Thursday, April 17, 2008

Karl Rove, Never Dreams of Being The President; Working "Under The Radar" Is Much More Satisfying.

Karl Rove Likes What He Sees


Karl Rove Likes What He Sees

With his new gig at Fox and a seven-figure political memoir in the works, Karl Rove has officially crossed over from shadowy 'Wizard of Oz' territory to somewhat approachable public personality. But as Lisa DePaulo finds out, that doesn't mean he's any less…pointed with his opinions


Photograph by Gillian Laub

i can see karl rove standing outside the restaurant, on the phone, yakking, pacing, occasionally peering at me through the etched-glass window and sticking a stubby finger in the air to indicate that he'll just be just one more minute. Eighteen minutes pass. He enters brusquely, with apologies and a crack about my "bright red purse" but also with the clear message that he is in control. Uncomfortable in this position, somewhat wary, constantly checking his watch ("Gotta go soon… Gotta go… Couple more minutes…"), not diggin' it, but always in control. Karl Rove is not a guy who kicks back with a drink—even coffee's a stretch ("I'm a decaf guy," he says)—and shoots the shit for a few hours. This isn't about a charm offensive—he gives the impression that he's not even sure why he's doing this. But: To be with Rove is to listen to a man who is utterly articulate and insightful and at the same time utterly…what's the word? Plain? Normal? Caucasian? If you didn't know he used to be Bush's Brain, if you didn't know he is widely credited/blamed with leading the Republican Party to an era of total world domination, if you didn't recognize him (as numerous gawkers inside the Muse hotel restaurant do) as the man W. famously dubbed "Turd Blossom," you'd think he was a middle-management sales lackey in town to sell Ginsu knives or something. The nondescript gray suit and overcoat, the geeky glasses and bald-on-the-top-with-peach-fuzz do, the briefcase (in middle school, he was the only kid with a briefcase, which pretty much sums it up). In what ways is he cool? We can't help but ask. "None," he says. "I am the antithesis of cool." We should also point out that Rove is exceedingly polite and well-mannered and, at moments, as prickly as the little cactuses on his tie. He has the demeanor of a man who had more power than he'll ever admit but is never really far from the 9-year-old who once got into a schoolyard fight over Richard Nixon, and lost. To a girl.

karl rove: Sorry to be late. I have a lunch with the Big Boss shortly.

gq: The Big Boss?
Mr. Murdoch.

Ah, that big boss. Does that mean you'll be getting more money out of Fox?
No, it doesn't.

Do you like being a TV analyst?
Uh, it's odd. You know, it's weird for me. But it's interesting.

Do you think Fox News is fair and balanced?
I do. I think they go out of their way to be fair and tough in questioning. I'm really impressed with the people I've gotten to know. Brit Hume is a very bright person; Chris Wallace has got a lot of integrity.

You also sold a book recently.
I did.

What'd ya get?
A lot.

And you're doing speeches, too, right? I read that you just gave one at Penn—
I like speaking to the college campuses.

And the first question, someone called you a cancer.
Right. Oh, sure.

You must get that all the time.
Uh, I get it some. When I go to campuses. But did you hear what I did? I just let him rant. And when he was finished, he had no question, he just wanted to accuse me of undermining the Constitution and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. And I said, "Thanks for your thoughtful rant." And he sat down. And I said, "Now do you feel better about yourself?" And he said, "Yeah." And I said, "Well, I want you to feel better about yourself." And everybody laughed, and we went on.

But is it hard when people—
No. No. Look, everywhere I go, people say nice things to me. I don't live for that. I appreciate it, and I'm grateful for their kind words, but I don't live for it. And similarly, when people say ugly things? It doesn't affect me. They want their words to affect me. And as a result, I'm not gonna let 'em.

But when people say, "You've created this climate of fear—"
I laugh.

You laugh?
Yeah. I laugh. Sure. How? What, exactly? I'm not apologetic about what this administration has done. It's protecting America. It has won important battles in a war that we as a nation better win or we will leave the future to our kids, a much darker and dangerous future.

What's the biggest misconception about your role in the Bush White House?
That it was all about politics.

If that's the misconception, what's the overlooked truth?
Look, I'm a policy geek. What I've most enjoyed about my job was the substantive policy discussions. Being able to dig in deeply and, you know, learn about something, ask questions, listen to smart people, and form a judgment about something that was from a policy perspective.

When you look back at your career, especially in the Bush administration, what's the worst thing you did?
I'm not gonna be good at answering that.

But is there anything you feel guilty about? Or wish you did differently?
[exasperated laugh] Off the record?

No! Don't go off the record.
Off the record.

Okay, let's look back, to the very beginning of the Karl Rove story, when you got handed the keys [from Bush the father, to deliver to Bush the son] until now. And you look at where the president's approval ratings are today—

What did you do wrong?
Oh, look, I did a lot of things wrong. But the main thing is, we're fighting an important but unpopular war.

You still think it was the right thing to do?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, one of our biggest mistakes was, the first time Harry Reid got up and said, "You lied and you deliberately misled the country," we should have gone back immediately and hit back hard, and we didn't. We let that story line develop. In reality, you go back and look at what Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore—I'd be happy to supply you the quotes—what they said about Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction.

What are you most proud of?
Being part of a group of people I have a great deal of respect and admiration for in service of the country.

If you had to make a bet, can Hillary pull it off?
The odds are long, but improbable things have happened almost every month in this race. She wasn't supposed to win New Hampshire, and she did. So we'll see. You know, she's got a lot of strengths, and he does, too. We got two wellmatched opponents going at each other hammer and tongs. It's fun to watch.

If it's mathematically impossible for either of them to get enough delegates, how will this get resolved?
Somebody can get to a majority, but they're gonna have to get to a majority with superdelegates. Neither of them can win enough delegates to win it on just simply the elected delegates.

So if it comes down to superdelegates, doesn't that become a question of who can be more ruthless?
Well, you know, people will have to decide whether they're going to act as reflectors of the popular vote in their districts or states, or whether they're going to exercise independent judgment. I think this is the big dilemma the Democrats face: Are they going to choose a nominee who essentially is chosen, validated, by a minor aristocracy, by essentially an undemocratic group? Because, look. Does anybody think that Patrick Deval [sic], governor of Massachusetts, and Senator Ted Kennedy are gonna respect the wishes of their home-state crowd and go for Hillary Clinton, who won their state? No.

So how ugly is it gonna get?
Well, I—we don't know. We have geological ages that are gonna pass. It's not that ugly today. The wounds are fresh, but there's plenty of time for them to heal. The question is, will the wounds get deeper and more difficult to heal? We don't know. My gut tells me it happens, but I don't know.

If you could run one of their campaigns, which one would be the dream campaign to run?
Neither one.

Because I don't believe in what they say.

But just as a strategist, just to get in there and—
Yeah, well, see, for me it's not divorced from who they are and what they're all about and what they would do.

What did you think of the red-phone 3 a.m. ad?
It was a gutsy, dangerous move. She figured out that she had to do something to raise the issue of: Is he fit to be president? And this was a way to do it. I happened to be in Texas a week before the ad popped, and all of her surrogates were hitting him pretty hard on the thinness of his experience. They were pretty brutal. And this ad sort of fed into that.

Isn't that the kind of ad you would have done?
Uh, look, that's the problem. She can't run an ad—you know, the more powerful ads she can't run against him, because she's afraid of looking too moderate. He's got essentially… His argument is twofold. "Vote for me because I'll bring Republicans and Democrats together; we're not red states, blue states, we're the United States." And second of all—and he said this most passionately in the Wisconsin victory speech: "There are big issues facing the country, and it requires leadership and energy to solve them." Well, the two best counters to those are Hillary saying, "I've actually worked with Republicans and Democrats to get things done." Or McCain saying, even more pointedly, "On all the big issues where Republicans and Democrats have come together, I've been in the middle of bringing them together, and you've been way out there on the fringe. When we pulled together the Gang of Fourteen, you were out on the fringe. When we pulled together a bipartisan answer on the terrorist-surveillance program, you were way out there on the fringe. When Democrats and Republicans, regardless of where they were on the war, came together to give our troops everything they needed while they were in combat, you were way out there on the fringe." Now, she can do some of that, because she's actually tried to work with Republicans over the years. He has not since he got there. He's been coolly detached and sitting on the side. His fingerprints are on, at most, a couple of small items. And then, on the leadership issue, she can say, "Look, I've been in the middle of these big battles. I've been providing the leadership. Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost. But at least I've been involved." And McCain will be able to sharpen that even more.

It seems like you're talking about authenticity here. Are you saying Obama is inauthentic?
I'm saying that he has adopted two themes for his campaign that are not supported by his actions.

Do you think Obama would be easier to beat?
I try not to think about those things. Because that inevitably leads you to believe, I would like to have A or I would like to have B. You need to keep your mind open about both of them.

