Miranda Blue's blog

How Catherine Engelbrecht Got Greg Abbott To Shut Down A Houston Voter Registration Drive

This weekend, the Dallas Morning News ran a long investigative piece exposing for the first time an armed raid that state Attorney General Greg Abbott's office ordered on a Houston voter registration operation, Houston Votes, back in 2010. The aftermath played out like ACORN in miniature: Despite the fact that nobody at Houston Votes was charged with any wrongdoing, the organization folded under the pressure of Abbott’s investigation.

The story provides an interesting look at the mechanics of the GOP’s obsessive search for certain types of extraordinarily rare voter fraud in order to justify extreme measures making it harder to cast a ballot. And it also stars two people who have since become familiar names in the national effort to make it more difficult to vote: Abbott, who is now the GOP nominee for governor of Texas, and Catherine Engelbrecht, who now runs the national group True the Vote, but who got her start running a Texas Tea Party group called King Street Patriots.

The raid on Houston Votes was part of a larger campaign by Abbott to uncover what he calls an “epidemic” of voter fraud, in an apparent effort to build support for a restrictive Voter ID law in Texas. Abbott’s campaign hasn’t exactly been a success: According to MSNBC’s Zach Roth, “over the 13 years of Abbott’s tenure, his office can only cite two fraudulent votes that might have been stopped by the ID law.” In the meantime, Abbott’s effort has resulted in some strangely zealous prosecutions, including those of a group of Tea Party activists who tried to cast protest votes in a resident-less utility district.

Dallas Morning News reporter James Drew explains how a racially charged speech by Engelbrecht led to Abbot’s investigation of and raid on Houston Votes:

On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

Fred Lewis formed Texans Together in 2006.

The nonprofit community organizing group used volunteers to register voters in 2008 under the name Houston Votes. It registered only about 6,000 people that year.

For the next big election, in 2010, Lewis wanted to register 100,000 new voters in Harris County. He knew he couldn’t hit that number with volunteers. Houston Votes decided to use paid workers.

By that summer, Houston Votes had come to the attention of the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party group. At the group’s regular meeting in Houston, its leader, Catherine Engelbrecht, talked about the New Black Panther Party. She then played a Fox news clip of an unidentified black man saying: “We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet.”

The clip was 5 years old. It came from a forum in Washington about media coverage of Hurricane Katrina. But after the clip ended, Engelbrecht showed a picture of a house in Houston. She said it was the office of the New Black Panthers, at Main and Dowling streets.

Dowling Street is infamous for a 1970 gun battle between police officers and African-American militants, one of whom was killed.

“Houston has a new neighbor,” Engelbrecht said. She added that a person outside the house appeared to be an employee of Houston Votes.

The house shown on the screen was the office of Houston Votes. It had nothing to do with the New Black Panther Party. And it was about 9 miles from Dowling Street.

Two weeks later, the King Street Patriots held another meeting. Paul Bettencourt, the former Harris County tax assessor-collector, was a guest speaker.

He said Houston Votes was worse at registering voters than ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Dozens of ACORN employees across the nation were convicted of voter registration fraud.

The next day, Bettencourt’s successor as tax assessor-collector, fellow Republican Leo Vasquez, held a news conference.

“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name ‘Houston Votes,’” he said.

Houston Votes had submitted about 25,000 voter registration applications. Vasquez said many were duplicates, or already registered. Only 7,193 were “apparently new voters,” he said.

Houston Votes later pointed to public records showing that at the time of the news conference, about 21,000 of the 25,000 who applied to register were already validated by the county and pending final approval by the secretary of state. Among those 21,000, the state had already given final approval to 7,193.

Vasquez announced he was referring the matter for “investigation and possible prosecution” to the Texas secretary of state and the Harris County district attorney.

The secretary of state, who advises local election officials on election laws, forwarded Vasquez’s information to the attorney general’s office on Sept. 14, 2010.

Abbott’s office opened a criminal investigation soon after.

WorldNetDaily Pundit Inadvertently Explains Why Bundy Supporters Went Quiet On Ferguson

Yesterday, we asked why the anti-government “Patriot” movement that was so angry about perceived government overreach at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada was all but silent about the arrival of police officers in military grade gear to quell protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The best explanation, we said, was race: both the Right’s general denial that race plays a role in American life until liberals bring it up, and the sense among some in the anti-government Right that African Americans, even when they are protesting government overreach, are actually tools of the government.

