PJ Media

It’s Time to Worry About Houston UPDATED

I could’ve gone with the “Houston, we have a problem” headline but that’s so … cliché. Nevertheless, the fact is that Houston has a major election problem, one which threatens the integrity of elections in Houston and across the Lone Star State. And when you work in the fact that Texas stands as the nation’s largest solidly Republican state, well, what happens in Houston will not stay in Houston — with next year’s redistricting, it won’t even stay in Texas.

The problem centers on a massive voter registration problem in Houston, and the suspect fire that followed closely once the registration problem became public. On Tuesday, August 24, Harris County’s tax assessor-collector, Leo Vasquez, held a press conference in which he detailed what he called systematic and organized voter registration fraud across the county. Texas Watchdog reported on Vasquez’s presser that day. Vasquez accused two nominally nonpartisan groups, the Texans Together Education Fund and its elections arm, Houston Votes, of engaging in massive voter registration fraud that put as many as 25,000 fraudulent registrations on the county’s roll. Vasquez offered substantial evidence to back up his claim, and likened the groups to ACORN.

That accusation isn’t without some foundation: ACORN was so active in Houston prior to the stings that discredited it, that it had its own state representative from the Houston area in Kristi Thibaut. Elected in the 2008 Obama wave to represent Texas House District 133, Thibaut was recently outed for her work as a lobbyist for ACORN in the 2007 legislative session (full disclosure — as communications director of the Republican Party of Texas when Thibaut was outed, I played a central role in exposing her ACORN past). As for the group’s “nonpartisan” veneer, well, blogHouston exposed the left-wing nature of their entire leadership. For a nonpartisan group, it lists heavily to the left. And by the way, the SEIU purple-shirt union is involved too, in the person of Houston Votes’ director, Sean Caddle.

Mr. Vasquez is a Republican, so the Democrats’ response to his accusations was to accuse him of suppressing the minority vote in Harris County. That’s their standard line whenever anyone looks into enforcing ballot integrity of any kind anywhere in America, so no surprise there. The two groups, Houston Votes and Texans Together Education Fund, denied any wrongdoing, also to no one’s surprise.

What happened next is what threatens everything. In the overnight/early morning hours of Saturday, August 28, a warehouse in Houston burned down. Within the warehouse were all of Harris County’s 10,000 voting machines. They were a total loss. That they were insured doesn’t change the fact that they’re gone, and the county has been scrambling ever since to replace them.  Working with the state government and other counties, Harris County is moving swiftly to replace the destroyed machines and has pledged that none of the Nov. 2 polling places will close because of the fire.

That’s not good enough for the Democrats. Rather than pull together and work with the county and the state to support the Apollo-level effort to maintain the vote, the Texas Democratic Party, controlled by a Washington activist, is suing Vasquez. But even more dangerous, the Democrats have used the occasion to call for the Justice Department to step in and “monitor” Harris County’s elections.

Think about that. This is the same Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, that keeps trying to give al-Qaeda terrorists full access to civilian courts for trial. This is the same Justice Department that is suing Arizona for enforcing an immigration law that mirrors a 70-year-old federal immigration statute. This is the same Justice Department that, as J. Christian Adams reports on PJM, has chosen not to enforce the ballot integrity provisions of the Motor Voter law. And this Justice Department represents an administration led by ACORN’s former trainer and lawyer, Barack Obama. This administration had planned to put ACORN into an important role in gathering U.S. census data this year, a plan that would certainly have gone into effect had ACORN not been exposed by Breitbart.tv in 2009.

The Obama administration has repeatedly shown its lawless ways, and it has repeatedly singled out Texas for economic attack via the EPA and its offshore drilling moratorium. For their part, the Texas Democrats have repeatedly fought against sensible ballot integrity efforts like voter photo ID — even going so far as to wreck the 2009 legislative session in order to stop a voter photo ID bill from passing.  So with all of this in mind, it’s time to worry about Houston. The vote there could determine the outcome of the race for governor between incumbent Rick Perry and his Democratic opponent, former Houston mayor Bill White. It could also impact the balance of power in the state House, which could in turn impact the state’s redistricting. That could impact the balance of power over the next decade in the U.S. House of Representatives, as Texas stands to gain as many as four seats after redistricting. So what happens in Houston will impact the entire nation. It’s a big deal.

Going back more than five years ago, Democratic activists in Washington led by Matt Angle targeted Texas, pledging to take a statewide office or a majority in the Texas House (it’s currently 77-73, a slight Republican majority). They set 2010 as their deadline to have Democrats in place so they could influence the state’s redistricting.  And here we are, with a president in popularity freefall and a Democratic Party on the verge of a massive national beating in November. Desperate times, desperate measures, you know the drill.

Is the Houston Votes fraud project part of the Angle Democrats’ overall 2010 effort? It’s certainly fair to say that nothing happens in Texas on the left without Angle’s input — he literally controls the Democratic Party in Texas and, via a massive slush fund left to him by the late Dallas trial lawyer Fred Baron, he orchestrates the activities of other “nonpartisan” groups that have ties to the likes of George Soros and John Kerry. It’s also fair to say that on issue after issue, Democrats simply are out of step with Texas voters and therefore stand little chance of winning much on their own. So the Angle Democrats resort to innuendo and attack, and perhaps in Harris County, outright voter fraud. And now with the fire of undetermined cause, they may have the Obama/Holder Justice Department descend on Texas to help out.

Update (9/9): Texas GOP Vote blog went to the scene of the warehouse fire and has posted pics.