You've said—what was the phrase you used about Hillary? "Fatally flawed"?
Fatally flawed. I just thought her flaws would show up in the general election. I didn't know they'd show up as early and as strong as they have.

Which flaws?
Uh, calculating. You know, she went through the period where she had the calculated laugh, she went through the period where she had the calculated accents, and you build that on top of a person who already has the reputation that anything she says is calculating, you know…

Is calculating a terrible thing?
It is if people think it's phony. And that's what her problem is. That and the sense of entitlement. You know, the sense of "This is mine, I deserve it; we're the Clintons, this is ours." And I think that really caused a lot of people to say, "You know what? It's not yours." And do we really want to go back? The '90s were nice in a lot of respects, but do we really want to go back to all that drama?

There is something ironic about Karl Rove criticizing someone for being calculating.
Right. Look, it's one thing to calculate and say, "What's the best way for me to do this?" It's another thing to say, "What's the best way to do this, even if it means the sacrifice of my fundamental principles?" When she stood up there and said, "I'm in front of an African-American group in Alabama, so let me adopt a phony southern accent!" And when she sat there and said, "You know what? I need to warm myself up, so for the next weeklong period I'm gonna sit there and laugh and cackle at anything that is even remotely funny." You know, when both she and he, who are free traders by instinct, went to Ohio and said, "We're gonna renegotiate NAFTA," when they know that (a) there's no provision to renegotiate NAFTA, and (b) the Canadians and the Mexicans are not gonna want to renegotiate NAFTA, and (c) when both of them understand that trade liberalization, particularly with our neighbors, has been to our economic advantage, who are they kidding?

But when people call you calculating, do you take that as a compliment?
Look, what I'm charged with is, in politics, taking the material that I have to work with—which are the views and values, convictions and principles, of my candidate or client—and charting the best path to victory. That's different than saying, "How am I gonna take a fundamental belief or a reality of me as an individual and discard it?"

So there's good calculating and bad calculating?

If Hillary pulls it out, will Mark Penn [her chief strategist] be considered a genius?
Mark Penn is a very smart guy regardless of whether or not she pulls it out. He's a very smart guy.

But don't you think there've been a lot of mistakes?
Sure. But if you have to lay them at the feet of one person, you lay them at the feet of the candidate. The candidate sets the tone.

Are you surprised at how Obama exploded?
You know, I want to be careful—I think we need to be careful about not getting carried away with a narrative that doesn't truly exist. Like the story this morning in The New York Times about "the Obamacans"—the Republicans who support Obama.

You don't buy that?
No. Do I buy that there are Republicans who support Obama? Sure, I do. But take a look at the last four polls on which there are cross tabs available. There are twice as many Democrats defecting to McCain as there are Republicans defecting to Obama. In the Fox poll, Obama takes 74 percent of Democrats and loses 18 to McCain. And McCain keeps 80 percent of Republicans and loses 10 to Obama. And in every one of the polls, it's nearly twice as many Democrats defect to McCain as Republicans defect to Obama. And against Clinton, it's three times as many. Know why? Well, there are a lot of different reasons why. There are Democrats, particularly blue-collar Democrats, who defect to McCain because they see McCain as a patriotic figure and they see Obama as an elitist who's looking down his nose at 'em. Which he is. That comment where he said, you know, "After 9/11, I didn't wear a flag lapel pin because true patriotism consists of speaking out on the issues, not wearing a flag lapel pin"? Well, to a lot of ordinary people, putting that flag lapel pin on is true patriotism. It's a statement of their patriotic love of the country. And for him to sit there and dismiss it as he did—

You're not wearing a flag pin, Karl.
Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I respect those who consciously get up in the morning and put a flag lapel pin on.

Do you see the elitist thing in other ways?
Obama is coolly detached and very arrogant. I think he's very smart and knows he's smart, but as a result doesn't do his homework.

So the Dems have two rattled candidates?
Right. Now, you got one candidate who's got an appeal to the blue-collar Democrats: Clinton. I call them the beer drinkers. And then you got the white-wine crowd, which Obama appeals to. There's a brilliant article by Ron Brownstein in the latest issue of National Journal in which he charts the change in the nature of the Democrat-primary vote, and it's becoming younger, more affluent, and more liberal. And that means that blue-collar Democrats, whatever's left of them, are on their way out of the Democratic Party.

What do you make of this whole thing where Hillary was talking him up as a vice president and he came back saying, "Wait a minute, I'm winning—why are you asking me to be your number two?"
Very calculating on the part of the Clintons, and a mistake for him on his part.

Because they wanted him to get down to their level. They want him to look like, you know, not the golden inspiring figure but instead, you know, like an average ordinary pol who's got three years in the United States Senate. So they lay it out there. And rather than having it be dismissed by a surrogate, instead he goes out there! And rather than having an inspiring, forward-looking message, instead he's out there as an ordinary pol saying, "Hey, I'm number one, I'm in first place! I won more states than she did. I won more delegates than she did. What the hell's she doing offering it to me? That's insulting." And he did it in an arrogant way that I don't think made him look that good.

So you don't think his response played well?
No. Take a look at the footage. Turn the sound off and look at it. You can tell that he is arrogant, and you can tell that he's a little bit angry, and you can tell he's very dismissive. He takes his hands and he sort of, you know, waves his hand like, "I'm dismissing something." That was the moment to say, you know, "Look, I know what my opponents are saying, but you know what? I'm focused on one thing and one thing only, which is to help bring Republicans and Democrats and independents together to move America forward." Instead of "Hey, lemme just remind you, I'm winning! I'm beatin' her!"

So he took the bait?
He took the bait.

Have you gotten to know Hillary or Barack to any degree?
Yes, I have.

What have been your dealings with them?
Well, you know, I used to have her office at the White House. And I got to know [Obama] because we have a mutual friend, Ken Mehlman, who was his law-school classmate at Harvard. And so as a result, whenever in the last three years he's been around at the White House, I've gotten to see him, and we sort of would hang around and chitchat about things. I'm actually in his book. He wrote that "people like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Ralph Reed, and Karl Rove say we are a Christian nation." And I did not say that. I confronted him about it. At the White House.

And what did he say?
Well, first he denied that I was in the book! And then he denied that it said that I said that it was a Christian nation. And then when I pulled out the thing [he had a copy of the offensive page with him] and showed it to him, he sort of blah-blah-blah-blah-blah- blah-blah. And I thought, That's who he is. I mean, look, he may claim that he's for a different kind of politics, but that was a cheap shot. And I'm not certain if any of the four said it either. But it was like, you know, Let's just strap it in there and see if it goes someplace. Another example: Him saying, "We honor John McCain for his fifty years of service" was a cheap shot. He was going out of his way to say John McCain's old.

Is John McCain too old?

Do you think Obama's gotten a free ride from the press?

How so?
I don't think they hold him to the same standards. You know, look, his Web site is full of all kinds of proposals written by academics galore. But he's not required to defend them. He's not required to explain what it is he wants to do. Now I think that's changing. I think, when you have an editorial in USA Today that says, in essence, Where's the beef, what's the substance? When reporters start asking him tough questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko—you know, what was the value of the lot? What was the price that you paid? How many fund-raisers did he do for you? How much money did he raise at those fund-raisers? When they start asking him those questions, then it starts to change. I mean, the kind of questions that have been routinely asked of other candidates—about their background and associations and involvements—have only recently begun to be asked of him.

I get the sense you respect Hillary more than you respect Obama.
Off the record?

Please don't go off the record.
Off the record… [Yeah, it's good. Sorry.]

Damn! Now say that on the record.
No. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Let's try again, then: on the record. I get the sense you respect her more than him.
Uh, I know her better than I know him. And I just, uh—she has been around public life a lot longer and has demonstrated, you know, more involvement than he has.

Let's talk about Bill. You've gotten to know him better, right?

What do you think of him now?
He's a very entertaining rogue. He's a larger-than-life character. You can't help but sort of like him. But boy, he has made some missteps in this campaign.

Yeah, what's up with that? He's supposed to be this political genius. What's going on?
He's all wrapped up in it. He's lost his detachment. Sometimes you can be more detached about yourself than you can be about members of your family. He's all revved up about her and making mistakes.

Do you buy any of the pop psychology that there's a part of him that's sabotaging her?
I—I—that is way beyond. I have never… I don't have a couch that anybody could sit down on, and… I don't know, I don't know.

But you were surprised to see how he handled the South Carolina thing?
Well, it may have been calculated, I don't know. Maybe they made a calculated decision that, Hey, we need to send a message that all he can do is win states with African-American voters. But I don't think it played—even among Democrats.

Recently, in a meeting with some people from the Republican National Committee, you said, "Do not use 'Barack Hussein Obama.' "
Right, right. Um, in politics—

Is that because it's not right?
It's wrong. But not only that, it's counterproductive. In politics, there are arguments that are seen as not factual and not fair, or trivial, and they blow up in your face. And this is one that people look at and say, "You're trying to imply something about him that's not true. I think you're going a bridge too far, and I'm reacting negatively." I mean, he didn't pick his middle name, somebody else did. And he doesn't go out of his way, like Hillary Rodham Clinton to, you know, emphasize it.

