By Todd Harrison
Listening to lobbyists and political guru’s talking about turning out the vote is like listening to a crack head in the back seat of your unit headed downtown. I’m sure it all means something to them.
I’ve spent a great deal of my time this year traveling the state and communicating with our members and local unions imploring every cop I met to join their local PAC and to be sure to vote in the upcoming elections. I even mailed out a reminder card back before the Primaries.
As a street cop that you’ve entrusted with the job of being the president I have always believed my role is to lead the board of directors and then our members. The CLEAT Public Affairs Committee is made up of CLEAT Vice President Ervey Banda, San Antonio, Chairman; Aaron Smith, Midland; Bobby Hardin, Tarrant County; Brady Sipes, Mesquite; Dean Gilliam, Fort worth; and Pete Elizalde, San Antonio. These guys give a lot of their time to working with the CLEAT Public Affairs staff on political endorsements, PAC and campaigns. I’d like to thank them all for their hard work.
Once our board decided to stand and fight on our issues we decided to make sure that some folks didn’t get the chance to come back to legislature. Both in the Primaries and in the General Election we have been consistent in our endorsements. Some folks will endorse anyone who promises to give their union a government grant or a handout. CLEAT, on the other hand, has stood strong on principle and worked to elect people who helped law enforcement instead of those pushed on us by political consultants.
We agreed with our lobbyist last legislative session when we stood up and fought for worker’s comp reform while other union’s stood by and watched or trolled the Capitol hallways for government training grant funds to help to finance their union. We forced a big showdown in the Capitol and changed state law to help injured officers.
When the vote was taken and we saw politicians betray us, lie to us and hurt your position—I made a decision to work against those people’s re-election efforts and try to take them down. It’s easy to be angry when something like that first happens but it’s difficult to maintain the passion and remember the nasty way some politician treated you all the way through E-Day.
However, this issue was different and Charley Wilkison, our lobbyist, told our board that someone who would lie to you and vote against an injured police officer would damn sure lie to you and vote against your retirement. I agreed wholeheartedly. We endorsed those who helped us and we forgave those who claimed to see the light. We spent PAC dollars locally and through CLEAT PAC.
We focused our payback efforts on Representative Dee Margo, El Paso; Representative John Garza, San Antonio; Representative Connie Scott, Corpus Christi; and Representative Mark Shelton, Fort Worth. All of our local unions were committed to the cause. We worked behind the scenes locally to support the challengers who opposed these bad actors. We direct mailed to our members, we phone banked our members in some of these races and we had varying kinds of get out the vote efforts in all of these areas.
In the end, all of these targeted incumbents were defeated. I’m not just proud of the fact that we sent a strong message to state legislators that we don’t intend to be their door mat when it comes to serious issues—but I am damned proud of our local unions, our board and our staff for fighting and winning. But I am most proud of the law enforcement officers families and neighbors who decided to join us and say enough is enough.
You did this. It was you who took control of our message, believed in our cause and taught the bad guys a lesson. I’m proud of every single one of you who contributed to your local PAC, CLEAT PAC, those who block walked, attended media events and most of all I am proud of you for voting and for taking someone with you to the polls.
Now, thanks to you maybe some of these politicians will understand that if they don’t listen—we will be coming for them in the next election cycle. I am slightly encouraged by these turn of events. It bodes well for our endeavors to save your hard earned retirement in the next session of the legislature.
Thank You for voting and for supporting CLEAT’s political agenda.