Thursday, October 14, 2004

Meet the Attack Dogs

From the Texas Observer's award winning The GOP's Money Machine series of articles covering the Republicans' corporate money scheme for Texas' 2002 campaign. The Tom DeLay-inspired effort is the subject of a wide-ranging Travis County grand jury investigation. "Meet the Attack Dogs" was the feature story in the March 12, 2004 issue and is now available online.

For some it might be considered a badge of honor, but for state Rep. Tommy Merritt (R-Longview), it probably feels more like tire tracks. The affable East Texas Republican was run over this year by one of the nation’s most vicious campaign hit teams, a secret outfit whose reach spreads all over the American political system. It specializes in attempted assassination of political careers under the guise of issue education. Apparently, one sure way to escape the torrent of negative attacks it can bankroll is to avoid crossing George W. Bush and a select group of Texas Republicans.

Merritt, who refused to comment for this story, is guilty of many sins in the house that Rove wrought. He wears a scarlet M for Moderate. His freethinking independence is a frowned-upon trait in a party leadership that demands a lockstep response. In 2001, Merritt voted with Democrats on legislative redistricting—rejecting the first step in what appears to have been a long-term GOP plan to stack the Texas Legislature. During the 2002 race for speaker of the Texas House—currently under investigation by a Travis County grand jury—Merritt was frequently mentioned as an ABC (Anybody But Craddick). Then in 2003, in the heat of a third special session on redistricting, Tommy Merritt had the temerity to vote with his district instead of following the dictates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) and Co.

Read Meet the Attack Dogs.

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