The first round of campaign finance reporting
I would like to sincerely thank Juan Elizondo, Jr. Capitol Bureau Chief of the Austin American-Statesman for including me in his article regarding campaign finances. The other major newspaper in the state (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express, and the Houston Chronicle) assigned these campaign finance articles to the second string reporters and did not report my campaign at all. I find the dynamic of who actually crafted these articles interesting. I will not go into what I found out about how the particular reporters were assigned and what they were told other than to say that leaving me out of their individual articles was deliberate and calculated. I expected this from the Houston Chronicle because they have been boycotting me and my campaign for several months and I have been running a telephone campaign pointing this out to Houstonians and asking them to boycott the Chronicle.
At any rate, for those of you who have not looked at my June 30, 2001, finance report, I reported no contributions and no expenses. The no income can be explained by the fact that I will not take more than $100 from any individual and nothing from businesses or organizations. I will take money from the Texas Democratic Party in any quantity. I have been speaking mostly in District B in Houston supporting Kurtyce Cole for Councilman. District B is a black area of about 200,000 people who have little money to contribute. Even a dollar is a lot of money for some of these people. I have been speaking at one or two black churches every Sunday for the last two months and will continue to do so until the November 2001 elections are held in Houston. I will then move into the rest of the city and continue to speak at various churches around the state every week for the rest of my political career. Kurtyce and I have also been attending several civic club meeting each week in his District.
In regards to expenses, I have none for the following reason. I have designed my campaign around telephone dialers. My strategy is very simple: Call everyone about every three weeks. Right now I have been calling in Houston where I have called the entire city about 8 times since January 1, 2001, when I launched my campaign. That comes to about 6 million telephone calls and in excess of 2 million political connects. (a connect as opposed to a call is when someone answers the phone or they have an answering machine on which we leave a message.) We have made another 100,000 plus political connects in Austin, Dallas, and various other 100,000 population plus cities in the state.
Now the reason that I have no expenses is because these calls are made in tandem with my solicitations for legal business. In other words, I will load the telephone banks with a legal message to play if someone answers the telephone and a political message if the dialer detects an answering machine. Sometimes the political message is on the pick-ups and the legal solicitation is on the answer machine but I have never intentionally loaded political messages on both. If I was not making legal solicitations, I would not be leaving political messages. I have bought no signs, bumper stickers, or ads of any kind and my business cards have my candidacy for governor printed on them.
Now the cost of the dialing is written off as a business expense. I did this after much legal research and queries to the Ethics Commission. The fact is that no one has ever tried to run a campaign strictly off telephone dialers. In the conventional campaign, dialers are only used in the last weeks to swing a close election. Mr. Elizondo asked me if I should not allocate a part of the expense to the political campaign. I told him that I did in fact know on a day to day basis how many people answered the phone as opposed to how many messages were left on answer machines. But when I make each call, I do not know whether someone would answer or not and I would not be making calls if I were not soliciting legal business.
Also from a business perspective, if I give my campaign $1,000 and that $1,000 is then given to Onenet, the dialer company, I would not be able to write off the contribution as a business expense. If I classify all calls as legal solicitation, then I can send a check to Onenet and the whole amount will be a business expense. As Mr. Elizondo reported, if the Ethics Commission comes up with a different position, I will consider it and do what is appropriate.
The unfortunate thing about Mr. Elizondo's fellow reporters is that they did not take the time to investigate what I was doing, assuming that they were not told to deliberately boycott my campaign. (To date on the Houston Chronicle has done this because I began several months ago to use the dialers in negative ads against Mayor Brown.) All the other papers have generally included me in gubernatorial related articles.
What is unfortunate is that not reporting my campaign finance report gives the public the idea that I do not have a credible campaign when the truth is that I am leading all the other candidates in Houston, including Rick Perry. This is because I have saturated the city with calls. Shortly, I will move the telephone banks into Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin and San Antonio. I will also move into the cities that have 100,000 plus population; this is about 13 additional cities. All in all, by September, I may well be making 100,000 political connects per day statewide and this will continue for 14 months until the election. The net effect will be that it will take Perry about $50 million in a conventional campaign to keep the election close. And as the cost of buying the governor office goes ballistic, the citizens of this state are going to say enough. The WorldPeace campaign is unlikely to exceed $1 million.
In a nutshell, I have direct access to the citizens of this state by telephone and regardless of what the newspapers do, I will have the attention of the voters. They will get the truth from me directly without the news filters. They are going to hear my voice on their phones asking them to embrace the WorldPeace vision for Texas. There is going to be a political revolution all across this nation and it is going to begin with District B in Houston and move rapidly through the great state of Texas and on to Washington. I am going to show the citizens of this state that there is an alternative to big money politics and that one simple but determined man named WorldPeace can in fact make a difference: that the time has come to lay down cynicism and embrace a vision for this state where all men and WOMEN rise up on the coming tide of equality and justice for everyone. It is time to make the vision of the founding fathers a reality in every city and town in this great state.
And as I have been saying for the last decade: How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of peace? I believe that the citizens of this state as well as the citizens of the United States are ready to temper their consuming materialism with a little more humanity and spirituality in order to create a more peaceful and harmonious society where the elderly and sick are provided for and our children can look forward to a legacy of prosperity and peace founded on equal opportunity and justice as well as a sustaining planet of beauty and harmony.
