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Offline sinkspur

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Analysis: Stockman’s attacks on Cornyn in Senate race fall short of truth


 Email Published: January 22, 2014 11:10 PM Updated: January 23, 2014 10:27 AM

WASHINGTON — From the first hours of his uphill bid to oust fellow Republican John Cornyn from the Senate, Rep. Steve Stockman has leveled a torrent of eye-popping allegations.

He’s depicted Cornyn as a liberal who loves higher taxes and debt, hates the Second Amendment and stabs conservatives in the back at any opportunity. The nonstop heckling, on Twitter and other social media, has become the hallmark of Stockman’s shoestring effort in the primary.

“Obama just stripped peaceful, law-abiding Americans of their gun rights for life,” Stockman, R-Clear Lake, wrote in one fundraising blast last week. “And my opponent just announced he’s introducing a bill making Obama’s lifetime gun ban scheme permanent federal law.”

Last week, Stockman tweeted in outrage that Cornyn “just voted with every Democrat” for a $1 trillion spending bill. Monday, he launched a website built on the claim that “Cornyn loves ObamaCare” — an attack that one Cornyn aide called “delusional.”

Like many Stockman assertions, these are damning and startling — and they hinge on contorted logic, fuzzy facts or outright speculation.

Obama didn’t ban gun ownership, recently or ever. Cornyn has said he’d like to make it harder for violent people with mental illness to have access to guns — a goal shared by the NRA, which supports the senator for re-election.

On the spending bill, Cornyn supported a three-day extension of last year’s budget that averted another government shutdown. He voted against the $1 trillion deal.

Selective facts

Campaigns, especially winning campaigns, aren’t built around unvarnished, unbiased arguments. Selective use of facts is as common in politics as in a court of law. Voters, like juries, must often sort out competing claims. And it’s not as though Cornyn is devoting his resources to flattery of the challenger.

“It’s not out of bounds in terms of political campaigning,” Cornyn said Tuesday, “but that’s the role of the campaign, to cut through the allegations and what’s fact and what’s fiction.

But Stockman has made an art of audacity.

“That’s his modus operandi. He says outrageous things that are very often untrue,” said Mark Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University in Houston.

“It’s a strategy that works for him and seems to be part of his personality. … He just lies. He eventually gets called out on it, but the damage has been done.”

Stockman adviser Al Lee defends the congressman’s methods and allegations.

“Everything is substantiated by fact,” he said. “Cornyn is criticizing him for being clever in getting free publicity?”

In one of his first email missives of the campaign, Stockman asserted that “John Cornyn wakes up every morning and works to make the Senate a more liberal place.”

He accused the incumbent of betraying tea party hero Sen. Ted Cruz and other true conservatives time and again and spending “four years voting like a Democrat” before shifting gears in time for re-election.

Voting records show that Cornyn is among the most consistent Republicans — not surprising, since he’s been the party’s deputy Senate leader for the past year. He ran its Senate campaign arm for four years before that.

In 2013, Cornyn voted with fellow Republicans 89 percent of the time — more often than even Cruz. In 2011 and 2012, his 92 percent party loyalty record put him in a first-place tie with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

In 2009 and 2010, Cornyn voted with fellow Republicans 94 percent of the time, tied for fifth. He was fourth most loyal in the two years before that.

To Stockman, Cornyn is a turncoat.

“If we put John Cornyn back in the Senate, he will go on betraying Republicans every single day with a vengeance. Well, I’m sick and tired of being shot in the back by someone in my own foxhole,” he wrote supporters.

He has asserted that only “liberal media outlets” view Cornyn as conservative; as Cornyn aides point out, staunch conservative Gov. Rick Perry stood behind the senator at his re-election kickoff.

Cornyn has Stockman badly outgunned by the usual metrics, with $7 million in the bank.

Citing Cruz

The congressman had only $32,000. He’s doing his best to stoke disgruntlement among tea party activists, exploiting the contrast in styles between Cornyn and Cruz.

In one fundraising appeal, he asserted that Cornyn “lustfully … knifed Ted Cruz in the back to try and stop him from being elected to the Senate.” But Cornyn was scrupulously neutral in the 2012 primary between Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Cruz has declined to endorse Cornyn, citing his policy of staying neutral in primaries featuring GOP incumbents. But Cruz has praised his fellow senator and donated to his campaign. He’s said little about Stockman’s challenge.

Cornyn’s handling of Obamacare is a favorite Stockman target.

The senator fought the law and routinely condemns it. The long-term solution, he said, is for Republicans to win control of the Senate so they can repeal it.

Like other GOP leaders in Congress, he viewed Cruz’s threat to shut down the government as unwise.

Before and during the two-week shutdown Cruz instigated, Cornyn said the tactic had no chance of forcing Democrats to abandon their signature health care law.

Stockman paints that as outright support for Obamacare.

Hyperbole has long been part of the Stockman repertoire.

During his first stint in Congress, he asserted that the federal government had “executed” the Branch Davidians near Waco. Voters booted him from office after one term.

Stockman made his comeback in 2012, in part through a smear campaign against state Sen. Mike Jackson, the presumed front-runner.

Through campaign material designed to look like community newspapers, he called Jackson a “pro-choice liberal” despite top scores from Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group.

