29 June 2010

538, Kos and Research 2000

Wow. 538's Nate Silver -- who has let emotions color his analysis a few times recently, but that's another story -- has apparently sparked DailyKos to cancel its contract with Del Ali's polling company Research 2000 and sue them for fraud. In response, Research 2000 retained Howrey and sent Silver a cease and desist letter threatening to sue.

If Del Ali and Research 2000 are legit, then they're not doing a good job of showing it. Why use the legal system to bully people when you could just present the facts? By threatening Silver, they have already lost standing with me.

UPDATE: I've now read the reports. Frankly, there is little doubt that Research2000 is -- at the least -- not engaging in best practices for polling. There's really no doubt about that, in my opinion. By itself, that will cause a big loss in reputation for Research 2000.* Fraudulent? That's a much higher mountain to climb. But right now, Ali is doing the opposite of what he should be doing if he is innocent.

* Folks like me have been fans of the robo-polls for 6 years or so, whereas the DC campaign pundit class has been shockingly slow to accept them.

Posted by Evan @ 06/29/10 05:33 PM | Comments (0)        


Communist Party USA loves Linda Chavez-Thompson

Am I the only one amused that the Communist Party USA hearts Linda Chavez-Thompson? Click through to read a breathless account of her speech to the convention by an organ of the Communist Party, USA.

Perhaps de facto Texas Democratic Party chairman Matt Angle knows what he's doing in convincing Chavez-Thompson to run. But then again, perhaps not.

Posted by Evan @ 06/29/10 05:25 AM | Comments (0)        


21 June 2010

Kay Bailey Hutchison running for re-election?

Roll Call adds some fresh fuel to the Kay Bailey Hutchison is running for re-election rumor:

Hutchison's office declined Roll Call’s request for an extended interview to discuss her future in the wake of her March 2 defeat by incumbent Rick Perry in the Texas Republican gubernatorial primary. And in a brief impromptu interview Thursday, the Senator flatly declined to comment on her gubernatorial race or whether she will seek re-election in 2012, when her Senate term expires.

But Hutchison was willing to talk about her legislative and political agenda now that she is refocused on her job as Texas’ senior Senator, and she was similarly predisposed to discuss her move back into leadership as an appointed adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — a new slot created specifically for her.


McConnell said he hopes Hutchison seeks a fifth term in 2012.

Click through the link and you'll get a Beckwith quote implicitly acknowledging that KBH is considering running for re-election.

Posted by Evan @ 06/21/10 06:47 PM | Comments (0)        


Strange things the dailies say

DMN columnist William McKenzie writes something strange:

Bill White is getting a boost as he heads into his party's convention this week. The latest Rasmussen poll shows him trailing Rick Perry by eight points in their governor's race. That may not sound like good news, but the last Rasmussen poll had him trailing Perry by 13 points. And that was last month. So, he has knocked off five points in a short-period of time.
The April 14th Rasmussen poll showed Bill White within 4!

To quote myself directly below:

I calculated the average horserace number based on all 7 Rasmussen polls in 2010. Basically it indicates that the current Perry vs White horserace numbers are about the same as they have been all year.
While in the strictest sense, McKenzie's words are true, it's a pretty bad analysis of the race, to which I'd give about a C- in an undergraduate class. Bill White has momentum because a poll reverted to its mean?

McKenzie also notes Joe Holley's article headlined "Some GOP stalwarts plan to vote for Bill White":

The Houston Chronicle also reported recently how White is gaining the backing of some high-profile Republicans, like Amarillo's Wales Madden. You can read the article here.

Holley's article was...strange. Holley focuses on Wales Madden, Matt Simmons and Billy Mitchell. Wales Madden is a decades-long friend of Bill White, who Bill White helped as a government official (others might see this as the story). Matt Simmons was White's campaign treasurer in his mayoral run. And Billy Mitchell is a rancher who doesn't like the TTC.

Political analysis articles based solely on anecdotes are fraught with danger from the start. Generally they should be used to explain poll results. But of course, we don't have any evidence of that. So far, polls indicate that White trails Perry by a high single digit number....which is about the structural deficit that a Democrat faces against a Republican.

The casual Houston Chronicle might be left with the sense that White is gaining on Perry, but so far we have little evidence that supports this. A few of White's personal friends are planning on voting for him; that's not exactly surprising.

Posted by Evan @ 06/21/10 05:49 PM | Comments (0)        


18 June 2010

Rasmussen: Perry 48, White 40

Rasmussen has released his most recent poll. Numbers in parentheses are from May 13 and April 14 poll, respectively.

500 likely voters, +/- 4.5% sample error
Perry 48 (51/48)
White 40 (38/44)
Other 5% (4/2)
Not Sure 8% (6/6)

2010 Perry vs White Ramussen Average
Perry 48.7
White 40.7

I calculated the average horserace number based on all 7 Rasmussen polls in 2010. Basically it indicates that the current Perry vs White horserace numbers are about the same as they have been all year.

Obama Approval/Disapproval at
28%/51% strongly

Posted by Evan @ 06/18/10 06:10 PM | Comments (0)        


10 June 2010

Bill White and BTEC: an exhaustive account

The AP story that started it all:

Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who was widely praised for guiding his city through Hurricane Rita, acknowledged to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he made money by investing in a company that was hired to help the region recover from the storm.

Rick Perry's campaign sent out a statement under the governor's name calling for Bill White to drop out of the race for "profiteering".

