State Representative Jessica Farrar’s primary challenger, ersatz Democrat Dave Wilson, known for his homophobic campaigns to curtail civil rights, has a history of sending deliberately misleading campaign mailers. BOR has covered his sordid history.
His latest mailing is a new low, coming just as early voting begins. It not only completely mischaracterizes the truth by using mislabeled photographs, it puts a state rep’s home address and a photo of her car and license plate in the hands of thousands of voters. Is he a candidate, or a stalker?
The mailer has three images on it:
- A photo of a car with a state official license plate.
- A photo of a house with an Austin address superimposed on it.
- A screen grab of a a man’s name and the address at which he’s registered from the voter file.
Her opponent alleges, hoping recipients assume these three photographs offer proof, that Farrar does not live in the district she represents.
She does. She lives in the heart of her district.
The plain fact is, the mailer does not show what Farrar’s primary challenger wants you to think it shows.
The house in the photo with an Austin address superimposed over it is actually the Houston home that Farrar owns, for which she has a homestead exemption, in the middle of her district.
If you look into Travis County Appraisal District records, the Austin address on the mailer matches a home that it is not owned by Farrar. The owner of that house has a mailing address in Round Rock and the house does not qualify for the homestead exemption, which means it is used, as are so many homes in Austin, as rental property.
We elect Representative Farrar to represent us in the legislature. In Austin. I would hope that she would have a place to stay near the capitol when she is working there, because it would be unsafe and take her away from work too often for her to commute 6 hours on a daily basis. The mailer offers no proof, however, that Farrar actually spends any time, or has ever spent time, in this particular house.
The mailer also says:
“The house she uses to claim residence in District 148 is where her brother votes.”
That house, again, is hers. She and her husband are both registered to vote there as well, because they live there.
It is not unusual for family members to live together, especially in a time when living inside the loop is so expensive. Plenty of people have siblings, parents, or even adult children living with them—including, according to the voter file and court records, Farrar’s opponent!
Yes, the final insult is that Farrar’s opponent was himself sued over his residency when he ran for the Houston Community College board. Currently, the address he records as his residence is listed as a commercial property, owned by a corporation.
His two adult children are registered at that address as well, even though Facebook suggests that one of them lives in another state. Meanwhile, his wife lives in a home in an entirely different district, unable to vote for her husband.
In short, it’s his same dirty tricks again, designed to deceive voters.
Politicians take advantage of the heightened protections we give to political speech, although they aren’t allowed to flat-out lie. In general, however, candidates know that if they toss out something outlandish right before an election, there will not be enough time for the record to stand corrected, and judges will be hesitant to get involved for fear of affecting the outcome.
Mailers like this are the reason many have thrown up their hands in disgust and walked away from participatory democracy. I wish I had a better solution, but for now, the best solution is to ask people in District 148 not to reward bad behavior by voting for this man, and to instead return Representative Jessica Farrar to Austin.