totals are printed by INDIVIDUAL PRECINCT, it would take so long to print, it would not be a feasible process.

I will use Harris County’s 2014 General Election as an example….

There were 200+ different races or propositions on our ballot and we had 1,069 precincts.

Estimating just 1 inch of tape to print the results per race…

How much time would that take?     Estimating 1 second per inch:

That is one reason WHY the SOS gives a waiver for printing full  tapes ON SITE during Early Voting or when countywide polling locations (pilot  program) are used.

Instead, a limited tape is printed on site and the numbers are reconciled with the other election records.

Zero and Result Tapes ARE produced, just in a different format and process. 

Court records show Travis County did produce Zero Tapes during Pressley's  election. 

Claim #5 – Pressley claims her charts prove mathematically that corruption occurred in her election

In her talk, Pressley showed the chart below on a large screen – as proof of corruption in her election. It charts the results of the general and runoff elections by candidate. Pressley implies the straight line formed by her election results shows, mathematically, that someone tampered with her election.

But, look at the chart more closely.

There were 18 precincts which voted in Pressley’s District 4 City Council race. Pressley chose to use only HALF in her chart – just 9 precincts - to chart a straight line. Yet, she used different amounts in the other charts.

But, I can do the same with the District 6 chart Pressley shows above. The one in the upper left hand side. If I remove some precincts, I can make a straight line with those results, too 

For REAL FACTS, to the left is the chart showing the results of ALL 18 precincts in Pressley’s race. 

As an extra test, I plotted Ted Cruz’s Republican Primary and runoff races in 2012, using  results from Pressley’s same 18 precincts.

Then I chose just 9 precincts (as Pressley had done) and was able to chart a straight line. It seems to indicate a voting pattern from the voters in those precincts rather than fraud. 

 Ted Cruz Results in Pressley's 18 Precincts
 Ted Cruz Results Using Only 9 Precincts

On the left, is my final test. 

I charted the results of all of 18 precincts which voted in Pressley's race in a different format.

The top represents Pressley’s races in 2014. 

The bottom shows the same 18 precincts in Ted Cruz’s Races in 2012.

 Both display a consistent pattern with a couple of expected variations. No extreme variations.
(Note: One precinct had from 0-5 voters per election. That is why the percentages are from 0-100.)

You can check the results for yourself at the links below:

Austin City Election Results 11/4/14: here
Austin City Runoff Results 12/16/14: here
Travis County GOP Primary Results 5/29/12: here
Travis County GOP Runoff Results 7/31/12: here

You can save time by using my Excell spreadsheet to produce your own charts: here

The judge didn't feel that Pressley produced the evidence needed to make her case of election corruption. I agree with the judge. But you can read the court documents below and decide for yourself.

Read Pressley's Sanction Order signed 7/23/15: Here
Read Pressley's Amended Final Judgement signed 7/23/15: here
Read Pressleys 4/16/15 Deposition: here
Read Pressley's Motion for Sanction Hearing report (Part 1) held 6/18/15: here
Read Pressley's Motion for Sanction Hearing report (Part 2) held 6/24/15: here

Something I read on page 216 of the 6/24/15 sanction hearing got me thinking when her opponent's attorney, Charles Herring, argued,
 "The case is really not about an election contest at all...it's really about that ballot image. It's really about her testimony, 'I prefer to have paper ballots.' That's why we are here. There's a place for them to go and it's the legislature. There's another place for them to go, the Secretary of State, and say, 'No, you need to stop this.' They don't do that. They come to court..."
My experience tells me that:

Paper ballots + courts = liberal agenda.

So I decided to dig a little deeper into Pressley's connections to the hand counted paper ballot people.

Is Pressley’s push for paper ballots just a coincidence?

Texas conservatives understand the importance of the November 2016 election. Not only to keep Texas RED, but to stop our runaway federal government.

Liberals know it, too. They try to block strong conservative voting laws in the Legislature. When they fail, they go to the courts to block implementation.

