September 26, 2006
Contact: Matt Angle
On the web at www.LoneStarProject.net
Texas Republican Ineffective, Often Embarrassing
John Carter Demonstrates DeLay Redrawn Districts Prop-up Mediocre Members
When Rick Perry, Tom Craddick and David Dewhurst redrew Texas congressional boundaries, they crafted not only districts that favor Republicans but districts so skewed that plainly incompetent and ineffective Republican incumbents could withstand a strong challenge by a very capable and talented Democrat. In some cases, the Tom DeLay-inspired map has discouraged qualified challengers from even filing to run. However, in others, very good Democratic candidates who would make outstanding Members of Congress have emerged.
The Lone Star Project looked closely at Congressional District 31 where incumbent Republican John Carter is seeking his third term in Congress. Carter is a clear example of poor and sometimes embarrassing service being papered over by a district overtly drawn to elect a Republican, no matter how incompetent. Carter’s opponent, Mary Beth Harrell is an accomplished, moderate to conservative central Texas attorney who also has the distinction of being the mother of two sons serving in the military and the wife of a retired career military officer. (Mary Beth Harrell for Congress Website) By anyone’s measure, Mary Beth Harrell is highly qualified to serve in Congress, while John Carter appears to have taken a comfortable seat on the back bench bringing little to the table for Texans.
Historically, Texas Members with leadership potential begin to distinguish themselves by their second term in office. Both Charlie Stenholm and Martin Frost were already recognized as rising stars in the House by their second terms. The same is true for Jim Turner, Max Sandlin and even “hard right” Republican ideologues like Dick Armey and Tom DeLay himself. Carter entered his second term with some promise as a new member of the Appropriations Committee, but concludes his term as an abandoned DeLay follower who has drawn attention to himself only long enough to make embarrassing public statements on issues ranging from voting rights to child predators.
Tom DeLay Disciple: To the bitter end, John Carter was an unapologetic Tom DeLay defender.
- John Carter gave $5,000 to Tom DeLay’s Legal Defense Fund (Austin American-Statesman 11/17/2004)
- When asked about the DeLay contribution, Carter said, “I think we’re involved in a political witch hunt here, and I also think Mr. DeLay is innocent, I volunteered to give the money.” (Austin American-Statesman 11/17/2004)
- Even after DeLay resigned from Congress in shame, Carter said that after the history books are written, “‘they’ll say DeLay was one of the most effective leaders in the House.” (Austin American-Statesman June 9, 2006)
- Carter has also been happy to take donations from DeLay and his cronies
Donations to John Carter’s Campaign Account
|$10,000||4/29/2002||ARMPAC (DeLay Leadership PAC)|
|$10,000||10/27/2003||ARMPAC (DeLay Leadership PAC)|
|$1,000||5/3/2005||Drew Maloney (Former DeLay employee — now lobbyist)|
|$500||6/24/2003||Drew Maloney (Former DeLay employee — now lobbyist)|
|$500||5/28/2004||Drew Maloney (Former DeLay employee — now lobbyist)|
|$500||9/26/2005||Tony Rudy (Former DeLay employee — now convicted felon)|
|$500||9/30/2003||Tony Rudy (Former DeLay employee — now convicted felon)|
Carter takes illegal trip with Registered Foreign Agents: John Carter consistently makes reference to his former career as a Judge, yet appears to have broken House Rules when he went on a trip paid for by a registered foreign agent.
- Carter and his wife went on a 4 day trip to Seoul Korea worth $18,082 (See the PDF of the travel disclosure form)
- Trip expenses were paid for by the Korea – United States Exchange Council which is a registered foreign agent. (U.S. Department of Justice, Report of the Attorney General)
- The Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives on Gifts and Travel state that “a Member, officer or employee may not accept travel expenses from ‘a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal.’ ” (Washington Post, 3/10/2005)
- The Korea-U.S. Exchange Council was set up by former DeLay Chief of Staff lobbyist Ed Buckham. (Time Magazine, March 20, 2005)
Defending School Bus Stops Near the Homes of Child Predators: Appearing on CNN’s Nancy Grace Show, Carter defended a U.S. District Court ruling that allowed convicted sex offenders to live near school bus stops. Commenting on the ruling, Carter said, “Quite frankly, I think that the court’s ruling is correct.” Carter went on to say that the law was not, “a workable solution to that problem.” (CNN’s Nancy Grace, June 27, 2006 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 27, 2006)
Another Fiscal Phony: While presenting himself as a fiscal conservative who favors limited government, Carter has voted for record federal spending, record federal debt and huge new government social programs.
Increase in Debt During Carter’s Time in Office
|Increase in Debt||$2.1 TRILLION|
|Debt per U.S. Resident||$7,007.65|
(Bureau of Public Debt)
- Carter has twice voted to raise the debt ceiling
- H RES 856 — Roll Call vote 534, November 18, 2004 (Clerk of the House of Representatives)
- H CON RES 95 — Roll Call Vote 149, April 28, 2005 (Clerk of the House of Representatives)
- Carter claims to be a small government conservative, yet voted for the flawed and controversial Medicare Prescription drug program, which is the most expensive non-defense government program in a generation, costing over $1.2 trillion. (Washington Post, 2/9/2005, Clerk of the House of Representatives H R 1 Roll Call Vote 669, November 22, 2004)
Carter’s views on the Voting Rights Act too extreme even for Bush or Perry
While President Bush, Rick Perry and a large majority of both Republican and Democratic Members of Congress supported extension of the Voting Rights Act, Carter joined a small block of obstructionists who wanted to gut several key provisions of this landmark legislation. While George W. Bush stated that the Voting Rights Act is, “”one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation’s history,” (NBC News July 21, 2006) Carter was saying “I don’t think we have racial bias in Texas anymore.” This led the Austin American- Statesman to publish a scathing editorial titled, “Carter’s embarrassing tirade helps stop an important law.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram June 30, 2006 and Austin American-Statesman, June 26, 2006)
Bottom Line: Tom DeLay, bullied, blustered and broke laws to create districts that elected junior Members of Congress who would follow his lead without question. Now that DeLay is gone, Texas is stuck with poor to mediocre representation from junior Republicans like John Carter. Mary Beth Harrell is waging a smart and aggressive uphill campaign that challenges voters to look beyond party labels and choose competence and character over small-minded and blind ideology.