You probably never thought, eight years ago, that John McCain would be the nominee.
You know what? In politics, second acts are either really bad or really good. And so the question was gonna be, Who might want to succeed Bush? McCain was always a possibility. He's always harbored a desire.

What do you think of him now?
I like him. We bonded in the '04 campaign.

Do you have to hold your nose to vote for him?
No, no, not at all. I enthusiastically voted for him. I just sent in my absentee ballot [in Texas], and I gave him $2,300.

So what's your life like now, Karl? Are you based in Washington still?
We're splitting our time between Washington and a place we have in the panhandle in Florida. And a little place in Texas. We're looking to be in Texas more permanently starting this fall. We've enjoyed Washington, but look, I don't wanna be like… I got a guy, lives around the corner from us in Washington, who had a prominent role for six months in the Reagan administration, and he's still living off of it twenty-some-odd years later. I don't intend to do that.

What do you intend to do?
I'm trying to figure that out. I've got a couple years between the book and the speeches and Fox and my Newsweek column and my writing for the Wall Street Journal and some things I'm doing in politics under the radar.

What do you do for kicks?
I read and go hunting. And travel with my wife.

Tell us about your wife.
She's a terrific, courageous person.

Is it hard being married to you?
Uh, I don't think it's hard being married to me. I think it's hard being married in public with me.

Let's talk about the last couple of scandals you've been involved in. Don Siegelman in Alabama [the Democratic governor whom Rove was recently accused of trying to sabotage by forcing U.S. attorneys to bring corruption charges against him prior to an election]. What happened?
[rolls his eyes] Will you do me a favor and go on Power Line and Google "Dana Jill Simpson" [the Republican lawyer who told 60 Minutes that Rove asked her to take a picture of Governor Siegelman cheating on his wife]? She's a complete lunatic. I've never met this woman. This woman was not involved in any campaign in which I was involved. I have yet to find anybody who knows her. And what the media has done on this… No one has read the 143-page deposition that she gave congressional investigators—143 pages. When she shows up to give her explanation of all this, do you know how many times my name appears? Zero times. Nobody checked!

Then how did this happen?
Because CBS is a shoddy operation. They said, "Hey, if we can say 'Karl Rove,' 'Siegelman,' that'll be good for ratings. Let's hype it. We'll put out a news release on Thursday and then promo the hell out of it on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday." And Scott Pelley—the question is, Did [60 Minutes correspondent] Scott Pelley say to this woman, "You say you met with him. Where? And you say that he gave you other assignments earlier. When did he begin giving you assignments, and what campaigns did you work with him in? What evidence? I mean, this woman, she said she met with him: Okay, you met with him—where? Did you fly to Washington?" Now she says that she talked to me on the phone and she's got phone records. Of calls to Washington and Virginia. But what's Virginia? I don't live in Virginia. And it's 2001. What is in Virginia? It's not the Bush headquarters; that was in Austin, Texas. What is in Virginia? So—but look, she's a loon.

What about the U.S. attorneys? Should you have had a role in hiring and firing?
[a little peeved now] What was my role in firing those U.S. attorneys?

Your position has been—and tell me if I have this wrong—that you basically relayed complaints?
To the counsel's office. Correct.

And that was an appropriate thing to do?
Oh sure. Sure it is. Sure it is.

What's your relationship with the president now?
Good. Really good.

Do you talk a lot?

Did you know that Laura called you Pigpen?
Yeah. [laughs] Laura Bush intimidates me. All the Bushes—well, most of the Bush men marry incredibly strong women, and they all intimidate me. Barbara Bush I've lived in fear of for thirty-seven years.

What's your goal with this book? You intend to set the record straight, as you see it?
Absolutely, absolutely. Sure. You bet. I intend to set the record straight.

I imagine you're going to have a lot to say.
Yeah, exactly. Available soon for $29.95…. I gotta go! I gotta go!

Wait, quickly: Do you believe Roger Clemens?
Um, yes, I do.

If he gets nailed on perjury charges, is that the kind of guy Bush might pardon?
I'm sorry?

Do you think if he got nailed, that would be the type of person Bush would pardon?
I'm not gonna answer that. I mean, he's done nothing wrong.

Should Scooter Libby be pardoned?
I'm not gonna answer that. Just not. Just not. But thanks for asking.

lisa depaulo is a GQ correspondent.

April 02, 2008

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Obama, One Giant Step For Mankind. Transcending Race As An American

Issue Date: Volume 2, Issue 9 - 03/03/08, Posted On: 3/2/2008

Texas State Representative Juan García

Juan M. García is a Democratic state representative from Corpus Christi, Texas. He is a Commander and flight instructor in the U.S. Naval Reserve. García is one of the few elected officials in South Texas to endorse Obama's presidential candidacy.

When did you first meet Barack Obama?

We were law school classmates at Harvard as were the two women we would ultimately marry. We both took non-traditional routes after graduation from there. He, after being president of the law review a very prestigious position that is historically a direct feeder to clerking for a Supreme Court justice or going to a blue-chip law firm, went to Chicago to organize in the community and to write his book. I also took a non-traditional path. I went to be a Navy pilot and our paths have crossed ever since.

I guess I got to know him best playing intramural basketball. I will tell you it is surreal to watch a basketball buddy be this close to being leader of the free world and commander in chief.

Corpus Christi is heavily Hispanic and certainly the Clintons have a long relationship with South Texas. Can Obama make a dent in that relationship?

Well, it is interesting. You reference the Clinton brand name relationship with South Texas but it is interesting demographics. The time they spent here doing field work for McGovern was in the early 70s. You have to remember that the average Hispanic in South Texas is 40 years old and the average Hispanic voter is 26. For many of these folks, the McGovern ties are kind of lost on them.

There is a new generation of folks and what resonates with them is this idea that Barack like so many of us down here is the product of a mixed marriage. Like so many of us down here is a son of an immigrant. Like so many of us down here has lived in a different country.

Even in California which is arguably her most significant win thus far in terms of the folks who physically went to the polls on Super Tuesday he won California. She was able to carry the state when you factored in all the early voting and that put her over the threshold. And the only analysis I think you can take from that is that for those folks who voted after he got on the ground, after he was introduced by trusted surrogates, after they went to the rally and after they became familiar with his record - for those folks he won. For us, the challenge is to make those same introductions.

It looks like there is Hispanic underrepresentation of delegates in South Texas vis a vis Austin and Houston. Is that accurate?

It is. Texas has the most arcane primary-caucus hybrid in the country. I think those senatorial districts are going to look very different after the next Census. In many of these South Texas senatorial districts, the division of delegates is such that she has to win 62.5 percent of the vote to get three out of four delegates. And that's ambitious. That's hard to see her doing throughout South Texas. Maybe that's going to happen but I have to tell you it doesn't feel that way.

You have some Hispanic members of Congress endorsing Obama but what is the situation in South Texas?

No question, the bulk of the establishment is with senator Clinton but I think that is a function of being the First Lady for eight years of an Administration during which relationships were grown and favors were granted and projects were worked on together. In some ways you can argue, the race for Barack is less against senator Clinton than against the clock. This is arguably the most well-known woman in the world.

Not only is Barack a relatively new commodity nationally but especially in our community where so much of our population relies on Spanish-language media and has not had the introduction over the past year that the rest of the country has had.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Yo South Texas, Here Watt U Get When You Hire A Yanqui , A Profiteer, RICO Rendon. How is this NOT Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity

Think Tank: Texas Monthly acknowledges (the de facto existence / independence) of Brownsville Herald Investigative Reporter Emma Perez-Trevino

DANNENBAUM a Smoke Screen for Lencho Rendon's Dream Team Activities /Engagement with Asia Access Corp

Monday, October 22, 2007

Perry Appointee to UT Regents Linked to Scandals

posted by Paul Burka at 10:52 AM

One of the three men Governor Perry appointed to the University of Texas Board of Regents last week has been linked to political scandals at opposite ends of the Rio Grande, according to several news outlets. The appointee is James Dannenbaum, chairman of Houston-based Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation, whose company has become enmeshed in corruption probes in Brownsville and El Paso.

The following summary of the situation in Brownsville represents my summary of stories done by investigative reporter Emma Perez-Trevino for the Brownsville Herald. The original stories can be found here and here. In the Brownsville case, the Port of Brownsville wanted to work with Mexico to build a bi-national bridge to Matamoros, Mexico. Brown & Root won the contract to work on the bridge and billed the Brownsville Navigation District (BND) $424,505 up through July 1997. That's when a familiar name entered the picture: state senator Eddie Lucio. The Brownsville Herald has reported that Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation (DEC) hired Lucio for marketing, consulting, and public relations work. In the course of this work, Lucio introduced the firm to the BND board. Within a month, the BND board voted to fire Brown & Root and hired DEC without requesting proposals. DEC's original contract was for $2,053,515, but a series of supplemental contracts brought DEC's take to $15.5 million. Of this money, $10,529,058 went to subcontractors in Mexico, $9.2 million of which was paid to just three companies, all of which had ties to a DEC employee. One helps startup businesses, one provides security services, and one is a real estate company. BND was required to approve all subcontracts before any work was done, but DEC entered into 16 of 17 subcontracts without requesting that approval.