Today, WorldNetDaily columnist Ilana Mercer demonstrated this very point for us in a column in which she says she will not stand with those protesting in Ferguson, even though she agrees with them on many issues, because they are trying to make it about race.

Mercer, who defended Cliven Bundy in his stand-off with the government, writes that she is very angry about “police brutality,” the “militarization of the police force” and the “rise of the warrior cop”; that she supports drug decriminalization; and that she thinks that the shooting of Michael Brown was “an unjustified use of lethal police force.”

But, she says, she won’t ally with anybody who sees these issues as racial issues, such as the “two pimps in a pod” Al Sharpton and President Obama, and she blasts Sen. Rand Paul for acknowledging the role of race in Michael Brown’s death.

Police brutality? Yes! Militarization of the police force? You bet! “A Government of Wolves”? Yes again! “The Rise of the Warrior Cop”? No doubt! But racism? Nonsense on stilts! So why have some libertarians applied this rhetoric to the murder-by-cop of black teenager Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri? The same people who would argue against color-coded hate-crime legislation – and rightly so, for a crime is a crime, no matter the skin pigment of perp or prey – would have you believe that it is possible to differentiate a racist from a non-racist shooting or beating.

Laws prohibiting the individual from purchasing, selling, ingesting, inhaling and injecting drugs ought to be repudiated and repealed on the grounds that they are wrong, not racist. But statism is not necessarily racism. Drug laws ensnare more blacks, because blacks are more likely to violate them by dealing in drugs or engaging in violence around commerce in drugs, not necessarily because cops are racists.


The following statements are, I believe, not mutually exclusive: Cops deal with the reality of crime. The culture of U.S. cops is that of a craven disregard for American lives.

By all means, argue against laws prohibiting victimless “crimes” on the ground that these disproportionally ensnare blacks. But do not err in accusing all cops of targeting blacks, when the former are entrusted with enforcing the law, and the latter violate the law in disproportion to their numbers in the general population.

The left-liberal trend continued on the libertarian LewRockwell.com, where white sympathy with the police was conflated with racism: “This doesn’t mean that racism is not also involved [in Ferguson]. Polls show that a majority of white Americans are content with the police justification for the killing.”

Could it be that ordinary Americans maligned as racists are honestly waiting for more information, or suffer an authoritarian, submissive mindset; are ignorant about “police state USA,” or have simply experienced “black crime” firsthand, or are fearful of experiencing “black-on-white violence” in all it ferocity?

Clearly, there are many reasons for the acquiescence of whites in what might seem to many of us – myself included – as an unjustified use of lethal police force.

MSNBC host Al Sharpton is that fellow whose intelligible spoken English is confined to the words “racial discrimination.” The country’s second-leading race agitator has been deputized by its first as liaison to the White House in Ferguson. With his choice of Sharpton as point man on the ground, President Barack Obama, who was to usher in an America in which “ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony,” is stoking more strife.

Like two pimps in a pod, Sharpton and Obama have collaborated to keep racial grievance going.

JD Hayworth Takes On GOP's Women Problem With Incomprehensible Speech About Marriage

Former Arizona Republican congressman J.D. Hayworth, who lost his primary challenge to Sen. John McCain in 2010, has since landed a job as an anchor for Newsmax, where he delivers the news and conducts interviews in a style eerily reminiscent of Parks and Recreation’s Perd Hapley.

Hayworth fully deployed this characteristic flare in an interview today with Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster, about a new poll showing that women view the Republican Party as “intolerant” and “stuck in the past.”

When Conway’s Skype connection cut out, Hayworth quipped that she was “frozen in time,” which prompted him to muse that that would be a great attack line for his political opponents.

Hayworth then launched into a barely comprehensible soliliquy about how Conway had changed her name when she married “because people marry and they take different names” and how “you can’t allow your marriage to be caricatured.”

All of which means that there is no gender gap. Or something:

Phyllis Schlafly: Women Can Avoid Sexual Assault By Focusing on Marriage, Not Career

In her radio address yesterday, Phyllis Schlafly took on the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault, which she said could be eliminated if women would just get married instead of focusing so much on their careers.

Noting that “marriage settles men down,” Schlafly asked, “So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent 'hookups,' which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.”

