You see published many “summer reading lists” this time of year. Fresh off my Memorial Day vacation, I offer this review (a) in response to the published request from David Jennings aka Big Jolly (no doubt some cruel joke on his part) and (b) for the amusement of those who might consider themselves up to the challenge of reading this book.
Mr. Jennings invited me to review Mike Collier’s book, “Out of Comptrol,” written after Mr. Collier ran against Glenn Hegar in 2014. Mr. Hegar crushed Mr. Collier by 21 points — almost a million votes. Apparently spurred on by that stunning performance, he decided to run against Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Mr. Collier’s book, which is self-published, would be better titled Mike Collier: Out of Ideas. It’s the same old left-wing drivel the Democrats have been pushing for years and could easily be divided into two sections — lies and bad ideas.
The “Former Republican” Lie
For months Mr. Collier has been creating an alternate reality wherein he defines himself as a conservative. In his book, he goes to great length to proclaim he has been part of the GOP for the past 20 years. He says his book is about his decision “to give up, once and for all” on the Republican Party. He tells a story about his decision to run on the Democrat ticket while reporting he fearlessly informed former Democrat State Rep. Glen Maxey he had voted in the Republican primary. Later, he told the Texas Tribune he voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 GOP primary because he liked his business background.
Oops. The Harris County Clerk’s Office records (which go back to 2000) indicate that Collier has never voted in a Republican primary. In fact, the first time he voted in any primary election at all was in 2014, when he presumably voted for himself in the Democratic primary for comptroller. Mr. Collier voted in general elections in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. He voted in Democratic primaries in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Mr. Collier’s contribution history doesn’t support the claim he’s a former Republican either. According to records maintained by the Texas Ethics Commission, the only GOP candidate he has ever contributed to was running for district court in Williamson County. He gave her $500 in 2011. The rest of his political contributions have gone to pro-abortion, anti-gun, open border, big spending liberal Democrats like State Representatives Jessica Farrar and Trey Martinez-Fischer.
Enron: The Accounting “Cop on the Beat”
Mr. Collier seeks to portray himself as a “cop on the beat,” a certified public accountant who can sniff out financial wrongdoing and clean up what he calls the “Enron style leadership” of Republicans in Texas. He touts his expert credentials earned as a longtime accountant with PwC, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Oops. Did Mr. Collier forget that while he was there, PwC actually provided advice to Enron about business partnerships that were used by the company to dump bad assets and securities? According to the Wall Street Journal, PwC provided valuation advice to Enron’s CFO, Andrew Fastow, who was later convicted of securities fraud.
The examiner appointed in Enron’s bankruptcy found PwC had failed in its duties and had relied on representations from Enron management “that it knew were not justified.”
His “cop on the beat” line is an insult to cops. At best he was asleep at the wheel. At worst he was culpable in the bad acts of the Enron crooks.
Bad Ideas About Taxes
Despite that record, Mr. Collier continues to burnish his CPA credentials even though there’s lots of evidence he has very little understanding of taxes and budgets.
He’s already demonstrated he can’t separate a budget note from an appropriation, and he attacks Republican leadership for increasing property taxes even though those are levied at the local level.
But true to his liberal roots, Mr. Collier supports increasing the gas tax by $0.10.
Which Side Is He On?
Mr. Collier has frequently criticized current Republican leadership for what he calls corporate incentives. On page 90 of his book he says, “It’s time we bring this (tax incentives) to a complete, permanent halt.”
However, on page 82 of his book he says, “That if done properly, incentives could benefit the state.”
Which is it? Demagoguery or double-speak?
Similarly, Mr. Collier bemoaned the use of debt to fund water development projects.
He says it’s irresponsible. However, when he was asked by the Texas Tribune in October 2013 if he supported Proposition 6, which used $2 billion in Rainy Day Fund dollars for collateral for loans for water development projects, Collier said he did.
About Those “Social Issues”
According to his book, in 2013, in a desperate search to find an office to run for that he could win, he met with Neal Carlson, a financial adviser in Houston, and an unnamed Republican political consultant. Mr. Collier told the consultant he was pro-choice and that he supported gay rights. He then told Mr. Carlson that if the Republican Party continued to focus on social issues that it was “doomed.”
Again, Mr. Collier claims throughout his book that he has been a Republican most of his adult life, but he criticizes the GOP’s position on social issues, most of which have been party doctrine for decades.
Mr. Collier insists in his book and on the stump that social issues should not be part of the political debate. But in fact, he is an active partisan who has been fighting for radical, left-wing positions on social issues for years. He is a member of the Board of the Texas Research Institute (aka the Progress Texas Institute), which supported the repeal of the 20-week abortion ban in Texas. TRI describes abortion as an “economic equality issue.”
Mr. Collier also opposed the repeal of HERO, the Houston ordinance that would have required all public restrooms be open to both sexes. Mr. Collier, who says the call for separate restrooms for men and women is “bizarre,” wrote a letter to the Houston Chronicle criticizing Republicans for backing HERO repeal. Like the Democrats and the media, he said it would be “bad for business.”
Of course, he was wrong about that. The long predicted economic backlash in Houston as a result of the landslide rejection of open restroom rules has yet to materialize. In fact, the city has prospered following the repeal of the open bathroom regulations, and the city continues to be ranked among the top sites in the country for entrepreneurial growth, investment and GDP growth.
For that matter, despite the millions of dollars in “bad publicity” the State of Texas received during the privacy debate in 2017, there is no evidence of any negative impact. It’s just the opposite. Texas continues to create almost as many jobs as all the other states combined, and our economy has been named No. 1 in the nation.
Democrats Have Made a Terrible Choice
In his book Collier calls Lt. Governor Patrick a “demagogue” which may or may not be worse than his calling Comptroller Hegar a “rice farmer with no accounting experience.” Either way it reveals Mr. Collier to be just one more angry, mean-spirited Democrat who is peddling the same old left-wing platform that Texas voters have rejected for the last 25 years.
In answer to the question, “Should this book make your summer reading list?” I have to report the answer is NO. I can’t recommend it. It is 260 pages long and doesn’t contain one new or original idea. He doesn’t articulate one principle that matters to him. In selecting Mr. Collier to run against Lt. Governor Patrick — a principled conservative leader who never backs down — Texas Democrats have made a terrible choice. They probably already know that, but in case they don’t, I recommend they read his book.