Construction of the bridge depended upon securing an agreement with Mexico to perform work on its side of the Rio Grande, which DEC representatives said was forthcoming. Despite such assurances, BND never received approval from Mexico. This is not a bridge to nowhere. It is a nowhere bridge.

In 2004, BND retained Charley Willette, Jr., as a special counsel to investigate how a total of $21.4 million in taxpayer money was spent on a project that was dependent upon Mexico's support. Willete's 62-page report traced the millions paid to subcontractors in Mexico and their ties back to DEC.

Peter Zavaletta, who became chairman of the Navigation District in 2004, told the Brownsville Herald that the only work that BND received was 49 black binders in which were a couple of charts.

Perez-Trevino reported in May that a criminal inquiry into the money that was spent on the nonexistent bridge is in the hands of a special grand jury, whose term will expire in early November. Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers began looking into the situation last March.

The El Paso situation is less complex. A United Press International story last June referenced "Dannenbaum Construction" in a wide ranging federal probe in El Paso:

EL PASO, Texas, June 13 (UPI) -- A Texas man once named by President George Bush to the International Boundary and Water Commission has been labeled a "bagman" in a corruption case.

John Travis Ketner, former chief of staff to El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit bribery. Arturo Duran, who also is a member of the board of Thomason Hospital in El Paso, was identified as one of 17 co-conspirators in the case, the El Paso Times reported.

Federal investigators say Duran served as a go-between for two companies, Valley Risk Consulting and Dannenbaum Construction. The companies were after contracts from County Commissioners Court.

In a story about the El Paso investigation that appeared in the Herald, Perez-Trevino reported about Dannenbaum's role in the federal investigation in El Paso. These are the salient paragraphs:

In El Paso, Dannenbaum's firm allegedly is referenced as "DC" in an information report that the U.S. Attorney's Office filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on a guilty plea entered by John Travis Ketner, former chief of staff to El Paso County Judge Anthony Cobos.

Ketner pleaded guilty June 8 to two counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with his role in a conspiracy to fraudulently secure vendor contracts, public records show.

The El Paso Times identified "DC" as "Dannenbaum Construction" of Houston.

Noting that the name of his firm is Dannenbaum Engineering and not Dannenbaum Construction, Dannenbaum said, "our firm was not named in anything, was not referenced in anything."

According to the information report, Ketner and co-conspirators would meet with selected vendors to discuss the contracts being sought by the vendors and to settle on the amount of a bribe.

A co-conspirator allegedly acted as the intermediary and "bag man" for "DC," making and promising payments in cash or as campaign contributions to elected county officials, the information report reflects.

The report shows that on one occasion, a "DC" principal met with a county elected official. The intermediary and the elected official then entered a small bathroom in the county office and the intermediary promised a campaign contribution in exchange for the official's votes to secure contracts for "DC".

Dannenbaum said that he did not have an intermediary, did not meet with the elected official and that no one from his office did. "Not to my knowledge," he said.

The question that naturally arises out of all this is what is going on in the governor's office? It seems to me there are only two possibilities here: Perry (1) didn't know or (2) didn't care. Even if he believes that Dannenbaum and his company have done nothing wrong (and to this point nothing official suggests otherwise), Perry has put UT in a position where one of his appointees can reflect discredit on the university. There are plenty of Texans who aren't enmeshed in criminal investigations in two cities who are qualified to be on the Board of Regents.

The other question is whether ethics rules--allow a state senator to operate a consulting business in which he introduces vendors to public officials who award contracts. I don't see how the answer can be "yes," but if it is, the rules need to change. I don't think Lucio is the only one who plays this game.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is interesting here is that even though Lucio has been on his payroll for years, this kind of journalism only gets done when the Republican governor appoints him to something. I guess it doesn't matter when the Valley Democrat senator is rumored to be on the take...only news when Perry, who isn't on his payroll, appoints him to something.

Great investigative journalism Paul.

October 22, 2007 4:34 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in fact, here is a trivia question for you: among the Democrat members of the Texas Senate, which ones actually make a living legitimately? It's not just Lucio folks.

Press bias is not about how the stories are written nearly as much as it is about which stories are NOT written.

October 22, 2007 4:40 PM
Blogger Eileen Smith said...

Damn liberal media.

October 22, 2007 4:41 PM
Blogger Thunder said...

Goobner Perry stand up to his reputation... and keeps Texas Politics alive....

Just gives more fodder to write about and never a dull moment either....

October 22, 2007 5:55 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why, if that is you eileen (Ms. Pink Lady), then what better example of what you speak (yes, you may only be a blogger, but now that you are TM blog editor, that makes you media.)

October 22, 2007 6:02 PM
Blogger Eileen Smith said...

Pink Lady? Never heard of her.

Actually, I see your point on this one. Although people have questioned Lucio's business dealings before, this story didn't seem to have much traction until Dannenbaum was appointed to the UT Regents by Perry. However, at least it's getting press now.

October 23, 2007 9:57 AM
Anonymous jw said...

1) I count about 14 Senators who definitely work for their money on the up-and-up and another 9 or so who are basically retired. That's about normal.

2) At least the last five governors have appointed Mr. Dannenbaum to some volunteer board or commission -- most recently to the Sharp school tax reform panel.

3) I love the fine folks on the border. But designing and building and operating a major capital public works project on the border ain't easy.

Just saying.

October 23, 2007 12:32 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BND consultants facing prison time[Chinese illegals, S. Texas Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz (D)]
The Brownsville Herald ^ | June 11, 2006 | EMMA PEREZ-TREVIÑO

Posted on 06/11/2006 7:16:45 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch

Couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges

Consultants who took Brownsville Navigation District officials to China and paid U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz's travels to the Far East are facing possible prison time after recently pleading guilty to an immigration plot involving Chinese nationals.

Sixty-four-year-old Kenneth D. Cohen, a Houston businessman and board member of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, and his wife, Ping Lee Cohen, 54, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government in federal court in Houston.

"Mr. Ortiz was deeply disappointed that Ken and Ping broke the law, and the judge will decide the price they pay for that," Ortiz's spokeswoman, Cathy Travis, said Friday.

BND Deputy Director Donna Eymard said she was surprised to find out about the conviction.

"They were very professional people," she said. "They always did a fine job for us,"

In a statement released earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said between April 2000 and October 2005, the Cohens contacted Chinese citizens who paid up to $120,000 to enter the United States and ultimately obtain citizenship.

The Cohens would bring in Chinese citizens under the false pretenses of attending business seminars or conducting business negotiations.

Rosenberg said the Cohens would recruit the owners of small U.S. companies to offer jobs to Chinese citizens. This allowed the Chinese citizens to obtain employment-based visas to enter the country and remain here on a business visa.

"The defendants then created an illusory relationship between Chinese companies and U.S. companies by submitting forged stock certificates, stock transfer ledgers and financial records in support of petitions to the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), which were then filed with the Immigration Service on behalf of their clients," Rosenberg stated.

The Cohens would use a law office to petition the INS for the Chinese citizens to enter and remain in the U.S. as executive-level employees of the various U.S. businesses.

"The affected U.S. business owners confirmed that the supporting documents had been forged, that they never employed the Chinese citizens and that their companies were never wholly or partially owned by the Chinese companies as required to obtain this class of visa," Rosenberg said.

The Cohens face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. They will be sentenced later this fall.

Doing Business with BND

The Cohens have numerous corporations, a review of public records show, but in Brownsville, they were known to BND as Asia Access Corp.

Eymard started working for BND in 2000. Present board member Roy de los Santos was already on the BND board as was former board member Carl "Joe" Gayman. Former board member Sidney Lasseigne was getting ready to join the board.

The late Raul Besteiro was BND's chief executive officer.

BND's first payment to the Cohens' corporation was in March 2001 in the amount of $20,000 for "consulting fees," public records show.

By November 2002, BND had paid Asia Access $91,108. Of this amount, records indicate that $15,510 was reimbursement for a stay at the Hotel Beijing, $80 for visas to China and $5,980 for airfare to Ningbo-Hong Kong in 2001.

BND paid Asia Access a service fee of $5,000 in 2001 for a trip to China and paid the firm a consulting fee of $40,000 in July 2002.

BND officials made three trips to China between 2000 and 2003.

"I know they arranged all the Far East trips, but how they came here, I could not begin to tell you. I don't know," Eymard said.

De Los Santos said he also didn't know.