"By his own admission, Bill White intervened regarding a contract given to BTEC, a company he had personal financial ties with, to provide generators for the Houston Coastal Water Authority following Hurricane Rita's landfall in 2005. If this is true, and Bill White did unethically steer taxpayer dollars to a company he had a personal financial stake in, I am calling on him to immediately resign from the race for governor.

Sending out a statement under the governor's own name is a signal to the press corps that they think this story has major legs. Usually the campaign spokesman issues the statement, thus allowing the candidate or officeholder to stay above the fray. Especially in the case of an officeholder, who can act statesman-like instead of "pissing it away by getting down in the mud," to borrow the words of Lyndon Johnson. Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I cannot recall a press release attack sent out under Perry's name until now.

Today Bill White called a press conference to defend himself and Rick Perry:

Here's a timeline:

* Before he was mayor, Bill White served on the board of BTEC in his capacity as an executive for the Wedge Group.
* He served on the board because The Wedge Group owned BTEC.
* When Bill White stepped down from Wedge to become mayor, he negotiated that they would continue to pay him deferred compensation.
* During Hurricane Rita in September 2005, Bill White suggested to the Coastal Water Authority that they consider using BTEC.
* At this time Bill White had no direct compensation from BTEC, only his scheduled payments from Wedge.
* Bill White appoints a majority of the Coastal Water Authority's board.
* The Coastal Water Authority gave BTEC a $1.8 million emergency contract.

* A year later, Bill White invested $1,000,000 in BTEC.
* In 2007, BTEC produced $524,000 in income, an immediate 1 year return of 50%.

Can you imagine if Rick Perry had done any of this? I can't imagine reading a headline from the Dallas Morning News op-ed board that reads "Perry's investment deserves scrutiny but isn't crucial" as they have opined in this case.

Let's start with the worst: it is possible that this is outright Jersey-style corruption. Bill White, with a wink and a nod, told his majority on the Coastal Water Authority that they should consider BTEC. It is possible he did so because the Wedge Group had told him that they would provide him an opportunity to personally invest at favorable terms later that would virtually guarantee him a profit. We can't prove that this is true, we can't prove that it isn't. One thing we can say for sure: it definitely does not avoid the apperance of a conflict of interest.

I tend to want to believe the best in public servants. Most people run for office because they want to improve society. I would tend to want to give the benefit of the doubt to Bill White here, but reaping a 50% return in one year certainly looks like a sweetheart deal. That looks and smells bad. White should've known better.

Things that even Democratic partisans probably can't argue with:

* Bill White recommended that the CWA (a board where 4 of 7 members are appointed by Bill White) invest in BTEC, a company owned by his former employers, from whom he was currently receiving millions in compensation.

* Bill White showed shockingly bad judgment in investing in BTEC after the fact. It's not exactly an arms-length transaction to buy part of a company from a former employer after you have helped steer public money to that company, in any way. The fact that the investment provided a 50% return in one year indicates that Wedge Group probably gave him a sweetheart deal.

For me the best-case scenario for Bill White is what Kevin Whited said at BlogHouston:

It also means that even while serving as an elected public official, Mayor Bill White was actively building his personal wealth in part from knowledge gained as a public official and in part by taking advantage of an apparently fantastic investment opportunity that most members of the public could not.

One of the things Bill White's supporters always say is that he's so brilliant. If he were so brilliant, perhaps he should have showed better judgment.

Posted by Evan @ 06/10/10 11:37 PM | Comments (1)        


Bill White pays only 15% taxes

I'll have more to say on Bill White's tax returns, but what struck me more than anything else (and made my blood pressure rise!):

All told, White reported adjusted gross income of $11.8 million from 2004 to 2009, paying $1.7 million in taxes for the period.
White paid under 15% in taxes. Under 15%

My guess is that your average working American pays around 35% a year in taxes. Bill White is a multimillionaire, yet he pays only 15% taxes?

Bill White obviously has some good accountants. But next time he talks about how we Texans might need to pay higher taxes, how about he pays his fair share?

Posted by Evan @ 06/10/10 10:37 PM | Comments (0)        


Gonzalez: Confirm Saldaña

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez penned a column for the Statesman in support of Sarah Saldaña's nomination for US attorney and the efforts of Cornyn and Hutchison:

As a former Democratic justice of the Texas Supreme Court and assistant United States attorney, I was disappointed to read a June 7 column ("Cornyn uses politics as law enforcement roadblock in Texas") unfairly blaming U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, for the slow pace of filling vacancies for the state's four top federal prosecutors.

Saldaña manages the fraud and public corruption section in the Northern District. She has performed in that role admirably, prosecuting corrupt officials without fear or favor.

Regrettably, Saldaña's promotion to that post is being blocked without explanation or justification. There is a widespread view that Saldaña is being blackballed by congressional Democrats for her role as lead prosecutor in the recent trial of former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Don Hill and other prominent Democratic officials. If there is anything to the charge, then a terrible message is being sent to career federal prosecutors across the nation.

I see no political motivation behind Cornyn and Hutchison fighting for Saldaña, a lifelong Democrat. They are taking a stand for professionalism and the rule of law, and ensuring that the most qualified person gets the job.

Strangely, I don't see many irate editorials coming out of the major Texas dailies!

Posted by Evan @ 06/10/10 10:16 PM | Comments (0)        


09 June 2010

He's only been rejected by Republicans, Democrats and Independents...

...better keep trying.

Awhile back, I think I facetiously predicted that Kinky Friedman would next run for office as a libertarian. He's speaking to the Texas Libertarian Party convention this weekend.

Posted by Evan @ 06/09/10 10:39 PM | Comments (0)        



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