We all know that married men can still be violent to their families, but they are far less likely to be violent against women than are live-in boyfriends.

Why is this? It’s true that women who have found men who are already better partners are more likely to marry them, but it’s also true that marriage settles men down. Being married makes a man care more about his family’s expectations and future because he sees his family as enduring. It also makes him more faithful and committed to his partner. Marriage makes men directly protective of their wives, and living in a home with their daughters gives them the opportunity to be directly protective of them as well. Marriage also creates indirect protection for wives and daughters, because married women and their children tend to live in safer neighborhoods.

So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent “hookups,” which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.

Sandy Rios: Women 'Brainwashed' By Women's Studies Programs To Ignore That It's Really Men Who Are 'Being Degraded'

On her American Family Association radio program this morning, Sandy Rios interviewed Malcolm Kline of Accuracy in Academia, a sister organization of the conservative group Accuracy in Media, about the supposed terrible liberal bias in academia.

When the two inevitably got to talking about women’s studies programs, Rios told Kline about an encounter she had had with a young woman who had been “brainwashed” by a women’s studies program to think that “even in this day in this time, that women are somehow mistreated."

Rios said she told the young woman that because women now make up the majority of college graduates and men are supposedly not allowed to “speak up against anything about a woman” that in fact “men are the ones being degraded.”

Larry Klayman Sues Obama Again, Says He 'Views Himself Primarily As A Muslim And Acts Accordingly'

Larry Klayman, the Judicial Watch founder who now spends his time suing President Obama when he is not trying to overthrow him, has filed a new complaint against the president, this time alleging that Obama conspired with John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to launder money to Hamas for terrorist activities.

“The nation and the world have increasingly come to see that Obama views himself primarily as a Muslim and acts accordingly in favoring Islamic interests over Judeo-Christian ones, and the complaint lays out Obama’s history in documented detail,” Klayman told WorldNetDaily.

The civil lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington falls under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, alleges criminal acts by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Seeking $1.5 billion in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages, it accuses the global figures of “laundering U.S. dollars” to Hamas, which is officially designated by the U.S. government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“This money has been foreseeably used to buy rockets and construct tunnels to attack Israel and terrorize and kill American and dual American-Israeli citizens who reside or are located in Israel,” Klayman said in a statement.

“The nation and the world have increasingly come to see that Obama views himself primarily as a Muslim and acts accordingly in favoring Islamic interests over Judeo-Christian ones, and the complaint lays out Obama’s history in documented detail,” he said.

Klayman said Obama’s actions “were calculated to harm the nation of Israel.”

“His facilitating and ordering financial and other material aid to Hamas, along with his equally anti-Israel Secretaries of State Kerry and Clinton, and the U.N. Secretary General, is just the latest deadly chapter in what amounts to criminal activity which has logically resulted in harm and death to Jews and Christians and threatens the continued existence of Israel,” he said.

His newest complaint, with himself and a number of John Does as plaintiffs, is a civil action and seeks damages from the defendants “for violating plaintiffs’ and decedents’ rights, for engaging in racketeering and other prohibited activities, for engaging in international terrorism, for harboring and concealing terrorists, for providing material support to terrorists and terrorist groups, for directly and proximately causing the deaths of plaintiffs’ decedents, and for directly and proximately causing mental anguish, severe emotional distress, emotional pain and suffering, and the loss of society, earnings, companionship, comfort, protection, care, attention, advice, counsel or guidance, plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and their sons, plaintiffs’ decedents, have experienced and will experience in the future.”

It alleges fraud, money-laundering, mail fraud, wire fraud, conversion and corruption.

Why Isn't The US Mentioned In The Bible? Because So Many Americans Will Be Raptured In The End Times

On Tuesday, VCY America’s “Crosstalk” hosted End Times prophet Ed Hindson to discuss the impact of the End Times and the Rapture on the United States.

“The United States would be incredibly impacted by the Rapture because there are more professing Christians here than perhaps any other place on the planet,” Hindson predicted.

“What would happen, I think, in the United States is the sudden Rapture of believers would leave this country totally secularist, totally atheist, totally in the hands of anti-Christian forces, and it would decimate the economy, the banking system, even the military, the police system. It would throw this country into chaos overnight. Now, it would throw any country into chaos, but the larger percentage of born-again believers, the larger percentage of the chaos.”

