As Republicans we pride ourselves of being the party of family values. Lately we also have been repeatedly beating the drum of election integrity. Both are laudable positions to take and deserve to be championed with zeal. However, taking those positions places a duty upon us to act in a manner in accordance with those beliefs. Two events in the past 60 days raise great concern regarding the manner HCRP is acting in regards to these two issues.
Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. That presumption doesn’t always apply outside of court. Some matters are so heinous that prudence dictates acting with caution. Child pornography is one of those instances. Sadly, Harris County Republican Party has a current precinct chair – an active one at that – who is currently a defendant in Montgomery County for promotion of child pornography.
The case number is 21-12-16965, defendant Alex Hargrave. I certainly hope that if Mr. Hargrave is not guilty he zealously fights the charge and prevails. A charge is not a finding of guilt. However, this is promotion of child pornography. Regardless of political affiliation, people of common decency should find the matter repugnant, and the party of family values should be concerned one of their active precinct chairs has this specter hanging over them. Although HCRP requires credentialed login on the county party web page to access the precinct chair list an internet search found a list of the 2020-2022 precinct chairs, and is displayed at the end of the article. This means anyone can cross reference the picture above to the precinct chair list and make the connection.
Giving benefit of the doubt is, at a minimum, asking him to temporarily step back from any committee assignments while the matter is pending. We are a society that believes in the rule of law and a finding of not guilty is a finding of redemption against a charge. Should that occur, by all means carry on.
However, despite the information being out since 12/14/2021 HCRP hasn’t said anything regarding the matter. Is this the behavior of the party of family values? This is the type of incident that permanently alienates a segment of the voting population. It’s not difficult to release an official statement to the effect of we are aware and shocked by the allegations, and if true condemn the behavior in the strongest terms possible.
Election integrity is another important value for HCRP to champion. If we cannot trust our elections how can we trust our government? Yet, here, too, HCRP is beset with unsettling news that is public record. A jury trial just wrapped up on a fraud case regarding the upcoming Republican primary election. Again, this is a jury trial where the dirty laundry is being aired out in public before a jury.
The cause number is 202201417, styled Ketterman, Julie versus Harris County Republican Party. You can enter in the case number and find the case here. The short version of the fact pattern is Julie Ketterman and Rachel Leal-Hudson are, now were, both candidates for judge of the 313th family law court. It was alleged, and a jury found, that Leal-Hudson committed fraud in regards to the requisite 250 signatures to appear on the ballot. Julie Ketterman timely challenged the matter with Cindy and HCRP and the challenge was declined. Litigation ensued, and in a jury trial the jury found that Leal-Hudson committed 10 counts of fraud relating to the signatures. This finding lead to a court order enjoining HCRP from certifying her position on the ballot.
With election integrity a hot button issue optics are important. When the challenge was presented to HCRP they had to make a decision whether to accept or deny the challenge. What’s so disturbing, from an election integrity standpoint, is Cindy’s statement, “Determining if your allegations of perjury and fraud by Ms. Leal-Hudson is beyond the scope of my authority as County Chairman. In fact my review is limited to the face of the candidate’s application and attached petitions.” Either we believe in election integrity or we do not. If the challenge had been accepted, the only significant difference in the trial is the burden of proof would lie with Ms. Leal-Hudosn. With the matter heading to court, optics are important.
As a general matter Republicans are in a difficult spot in Harris County; with this cycle presenting us an opportunity to make some inroads. The crime situation being out of control, and Houston assuming a position as the murder capitol of the nation tilts the sentiment, at least in the criminal court judicial races, towards the Republicans. However, by not acting prudently regarding the two matters noted herein it undermines any benefit the generalized dislike for crime has on the electorate.
People make mistakes and everyone deserves forgiveness if they ask to be forgiven, especially if their actions testify to a change in behavior. If Mr. Hargrave is not guilty, then I certainly hope he puts on a strong defense and that a jury sides with him. However, HCRP has to make decisions in near real time. That requires making hard decisions with the ability to correct after the fact.
If we are the party of family values and election integrity we need to act like it. The democrats will gladly point out when we do not.
After the comments below HCRP did send me a copy of a resignation letter dated November 7, 2021. Although the Texas Secretary of State still lists Mr. Hargrave as a precinct chair it appears he did effectively resign on November 7, 2021 and that simply has not been communicated to the Secretary of State. The letter contains a significant amount of private information unrelated to the post here. If I were to post the letter it would be very heavily redacted, and I am not going to publish the screenshot.
