Breitbart Texas recently published an Op-Ed from Michael Quinn Sullivan highly critical of Texas Alliance for Life PAC’s endorsement practices. Mr. Sullivan heads Empower Texans, a non-pro-life group, that also makes political endorsements. Breitbart Texas invited Texas Alliance for Life to respond with our own Op-Ed.
In recent months, Michael Quinn Sullivan has made several specious arguments attacking Speaker Joe Straus for not being pro-life. I have addressed those in two blog posts: “8 False Claims against Joe Straus” and “Myth Buster: Did David Dewhurst and Joe Straus Kill SB 5?”
Mr. Sullivan claims Texas Alliance for Life and I, who formerly opposed Straus, support him now because we have been bought off. Mr. Sullivan’s claim is patently false. Our support for Straus stems from his pro-life leadership as Speaker and nothing more.
While Mr. Sullivan may take umbrage at some of our endorsements, one must remember that his organization – Empower Texans – is NOT a pro-life organization. Nowhere in their stated goals is any mention of protecting innocent human life from conception to natural death, for example, as is the goal of Texas Alliance for Life. Thus, we do not apologize for being loyal to those incumbents and new candidates who are loyal to our goals and legislative agenda, even if Mr. Sullivan or others oppose them on other grounds unrelated to the protection of innocent human life.
After opposing Mr. Straus’ re-election to Speaker in 2011, Texas Alliance for Life changed our assessment after historic pro-life regular and special sessions that year under Mr. Straus’ leadership: passage of one of the strongest sonogram bills in the nation, defunding of Planned Parenthood by $29 of $31 million per year thanks to the passage of SB 7 in the 2011 special session, passage of a bill to authorize the creation of a Choose Life pro-adoption specialty license plate, and continued funding of compassionate alternatives to abortion along with the defeat of numerous hostile bills and amendments.
The pro-life accomplishments under the leadership of Speaker Straus continued to be nothing less than astounding in 2013. During the regular session the House passed SB 1, with numerous pro-life provisions, and SB 67 to require universities to report embryonic stem cell research. Then the House passed both SB 5 and HB 2 during the special sessions to ban abortions after five months and vastly increase safety regulations for abortion facilities.
A pro-lifer can proudly support Joe Straus for his record of achievement. Mr. Sullivan neglects to mention that NARAL Pro-Choice America gives Texas an “F” on “choice-related laws” and rates the Texas House as “anti-choice.”
As a result, Texas Alliance for Life’s political action committee endorsed Straus for re-election in his house seat in 2012 and 2014. He easily won both times.
Months before the 2014 Primary Elections, we endorsed a number of pro-life incumbents for re-election, who had supported HB 2 and other critical pro-life bills. Our practice is to NEVER accept donations to our PAC earmarked for specific candidates unless we have already endorsed those candidates, not before.
Consistent with that, we asked for a $50,000 donation from the Texas House Leadership Fund in February 2014 to pay for mailers for more than a dozen pro-life previously endorsed incumbents. None of those funds went to salaries, administrative expenses, or the like. Later, we asked for $4,000 to help four endorsed candidates with printed handouts.
Mr. Sullivan never explains how the Speaker could buy our support in 2011 with a donation to our PAC in 2014.
It is true that in late 2010 we claimed that Joe Straus received a cash donation from Planned Parenthood in 2008. Quite frankly, we were wrong.
Straus never received a check from Planned Parenthood. A quick look at the Planned Parenthood’s October 2008 report to the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) shows this expenditure was not a check, cash, or in-kind contribution. Rather Planned Parenthood made the expenditure independently, without permission, and not coordinated with Straus’ political campaign.
Mr. Sullivan has election lawyers at his disposal. He is no doubt well aware of this. Nevertheless, his Empower Texans website attacking Speaker Straus has a phony image of a $1,000 check from Planned Parenthood made out to Joe Straus.
The time has come for those organizations and individuals who are orchestrating the misinformation campaign against Joe Straus and the House members and organizations who support him to cease.
Fomenting distrust and disunity does a huge disservice to unborn babies and other vulnerable persons.