As I promised yesterday, it is time to start focusing on the 2014 primary races in Texas. And as I promised back in April, the Harris County District Clerk race between incumbent Chris Daniel and challenger Court Koenning is going to be a “fun” one, in that it is going to be nasty and I’ll have lots to write about. The “fun” started back in July with a strange mailer. More “fun” came to my email inbox last Friday via the Koenning campaign. The email was titled “Shameful campaign tactic” and starts out:
Dawn and I are attending a luncheon today for “Inspire Women.” While we are excited and eager to support the organization, our attendance is a bit bittersweet.
Those that are friends with us on Facebook, may recall a post I made on June 12th of this year. Dawn and I learned then she would be honored here today. The organization’s focus is to reach abused kids, trafficked women, suicidal teens, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, prisoners, veterans, homeless, the lost and to serve in hundreds of different missions and ministries.
A committee charged with finding those in the community who “Inspire Women,” found Dawn’s story inspiring and sought her out. Many of you know Dawn is an amazing example of God’s grace through incredible adversity. However, her amazing story was just too much for MY political opponent.
I’m not going to copy the entire email, which was rather long, because Koenning refused to provide details substantiating his claims. Basically, the email accused Daniel’s campaign of targeting Koenning’s wife and denying her an opportunity to receive an award. I called Koenning after receiving the email and asked him to provide copies of the alleged threats from Daniel’s campaign. He refused, saying that he didn’t have permission to give me a copy and that I could ask Daniel for a copy. At that point, I said, “So, you are going to charge Daniel’s campaign with doing something but refuse to provide evidence proving it?” Koenning’s reply was “This is a political campaign not a court of law.”
Alrighty then. So, I called Chris Daniel to ask him about it. He happened to be driving back from somewhere in East Texas and was unaware of the email, so he asked if he could call back. A few minutes later he called back and told me that no one in his campaign had sent any emails about Koenning’s wife at any time. I asked him again: “Categorically, do you deny that your campaign sent any emails about Dawn Koenning to a group called “Inspire Women” or any other group? And Daniel answered “Yes, categorically my campaign did not send any emails to anyone about Dawn.”
I have no idea what Koenning has in his possession that makes him think that Daniel’s campaign did what he says they did. All I know is that he refuses to produce evidence that Daniel’s campaign did anything. Be it a political campaign or a court of law, you shouldn’t charge someone unless you can prove your charge.
Seems like the “Shameful campaign tactic” belongs to Koenning. Using your wife to get sympathy votes via baseless charges is pretty shameful.
Note that I take no position on the two candidates. I like Chris and supported him after he won his primary in 2010 – I supported Paul Dwight in that race. I don’t know Court well but will provide unbiased coverage of the race, which is what I did above by calling both candidates about this email. But unbiased coverage doesn’t mean that I won’t have an opinion or three about shameful campaign tactics from either man.
Court forwarded the original email that started this chain of events. Judge Paul Pressler, who is a supporter of Chris Daniel but is not on his campaign team, sent the following email:
From: Paul Pressler
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 5:48 PM
Cc: Court Koenning; ‘Christopher A. Daniel’; ‘Jared Woodfill’
Subject: Court Koenning’s Campaign
I am very much offended that someone would try to use you to promote their own selfish political agenda. I received the invitation to your latest event, which listed Dawn and Court Koenning as honorees for some sort of Christian activities in which they had been engaged. Selection of honorees should be made on the basis of their true Christian commitment and not when they are trying to parlay their Christian faith into political advantage.
I don’t know whether you are aware that Court has announced for public office and is heavily playing the religion card in his race. Attached hereto is a copy of a letter he sent out, which I felt boiled down to “God has chosen me to run for District Clerk, therefore you should support me.” Through my many years, I have learned that I do not try to advertise special treatment from God or accuse him of being behind my own personal ambitions and desires. Also attached hereto is a copy of my response to Koenning’s original letter. After the exchange of letters, Court and I met, and we continue to be in strong disagreement.
I recently received an anonymous letter, a copy of which is attached. The only return address is “The Nation’s Capitol, Washington D.C. 20500”
First of all, I resent anonymous letters. Secondly, I think the return address is probably illegal. Thirdly, the content of the letter is mean, viscous, and not worthy of a Christian or one supporting a Christian. The whole thing greatly disgusts me.
Now I see you are being used by the Koennings in the same vein in which their prior letter was sent. If you promote one party in an election campaign, you should also promote the other party. Of course I cannot support your luncheon at the present time. I feel it would be necessary for you to either remove the Koennings or add Chris and Jenn Daniels, as Christians also, to your list of honorees. This way you balance things out. Failure to do so could even jeopardize your tax status, as it would be taking a partisan stand for what should be a non-partisan charitable event.
I’ll be very happy to discuss this with you, if you wish. I am deeply concerned about anybody who wraps himself in a cloak of religiosity to exploit personal gain.
Running in the Republican primary against a Republican incumbent is always divisive. This particular one is particularly so given the way Court is campaigning.
I love, admire, and respect you and hate to see someone try to use you in this manner.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
There is an awful lot in Judge Pressler’s email that I’d like to respond to, particularly his charge that Court is “heavily playing the religion card”, given Judge Pressler’s own use of that card for many years in taking over the Harris County Republican Party. That is some hubris.
But this post was about Court’s campaign email, so I’ll stick to that for now and perhaps revisit Judge Pressler at some point.
Court’s claim was that the Daniel campaign had played a “dirty trick” by sending this email. The fact is that Judge Pressler is not a part of the Daniel campaign, so Court’s claim is incorrect.
However, if you look at the “cc” line above, Chris Daniel was copied on Judge Pressler’s email. He could have and should have put a stop to this nonsense. When I asked him about it, he said that he didn’t think it was his place to do so since it wasn’t a part of his campaign and that he had no control over his supporter. While that is true, it smacks of avoiding responsibility that clearly belonged to Chris. Telling Judge Pressler to stop his antics would have been the right thing to do.
I give both men a thumbs down for this episode and hope that the campaigns will stick to the issues of the District Clerk’s office in the future.