CD7 Primary spat

In Harris County, there are very few contested races in the Democratic primary. One of the big exceptions is in the 7th Congressional District, currently held by Congressman John Culberson. The district, a longtime Republican stronghold once held by George Bush, stretches from Jersey Village to Meyerland. In 2014, there will be two candidates vying to face off against Culberson on the Democratic line in November: James Cargas and Lissa Squiers. Both ran in 2012, and after knocking out a third candidate, advanced to a runoff election. Cargas defeated Squiers in the primary runoff with 58% of the vote, before going on to lose to Culberson in the general election by the lopsided margin of 61-36. Needless to say, whomever wins this primary is achieving little more than a Pyrrhic victory.

Cargas has now begun to launch rather harsh attacks against Squiers, his opponent in the Democratic primary. In a recent press release, Cargas alleged that she has maliciously and nefariously avoided filing disclosures with the Federal Election Committee (FEC). He went on to lament such alleged impropriety, and even compared Squiers unfavorably to Steve Stockman.

In full, Cargas said:

“We already know that the Squires Campaign missed as many as five Federal Election Commission filing deadlines and now we are learning that her flaunting of election laws applies to the requirement that all congressional candidates make the same financial disclosure filings as incumbent members of Congress.

During the last election, the House Ethics Committee made it very easy by mailing me all of the forms and instructions. Their website has even more information and the staff was very helpful when I called for guidance/

You can be disappointed in Rep. Stockman’s recent problems with his financial disclosures, but at least he filed something! I would expect more from a person with an accounting degree. This is more than a legal technicality. Exposing our personal finances for voters to see is a matter of public trust.”

He even made a point of noting that these were serious offenses punishable by $50k in fines and a year in jail. Cargas then concluded by listed his own credentials for office, which include a fairly detailed career both working in the government and practicing law.

I found all these attacks to be somewhat harsh, so I contacted Squiers directly to see if she would tell her side of the story. In short, she vehemently denied all of Cargas’ allegations, as well as volunteering a few of her own about him. Specifically, she accused the opponent of other tactics throughout the campaign that, if true, would be frowned upon by the majority of the electorate.

Squiers noted the confusion may have arisen if Cargas referenced a previous, dormant account she had previously registered with the Federal regulators. She also was quick to note some of the more byzantine disclosures on topics pertaining to “stocks and assets” were not applicable. Specifically, on this topic, Squiers said:

“I definitely speak to my FEC analyst regularly and I am fine. He is referring to my previous account with them, which is closed due to no activity. On the years between campaigns many people do not need to file or keep an FEC account, so they close it and open a new one when they become a candidate again. The financial disclosure is for stocks and assets, of which I had none to list.”

This was the least of the accusations Squiers continued to make about Cargas, which also included allegedly publishing personal documents as well as harassing “a local blogger” (this is the first I have heard of it). Again, like Cargas’ press release, this presents some pretty serious allegations towards the other campaign.

I am not a loyalist to the so-called “11th Commandment” colloquialism of never engaging in fights with members of the same party, as everyone should know by now. But this is just too far. While, for example, the 15th Senate District (Whitmire) might host a competitive (and nasty) primary, this would be because there is a Democratic incumbent and only token Republican opposition. In this congressional district, on the other hand, the Republican Culberson is the incumbent and is a rather easy target.

The fact that Cargas and Squiers would rather go after each other than the incumbent speaks volume as to why Democrats have not been (and will not be, at least in the short term) successful in this State.

 

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3 thoughts on “CD7 Primary spat

  1. Thank you Noah. You nailed it. This is just a repeat performance of 2012 by these two who haven’t a clue and nobody ends up a winner, but DEMOCRATS in Harris County who want to succeed in other races are all the losers. Again, thak you for shining the light on a nest of cockraoches.- in CD7

  2. Noah and Carl are correct about how these ad hominem attacks and suggestions of financial impropriety demotivate Democratic voters. But, such inside-baseball stuff are taken seriously by campaign donors, bundlers, and consultants.

    I, personally, recall Lisa Squires starting down this road first. But, Jim should not have taken the bait and followed. So, now, I have offended everybody, as usual. But, I doubt there is a simple way to untangle this mess at this late date.

    The state and county parties should use both the primary ballot referendum process and convention rule-making and platform-building facilities we have to develop and exploit issues that should reasonably divide even the most loyal Democrats. That would be mee and thee, Carl.

    The primary and the conventions are laboratories and workshops for resolution of important matters through informed debate. Resolution and prioritization of important issues is the way to build enthusiasm :(turnout) and (b) unity (ballot discipline).

    But, the Democratic bundlers and consultants have never figured out how to re-tool the conventions, primaries, and party itself to do anything but leverage or fund their proprietary enterprises. That is why Democratic turnout and ballot discipline are so low and the Democratic majorities outside of a few racially gerrymandered districts are so immature and unreliable.

    This is a strategic problem which cannot be laid at the feet of either Lisa or Jim.

  3. Texpatriate, thank you for taking an interest in this important issue. Election law violations are serious and they are something that can prevent a candidate from winning in November. It is best to get it out now, so Democratic voters can advance the person who has their house in order.

    A few corrections to her statements.

    First, filing a Financial Disclosure Statement with the House Ethics Committee is required of all candidates and must include all of their income over $200, not just stocks and assets. This has nothing to do with separate FEC filing requirements.

    Second, this is not an ad hominem attack on her character or personal attributes. I never used the words “malicious” or “nefarious.” The fact is she has violated an important election law. Check out my timely reports here:http://clerk.house.gov/public_disc/financial-search.aspx

    Third, as for the FEC violations, a campaign remains active until a termination is filed with the FEC. It is dishonest for her to say it was closed due to no activity (which is not an option), and then file a late report on Nov. 1, 2013 detailing her past year’s $4,554 worth of activity. Last week, on Dec. 27, 2013, she filed a termination report for her 2012 campaign.

    And fourth, it is also dishonest for her to say she was not required to file FEC reports when she receive 4 separate notices from the FEC looking for her missing reports.

    Feb. 15 notice: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/909/13330023909/13330023909.pdf

    May 3 notice: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/136/13330031136/13330031136.pdf

    Aug. 2 notice: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/395/13330035395/13330035395.pdf

    Nov. 1 notice: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/988/13330039988/13330039988.pdf

    I was a huge supporter of John Edwards, but wished our Party had asked more questions about his election law compliance and finances. It would have saved me many hours, over $1,000 in donations, and us all much embarrassment. Let’s not make the same mistake again. We should demand full disclosure and compliance of our candidates — our opposition in November will.

    James

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