Torpedoed by that and similar attacks, Jackson didn’t even make the runoff.
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Offline sinkspur

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Re: Stockman's attacks on Cornyn in Senate race fall short of the truth
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 06:02:22 PM »
Latest trouble for Steve Stockman: He hasn’t voted in GOP primaries in 10 years

 TwitterEmail Published: January 24, 2014 9:38 PM Updated: January 24, 2014 9:50 PM

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Stockman has been wrapping himself in the Ted Cruz mantle in his bid to oust Sen. John Cornyn and join Cruz in the Senate.

But it turns out that when he had a chance to support Cruz in the fiercely contested 2012 GOP primary — when Cruz forced Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst into a runoff, and then beat him — Stockman didn’t bother even casting a ballot.

Stockman hasn’t voted in a Republican primary in Texas since 2004, according to the conservative Washington Examiner. That would mean Stockman didn’t even vote for himself in the 2012 primary. That’s not something you see every day in politics.

Cornyn’s campaign gleefully pointed to the news Friday. For the record, Cornyn declined in 2012 to say who he voted for in the Senate primary.

Stockman, R-Clear Lake, served one term in Congress, elected in 1994 and ousted in 1996. He made a surprise comeback in 2012 and last year, at the last minute, he switched from a bid to likely re-election in a Houston-area seat to challenging Cornyn, the Senate’s deputy GOP leader.

That’s led to much more scrutiny, and it’s not going well for Stockman. News reports have noted his lack of campaign appearances around the state. Stockman hasn’t been seen publicly in Texas since a stop Jan. 14, at the Preston Hollow Tea Party in Dallas. That was one day after he mysteriously skipped a planned appearance before a Bedford tea party group.

The congressman was spotted in Cairo last weekend, part of a trip with other members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

But he’s missed the last 17 votes in the House, including a vote he’d promised to cast against a $1.1 trillion spending bill.

He’s pledged on Twitter to reveal Monday where he’s been. With time dwindling in the primary campaign, he’d better hope it’s somewhere he can reach a lot of Texas Republican voters in a hurry.

« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 06:02:41 PM by sinkspur »
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Offline sinkspur

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Re: Stockman's attacks on Cornyn in Senate race fall short of the truth
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 06:05:01 PM »
Stockman used House ‘franking’ privilege for provocative, sometimes suspect messages

 Email Published: January 24, 2014 9:49 PM Updated: January 24, 2014 10:02 PM
During a 2012 campaign, Steve Stockman sent out more than 400,000 mailings with titles such as “Times Free Press” and the “Southeast Texas Courier.” The papers usually bore no indication they were produced by Stockman as campaign materials.

WASHINGTON — Before the age of Twitter, when Rep. Steve Stockman has become a minor political celebrity for his provocative quips, the Clear Lake Republican raised eyebrows through snail mail.

During his first House term from 1995 to 1997, Stockman took advantage of the “franking” privilege, under which lawmakers can send free mail to constituents. The mailings show Stockman’s development as a provocateur and reveal details about the sometimes-mysterious congressman and contender against Sen. John Cornyn in the Republican primary.

“Medicaid money is being used for sex change operations! Thousands of taxpayer dollars wasted because some man thinks he’s trapped in a woman’s body!” read one missive in a constituent letter.

Is it true? Probably not. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services deemed the surgery too experimental and risky to cover in 1981, according to its National Coverage Determination manual.

Stockman lost his 1996 re-election bid, then returned to Congress in early 2013. But details about his recent mailings are murky. Though records show he’s claimed more than $6,000 in franked mail during his current term, the mailings are missing from public records.

Under franking rules, mass mailings must be made public and kept for viewing through the House clerk’s office. Stockman aides did not respond to requests for comment about recent mailings.

But if they’re anything like what he sent in his first term, Stockman’s constituents are getting mailers that are often self-aggrandizing and somewhat misleading.

In 1996, Stockman’s Friendswood district received at least four letters in 1996 bearing alarming claims. Several resembled newspapers with glowing articles about Stockman. They didn’t mention the congressman’s office wrote them.

A list of general Republican legislative priorities in a mailing called “The Congressional Review” bared the headline “Stockman Reforms Underway in 1996.” Stockman had little involvement in the efforts.

In the 1990s, the Federal Elections Commission investigated Stockman over charges that he broke rules on campaign mailings with misleading, newspaper-like offerings titled “The Southeast Texas Times.” He eventually paid a $40,000 penalty.

Stockman used a similar tactic in 2012, sending out more than 400,000 mailings during his campaign with titles such as “Times Free Press” and the “Southeast Texas Courier.” In both cases, the papers usually bore no indication they were produced by Stockman as campaign materials. That could be a violation of election law.

There are also some bits that play against character for Stockman.

In one editorial Stockman did put his name on, called “Effective Environmentalism in the Age of Symbolism,” he paints himself as a libertarian environmentalist. “I worked with the Teamsters to protect the environment,” when it came to cross-border shipping issues, he wrote.

Another tidbit in that issue is a photo of Stockman with Tom Hanks, who had recently starred in the movie Apollo 13. The headline trumpets “Stockman’s New Role in NASA’s Future.”

In addition to mass mailings, congressmen can use franking privileges to answer individual letters sent by constituents, and the one-to-one correspondence does not have to be made public. But large frank expenditures are often indicative of mass mailings, especially when they’re made in a single day, such as the $4,000 records show Stockman spent in June.

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