After cable network A&E made the controversial decision to suspend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson over his comments in GQ magazine, Republican campaigns across Texas went on Facebook to defend the Duck Dynasty star. Most campaigns acted in a straight-forward manner to support the duck call patriarch. However the campaign of moderate Dan Branch, who is running for Attorney General, used the story as an opportunity to trick Duck Dynasty supporters into “liking” their candidate’s Facebook page.

Branch’s campaign is running the following ads on Facebook:

Branch using Phil

Team Branch pretends they are conducting a poll to allow Facebook users to support Phil Robertson. “Do you support Traditional Values?” asks the ad. Then it instructs supporters of the Duck Dynasty star to “Like 4 YES (click to vote).” (How one would vote “no” in the mythical poll is unclear.) In reality, a “like” for the ad merely causes the user to “like” Dan Branch’s campaign page.

Such deception in order to harvest “likes” is offensive, but it’s par for the course for Branch’s campaign. Even Branch’s moderate and liberal backers have decried his convenient move to the right during his campaign to be the state’s top law enforcement officer.

The San Antonio Express News complained that Branch has “morphed in the past few months from a seemingly moderate Republican into a tea party firebrand, creating a perceived disconnect between his record and campaign rhetoric.”

Running deceptive ads on Facebook in order to harvest likes is nothing new. It is much easier to get voters to support meaningless platitudes — “Like if you love Cuddly Puppies!” — than it is to get them to stand behind a candidate’s record and ideals. A survey of ads popping up on our Facebook profiles has caught several other candidates engaging in the tactic. Liberal Senator John Carona wanted you to “like” Christmas (and his campaign page). Joe Straus’s Lawyer, Eric Opiela, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner, baited users to “like” his page if they “miss Reagan.” Railroad Commission candidate Ryan Sitton harvested “likes” by asking if Facebook users wanted to “Send Obama back to DC.” (Personally, I’d prefer if he would go back to Chicago.) But each of these ads at least has some fleeting connection to the candidate’s campaigns.

But only Dan Branch engages in the deliberately deceptive ploy of pretending that “liking” his page is the equivalent of voting in a poll. Before employing his duck-baiting ads, Branch attempted to sucker voters into “liking” his page if they wanted to “vote” to “Stop ObamaCare!”


Branch knows that voters won’t like his big-spending record, so he has to re-brand himself and engage in tricks in an attempt to win. Hopefully voters will see through the deception.

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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