Dan Comstock says
Wonderful article! It deserves to be circulated widely. I would like every precinct chair in Harris County to read it.!
Harris County, Texas
Precinct 0759 Chairman
Harris County Republican Party
Deanna Dixon says
Harris County Republican Party has a long history of hypocrisy with party officials, political power players, and candidates that don’t adhere to the same moral standards they seek to impose on others. Just look at Hotze and his obsession with homosexuality and claims that they are pedophiles while purported God fearing, family value Christians are involved in child porn (allegedly) while serving on major committees within the party.
Re: “However, this is promotion of child pornography.” No it’s not. It’s a charge of promotion of child pornography. As you yourself stated, “Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.” Mr. Hargrave has not yet had his day in court, yet you’ve effectively convicted him and ruined his reputation by posting his picture and running with this story before any finding of guilt. I don’t personally know Mr. Hargrave, and if he’s found guilty of his charges, by all means he should pay the price. How about we wait for a verdict? A simple search of the precinct chair filings on the party website will show that he has not refiled for Precinct Chair so your concerns seem to be a moot point.
Greg Degeyter says
” yet you’ve effectively convicted him and ruined his reputation by posting his picture and running with this story before any finding of guilt.
Not at all. This is his mugshot. It’s publicly available. That’s where I found it.
Regarding the “effectively convicted” allegation, no. I’m saying the party of family values needs to address the situation. He’s presently on committees and still very active based on the emails he is sending out.
Regarding a moot point, that’s 100% off. He is a current precinct chair, has been a defendant in a child porn case for almost two months, and the county party hasn’t said anything. Plus it’s not too late to file for precinct chair. They aren’t up for election on March 1 in Harris County.
We can’t claim to hold the moral high ground and ignore charges of this nature.
Greg Degeyter says
Also, see the Channel 2 report. This is out in the public now. It was only a matter of time before the democrats drew the connection.
Vernon Edgar Wuensche says
The country is being rapidly destroyed on a daily basis by DEMOCRATS and you are focusing your attention and publicizing REPUBLICAN flaws? What the heck?? Where is your head? These problems could have all been handled quietly with the appropriate Republican officials. Not a coverup BUT NOT shouting it from the rooftops with a mass email. Spend your time and energy going after DEMOCRATS or there may become a time sooner than you think that you may not have the freedom to make the post you did. REPUBLICANS are not destroying America even if a few have flaws as we all do.
Greg Degeyter says
“These problems could have all been handled quietly with the appropriate Republican officials.”
I didn’t contact them, but why do you think I sat on this for almost two months? To give HCRP a chance to address the situation. HCRP either was going to address the issue or not. 50+ days is enough time to come up with a strategy on how to address the situation and act.
In the town I live in the local paper not only identifies the perps who get arrested, they also publish their address. Within days of the arrest. Our paper has not been gobbled up by Hearst.
Child pornography is now “a few have flaws”? That’s just not a “flaw”,
I guess it could be worse, the party could go back to the Jared Woodfill days with Judge Pressler and his “boys” that he allegedly molested.
Let’s just ignore the legislative committee Hargrave, the alleged child pornographer and child pornography promoter, served on and the “family values” legislation that is sooooo very important to the Republican Party.
Ed Hubbard says
I have some personal knowledge of how both matters you discuss have been addressed by the HCRP in my role as Legal Counsel to the HCRP. Unfortunately, there are important inaccuracies and misconceptions in your article that should be clarified.
First, as to Mr. Hargrave, he was not a precinct chair, nor was he a member of any HCRP committee at the time of his arrest, and he has not since filed to run for precinct chair in the upcoming primary. Mr. Hargrave had resigned from all of his positions with the HCRP on November 7, 2021 without explanation. The HCRP was not aware of these allegations, or his arrest, until after his arrest was publicized, which was after he had resigned. The HCRP does not condone the behavior alleged in his indictment, but because Mr. Hargrave was no longer a precinct chair or committee member, and was not seeking to run in the primary, there was no action the party could or should have taken (and, as you correctly note, he, like anyone else, is to be accorded the presumption of innocence). Unfortunately, given the process the party uses to periodically update its list of active precinct chairs, Mr. Hargrave’s name remained on that list inappropriately for too long after he had resigned, giving the incorrect impression that he was still an active precinct chair and committee member when he was not. It is my understanding that the HCRP is addressing that issue.
