Former state rep. Bennett Ratliff is drawing fire from his opponent after Ratliff released an endorsement from an LGBT and Muslim-outreach activist praising Ratliff for his “conservative values.”

In a press release issued by the Ratliff campaign, former Carrollton mayor Becky Miller is quoted as saying:

“Ratliff’s conservative values and effective leadership meant that our community had a voice in Austin – we need to regain that voice and elect Bennett Ratliff our State Representative.”

In his one term as state representative, Bennett Ratliff had an extremely liberal record across a broad scope of issues, earning a 41 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index. He was one of the lowest rated Republicans amongst a low-performing caucus, on average. Ratliff’s family has long been involved in both Texas politics and lobbying efforts, and is well known for its stands in favor of bigger government.

Ratliff was defeated in 2014 by Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R–Irving), who went on to score a 100 on the Index and earn accolades as a Taxpayer Champion. Rinaldi was also rated at the most conservative member in the Texas House, according to a non-partisan study conducted by Rice University political science professor, Mark Jones.

Becky Miller has been an LGBT activist for over a decade and drew criticism when, as Mayor, she rode in Dallas’ 2006 gay pride parade.

In 2011, Miller called the tea party “too radical.” “I consider them extremist,” Miller told the Dallas Morning News.

Miller’s political career hit a tailspin in 2008 after national media ran stories over her alleged dishonesty about her past. Miller was eventually defeated by a Vietnam veteran who ran against her for mayor after she was exposed for lying about having a brother who died in Vietnam.

The national blog “Wonkette,” called Miller “the new lying Hillary Clinton.” The blog noted that Miller had claimed to have been engaged to Eagles frontman Don Henley while touring as a backup singer in the 70’s, but according to an Eagles spokesman, Henley had “never heard of her, doesn’t know her, [and] certainly was never engaged to her.”

Since being defeated in her reelection bid for mayor, Miller has been active in outreach to Muslims in north Texas. Miller led a contingent from the First Baptist Church of Carrollton to the Headquarters Jamatkhana of the Shi’i Imami Ismaili Muslims in Dallas.

“It was a magnificent experience,” Miller told the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. “As Christians, sometimes we think that everyone should be Christian, but frankly that’s just not going to happen, and doesn’t need to.”

According to the Washington-based publication, one of the “main objectives” of Miller’s visit to the Ismaili headquarters “was to explore the role of women in Islam and examine the misconceived notion that women are ill-treated.”

Miller criticized congressional hearings on religious extremism in the American Muslim community, calling them “unacceptable and uncalled for.” “Just because someone looks some way or believes something doesn’t necessarily mean they are dangerous,” said Miller.

Rinaldi’s campaign responded to the endorsement in a press release:

“When [Bennett] Ratliff was in the House, he made clear he was no conservative,” said Matt Rinaldi. “When he touts the support of an LGBT activist to highlight ‘conservative values,’ he makes clear he does not even know the meaning of the word.”

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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