More negative fallout from the San Antonio panel's gerrymandered five-way split of Travis County: Austin-based foreign policy expert Dan Grant is no longer running against incumbent Republican Michael McCaul. The initial interim maps by the San Antonio panel made the 10th Congressional District a legitimate toss-up. That map drew out Tomball and added a chunk of southern Williamson County. Grant had a legitimate shot of winning, which clearly made McCaul nervous, as the Republican submitted his own version of an alternate map that was much safer for him.
However, the San Antonio panel's revised, Abbott-and-MALDEF-approved non-compromise maps hacked Travis into five districts, and made the 10th even more Republican than it is now. The district would have been a tough uphill climb at R+13 even for Grant, a strong campaigner with broad support and a populist message.
The new CD-10: West Austin, Central Austin, Tomball, Houston, and points in between.
In a statement released by his campaign, Grant said, "In the latest version of Congressional maps the 10th District has been redrawn to solidly protect Congressman McCaul. This latest iteration of CD-10 is the same as in the illegal map drafted by the Republican-controlled state legislature last year whose primary goal was to disenfranchise minority voters, dilute Democratic voting strength, and protect Republican incumbents."
Grant's campaign had done an excellent job bringing national attention to McCaul's massive and frequent ethical lapses, from engaging in insider trading before voting to ban it, to hosting schmooze-fests with fat cat one-percenters on the taxpayer's dime. It's very telling that McCaul, the second-richest and perhaps most out-of-touch member of Congress, was protected by Abbott & Friends in this process. But then again, maybe it was just a favor to McCaul's father-in-law.
Quality candidates like Grant don't come along that often, and given that his wife gave birth to their second child just a few weeks ago, it is understandable that Grant doesn't want to spend the next 10 months away from his family, toiling in an unwinnable race. We wish Dan and his campaign staff the best of luck as they figure out their next steps.
One would think that since Republican Congressman Michael McCaul serves on the House Ethics Committee, he wouldn't be constantly dogged by accusations of ethical misconduct. While his violations may not break the law, they certainly don't pass the smell test. Here's a run-down of recent revelations about Michael McCaul's unethical behaviors.
Michael McCaul Engaged In Insider Trading Before He Voted to Ban It
This is just sloppy. Michael McCaul bought TransCanada stock -- the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline -- the day before he urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to approve the project. Then, McCaul sponsored the STOCK Act to ban the exact kind of insider trading he engaged in!
Here's the timeline:
December 21st, 2010 -- Michael McCaul purchased as much as $65,000 in TransCanada stock. [LINK] (Warning, opens PDF)
December 22nd, 2010 -- McCaul sent a letter to the Secretary of State urging approval of TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline project. [LINK]
January 31st, 2012 -- McCaul became a co-sponsor of the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act
McCaul clearly was feeling the heat when he sponsored the STOCK Act, a law that had languished in Congress for six years. Suddenly in this era of public outrage over income inequality, McCaul's blatant greed and subservience to the 1% is a much greater political liability.
According to a press release from challenger Dan Grant's campaign, McCaul has also been advocating publicly on behalf of TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline for over a year while having investments worth as much as $1 million in at least 9 companies who could benefit from the project.
In an interview with KVUE, Grant stated, "You shouldn't be going to Congress to support legislation that profits you personally. That's the definition of insider trading, and it's deeply troubling."
Michael McCaul Withdrew from House Ethics Committee Investigation After Receiving Inappropriate Confidential Information
McCaul was one of the four Republicans on the House Ethics Committee who withdrew from an investigation of Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, due to questions swirling around his impartiality. Last July after allegations of bias by GOP members of the Ethics Committee, the panel was forced to hire an outside lawyer to investigate the committee and its handling of the Waters case.
According to Politico, two top Ethics Committee lawyers are accused of secretly communicating with Republicans on the panel investigating Waters. McCaul allegedly received confidential documents during the investigation of Rep. Charlie Rangel that he was not allowed to view. The documents would have apparently "so tained the proceedings that there would have been no option but to move to dismiss." The two attorneys who leaked the information were suspended from their jobs, and no longer work on the Ethics Commission. Of course, McCaul is right at the center of these ethical transgressions.
"Congressman McCaul should have known that it was inappropriate to review those confidential documents," said Campaign Manager Joe Hamill in a press statement. "This is another example of McCaul playing fast and loose with the ethical rules in Congress."