But why, Hindson asked, is the United States not mentioned in the Book of Revelation? Because, he explains, so many Americans will be raptured that the country will be totally decimated and all of the action will shift to Europe, where the Antichrist will arise.

“Unless you try to view the Babylon of the End Times as America, there’s no indication that America’s there anywhere [in the Bible],” Hindson said. “So, is she totally destroyed? Possibly, but not likely. It’s more likely that she’s decimated by the impact of the Rapture. and the power then shifts to Europe, because I think the Bible makes it clear the Antichrist will rise out of the old Roman Empire in Europe.”

Mefferd: Abortion Providers 'Monsters' And 'Evil Humans' Motivated By Money

Anti-choice groups are upset about PBS’s decision to air the documentary “After Tiller” next week on its “Point of View” series, complaining that the documentary “ humanizes,” paints a “sympathetic picture” of, and makes “martyrs” of late term abortion providers.

Janet Mefferd took on the film during her radio program yesterday, railing against “notorious late-term abortionist” George Tiller, who was murdered by an anti-choice extremist in 2009, before mocking the documentary for “attempting to humanize [abortion providers] for audiences that might be inclined to think of them as monsters.”

“You know, we don’t need to humanize them,” Meffered said. “They are human, they’re evil humans. They are butchering children for a living. And I can tell you what the motivation is: It’s cash. It’s always cash. And perhaps the inability to find any meaningful work, because well-respected doctors don’t want to have anything to do with abortion.”

Barber: Marriage Equality Took A 'Sledgehammer' To Society, Will Send It 'Tumbling Down'

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber is on high alert after a federal judge issued a final ruling striking down Utah’s ban on polygamous relationships, and joined Janet Mefferd yesterday to discuss the ruling, which he said was just the latest sign that support for same-sex marriage took a “sledgehammer” to our society and will send it all “tumbling down.”

Barber lamented that Americans are too busy to do the careful analysis that would lead them to agree with him and instead are buying into the gay rights movement’s “propaganda.”

“Unfortunately, much of America right now is — you know, we’re all busy, people don’t have time to actually engage the process of analysis on these things and look that A leads to B that leads to C, and take it all the way down to Z, which is disastrous — they don’t have time for that, and people buy into the propaganda,” he said.

“I just hope that people will recognize that when we deviate and try to redefine something that cannot be redefined — particularly when that thing, we’re talking about marriage here, is a fundamental cornerstone of any society — if we take a sledgehammer to that cornerstone, the results are disastrous and everything comes tumbling down.”

Australian Politicians Back Out Of World Congress Of Families Event, Citing Far-Right Ties

A World Congress of Families event in Melbourne this week was supposed to feature speeches by three Australian government officials, including social services minister Kevin Andrews. Instead, all three have backed out in the face of criticism of the Illinois-based group’s promotion of harsh anti-gay and anti-choice laws around the world.

In addition, the Australian politicians had come under fire for the conference’s sponsorship by Catch the Fire ministries, a group run by far-right politician Danny Nalliah who has blamed wildfires on abortion rights and frequently lashes out against "multiculturalism." (Nalliah also happens to be an ally of bizarre birther WND columnist and RWW favorite Lord Monckton).

Andrews’ decision to back out of the WCF event is especially galling since the group had been planning to present him with its “Natural Family Man of the Year” award. In a somewhat confusing statement, Andrews criticized those asking him to back out of trying to “shut down debate” while agreeing with them that the WCF summit represented “intolerance.” The Sydney Morning Herald:

Mr Andrews issued a statement on Friday announcing he had decided not to attend the conference after learning it would be hosted by the far-right Catch the Fire Ministries.

"Tolerance is a critical value in a western liberal democracy like Australia. It was for this reason that I intended to address the World Congress of Families meeting in Melbourne tomorrow," Mr Andrews said in the statement.

"The calls for me not to attend demonstrate the intolerance of the Greens and the left - instead of arguing their case in the public arena they seek to shut down debate."

"Equally, I cannot support intolerance from other quarters. As I have been informed today that the event is now to be hosted by Catch the Fire, I have decided not to attend."

The World Congress of Families will be holding its next big conference in Salt Lake City next year. It will be interesting to see whether American politicians also choose to stay away.

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