The current top three Liberal desires are:

  1. No photo ID to vote 
  2. Online voter registration 
  3. Return to paper ballots 

Photo ID for Voting Lawsuits

Without having to prove one’s identity before casting a vote, it is much easier for persons to
 “vote early, vote often.”   

That is why the liberals have been trying to get the Federal courts to stop Photo ID for voting in Texas before the 2016 Election. 

LULAC even  tweeted  it.

The lawsuit, Texas NAACP v. Steen (consolidated with Veasey v. Perry) was filed by a group led by the NAACP. You can read more about it: here.

Online Voter Registration Lawsuit

Registering to vote online, without any proof of identity, makes it much easier for fraudulent voter registrations to be filed.

A lawsuit was filed in Federal court by the Texas Civil Right Project on 3/14/2016. You can read more about it: here.

If you think this is not about using the federal courts to force Texas to move to online voter registration, just read the press release from the League of Women Voters:

“Texas adoption of online voter registration will end the confusion.”

Return to Paper Ballots Lawsuits

Stalin said it best. "It’s not who votes that counts,…it's who counts the votes!"

That is why Liberals have had an organized effort to return Texas to paper ballots (hand counted at the precinct level) since 2003.

In 2005, VoteRecue was organized in Austin focused on returning to hand-counted paper ballots.

In 2006, the NAACP filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against our Texas electronic voting machines. The suit traveled through the courts until 2009.  

Also in 2006, VoteRescue members, Abbe Waldman DeLozier and Vickie Karp, wrote the book, "Hacked! High Tech Election Theft In America,” attacking the reliability of electronic voting.

In 2007, Vote Rescue organized a state-wide coalition called, Texans for REAL Elections, which included:

In 2010, LULAC passed a resolution calling for hand counted paper ballots in all elections and…

A group in Austin released their own “election study” calling for hand counted paper ballots. 
That group included:

In 2014, Dr. Laura Pressley ran for office in Austin and consequently filed a lawsuit claiming she was harmed by electronic voting corruption in Travis County.

The Austin Chronicle reported that Pressley's attorney, David Rogers, said,
 "... previous challenges of that issue have failed for a lack of standing, and that a challenge by a defeated candidate 'who may have been harmed' by the process stands a better chance of being heard in court."
Could it be just coincidence that….???
  • Pressley testified that Abbe Waldman Delozier (VoteRecue & Hacked…) is her “friend” and was present at Pressley’s deposition and court hearing.
  • Pressley testified that her largest donor, Jenny Clark (VoteRescue), gave her “more than $10,000” for her lawsuit.
  • When asked in court how long he had known “the VoteRescue people,” Pressley’s attorney, David Rogers, replied, “Since 2006, … at a VoteRescue meeting.

Could it be just another coincidence that….???

 Full report: here

 Full report: here

Could it be simply more coincidence that….???

Nelson Linder, President of the NAACP Austin, who was a plaintiff in the 2006 lawsuit, was listed by Pressley as a “Key Leader supporting her campaign….and  on LinkedInPressley lists herself  as a member of Austin NAACP. 

Pressley served on a steering committee for Texans for Accountable Government (Texans for REAL Elections) and they endorsed her campaign. 

Could it be even more coincidence that …???

Pressley claims to have worked with Texas Eagle Forum the same year they issued a resolution for the Republican Platform stating,

 “the Republican Party of Texas urges that that all ballots in future elections be issued on paper ballots only.

And could it be just a remarkable coincidence that….???

After voting in the Democrat Primary in 2012 and 2014, Pressley voted in the 2016 Republican Primary which qualified her to be a delegate to the Texas GOP Convention, where a good portion of her effort was spent attempting to get a “return to paper ballots” plank into the Texas GOP Platform.

Read full article: here

All just coincidence?  You decide.

As for me. I am a fan of Gibbs on NCIS.
I tend to agree with his Rule #39 -

"There is no such thing as coincidence."

Colleen Vera