Michael McCaul Used Taxpayer Money to Host Event for High-Dollar Donors
Just yesterday, McCaul hosted an annual event at the Headliner's Club, which usually hosts posh fundraisers in a tony downtown high-rise. Last year, McCaul paid for the event from his officeholder account, raising questions about whether taxpayer dollars should be utilized to allow McCaul to visit intimately with some of his biggest donors.
Research by the Dan Grant campaign has unearthed documents demonstrating that McCaul receives thousands of dollars of donations from members and officers of the Headliners Club, many of whom attend his annual event. In fact, just in February 2011, McCaul received $5400 from current and past officers of the club. On the same day McCaul's office paid the Headliner's Club, he received $3000 from two then-current officers of the Headliner's Club.
"It's flatly wrong for McCaul to charge taxpayers for his private events at exclusive clubs with his biggest donors," challenger Dan Grant said in a press statement. "It's clear that he values schmoozing with his wealthy backers more than answering to the taxpayers who pay his salary. He needs to pay back what he owes and meet face-to-face with the people he claims to serve."
Engaging in insider trading before voting to ban it? Receiving confidential, prejudicial information in a House Ethics Commission investigation? Charging taxpayers to rub elbows with his biggest donors?
Michael McCaul is what's wrong with Congress, and he has to go.
For more information about Dan Grant, who is challenging McCaul in the 10th District, check out his website and Like him on Facebook.
In response to today's ruling from the United State's Supreme Court Supreme Court, 10th district Congressional candidate Dan Grant issued the following statement, emphasis mine:
"With continued uncertainty surrounding primary dates, district lines and a time line for when we will have definite answers, one thing is still clear: Texans deserve a voice in Congress that understands and fights for them. For years Michael McCaul has failed to be that voice. Our campaign will continue to work hard reaching out to Texans who want better than the status quo and who demand more than the self-serving politics of Michael McCaul."
Dan Grant, an Austin-based foreign policy expert, is a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Texas' 10th Congressional District against Rep. Michael McCaul.
Michael McCaul is one of the richest individuals in Congress, and represents the 1% more than the people of his Central Texas district. As we've previously reported, McCaul is on the most recent list of biggest water-wasters in the Austin area. McCaul is so out of touch with working people he didn't even seem to notice that his water bill had skyrocketed to almost 20 times that of the average Austin resident. McCaul previous made the list in 2009, ranking seventh of all utility customers for the water consumed by his 1.9-acre mansion. He claimed at the time that it was a leak in his sprinkler system, and that he had it fixed immediately. City records show, however, that the McCaul household water use had averaged around 100,000 gallons a month. The average Austin home uses 10,000 gallons a year.
While McCaul's neighbors continue blame leaky pipes, I don't know too many people who could just passively afford to keep paying so much, let alone squandering our most precious resources.
Dan Grant: won't waste all of our water and watches his own utility bills. Put that on a tee shirt!
In response to the the House's vote to reject the Senate payroll tax extension plan, Democratic Congressional candidate Dan Grant released the following statement.
"This is a disgrace. Rejecting this bipartisan plan and risking a tax increase for millions of working families is shameful, but not surprising. This is another example of millionaire Michael McCaul, the single richest member of Congress, failing to understand what really matters to Texas' families and spending more time supporting political theater, showdowns and standoffs, than addressing these urgent problems. We need people in Congress who understand what $1000 means to a family saving for college or struggling to stay afloat in these hard times, not people willing to play politics with the lives and livelihoods of those they claim to represent."
Dan Grant, an Austin-based foreign policy expert, filed last week to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Texas' 10th Congressional District against Rep. Michael McCaul. This is the sort of strong response that's refreshing to see from Democrat.
Big news: today Dan Grant filed his paperwork to run for CD 10, the Central Texas congressional district currently held by Michael McCaul. Grant filed with the TDP for the iteration of CD 10 drawn by the San Antonio federal court. That district, which no longer includes uber-conservative Tom Ball Tomball in Harris County, is a pick-up opportunity for Democrats, who need to regain only 25 seats nationwide to retake the House of Representatives.