Gayman said Ping Lee Cohen was BND's tour guide in China and arranged meetings with Chinese officials and companies.

"They would arrange the trips and work out the itinerary. I never did see anything suspicious," de los Santos said.

"From the minute we arrived, all the meetings were set up," Eymard recalled.

Getting Close to a Congressman

Travis said that Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, has known the Cohens for more than a decade and became acquainted with them through mutual friends.

Travis said she doesn't know if Ortiz or any member of his staff introduced the Cohens to BND and left the question to BND.

Gayman thinks Ortiz brought the Cohens to BND: "The congressman is the one that instigated the trips to China," Gayman said.

Lasseigne recalled that Ortiz, his former chief of staff Lencho Rendon and Besteiro were close to the Cohens to "Madam Ping," Ping Lee Cohen.

"She was very attractive, very, very, attractive, real sharp in business," Lasseigne said of Ping Lee Cohen.

"I remember Lencho telling me that his ideal dream team (to help BND) would be (lobbyist) Randy DeLay, (Monterrey consult-ant) Esther Rodriguez and 'Madam Ping,'" Lasseigne said.

The BND present and former officials said that to their knowledge, BND never assisted Chinese nationals in obtaining visas.

Asia Access also figures prominently in trips that Ortiz and Rendon made to the Far East, including China, Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing.

The firm paid for four trips, a study by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, the Center for Public Integrity shows.

The organization recently tracked the travel of U.S. representatives and senators.

The trips were made at Asia Access' expense by Ortiz and Rendon in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 at a reported cost of nearly $48,000 combined.

Travis said Ortiz accepted the trips because he searches for ways to increase development in South Texas.

"One way to leverage that development has been to travel to Asia with South Texas business owners," Travis said. "His presence with area businesses in the vibrant, dynamic Asian marketplace ensures their access to the decision makers at Asian companies, as well as to government offices there."

And no, Travis said, neither Ortiz nor any staff member has facilitated the entry of Chinese nationals into the country.

Neither BND trips nor Ortiz's trips have resulted in economic development here, Gayman said.

"We never got any business out of China," Gayman added.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: bnd; china; congress; democrat; illegals; immigrantlist; ping; snakehead
"The congressman is the one that instigated the trips to China," Gayman said.
1 posted on 06/11/2006 7:16:51 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch
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To: Paleo Conservative; LongElegantLegs; radar101; RamingtonStall; engrpat; HamiltonFan; Draco; ...

Solomon P. Ortiz Ping!

2 posted on 06/11/2006 7:19:10 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Democrats-beyond your expectations!)
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To: SwinneySwitch

" "Madam Ping," Ping Lee Cohen. "

Pinging Ping Lee

"Chinese citizens who paid up to $120,000 to enter the United States and ultimately obtain citizenship."

That's a *ping amount of dollars. Should have paid $1,000 for a flight to Mexico and walked across ;)

3 posted on 06/11/2006 7:25:50 AM PDT by bwteim (bwteim = begin with the end in mind)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Travis said that Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, has known the Cohens for more than a decade and became acquainted with them through mutual friends.

Maybe that should be "mutual funds."
4 posted on 06/11/2006 7:28:36 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: bwteim

Culture of corruption

5 posted on 06/11/2006 7:29:42 AM PDT by CPT Clay (Drill ANWR, Personal Accounts NOW.)
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To: bwteim

Ping Pong Balls

6 posted on 06/11/2006 7:30:47 AM PDT by battlegearboat
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To: CPT Clay

7 posted on 06/11/2006 7:41:00 AM PDT by bwteim (bwteim = begin with the end in mind)
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To: CPT Clay

Since 2000 to political hack Ortiz has taken 18 trips and spent 156 days travelling outside the USA. Cost of travel is $108,230.00. Many trips taken thanks to Asia Acess Corp. Data retreived through a Google entry - Hong Kong Solomon Ortiz.

8 posted on 06/11/2006 7:41:05 AM PDT by gaspar
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To: SwinneySwitch

I am thinking someone may end up on probation for a whole year here.

9 posted on 06/11/2006 7:59:28 AM PDT by mmercier (same as it ever was)
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To: SwinneySwitch

5 years to bring in wealthy chinese who would spend their money here, and a free ride for the coyotes who bring in illiterate poor scum, who bleed us dry. Any logic in this?

10 posted on 06/11/2006 9:23:31 AM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (If you got Sowell, you got Soul !)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Why did these "wealthy" Chinese want to come here? Just to hang out in the malls and soak up American culture? Or....?

11 posted on 06/11/2006 10:14:06 AM PDT by SuzyQue
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To: SwinneySwitch

>>>>Lasseigne recalled that Ortiz, his former chief of staff Lencho Rendon and Besteiro were close to the Cohens to "Madam Ping," Ping Lee Cohen.

Could this be related to Sister Ping?
'Sister Ping' Convicted in Smuggling Scheme
Golden Venture Survivors Face Another Hurdle

12 posted on 06/11/2006 10:45:32 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: bwteim

12 ?

13 posted on 06/11/2006 10:46:26 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: SuzyQue; stephenjohnbanker
From the stories I read about in my post 12, the people smuggled in didn't have the money up front to pay. They had to work the money off in servitude style. Businesses would pay the smuggle fee to the coyote/smuggler and gain a type of ownership over them until their fees were paid.

I don't know if the Sister Ping is related to this Cohen story; but it sounds like a similar scenario.
14 posted on 06/11/2006 10:50:32 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: Calpernia

Oh correction. I said coyote. I think that is the term for Mexican smugglers. I believe for Chinese the term is snakehead.

15 posted on 06/11/2006 10:51:54 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: Calpernia

Always a chance, but Ping is not an unusual surname.

16 posted on 06/11/2006 1:01:05 PM PDT by bwteim (bwteim = begin with the end in mind)
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To: CPT Clay

This is the tip of the iceberg compared to what is coming in the future with our third world invasion. Corruption is a normal way of life for these people.

17 posted on 06/11/2006 1:57:52 PM PDT by doc
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To: bwteim

You are probably right about the name being common. But the circumstances sound similar too.

18 posted on 06/11/2006 2:46:58 PM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: Calpernia

""In a statement released earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said between April 2000 and October 2005, the Cohens contacted Chinese citizens who paid up to $120,000 to enter the United States and ultimately obtain citizenship""

120,000 per person is not hay. The Mexican coyotes do not get prosecuted, but these people bringing in chinese might get 5 years. That was my beef.
Glad Breederville is doing well. Bump!

19 posted on 06/11/2006 5:08:04 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker (If you got Sowell, you got Soul !)
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To: bwteim

"Should have paid $1,000 for a flight to Mexico and walked across ;)"

That isn't the way it works in Mexico!

To get there Chinese are brought by ship and unloaded on a derseted beach and transported to the US by smugglers.

Chinese were paying over $20k over 20 years ago for the "service".

I was approached, offered $1000/person, and declined, to fly illegal chinese between a private airstrip near Guadalahara and a private airstrip near the US border because they couldn't get them past the Mexican check points.

For that kind of money i'm sure they found someone to do it.

October 24, 2007 3:47 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saturday, October 06, 2007
The suit over the imaginary Brownsville bridge will move forward in Cameron County

BND contractor Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. is no longer seeking to stop a lawsuit alleging breach of an agreement from proceeding in Cameron County.

BND Commissioner Peter M. Zavaletta, who sued the Houston-based engineering firm Aug. 13 as a taxpayer, not as a board commissioner, was not surprised by the development.

"As a practical matter, it removes any barrier to proceeding with a trial in Cameron County," Zavaletta said Friday.

Dannenbaum had sought to remove the lawsuit to Harris County and a hearing had been scheduled there for Oct. 11.

See previous posts.

posted by CouldBeTrue @ 9:36 AM

At 1:48 AM, The Advocate said...

Come on Chisme?

Give us the rest of the story.


In the latest South Texas Independent Journalists Association (STIJA) survey, the public is demanding that Congressman Solomon Ortiz, his former aide Lencho "El Pescado" Rendon and State Senator "Sucio" Eddie Lucio should spend time in prison for their roles in the $21 million Port of Brownsville heist.

October 24, 2007 3:48 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex-Brownsville, Texas, commissioner willing to testify about bridge project.

COPYRIGHT 2005 The Brownsville Herald

Byline: Emma Perez-Trevino

Jan. 30--BROWNSVILLE -- A former Brownsville Navigation District commissioner said she is willing to testify before a grand jury regarding allegations that a U.S. representative's aide pressured BND into hiring subcontractors for a proposed international commercial bridge.

Sidney Lasseigne, who served as commissioner from 2000-2004, alleges that U.S. Rep. Solomon P. Ortiz's chief of staff Lencho Rendon was involved in the project and helped determine who worked on it.

"I have stayed quiet, not out of guilt, (but) because I have been trying to get on with my life," Lasseigne said, referring to overcoming the grief of her son's death in 2003 and last year's death of BND Chief Executive Officer Raul A. Besteiro Jr.

