A former political operative for State Rep. Charlie Geren (R–Fort Worth) has now admitted that he made a factually inaccurate and anonymous report to Child Protective Services against Geren’s opponent during a contentious 2016 Republican primary campaign.

As part of a settlement resolving a lawsuit brought by Bo French, David Sorensen has acknowledged he made the anonymous and incorrect election eve report to CPS alleging that French was abusing his children. The former Geren political aide has also acknowledged the report was not accurate, and he has apologized to the French family for submitting it.

Widely considered the dirtiest and ugliest political trick in the history of Texas politics, Sorensen made an anonymous phone call to CPS on the eve of the 2016 Republican primary election falsely claiming that French, who was then challenging Geren for state representative for the first time, was abusing his children. The call resulted in a months-long investigation by CPS that intruded into the French family’s home before it was finally resolved. The anonymous election eve CPS report was all the more outrageous because Sorensen admitted under oath that he had never met or even seen the French children.

Reached for comment, French confirmed that, since the beginning, his family believed the attack could only have come from the Geren campaign.

“We filed legal action as soon as we could following the closing of the CPS case because we wanted to expose the depths to which Geren’s allies were willing to go to destroy our family,” said French. “Exposing the truth behind this attack was important so Tarrant county voters fully understand the character of those Charlie Geren surrounds himself with.”

The attack on the French family became a campaign issue when French ran against Geren again in 2018. During that campaign, Geren repeatedly sought to distance himself from Sorensen and cover up his knowledge of the attacks on the French family.

In January, Geren bizarrely claimed he knew “no more about the particulars” than what he had read in the newspaper. Geren then said if an employee of his ever did make a false report to CPS, he “would fire his ass in a New York minute!”

In a February deposition, Sorensen confirmed that he was the longest-tenured campaign staffer on Geren’s 2016 campaign, that he worked on the campaign six to seven 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. Sorensen also testified that he “badly wanted” Geren to prevail in the 2016 GOP primary.

Before and after Geren’s campaign, Sorensen worked as an operative on Democrat political campaigns and for the Democrat Party.

Sorensen also testified that after he heard a “rumor” that French was abusing his wife, he discussed that rumor directly with Geren and other Geren campaign staffers. That rumor, along with the false allegations regarding the French children, made it into Sorensen’s anonymous and inaccurate CPS report.

Likewise, Sorensen conceded that when he was confronted at a polling location by French’s wife about rumors the campaign was spreading about the French family, Sorensen immediately called Geren to discuss the confrontation.

After the deposition all but confirmed that Sorensen was the one who made the call, Geren’s campaign lied about it, claiming it vindicated him. They went on to attack French for bringing the lawsuit, accusing him of bringing it to score political points.

According to French, Geren has not yet apologized to him or his family for the actions of his campaign in 2016.

There is no place in politics for attacks on the families of political opponents. When elected officials coordinate and tolerate such attacks, and refuse to take responsibility for them, they are complicit in them. Geren should not only apologize to French and his family, but also to the voters of House District 99 and his colleagues for his role in covering up the despicable actions of his campaign operative.

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.