The next governor of Texas
www.johnworldpeace.org The Campaign Page
www.johnworldpeace.com The WorldPeace Peace Page
July 17, 2001
Tuesday, July 17
They show off cash, try to scare off foes
By Juan B. Elizondo Jr.
American-Statesman Capitol Bureau Chief
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
In boxing, the pre-fight weigh-in has become a show itself.
Fighters strip down and flex, mugging for the cameras and trying to intimidate each other while proving that they are at the perfect weight and condition for the upcoming bout.
Texas politicians performed their version of the weigh-in Monday, releasing semiannual campaign finance statements and trying to scare each other out of next year's primary elections. At least four candidates for statewide office reported having more than a million dollars -- some raised, some in personal loans -- for the most recent fund-raising period.
Detailed reports showing individual contributions were not yet available from the Texas Ethics Commission, although some candidates voluntarily sent copies of the reports to the media.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry, seeking his own four-year term, led the candidates for governor, reporting that he raised $2.2 million between Jan. 1 and June 30. The candidates, however, were prohibited from raising money until after this year's legislative session, meaning the totals raised represent about one month.
At the end of June, the governor had more than $10 million in the bank, he reported.
"Governor Perry will have the support he needs to take his positive vision to all of Texas," said James Huffines, head of the Texans for Rick Perry Steering Committee.
Chuck McDonald, a public relations consultant and former aide to Gov. Ann Richards, said finance reports filed at this time of the year are crucial for determining who is going to be successful in future fund raising.
"You just can't raise money if you don't have money in the bank," McDonald said.
Democratic candidate for governor Marty Akins reported $2.7 million in the bank at the end of last month. But that included $2.6 million in loans from the candidate and his family. Akins raised almost $280,000 in contributions.
Tony Sanchez Jr., a University of Texas regent weighing whether to run for governor as a Democrat, reported having no money in the bank, but had spent more than $760,000 of his own money on behalf of the campaign.
McDonald said candidates lending money to themselves generally shows that "you like yourself." But he added that the level of loans Akins and Sanchez have given to their campaigns shows they have the financial will to stick with the race.
He said both Democrats, particularly Sanchez, now needed to turn on the fund-raising machine to show that other Texans support them.
"The system works in the sense that no matter how much money you have, you have to have supporters," McDonald said. "The only way to measure supporters before you get into polling is by the number of people willing to give you their money."
Houston lawyer and Democrat John WorldPeace, who has declared his candidacy for governor and hit Houston, Austin and other parts of the state with automated telephone calls, reported raising and spending no money.
WorldPeace said the political messages delivered by dialing machines were attached to an advertisement for legal services. A called number gets the political message or the legal solicitation, based on how the dialer is programmed and whether a person or a machine answers. He said that because there was a chance every number called would get the legal message, all of the cost of calls was related to solicitation for legal work.
WorldPeace said he researched the issue and got no direction from the Ethics Commission, but would be willing to amend his report if a court or the commission directs him to do so.
The candidates for governor were faring well in money raised compared with the same period in the 1998 governor's race. In July 1997, Republican George W. Bush reported raising just more than $300,000 and Democrat Garry Mauro reported raising $272,000.
In the lieutenant governor's race, the three-way GOP showdown is expected to be an expensive fight, and Monday's reports were the first indication of whether all three candidates can compete in the high-stakes campaign.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Greg Abbott was so eager to show his political viability, he disclosed his records last week. An avid fund-raiser over the telephone, Abbott reported raising $722,000. But almost half of his money came from two sources -- $100,000 from Albert Huddleston, a Dallasite in the oil and gas industry, and $200,000 from Houston home builder Bob Perry.
Waco Sen. David Sibley, another contender for the state's No. 2 post, has raised about $550,000, including $50,000 from the same Houston home builder.
The other GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Land Commissioner David Dewhurst, is in a league of his own. He reported raising $2.3 million, including $1.9 million of his own money.
"We're pleased with the number of new contributors from across Texas who support our conservative message of providing more essential services for the same tax dollars," Dewhurst said. He also is the first candidate with a TV campaign, spending $2 million so far.
Robert Black, an Abbott spokesman, said the issue was building a campaign base, not being a wealthy candidate.
"This isn't about transferred money or loans to yourself," he said. "We doubled them (Dewhurst), and we definitely feel the momentum is running our way."
McDonald said that while candidates try to use the reports to intimidate others out of the race, history showed fewwould bow out before the next finance reports, due in January.
In the Democratic race for lieutenant governor, former Comptroller John Sharp reported raising $632,580, compared with $1,100 raised by Gil Coronado, a retired federal administrator from San Antonio.
Attorney General John Cornyn, who so far is unopposed in his re-election campaign, reported raising $779,742.
Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, also currently unopposed, has raised $1 million. Rylander received contributions from more than 400 individuals, companies and political action committees in June, including 47 who gave $10,000 or more.
Big givers included law firms such as Vinson & Elkins and Fulbright & Jaworski, businesses such as Bank of America and individuals such as Enron chairman Kenneth Lay, Houston home builder Perry and frequent Republican donor James R. Leininger.
In the race for land commissioner, Republican Rep. Kenn George has raised about $40,000 since the legislative session ended.
Former Sen. Jerry Patterson, also seeking the GOP nomination, collected nearly $100,000 during the reporting period and appeared to be lining up support from Republican heavyweights, including Lay and Bob Perry, who gave $25,000.
You may contact Juan Elizondo at email@example.com or 445-3624. Staff writers Laylan Copelin and Gary Susswein contributed to this report.