BND special counsel Charles Willette Jr., who released his six-month investigative report this month into how $21.4 million were spent on the binational project, was told by project manager Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. that Rendon recommended a firm called Construcciones Mantenimiento y Comercializacion RODA S.A. to perform feasibility studies in Mexico on the project.

RODA was contracted for its services, although the company did not receive the...

October 24, 2007 3:52 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monday, June 18, 2007


Let me begin by saying in clear and no uncertain terms - anyone can be accused of criminal conduct. As we saw in NC this week a DA is capable of fabricating evidence against the innocent. Here in Texas when a DA does that the State Bar of Texas declares a state holiday as opposed to disciplining the DA. (Side note- in Dallas the now former DA got away with the illegal prosecution of over 50 Mexican Americans - planted and fabricated evidence - the morning his underling was to testify against him, his underling was found dead in his home - a gun shot to the head - Brownsville has nothing on Dallas when it comes to corruption) The State Bar of Texas has a motto for the DA's of Texas - "the challenge is in convicting the innocent, not the guilty." My point is, the allegation of criminal conduct does not make one guilty. We must always presume a person is innocent unless under the mandate of real due process the person is convicted and found guilty.

This entire piece began with me researching why the BND tabled a vote on leasing land to Bay Bridge Enterprises which dismantles Navy ships. This would put Bay Bridge in competition with Esco Marine and maybe Sanship, Inc. Bay Bridge is offering 125 Brownsville residents jobs ranging from 10-40 dollars an hour with full benefits - health, dental 401K. What is there to table?

Until I realized who Esco-Marine is, and their history, and the possible interests of Sanship and the claims against Sanship I was uncertain how I felt about this story - maybe there are valid reasons for denying 125 Brownsville residents good jobs - Esco-Marine and Sanship's respective histories are so dirty - I simply have to believe there is dirty politics afoot here.

Well, maybe Esco-Marine does not want the competition. In the interest of transparency - each Board Member needs to commit to the public that they will not take political contributions from Esco-Marine, Sanship, Inc, or Bay Bridge - We the public need to hear this so that we know what ever decision comes from this Board it is based on what is good for Brownsville and not the pockets of the Board Members.

As I am researching Esco Marine I find the reference to Sanship which appears to also have Navy ship scrapping rights. Does Bay Bridge have a problem with Sanship? Do not know - maybe someone knows of some sour grapes between the two companies.

According to the Office of the Secretary of State the Registered Agent for Sanship, Inc is Emilio Sanchez - the address listed is the same as for which is owned by none other than Mr. Clean himself Robert Sanchez.

See also, - Someone needs to demand that Robert Sanchez take a public position as to leasing to Bay Bridge - I hope this is not the type transparency in government Pat Ahumada promised We the People. Pat if you believe in Transparency you must demand that Robert Sanchez disclose any conflicts of interest he may have related to Bay Bridge and or Sanship and whether or not he has promised money to De Los Santos and or Cristiano to oppose the deal. The people of Brownsville have a right to those 125 good paying jobs.

Here are the stories related to Emilio Sanchez - Sanship - for each story if I could find a follow-up I printed it - I will certainly post any follow-up to any of these stories which are sent to me - full disclosure is the goal.
This is a current and ongoing story.

"The rig's owner, Emilio Sanchez, has not been keeping booming in place in the water to contain leaks from the rig, which he previously had stated he would do, court documents state.Officials said Sanchez and his company, Sanship Inc., could face criminal charges of unauthorized discharge into state waters, officials said.Sanchez could face up to five years in prison and a $100,000 maximum fine while his company could face a maximum $250,000 fine."

"The county's environmental crimes investigator conducted a criminal search warrant on the vessel two weeks ago to determine whether criminal charges could be filed against Sanchez and his company, Sanship Inc., for unauthorized discharge in state waters."

"And his troubles don't end with the land office. According to documents obtained by the GLO, Sanchez has not paid Esco Marine for the $1.05 million cleanup operation.In a letter to Sanchez dated Feb. 28, Esco Marine's comptroller, Marcelino Salinas, said invoices sent to Sanchez's company, Sanship Inc., had gone unanswered."Previous inquiries concerning the balance owed have been ignored," he stated in the letter, "therefore we are putting a lien on the vessel and no further work will be performed on the project."

My question here is how much more business has Sanship done with Esco-Marine? Does Sanship (Emilio Sanchez) have a reason to protect Esco-Marine's business interests at the Port?

"The agency acted after BAN contacted legal defense organization Earthjustice of Oakland, California, which in turn notified the present owner, Emilio Sanchez of Brownsville, Texas, and EPA of intent to take legal action to halt the export should the government fail to act. Region IX EPA, based in San Francisco, then took action, conducting on-board sampling to see if the vessel contained toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are illegal to export from the United States under the Toxics Substances Control Act. PCBs were found at very high levels in on-board materials."

"Emilio Sanchez: A South Texas businessman with many interests, in 1994 he tried to negotiate in Mexico two stolen U.S. Treasury checks -- each made out to him for $10 million. Never prosecuted, he has bought the scrapping rights to several Navy ships since then."

Who is Esco -Marine - First - Lencho Rendon, former Chief of Staff for Solomon Ortiz, is a paid consultant for Esco Marine. Second their president is Richard Jaross.

"When the U.S. Navy began its great sell-off of surplus ships in 1991, Richard Jaross was among the first to see an opportunity. He began dismantling Navy ships at a California scrapyard, where workers were exposed to lead and asbestos. He came to Baltimore to help put together the ill-fated Coral Sea project. He then set up a scrapyard in Wilmington, N.C., but the state shut it down for mishandling asbestos, polluting a river and contaminating the soil with oil and lead"

I just thought the people should know the players who may be opposing 125 good paying jobs for the people of Brownsville.

I think we now need a comment from Pat Ahumada as to whether or not he supports Bay Bridge, and full transparency from the Sanchez Family.

I know I am going to be attacked big time on this one - I ask my readers to look how I gave you the links - I am not saying trust me - just read the links - I know this will not stop the attacks - Based on experience I know that tomorrow attorneys are going to be getting in a lot of billable hours - I stand by the story and like I said - I will post any updates to the history of the cast of characters - I know this will not stop the billable hours -

I am not afraid of being sued because the Texas Supreme Court in the last two months made it clear that the courts shall sanction any attorney who brings a frivolous lawsuit - I can use the money so - hey guys bring it on.

Posted by BobbyWC at 10:58 PM


Anonymous said...

I'll be first. I have neither received nor been offered any campaign contribution from any ship dismantler or from any principal thereof, or from Baybridge for that matter.

Peter Zavaletta
June 19, 2007 7:20 AM
Anonymous said...

i didn't vote for pat, but unless he is personally involved in this deal, he doesn't owe us a public opinion on this matter. i would love it if he distanced himself from robert sanchez period, for no other reason than that he is a political bully. if something comes of this investigation, pat should refuse any future campaign donations from sanchez. until then, he needs to concentrate on city issues and not prematurely create bad blood between him and other public entities that he will have to work with throughout his term. i mean, pat being pat, he will eventually create bad blood between him and other public officials, but let's at least hope he waits until he has a real say on policy.
June 19, 2007 11:00 AM
BobbyWC said...

Anonymous - basically I agree with you - but on the issue of jobs - it is 125 good paying jobs for the taxpayers who support the port - Pat needs to tell us whether he supports the lease with Bay Bridge or whether he opposes it

People are not going to bring these type jobs to Brownsville if they cannot count on the Mayor and County Judge to support them in their efforts.

Pat will not dump Sanchez - Pat will hang himself before he distances himself from Sanchez - that discussion is a train which has already left the station and further discussion will only cause needless frustration - Pat is so much like George W. Bush - he will hold on to his friends until the bitter end -

in spite of this we all need to hope Pat succeeds - pat's success as mayor is Brownsville success - let us not forget this - we may just have to ignore his irrational loyalty to Sanchez - assuming he is moving forward otherwise.

But we the people who pay the taxes to support the Port are entitled to these jobs and Ahumada and Casco both need to publically support the lease with Bay Bridge

Bobby WC
June 19, 2007 11:27 AM
TheSpotlight said...

June 19, 2007 3:06 PM
BobbyWC said...

On Spotlight's link go to page 18 for the story on Esco -

side note - a friend of mine while in the Navy did refurbishing of ships - he is now dead from lung cancer

Just something to think about
June 19, 2007 6:18 PM
Anonymous said...
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
June 20, 2007 10:21 AM
Anonymous said...

Presentation and board discussion of the Baybridge proposal can be found in the May 23 meeting at this link

Find the May 23 meeting, then click the play button. Move the slider to 53:55, then click play again.