Grant's campaign released a statement today detailing his experience on foreign policy and national security, and his commitment to give working Texans a real voice in Congress. From the statement (reprinted in full below the jump):
Grant said he felt compelled to explore a run for Congress because the people of Central Texas need a Congressman who understands and who will look out for their best interests.
"Central Texans deserve a real voice in Congress. We deserve a voice that speaks up for our needs above the demands of wealthy special interests and Wall Street mega donors. For years it's been clear that millionaire Michael McCaul, the single richest member of Congress, is unable and unwilling to be that voice," Grant said. "I'll make sure the things that matter in Washington are the things that matter to families here in Texas."
They also put together this great video from an emphatic Grant, touching on the populist themes resonating nationwide:
Grant had previously announced that he was forming an exploratory committee for the previous incarnation of CD-25, which stretched from East Austin to Tarrant County, and had drawn 9 Republican primary candidates, including Michael "Bowtie" Williams. Once the San Antonio court redrew the maps, Grant began looking at CD-10, and decided it was worth contesting again, as he did in the 2008 primary.
Clearly, Grant isn't afraid of an uphill fight, and it's great to see the vigor and energy in him as he prepares to take on McCaul. While no one knows what incarnation of CD-10 Grant will be able to contest -- or when the maps will be set or primaries will be held -- the main question is whether a grassroots, citizen-driven effort to take back this seat can trump McCaul's millions of dollars. Michael McCaul's father-in-law is Lowry Mays, founder of Clear Channel Communications. McCaul is worth at least $287 million, and is currently the richest individual in Congress.
Dan Grant released a statement today on the interim Congressional maps released by the Federal Courts on Wednesday, making clear that while he will not be running against Congressman Lloyd Doggett in the 25th, he is giving strong consideration to the newly drawn 10th district.
Grant had previously announced that he was exploring a run in the Legislature-drawn 25th district, which stretched from the University of Texas through parts of Bell County up to Fort Worth. 11 Republicans had also announced intention to seek the seat. With the lines re-drawn, Grant is now taking a closer look at the 10th, where he ran in 2008 against Rush Limbaugh's BFF Mike McCaul.
Grant's statement is as follows:
Statement on the Release of Interim Congressional Maps
Two days ago, the hopes of Democrats and progressives across central Texas were met with resounding action by a federal judicial panel's release of fair and equitable interim maps for the United States House of Representatives.
Dan Grant, who has been exploring a run in the State Legislature-drawn 25th district, will withdraw from the race for CD-25, allowing Rep. Lloyd Doggett to return to his newly re-drawn district to continue representing the people of Austin.
"Travis County has been made whole, and Congressman Doggett has traditionally represented Texas' 25th - I will willingly step aside so that he can run unopposed. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to ensure that all Americans would have equal access to voting and representation. The court's decision has upheld this principle with a fair map that allows all Texans these opportunities," said Grant.
Speaking in regards to his own campaign, Grant added, "I have been touched by the enthusiasm and support I've received in my exploration of the 25th Congressional district. The unique opportunities in the coming election season will afford Travis County, and all Texans, real representation in Congress. In the days ahead, I will be considering how best to move forward with these new Congressional opportunities."
There has been a lot of chatter in Wednesday's redistricting diary about the newly drawn 10th -- what are your thoughts? Is this a potential pick-up opportunity for the right candidate? Can a Democrat overcome Mike McCaul's father-in-law's bank account?
The current CD-25, which may be changed by the federal courts. See the current maps here.
Some big news today: Dan Grant announced that he's forming an exploratory committee for CD-25, the Congressional district that includes much of East and Central Austin. Overall, the new CD-25 includes all of Johnson, Hill, Bosque, Somervell, Hamilton, Coryell, Lampasas and Burnet Counties, and parts of Travis, Hays, Erath, and Bell Counties.
Dan Grant previously ran for CD-10 in 2008, and has remained highly active and visible since then, while also continuing to work as a consultant and advisor to the U.S. State and Defense Departments. Grant trains American civilian and military personnel bound for Iraq and Afghanistan, and received a commendation from the State Department in 2009 for his service during the Afghan Presidential election.
Grant enters the race with a long list of notable endorsements from local leaders. Listed on the release materials are Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez, State Representative Mark Strama, State Representative Donna Howard, State Representative Elliott Naishtat, and Travis County Constable Bruce Elfant. Also offering support are past candidates Larry Joe Doherty and Jack McDonald, who campaigned previously in the CD-10 district that Grant also contended in 2008.
