Governor Rick Perry and the CLEAT Executive Board
CLEAT began preparing for the worst legislative storm of the decade years ago. In fact, in 2011 CLEAT opposed the largest number of bad bills that would have impacted Texas law enforcement in a negative way that had ever been filed in the history of the state.
The CLEAT lobby team pushed hard for last minute reforms in worker’s comp, surviving family insurance benefits as well as tidying up other legislative loose ends in acceptance and preparation that this session would be even worse.
“Across the country we are seeing the effects of a slow economy combined with poorly managed police pensions in other states that are emboldening the enemies of police,” said CLEAT President Todd Harrison “we believe we are in for a brutal session—but we have been working hard to prepare and we are ready.”
CLEAT PAC inverted it’s defensive strategy for the upcoming session and used the campaign cycle to go on the offensive against incumbent legislators who voted against the CLEAT worker’s comp amendment in 2011. CLEAT gave every legislator and candidate a chance to turn over a new page by completing a candidate questionnaire regarding retirement issues right after the filing deadline. Then using the verified information to develop a war plan CLEAT began to make educated assumptions that candidates who had voted against the worker’s comp bill and showed no change of heart might very well oppose decent retirements for working law enforcement officers. Thus came the list of those who deserved to be defeated versus those who deserved to be defended.
“You would walk in Charley Wilkison’s office and see all these crazy colored maps, Public Affairs has a giant 4X8 board in their back hall where their battle plan was charted out during the endorsement and campaign periods,” said President Harrison.
“Next came their PAC fundraising, then came their strategy meetings with all our local associations. It was interesting to see this operation develop and then be deployed in the field to various political campaigns,” he said. “In the end, you had a PAC almost triple in size, you saw local associations hold the line on unity and cooperation like we’d never experienced before and then you could see the macro targeting that resulted in lots of new voters in the form of officers, their families and friends.”
CLEAT began the push to register its members to vote early in the year including a direct mail piece to every home warning that this was not a regular year and the normal apathy toward political action would end in officers not having their voices heard. The CLEAT Executive Board and Regional Directors began in earnest to spread the word across the state to alert officers in roll calls to the coming legislative storm.
“Our intention from the get-go was to provide Public Affairs and CLEAT PAC with an unprecedented amount of ground and air support to change the dynamics during this campaign cycle. It worked,” said Harrison. (see related PAC story on page three.)
“The end result is that we won all but two of the races where we endorsed, some of them so close that they weren’t decided until early the next morning. But we changed our playbook, we moved the needle in some of these races and we stayed united,” Harrison stated “We are headed into battle, but we are super prepared for whatever our enemies launch at us.”
“I don’t want our lobbyist to be stuck to somebody’s wish list for legislation. We want them to be free to use the circumstances at hand to do whatever they deem necessary to clean our opponent’s clock—and keep on going to the next play,” said President Harrison.
Local leaders as well as rank and file members should closely monitor the CLEAT Legislative page on the web www.cleat.org as well as the CLEAT Facebook page.