Tyler Tea Party reacts to Smith County sheriff interviews
POSTED: Thursday, July 12, 2012 - 4:03pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 9:28am
SMITH COUNTY — A spokesman for the Tyler Tea Party released the following letter to KETK in response to the Smith County Sheriff candidate interviews shown by Grassroots America, We the People on Wednesday night.
Here is what Tea Party spokesman and treasurer, Shawn Bradley, had to say:
I love politics – I really do. Over the years, I’ve spent hundreds, maybe thousands of hours in political observation activities. But sometimes, the business of politics saddens me. This is one of those times. Chris Green has been wrongfully attacked.
I went to the public review of the sheriff candidate “vetting” tapes released by Grassroots America We The People (GAWTP) last night. For those of you who could not make it, I’d like you to know that the bias displayed against Chris Green by the board of GAWTP – and Jo Ann Fleming in particular – was breathtaking. It was obvious to me that the board had already chosen Larry Smith as their candidate, and that the subsequent “vetting” process was nothing more than political theater. In my view, for GAWTP to present this as an objective “vetting” process is laughable. After promising the videos would only be used for internal purposes, they broke this promise in an attempt to score cheap political points, in my humble opinion.
The videos were played in the order they were originally recorded, and so Green’s video was first. The questioning began in a very general way – something along the lines of “is there anything you’d like to say that didn’t get said during any of the debates or appearances to date?” Green made several remarks about what a challenge the race had been so far, and how surprised he was at the attacks he’d encountered. He indicated that he knew it would be tough, but he didn’t expect to have to buy four times as many signs due to vandalism and theft, he didn’t expect a private investigator would be sent to try to dig up dirt from his ex-wife, and he didn’t expect to find wiretaps on the phones in his office. This last point – the wiretaps on the phones – was seized upon by the board. They challenged him on his integrity as an officer of the law for not reporting this crime of illegal wiretapping, and they repeatedly tried to get him to make an accusation as to whom he thought was responsible. Green seemed very surprised that this was such an issue, and repeatedly stated that it wouldn’t have accomplished anything by reporting it, that he had no idea who was responsible, and even if he did, it would be impossible to prove. At no time did Green make any accusation – he even went so far as to say that, for all he knew, the phones could have been bugged when he got them. Despite such badgering by an obviously hostile board, Green continued to carry himself with the grace and dignity that we have come to expect from him. I saw no anger, no threatening, no stumbling. His performance under these circumstances should make his supporters very proud.
There is no question that Smith was facing a very different audience than Green was, despite it being made up of the exact same people on the same night. There was more laughing and joking during Smith’s “vetting” than there would be at a Chris Rock show! After several minutes of frivolity, Fleming launched into the “really tough” questions that she had been storing up for Smith. With an air of absolute gravity, Fleming proceeds to admonish Smith to answer her honestly, and take this very seriously. She then launches her first question – “Now Larry, look at me. This is very serious, Larry, and I want you to tell me the truth … have you ever, at any time, engaged in illegal wiretapping of another candidate’s phones? Have you ever sent someone to engage in such activities?” Smith, in mock incredulity replies, “uh, no way! That would be illegal!”. This set the tone for the rest of the tape - basically, every question asked of Smith for the first 45 minutes or so was based on things said by Green during his “vetting”, and they were taken out of context and twisted to make Green look like a liar or a kook. For example, Green intentionally avoided making any accusation against anyone about his phones being tapped, yet Fleming asks Smith right off the bat if he’s ever tapped another candidates phones. In a truly objective vetting process, such a question would be absurd on its face, but at a GAWTP “vetting”, it constitutes the weightiest substance Fleming and the board can muster. I could go on with a point-by-point analysis of every question, but the results would be pretty much the same. Questions presented to Smith had an air of “snarkiness” to them – the board may as well have been saying something like “I’m sorry to have to ask such an absurd question Larry, but that crazy Green guy says you keep an alien in your basement. Larry, do you keep an alien in your basement?”
GAWTP has every right to throw their support behind the candidate of their choice, based on whatever criteria they decide to use. But to proceed with such an obvious sham of a vetting process, under the guise of a truly objective and serious attempt to determine each candidate’s qualifications and character, is a huge disservice to the voters of Smith County.
Smith County deserves better.
Sincerely, in Liberty,