It's unclear what shape CD-25 will take once the federal Courts repair Rick Perry and the Texas Republican Party's partisan gerrymander. Currently, the courts are preparing interim maps to make sure the primaries stay on schedule; the interim maps will be used for the primaries if the federal court is unable to clear the current map passed by the Legislature in time. NB: the Justice Department has stated that they believe the Legislature's current map is unconstitutional and violates the Voting Rights Act.
However, Grant's announcement and strong list of early supporters suggest that if this remains a swing district, he will be an extremely formidable opponent in both a primary and a general election environment.
It looks like in the final day to fill the vacancy, another McCaul challenger has decided to run.
Multiple sources have indicated Ted Ankrum will file tomorrow to run against Republican Michael McCaul. Ankrum ran in 2006 and kept McCaul to just 55.28% of the vote but only garnered 40.4% of the vote himself. He spent less than $75,000 total in his race but gains have been minimal over the last 4 years.
For Ankrum to be successful, he will have to spend the bulk of his time in Harris County, stress his military service, let the Travis County Democratic Party and Austin area activist do the heavy lifting in the north part of the district, and get a committed group of surrogates in the 10th Congressional District and beyond to begin a massive fundraising operation.
Needless to say, with the shortened window, Ankrum will have an uphill battle. The district continues to be tough pre-redistricting, but it is good to see a Democrat step up to the challenge.
In the days since Jack McDonald announced that he would not be running for the 10th Congressional District, speculation grew that foreign policy consultant and former candidate for the district Dan Grant would enter the race.
Grant--an Austin native--was widely viewed as one of the strongest contenders to make a late entry: he still has solid support from his previous campaign, and is extensively well-regarded by local activists. He has extensive foreign policy experience from his civil service work in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Today, Grant released a statement making clear that he would not be entering the race. From his press release:
"Like others, my wife and I were surprised by our friend Jack McDonald's announcement this week that he will not run for Congress after all, and I am deeply grateful for the strong encouragement I have received in the past two days to get into the race.
Because time is short, I have visited quickly with friends, Democratic Party officials, and community leaders in the district. After giving the decision due consideration, I am today announcing that I will not be a candidate for this or any other office during the current election cycle.
As many of you know, my wife and I are expecting our first child in less than a month. In other words, the standard excuse that I want to spend more time with my family is, by a happy coincidence, actually true in this case.
Moreover, my work training civilian workers and soldiers for the international mission in Afghanistan will continue to require my professional focus for the foreseeable future.
Again, my wife and I appreciate the many expressions of support we have received in the past two days. We look forward to helping Democratic candidates in this race and up and down the ballot get their positive message out in the months ahead."
Dan Grant remains a great candidate for this district, as he was in 2008. A loyal, committed Democrat, Grant has remained highly active within the party since his unfortunate loss in the 2008 primary. He continues to participate extensively in our local grassroots organizations, and has been involved in fundraising efforts for Democratic candidates.
Grant has also expanded his work on foreign policy issues by joining up with Operation Free, an organization that focuses on clean energy from a national security perspective. In an ironic bit of timing, the Austin Chronicle ran an article this week in which Grant evaluates President Obama's Afghanistan strategy.
Grant's decision not to enter the race at this late stage in the game is completely respectable. With less than two weeks in the filing period, it will be challenging for anyone to assemble a team capable of challenging McCaul. However, I sincerely hope that Grant continues to consider the race in the future. He would be a strong voice for the people of the 10th District.
Meanwhile, best wishes to Dan and his wife as they await the arrival of their first child.
Middle-class families and small businesses have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by the administration’s economic incompetence,” Grant said. “In the midst of the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression, Larry Joe Doherty wants to turn the page — and Mike McCaul wants to laminate it.”
Grant said the fact that the 10th Congressional District’s boundaries were redrawn during a controversial redistricting scheme pushed by disgraced former Congressman Tom DeLay is part of the same culture of corruption that has led to the current financial crisis.
“Central Texas deserves a fresh start under new leadership,” Grant said. “No more endless war in Iraq, no more Katrina, no more McCaulonomics putting at risk the pension and small business of ordinary taxpayers who work hard and play by the rules.”