Texas Democrats File Suit Against Tea Party Group
Claims King Street Patriots are engaging in voter harassment
By Lee Nichols, 11:20AM, Tue. Oct. 19, 2010
The Tea Party has been hitting hard this election cycle, and this week, the Texas Democratic Party hit back. On Monday, the TDP expanded its lawsuit against alleged collusion between the Green Party and Republican operatives to include the King Street Patriots, as well.
Similarly, Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit that tracks the influence of money in politics, filed an ethics complaint against KSP.
The KSP is a Houston Tea Party group that has been vowing to “true the vote” in the Houston area by sending activists to not only be Harris County poll watchers but also signing them up as official election judges, for the purpose of fighting supposedly rampant election fraud by Democrats. Harris County will be crucial to former Houston Mayor Bill White's challenge to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
How are they funding this operation? The TDP suit alleges that KSP is getting cash from Republican groups, but, in violation of the law, they have “failed to file any reports or registrations for KSP and/or their political committee. Furthermore, the KSP Defendants make their unlawful expenditures in coordination with the Republican Party and/or one or more of its candidates.” Rather than following laws that require nonprofits working on political issues to be upfront about funding sources, the KSP is a “sham domestic nonprofit corporation that instead acts as an unregistered and illegal political committee,” the suit says.
The suit claims that the KSP will be acting “with the sole intent to deceive and discourage lawful voting. These practices will be targeted to undermine the vote of Plaintiffs and to undermine the vote of certain segments of the population.”
In a Monday press conference, TDP lawyer Chad Dunn said such activities were already occurring on the first day of early voting, including “shouting misinformation out to voters as they enter the polling booth and following voters and standing behind them as they try to cast their vote,” but had not provided documentation as of this posting. UPDATE: Today (Tuesday) the TDP distributed copies of an official Harris County report on voter complaints from Oct. 18 and early Oct. 19, including 11 complaints of "voter intimidation," mostly described as "poll watcher intimidating voter inside voting area." The report did not attribute the incidents to a particular party or group, but the Houston Chronicle reported that most complaints came from predominantly minority precincts.
Speaking for the KSP, the Liberty Institute a right-wing think tank and legal organization known for its role in the State Board of Education battles denied the allegations to the online political newsletter Quorum Report, saying that only candidates and political parties could register as poll watchers.
The suit was originally filed against the Green Party after a right-wing group provided a petition with necessary number of signatures to get the Greens on the Texas ballot, allegedly for the purpose of drawing liberal votes away from White. The TDP filed suit to discover the original source of those funds (see “Greens Gain Ballot Access in Curious Fashion,” July 9).