Second, as to the Ketterman case, your discussion seems to be premised on a fundamental misconception about the authority of the HCRP when acting as the Primary Director under the Election Code. The Primary Director may only review an application (including petitions) to determine their “facial validity” before certifying the candidate to appear on the ballot. If a complaint is timely filed, the Primary Director may consider information in public records to resolve the complaint, such as birth certificates, etc., but she may not remove a candidate for allegations that involve issues that are not apparent from the face of the application or petition, or from public records. See Election Code Sec. 145.003(f) and (g). Ms. Ketterman presented a complaint containing very serious allegations of wrongdoing by her opponent as to how she gathered the signatures on her petition and the how those petitions were verified. Resolution of those allegations required going beyond a review of the application, petitions and public records, and instead, required an adjudication of a factual dispute that was beyond the authority of the Primary Director. Therefore, the Chair had no discretion other than to deny the complaint, which then allowed Ms. Ketterman to pursue her allegations in court, where they could be properly adjudicated (the Chair had no legal authority to adjudicate and grant Ms. Ketterman’s complaint so as to change the burdens on the parties in the trial court, as you propose). The proper judicial process is now underway—preliminary requests for injunctions were denied, a trial on the merits has been held, an order has been issued, and likely appeals will follow. Under Chapter 145 of the Election Code, the Primary Director may not take any action as to a disqualification of a candidate until a final ruling from an appellate court is issued. See Election Code Sec. 145.004.
I hope this clarifies the issues you discussed. In the future, if you have questions about the HCRP, please contact us before assuming the worst about the party.
Greg Degeyter says
Ed, thank you for address the issue. A couple of reasons I still have concern, but it can be succinctly boiled down to this:
“Mr. Hargrave’s name remained on that list inappropriately for too long after he had resigned, giving the incorrect impression that he was still an active precinct chair and committee member when he was not.”
That’s why the party should have done something when the information became public in December. Even something as simple as a statement Mr. Hargrave resigned back in November and is no longer a precinct chair would have effectively dealt with the issue when it occurred.
It’s good to hear that he had resigned, and if you email me his resignation letter I am happy to add it as an image at the end of the article.
I don’t know where the breakdown in communication and decision making is occurring. What I do see, however, is a series of decisions that raise concern.
Remember, I’m not one to pick a fight and don’t have any particularly refined research skills. If I’m finding the information the democrats are too.
Ed Hubbard says
Greg, please send me your email address, and I will send you a copy of the letter.
Greg Degeyter says
Ed, here is a story from the Chronicle that just hit my inbox. It’s the exact reason HCRP needs to be proactive, like they were in the story.
Ed Hubbard says
The Advisory Board was proactive by including a unanimous statement condemning the proposal in each precinct chair’s packet for the EC meeting, however there is no rule authorizing the Advisory Board to withhold a proposed resolution. In the end, the precinct chair withdrew the resolution voluntarily before the meeting started.
Greg Degeyter says
You are missing the point entirely. The advisory board was proactive here like they should have been.
Just like what should have occurred in regards to Hargrave. With media willing and readily available to attack conservatives HCRP needs to get out in front of these issues like they did with the resolutions.
Excuses like he was no longer a precinct chair and the information was erroneously left online doesn’t get in front of the issues. A simple this is abhorrent if true, and we want to point out he is no longer a precinct chair gets in front of the issue.
It may be better if we have this discussion outside of here since it appears we are going in circles. I’ll reach out when I’m done with court today.
Simple Simon says
Both parties should worry more about the economy. Pocketbook issues always trump (pun intended) all other issues in the end. Kindly review the election of 1992. George Bush Sr was defeated on the simple approach that “It’s the economy stupid!”. Bush was the better man, but he was stuck with supply side economics. Ironically, Bush Sr had tagged supply side economics properly as “Voodoo Economics”.
The Democrats always fall back on the same Keynesian Economics schemes, and they are no better.
None of these social issues that the GOP loves right now impact my pocketbook in any significant way. Regrettably, neither party has proven itself adept in dealing with the economy, but we keep electing these idiots because of their social issue stands.