Conservative Kingmaker Compares TEC to Third Reich
Empower Texans boss under investigation for unregistered lobbying
By Richard Whittaker,
11:00AM, Fri. Nov. 15, 2013
Many office holders and lobbyists have muttered under their breath about the Texas Ethics Commission. But even in those low tones, they have steered clear of even a whiff of Nazi comparisons. Not Michael Quinn Sullivan, head of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, and accused unregistered lobbyist.
As the state agency attempts to resolve a claim that Sullivan "forgot" to file his lobbyist paperwork, the darling of the anti-regulation right has publicly compared the commission to the forces of the German Third Reich's Wehrmacht during the height of World War II.
The extraordinary statement came via press release, and it all concerns Sullivan's current legal problems. Under Texas law, lobbyists are required to register with the state. However, in 2010 and 2011, Sullivan did not do so, and so two Republicans – Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, and former Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller – filed complaints with the TEC. Their argument was simple: Sullivan had filed as a lobbyist in 2009, 2008, 2007>, 2006 and 2005. His job and activities at the Capitol hadn't changed, so he obviously should have filed, and filed again.
The TEC is clearly leaning towards the reps' argument. On Nov. 5, the commission sent a letter to Sullivan and his attorney, James Trainor: In it, the commissioners wrote that they had met on Oct. 29 and Nov. 4, and had "determined that there is credible evidence" that Sullivan violated the lobby laws. The letter also contained a proposal to resolve the situation and spare Sullivan the indignity of a full hearing. Sullivan would effectively enter a plea of nolo contendere, get his registration up to date, keep up to date, and pay a $1,000 fine.
Something in this must have triggered Sullivan's martyr complex, as he bloviated:
When the Germans had the 101st Airborne Division surrounded at Bastogne, the acting division commander – Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe – responded to an offer of unconditional surrender with 'Nuts.' We’re taking the same approach. And just like the Allies won the Battle of the Bulge, so too will conservatives triumph over the speech-regulators at the Texas Ethics Commission.
Yes, in the scenario of a PAC boss getting slapped on the wrist for failing to keep his lobbyist paperwork up to date, Sullivan has rewritten himself as one of the great and valiant besieged war heroes of World War II.
Instead of valiant leadership, this shows all the petulance of that time Sullivan played victim because his Twitter account got suspended.
Sullivan (aka "Mucus") has spent years crafting an image of himself as the consummate kingmaker for the right: Cross him or his other think tank, Empower Texans, or fail to pass one of the groups' infamous orthodoxy tests, and he'll be in the weeds of any primary challenge against you.
However, this sounds less like the measured tones of a Richard Neville (the original kingmaker) and more like the frantic rantings of an Alex Jones.
Sullivan also knows that the commission cannot respond. Until a complaint is fully resolved, neither staff nor commissioners can discuss them publicly - or even confirm they exist.
Moreover, while Sullivan tries to paint himself as an embattled hero, McAuliffe himself would likely be slackjawed at his comments. A man of temperate speech, that was the whole point of him responding in such a fashion to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz.