Charlie Geren has been caught in a cover-up, lying to voters about what he knew about an attack on his opponent’s family.
Bo French is a conservative Fort Worth businessman who is challenging State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth) for the second time in the Republican primary. At the conclusion of French’s 2016 campaign against Geren, French’s family was subjected to a reprehensible political attack when an anonymous phone call was placed to Child Protective Services falsely accusing French of abusing and neglecting his wife and children. Although French was ultimately cleared, the call resulted in multiple visits to the French home by CPS caseworkers in the closing days of the 2016 campaign.
For the last eight months, French’s attorneys have been attempting to take the deposition of David Sorensen, a liberal Democrat political operative who worked on Geren’s 2016 campaign and who they accuse of making the fraudulent call to CPS. On Friday, a judge finally ordered Sorensen to answer questions in the case.
Despite repeated instructions from his attorney not to answer questions about the phone call, the responses Sorensen did provide prove that he was the person who made the call to CPS.
More shockingly, Sorensen’s answers directly contradict Geren’s public statements about the case and prove that Geren has been covering up what he knows about the politically-motivated attack on the French family.
In December, the fraudulent CPS call and French’s case against Sorensen had become enough of a political issue in the campaign that Geren felt the need to address voters about it. On December 19, Geren tweeted a statement about the case in which he made several false claims.
First, Geren sought to downplay his connections to Sorensen, describing him as a “man who worked for a company that worked in my 2016 campaign.”
However, in his deposition, Sorensen confirmed that he was the longest-tenured campaign staffer on Geren’s 2016 campaign, that he worked on the campaign 6–7 days a week for 60-70 hours per week, and that he worked hand-in-hand with Geren driving around the district together as the pair put out campaign signs. While working for Geren, Sorensen received pass-through payments from Murphy Nasica, Geren’s campaign consultant.
Prior to working for Geren, Sorensen had volunteered with the Wendy Davis campaign and worked in the office of State Rep. Kenneth Sheets. After leaving Geren’s employment, he went to work for the Tarrant County Democratic Party and now works in Houston for a Democratic candidate for Congress.
Second, in his December statement, Geren told two lies about his personal knowledge of the case. Geren said he knew no more about the particulars of French’s lawsuit than what he had read in the paper. That was obviously nonsense as the case had been percolating for six months at that time and had bounced from law firm to law firm around downtown Fort Worth like a hot potato. Geren also falsely claimed that he could “shed no light on the disputed facts.”
But in his deposition Friday, Sorensen confirmed that after he heard a “rumor” that French was abusing his wife, he discussed the rumor directly with Geren and other Geren campaign staffers. In the end, that rumor made it into the fraudulent CPS report. Likewise, when Sorensen was confronted at a polling location by Sheridan French about false rumors being spread by Geren’s supporters claiming that police had been called to French’s house, Sorensen immediately called Geren about it.
Sorensen’s false claim that French was abusing his children stemmed from a conversation he overheard between French and his campaign manager in which French bragged about how tough his son was after he was mildly injured roughhousing with his brothers, an injury that was successfully treated with a trip to the family’s chiropractor.
From that nugget of information, Sorensen spun a web of lies accusing French of abusing and neglecting his children. Sorensen confirmed that he had never even seen the French children, except in pictures on French’s campaign mailers.
Although Sorensen confirmed he had knowledge of the allegations contained in the fraudulent CPS report, every time Sorensen was asked the ultimate question of whether he made the call, and whether Geren or others in the campaign knew about it, he was instructed by his attorney not to answer.
Sorensen is being represented in the case by former Tarrant County Democratic Party chairman Stephen Maxwell. Sorensen confirmed in the deposition that he is not paying Maxwell to represent him and that as far as he knew his lawyers were all representing him for free.
Maxwell may be representing Sorensen as a favor to Geren, who has been one of the top leaders of a governing coalition in the Texas House made up of establishment Republicans and Democrats united against conservative reforms.
In total, Maxwell instructed Sorensen not to answer dozens of questions relating to the CPS call and Geren’s involvement with it. A hearing on Maxwell’s assertion of an evidentiary privilege is expected this week and the court may compel Sorensen to answer the questions.
Regardless of whether the court’s resolution of those issues, Sorensen has already said enough for voters to reach a conclusion about the case.  Sorensen was undoubtedly the source of the fraudulent phone call to CPS. And more importantly, Geren’s denials, obfuscation, and efforts to distance himself from Sorensen and the attack on French’s family have been filled with lies.
Voters will pass judgment on the case and Geren’s plans for re-election on March 6.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.


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