I am not sure exactly how I became aware of the circumstances of the events in the race for State Representative in House District 81, but I do know it was fairly recently when I realized that Mr. Landgraf was repeatedly lying about his record and accomplishments as a state representative. I came to this conclusion in two ways. First, during the 84th General Session, I was the General Counsel to a Republican State Senator while Mr. Landgraf was serving as a freshman state representative over in the House. I know for a fact that many of the actions and accomplishments that he is trying to take credit for are just not true. Second, as a trained investigator, I have carefully read and listened to his statements and realized that what he was writing and saying was also just not true. For example, he wrote in a guest column for the Odessa American (OA) that he is fighting to repeal the Robin Hood funding formula and that he was making great progress in this endeavor. Specifically, he wrote that “I filed a bill in the Texas Legislature to repeal the Robin Hood law.” The problem is that Representative Matt Rinaldi filed HB 945, not Mr. Landgraf. He signed on 23 days later as a co-author (which means he was an official cheerleader for the bill). He did not draft or organize anything having to do with the bill, yet he tried to take credit for writing it. When I confronted Mr. Landgraf in an open forum on February 15 about the lie, he admitted that he did not file the bill. In his admission, he failed to explain why he lied. He also failed to explain to the audience that the Robin Hood school funding mechanism remains subject to a Texas Supreme Court Order. And since it is subject to a court order, any changes to the current school funding mechanism cannot be dealt with solely by the Legislature. In fact, there is pending litigation regarding the Robin Hood funding that would make any filed bill irrelevant. Later that day at a different forum, he again commented about the status of the Robin Hood funding formula and insisted that the Legislature could do away with Robin Hood. Again, this is simply not accurate.
After looking into the media’s coverage of this race, I recognized that the OA was being a bully to Mr. Landgraf’s opponent. Not only have they failed to cover Mr. Landgraf’s lies about his own record, but they’ve done so while simultaneously and aggressively challenging the views and opinions of his opponent. In response to this, I sent the OA very specific, credible evidence that Mr. Landgraf had lied to the voters on several matters (including the Robin Hood bill). The OA did not investigate my evidence, nor did they ask Mr. Landgraf about my evidence. On February 19, the Publisher of the OA stated in response to a February 18 social media posting that I had no business pointing out a politician’s lies and cover ups and that only a candidate’s opponent should be able to point out the things that I was trying to point out.
My first response to the Publisher’s comment is, “Wow, I am sure that President Nixon would have wished that Woodward and Bernstein felt that same way as you do.” If it were not for a person with insider knowledge about the Watergate scandal and the subsequent investigating and reporting by the Washington Post, the public would have never known about it.
My second response to the Publisher is, “What difference does it make who brings forward facts of a public servant lying about their record and accomplishments as long as the facts are brought out?” The knowledge of a politician’s lies is not always in the possession of the politician’s opponent but by someone who was present when the events occurred. In the case of Mr. Landgraf, not only was I present for part of the events to which he refers to for his successes, I know enough about the Texas Legislature and people connected to it to be able to find the real truth about his statements and claims.
My third response is, “Just how much credible evidence is necessary to bring to the media for them to at least ask Mr. Landgraf a few in-depth questions about those allegations and then report his responses to those allegations?” The February 14 editorial in favor of Mr. Landgraf made it clear that the OA aggressively pursued any perceived misstatements or inconsistencies of his opponent. And, remember that forum that I mentioned earlier where Mr. Landgraf admitted to lying about filing a bill to repeal the Robin Hood law? Well, the OA did not cover that he admitted to that lie. And, as of today, no one in the media has asked him a follow up question about that lie.
My concern of media bias on behalf of the OA was further confirmed in that same social media posting of February 19. In the same comment, the Publisher confirmed that the daughter of the editor of the OA had not only worked for Mr. Landgraf as a volunteer for his campaign, but had been a paid staffer of Mr. Landgraf in his capacity as a state representative. No mention of these entangled relationships was mentioned when the OA endorsed Mr. Landgraf. Nor has there been any further mention of it by the OA other than that one posting in social media.
Separately on February 15, I also provided to CBS 7 specific credible evidence that Mr. Landgraf had lied on two matters. After hearing no reaction from them, I contacted them again on February 19 and provided specific, documented evidence of additional matters how he lied about his record and accomplishments. For example, I pointed out that at the OA/CBS 7 evening forum, he claimed full credit for fixing Hwy. 302 between Notrees and Kermit. The incredible thing about this accomplishment was that it was completed in the middle of the 84th Session. This claim is so outrageous on its face that no additional documentation is necessary. Those involved with road projects know how long it takes to plan, fund and then schedule these types of projects. The other four occasions were extremely well documented to the point that any reasonable journalist would have called any other candidate to inquire about the allegations. As of February 24, it appears that none of those issues have even been raised by CBS 7 with Mr. Landgraf. They certainly have not been reported. Interestingly, Mr. Landgraf’s wife was briefly and recently employed at CBS 7 in the middle of the current primary. Nor has that been disclosed to the public.
I am well aware of the dangers of starting a war with someone who buys ink by the barrel, but I don’t care. I appreciate the importance of standing up against bullies and standing for those who are being treated wrongly. While I may not and do not agree with every platform position that Mr. Landgraf’s opponent has taken, I think that his opponent has been treated worse than wrong by the media. I haven’t given his opponent a dime, yet Mr. Landgraf has benefited from the free favorable media coverage. The favorable coverage is so prevalent that it is apparent that they have championed Mr. Landgraf and that they are trying to shove that champion right down the voters’ throats. In this particular case, the media has forsaken its’ obligation to educate and illuminate issues for the public. This should be reason enough to vote against Mr. Landgraf and for his opponent.
In closing, I must ask: “What is worse than a liar?” My answer is: “Those who enable the liar by bullying anyone who dares to point out the truth.”