Peter Zavaletta
June 20, 2007 10:35 AM

October 24, 2007 3:54 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Another Perry Appointed UT Regent Linked to Scandal

Serpent IN the Garden January 14, 1996 Houston: Inaction Allowed Abuser To Roam For 10 Years.

If this was leaked to the media did the Corpus Christi Caller Times tell us about this pedophile?

Did the Caller publish any stories on this matter?

And the CCISD Board did they inform the community?

The Serpent IN the Garden January 14, 1996 Houston: CCISD board President Henry Nuss AQUIESCED. CCISD eagerly supplied pedophile with young patients - even after he had been publicly charged.

CORPUS CHRISTI - James Plaisted was a respected child psychologist, a deacon in one of the city's largest Baptist congregations and the father of four.

He also was a child molester so brazen he escorted little girls into church and fondled them under his coat while listening to the sermon.

Parents knew. So did church pastors, school officials and state regulators. But few did anything to stop him, and those who tried were remarkably unsuccessful.

It took 10 years to get Plaisted behind bars. Only he knows how many children he molested during that time.

Last month, Plaisted - already serving a two-year federal prison term for luring a Texas patient to Boston to continue molesting her -was brought back to Corpus Christi in chains.

He pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four girls and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

State regulators have yet to revoke his license to practice psychology.

""I think the Plaisted case is the model of what happens when the system fights with itself," said Susan Snyder, a Kingsville attorney and former prosecutor who tried to lock up Plaisted in 1992.

""Obviously, there have been safeguards in place to prevent this man all along, but either (state officials) were too lazy or too busy, or too scared of the politics of going and yanking this man's license," Snyder said. ""It's not the legal system failing. It's the people within the legal system that refuse to let the legal system work."

It's not as if no one tried.

Carmen Alvarado, the mother of the first child to accuse Plaisted more than 10 years ago, sought criminal charges against the therapist and filed an ethics complaint with the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists. She alleged that Plaisted had fondled her son's penis during a late-night counseling session.

Alvarado called the Parkdale Baptist Church, where Plaisted, 46, was a deacon.

""They said they were leaving it in God's hands," she recalled.

""I don't think they were thinking straight at the time."

She went to other parents. She got no help.

In the end, it was just her son's word against Plaisted, who told a Corpus Christi jury in 1986 that the 6-year-old child was a habitual liar and a pyromaniac who derived sexual excitement from setting fires. It didn't help that a new prosecutor was assigned to the case just before trial.

The jury acquitted Plaisted; his practice continued.

""It made me mad because when I went for help, all I asked was for them to testify," Alvarado recalled. ""We lost because my son was the only witness we had."

""It was a very tough call to make," said another victim's mother. ""And looking back, I really should have crucified him, but I didn't. I chose not to after talking to my attorney. He told me it would just really traumatize my daughter."

The Corpus Christi woman, who asked not to be identified, said she did confront Plaisted and his wife, who were neighbors in 1984, when her daughter was allegedly molested while spending the night with one of Plaisted's daughters.

""He did not deny it," she said. ""He said he could have done it

in his sleep."

Plaisted's wife laughingly added that she and her husband often made love at night, and he would not remember the next morning, the woman said.

The woman, who was also a member of the Parkdale Baptist Church, recalled telling church officials later about Plaisted's molestations.

""But it didn't seem to make any difference," she said. ""The church really backed him up, and a lot of people left the church after that."

Plaisted's attorney, Doug Tinker, refused to allow the Chronicle to interview his client. The criminal defense lawyer, who earlier this year represented Yolanda Saldivar, who was convicted of murdering Tejano star Selena, declined to discuss the Plaisted case.

The victims' families have since sued the church for negligence, but Parkdale's lawyer argues the congregation should not be held responsible for Plaisted's actions.

""It would be the church's wish to get this thing resolved without causing any additional hurt to anyone," said attorney Van Huseman. But he added, ""If a child gets molested in the middle of the service, how does that get to be the pastor's fault?"

Plaisted - a Nebraska native who served in the Army in Vietnam -came to Corpus Christi in 1982 with impeccable credentials, having earned his doctorate in clinical and child psychology from Auburn University in Alabama in 1981.

He quickly built a private practice, and over the years, developed a good reputation as an expert on brain dysfunction.

The Corpus Christi school district, along with local pediatricians, eagerly supplied him with young patients - even after he had been publicly charged. Members of the church also sought his help, and he had hospital privileges at the prestigious Driscoll Children's Hospital, a South Texas institution known both for quality care and charity.

Neighbors described Plaisted as pleasant, reserved, well-spoken. He was methodical, they said, and liked to work on projects around the house.

Plaisted recruited some of his victims from broken homes, showering the children with gifts, inviting them and their parents to Thanksgiving dinners. One 9-year-old girl who spent the night with Plaisted's daughter told prosecutors the psychologist molested her on the sofa in his living room while he and the children watched the movie "Home Alone"

on video.

He curried favor with his victims' parents by lending them money and refusing repayment, or by buying them air conditioners and other gifts. One mother even acted as a character witness for the therapist during the Alvarado trial, unaware that her own child was being molested.

""The bottom line is this guy had complaints filed against him at the psychology board - and they are serious - and the board doesn't notify the school about the complaints," said Jerry Boswell, director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a group funded by the Church of Scientology (SEE CORRECTION) that documents cases such as Plaisted's. ""And the school is still referring children to this guy."

Corpus Christi school administrators said they used Plaisted infrequently for psychological testing of students, although school records and correspondence indicate he was a consultant from 1983 until he was indicted for child sexual assault in late 1992.

School administrators have identified records of five students referred to him for psychological testing between 1985 and 1992. There are no records prior to 1985.

School board President Henry Nuss, who has served on the board for seven years, said he first heard of the Plaisted case when he was contacted by the Houston Chronicle last week.

""We certainly should be more selective in who we're using," he said.

After Plaisted was charged in the Alvarado case in April 1986, Robert J. Garcia, the school district's special education director, wrote to the state psychology board to ask about the psychologist's record. The agency's executive director replied that Plaisted's license had been suspended, but because the psychologist was in the process of suing to get it back, he remained licensed to practice. The letter gave no details about the nature of the complaints.

""He was given a clean bill of health by the only agency that had anything to say about it," said Dr. Adrian Haston, a psychologist who coordinates the school district's psychological services, and who, years ago, shared an office with Plaisted.

Haston emphasized that none of the schoolchildren referred to Plaisted were molested. ""And we never had anything untoward, any problems of that sort," he said.

Asked why the district would risk using a psychologist once accused of being a child molester, Haston replied, ""This is something the district did, and you can ask the director of special education why."

Garcia said in a recent telephone interview that he could not remember whether he knew about the child molestation charges at the time he wrote to the psychology board.

""All I know is we asked for what his status was and they said he could still practice," he said. ""We knew he was under review, but we didn't know what for.

""Look, the state board of psychologists, they're the ones that allowed him to continue to practice," Garcia added angrily.

""If anyone should be asked as to why this guy was allowed to continue, it should be the state board of psychology."

Pressed for further details, Garcia abruptly ended the interview and hung up the phone.

Although Plaisted was acquitted in August 1986 in the Alvarado case, the psychology board continued its investigation and ruled in November of that year that Plaisted had violated professional standards.

The board officially suspended his license for two years, but said he would be allowed to resume his practice in three months.

Meanwhile, Plaisted challenged the suspension in state district court in Austin, arguing the psychology board had unfairly considered allegations that had not been introduced during his hearing, denying him the opportunity to defend himself against them. The judge agreed, and in January 1987 reversed Plaisted's suspension.

While the board was investigating Plaisted's case, they were contacted by Corpus Christi psychologist George Kramer.

Kramer, who had hired Plaisted in 1982 before Plaisted was licensed, told the board to subpoena records of the state Department of Human Resources. It did, and found other instances of alleged molestation by Plaisted.

In April 1989, the board reached an agreement with the psychologist that allowed him to keep his license if he agreed to be supervised for 11/2years. Plaisted was to treat children only in the presence of an associate or in a location where he could be observed by a television monitor. He also was to pay to have Corpus Christi psychologist Joseph Horvat supervise his casework.

Horvat met with Plaisted weekly, but after a year - convinced that Plaisted was doing nothing wrong - he recommended the supervision be terminated six months early. The board decided to continue the supervision.

""I have found no evidence in any way, shape or form of any behavior on his part which could be in any way construed as unprofessional or unethical," Horvat wrote to the board.

Included in one of his reports to the board was a review of Plaisted's treatment of an 8-year-old girl - a child Plaisted was later charged with molesting.

The board's general counsel, Barbara Holthaus, acknowledged past actions taken by the agency were inadequate.

""With hindsight, of course it wasn't appropriate, because look at what happened," Holthaus said. But she said the board has since added lay people to its ranks and has a new, tougher state law giving it better enforcement powers.

""Now, if we get a report that a psychologist is molesting a client, we can go before a judge and say we want to temporarily suspend the license," she said.

