Many delegates to the upcoming Republican Party of Texas Convention have reported receiving an email from an unfamiliar organization attacking incumbent chairman James Dickey.
Sent from “Texas Conservatives for Liberty and Freedom,” the email accuses Dickey of “misplacing thousands of dollars” as chair of the Travis County GOP and lying to RPT delegates — two lines of attack that have been trumpeted by Cindy Asche, Dickey’s challenger for the RPT chairmanship — accompanied by photos of Dickey covered in blood spatter.
As several grassroots members that received the email have pointed out, the organization doesn’t seem to have any history of engagement before today. Indeed it seems to have been created for the purpose of electing Asche at the convention.
As of today, no information on the group is available from the Texas Secretary of State. The footer of the email lists an address, but the address does not seem to exist. A Google Maps search only shows an empty sidewalk across from an east Austin Planned Parenthood.
As for the allegations made regarding Dickey’s time as head of the Travis County GOP, Matt Mackowiak, current Travis County GOP chairman who also served with Dickey, painted a far different picture:
First, in the 2014 cycle, TCRP solicited new, outside funds to conduct an independent expenditure in support of three qualified Austin city council candidates all of whom won. Electing Republicans is why we exist and we were proud to help those candidates. Anyone who claims we did something wrong here is either uninformed and being misleading.
Second, we did conduct an audit while he was chairman to reconcile a marginal amount of funds that was unaccounted for. Our records were inadequate at that time and the audit provided clarity. There was no malfeasance whatsoever and our processes improved after the audit. When James left TCRP to lead RPT, I inherited a healthy organization with a solid balance in our account in June 2017.
Although Mackowiak is holding out on making an endorsement in the race until later, he added, “In my view, James Dickey did an excellent job as TCRP chairman and it was my honor to serve as his vice chair and succeed him as chairman. I have no concerns about his record, leadership or experience. I have always found him to be honest, capable, positive and supportive.”
Dickey himself also denied the “grossly mischaracterized” allegations in a statement released this afternoon:
So far in this campaign for State Party Chairman much has been said about integrity and the desire for truth and transparency to win out. I could not agree more with those sentiments and I have worked hard in the last 10 months to bring the highest level of transparency to the Party in all we do – finances, convention, primaries, meetings, and the day-to-day operations. We have passed every audit, raised record-breaking funds for the Party, and have found ways to be the best stewards of those funds, and we will continue to do so.
Reached for comment by Texas Scorecard, Asche said she was wholly unaffiliated with the organization and had no knowledge of the existence or management of “Texas Conservatives for Liberty & Freedom.”
Asche also said that she had no evidence that supported the allegations made and condemned the characterization of Dickey as a “dishonest con man.”
“I don’t believe that language is appropriate or productive for the future of our Party,” said Asche in a statement. “I do believe there is a history as evidenced by court documents of knowingly and intentionally misleading investors, and a lack of integrity when it comes to our current Chair. However, I do not condone the language.”
Asche is referring to a civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Dickey and a former business associate in 2004, which alleged he engaged in wrongdoing in the marketing of securities.
At no time were any criminal charges made, but Dickey did agree to settle the matter in early 2006 for $35,000. The terms of the settlement prohibit Dickey from making any public statement denying the allegations of the complaint.
A number of those who have reviewed the matter have concluded that it is likely Dickey was innocent but chose to settle the matter to avoid a long and costly legal saga.
As Mark McCaig wrote on the matter for Big Jolly Politics earlier this year:
I suspect that Dickey was faced with a Hobson’s choice when given the opportunity to settle the matter with the SEC: he could pay a modest sum, not admit any wrongdoing, and make the matter go away, or he could incur financially ruinous legal bills (that would almost certainly be exponentially higher than what he would have to pay to settle) to fight the virtually unlimited resources of the Federal Government. I don’t think anybody can blame a father of a young family for choosing the first option.
Unfortunately, Mr. Dickey is legally unable to substantially address the allegations against him due to a provision in his settlement required by SEC regulations. Ms. Asche is unfairly exploiting this for her political advantage.
Texas Scorecard has also reached out to RNC Committeewoman Toni Anne Dashiell, who has served as one of Asche’s most active supporters, for comment.
This article will be updated with any response given.