A politician fighting for his political life and a duplicitous Austin blogger who has been cozying up to the Houston Chronicle have been caught in blatant lies thanks to video footage received by Empower Texans.

On October 30th, State Rep. Byron Cook (R–Corsicana) launched his campaign for reelection and the results were a disaster. While Cook had planned for as many as 450 people to attend his kickoff, less than 100 actually showed up. Outside the event, which was held at the Corsicana Country Club, approximately 75 citizens from within the district and across the state rallied in the pouring rain to protest Cook’s record of attacking the first amendment and obstructing pro-life reforms.

Cook is locked in a tough reelection battle against Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt.

Corsicana police, who had been called out to the protest by the Cook campaign, issued citations to Empower Texans President Michael Quinn Sullivan and Texas Right to Life President Jim Graham. Both attended the protest, which was organized by a local citizen, along with members of their staff. Citing Corsicana’s “parade ordinance,” the police explained their belief that city ordinance required a permit when 25 or more citizens gathered in a public assembly.

While attempting to coerce the protesters into leaving before Cook’s guests showed up, Corsicana Chief of Police Randy Bratton made clear that he had the authority to arrest Sullivan and Graham (and possibly the other attendees) for the alleged violation of the parade ordinance.

After the debacle, Cook’s campaign and Austin blogger Scott Braddock launched into spin mode. Braddock is the editor of the Quorum Report, a liberal blog and news clip service that frequently defends members of House Speaker Joe Straus’s leadership coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans, including Byron Cook. In recent months Braddock has become a contributor to the Houston Chronicle.

Both Cook’s campaign and Braddock lied to readers and constituents and claimed the event was well attended – with Cook’s campaign claiming that nearly 300 guests attended. However, neither could produce any photographs substantiating their claims.

In a post releasing body camera footage of Corsicana police actually issuing citations to Sullivan and Graham, Braddock dishonestly claimed: “Contrary to his claims, police video shows MQ Sullivan was not threatened by Corsicana Police.” In the post Braddock imbedded a video that showed the issuance of citations, but did not show any threat of arrest.

But even that video contradicted Braddock and Cook’s propaganda. At 24 minutes in length and taken while the bulk of Cook’s guests were arriving, the video shows only 24 vehicles entering the country club, not hundreds.

However it was the videos that Braddock possessed when he wrote his piece but chose not to release that truly expose his mendacity.

Empower Texans duplicated the request Braddock made to the Corsicana police under the Public Information Act, requesting the exact same videos that were provided to him.

A total of eleven videos were produced. Not just one, but two of the videos capture the moment when Corsicana Police Chief Randy Bratton threatens Sullivan and Graham with jail, reminding them that he had the power not only to issue citations but also to place them under arrest if they did not leave.

Braddock had both of the videos in his possession when he dishonestly called Sullivan and Graham’s claims that they were “threatened with arrest” lies.

The videos not only show that act of intimidation, but also show Corsicana police working over a line of protesters, demanding their names and driver’s licenses. One protester is told that his information is being collected because he will be subpoenaed to testify in court if Graham and Sullivan fight the citations. Another is told – incorrectly – that she could be charged with “failure to identify” if she does not produce identification to the police.

The lies Scott Braddock writes further prove how irrelevant Quorum Report has become. With virtually no readership outside of Austin, QR has become nothing more than a managed listserv for lobbyists and establishment cronies inside the capitol.

Braddock’s mendacity is a black eye for the Houston Chronicle, one of the state’s largest daily newspapers. Their continued relationship with him gives weight to the distrust Texans have for traditional print media.

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.