Holthaus said the board has filed a motion to revoke Plaisted's license, but Plaisted is fighting it.

""It's all kind of moot, because he's incarcerated," she said.

Soon after Plaisted completed his board-ordered supervision, Corpus Christi police received new information from state child welfare workers that Plaisted had been molesting girls at his office, in church and at home in his hot tub.

Former detective Eric Michalak, who now works in Colorado, remembered taking the Plaisted case to a Nueces County assistant district attorney for prosecution.

""He wanted to get a warrant for the doctor and arrest him, because we had very strong evidence against him," Michalak said. ""We had multiple victims and you had a guy in the position he was in, where he had access to all these victims.

You would want to take quick action rather than let it go on for so long."

The prosecutor was overruled by then-District Attorney Grant Jones, Michalak said. ""(Jones) just said, `We're not getting a warrant. We're taking our time.' He wanted the kids reinterviewed by one of the prosecutors.

""Any time you go after someone like that, there's a lot of politics that come into play," Michalak added. ""Instead of stepping in right then, and bringing it out in the open and taking it to a grand jury (for indictment), they delayed."

Jones contends that any delay in prosecution was an effort ""to tie the case down tight. We didn't want to lose him twice,"

said Jones, on whose watch Plaisted was acquitted in the Alvarado case.

Jones called it ""outrageous" the psychology board still hasn't revoked Plaisted's license.

""They should have done it in 1986," he said. ""What they want to do is wait around until you go to trial and you convict him, and then they come in behind your conviction and revoke his license. Well, what's he doing in the meantime? He could be out in the community molesting kids for two years."

Michalak said the case was finally taken to the grand jury several months later after he leaked the information about Plaisted's investigation to the local media.

""It was taking too long, and it wasn't being handled like another case," he said. ""And it was because he was so prominent in the community."

Plaisted was finally indicted in Corpus Christi in October 1992. He posted bond, closed his practice in Corpus Christi, and negotiated an agreement with the psychology board to place his license on inactive status until he could prove his innocence.

He then moved to Boston, where he enrolled in Boston University Law School and successfully completed his first year of studies by May 1994.

While in law school, Plaisted began calling a former patient - the girl whose treatment Horvat had reviewed in Corpus Christi. Plaisted convinced the girl's mother - who was also a patient of his - to bring the girl to Boston for additional therapy.

Plaisted's plans were foiled when a policeman setting up a speed trap in his neighborhood accidentally intercepted on his police radio a sexually explicit telephone call between the girl and Plaisted, who was using a cordless phone.

FBI agents were called in, six other calls were taped, and Plaisted was arrested on June 3, 1994, after he met the girl, then 13, and her mother at the train station and took them to a budget motel.

""The mother wasn't aware" of the molestations, said Adolfo Aguilo, an assistant Nueces County district attorney. ""The mother had a borderline personality disorder - she developed dependency on people -and unfortunately for her the person she developed a dependency on was Dr. Plaisted."

Sgt. Michael Harpster, a police detective from suburban Boston who helped arrest Plaisted, described him as ""very congenial, almost shy."

""He'd answer questions very courteously, but he didn't show any outward signs of knowing the seriousness of the situation," Harpster said.

Last January, Plaisted was sentenced by a federal judge in Boston to a two-year prison term after he pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines to engage in illegal sexual activity.

The Corpus Christi conviction and sentence came almost a year later.

In the end, Plaisted admitted molesting four victims. But prosecutors say no one will ever know how many others failed to come forward.

""I imagine there could be several other victims. Through his practice and the church he probably had access over the years to thousands of children," said Aguilo, the Corpus Christi prosecutor who eventually secured Plaisted's guilty plea.

""To me, any kid that came in contact with this guy was a victim in some way or another," added Michalak.

When Plaisted was sentenced last month, it was a bitter emotional meeting for many of his young victims and their parents, who had been called as witnesses in case Plaisted decided against the plea bargain.

Parents said Plaisted stood up straight, held his head high and looked the judge in the eye. And when he saw the relatives of his former victims, he acted as if he were attending a reunion of old friends, they said. One parent said Plaisted looked as if he thought they were there as supporters or character witnesses.

""He turned around and gave the families a big smile," Alvarado said. ""I couldn't believe it."

Alvarado, who sued Plaisted in civil court, has received a settlement for an undisclosed amount. Her son, now a teen-ager, is still struggling with his past abuse, she said, and she continues to feel betrayed by those who would not join her in speaking out years ago.

""I told them if they had helped me in the beginning, none of this would have happened," she said.

Plaisted timeline

Key dates in the career of Dr. James R. Plaisted:

January 1983: Licensed to practice psychology in Texas.

October 1984: Investigated by Texas Department of Human Resources for allegedly molesting a neighbor's child.

April 1986: Charged in criminal case for allegedly fondling a boy during therapy.

August 1986: Acquitted by jury in Corpus Christi.

October 1992: Indicted for sexual abuse of three Corpus Christi girls.

December 1992: Closed Corpus Christi office; moved to Boston to begin law school.

June 1994: Arrested by FBI agents for luring a 13-year-old former Corpus Christi patient to Boston.

January 1995: Indicted by Corpus Christi grand jury on three counts of aggravated sexual assault for incidents years earlier involving the same girl.

January 1995: Sentenced to two years in federal prison in Boston case.

Dec. 7, 1995: Sentenced to 40 years in state prison by a Corpus Christi judge after pleading guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

October 24, 2007 4:00 AM
Blogger Eileen Smith said...

Thanks for the related stories, Anon. Next time, can you just post the link? Posting that much content puts you in competition with Burka.

October 24, 2007 9:02 AM
Blogger Melissa Zamora said...

Dear Mr. Burka:

Finally, your publication gives proper and well-deserved credit to Brownsville Herald investigative reporter Emma Perez-Trevino.

Perez-Trevino and former reporter Patricia Guillermo were also largely responsible for uncovering the corruption scandal of former Cameron County Sheriff Conrado Cantu, but Texas Monthly failed to give credit where it was due.

Perez-Trevino wrote several investigative pieces on the Irene Garza/Priest scandal in the RGV, yet your reporter failed to attribute her work.

And, did you know that Jayson Blair had also plagarized her work? But, once again, that didn't come out, too.

So, again, I thank you, for finally doing the right thing, and attributing the hard work of one of the top investigative reporters in the state of Texas -- Emma Perez-Trevino.

October 25, 2007 9:23 AM

Posted By Jaime Kenedeño to South Texas Verdad at 3/13/2008 06:05:00 PM

Kenedeno & Associates

On Fri, Mar 14, 2008 at 4:42 AM, Jaime Kenedeno <> wrote:

Dear Ricardo Sanchez, Roland Barrera, Esteemed RTA Board Members,CCREDC Executives /Members Nueces County Commissioners Court and our All American City Council.

It is inconceivable in the eyes of a little person (who labors under a heavy burden daily) that we would appoint or place individuals in positions where merit is is non-existent. The Rendon family is well represented on the RTA Board.

According to the Caller Times Article written by Jaime Powell, There also could be a third Rendon family member on the RTA board in the near future.
Furthermore, in reviewing the minutes of various RTA meetings, the name Joseph Ramirez alludes discovery. What has this individual accomplished benefiting the RTA? It is with great emphasis we recognize individuals who are meritorious, individuals who are already involved / dedicated to the RTA. You guys are very aware of who the meritorious ones are. Certainly, it is a disservice to dedication for an individual to assume such a position without earning it first.

This appointment is one of ignorance (in that it iignores the citizenry) and without question unrepresentative of Nueces County. The Rendon Family shares not with it's community; but profiteers off of it. Questionable integrity, investigation and the proximity to scandal is WATT we (the RTA) get with the unsavory appointment of the Nephew (mouthpiece) of Florencio Rendon.

Turning to other Boards within the various Political Subdivisions of Nueces County, I will point to the DMC Regents and the election of one regent (whose family member was an employee) forcing the choice of one (of the two) resigning. The employee stepped away.

Another issue with the RTA appointment process as well as most appointments is the secrecy of the process. We need to know about the available positions before we can apply. Why is the marketing non existent? Vacancies are not communicated to the average citizen and it is only confirmation of the reliance on the disengagement of the average citizen in the formulation of public policy. Why does the public have to become research experts to be informed on important issues such as this?

We at Kenedeno & Associates specialize in the "engagement of the average citizen in the formulation of public policy".

We bring the public to your doorstep.

Also, in the interest of the City of Corpus Christi, we are recommending an in depth study regarding the deterioration (to the right lane) of all city streets implemented in daily bus routes. Specifically, we are referring to the patch repair of certain areas where the climate coupled with asphalt design and exceeded load capacity from RTA Machinery has taken a heavy toll.

Your efforts and your continued integrity is applauded, respected and often taken for granted.

Thank You

Anton Haley

Posted By Jaime Kenedeño to Corpus Christi Caller Times at 3/14/2008 01:47:00 AM