Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Texas State Representative House District 33: Like Vicente, we hear all sides of the local talk radio

Texas State Representative House District 33: Like Vicente, we hear all sides of the local talk radio

Dear Mr. Chavez, The case regarding your disbarment from the AGIF

July 19, 2006

Ram Chavez
1642 Sandlewood
Corpus Christi, Texas 78412

Re: Requested Information by National AGIF

Dear Mr. Chavez,

I would first point out for the record, that you and I exchanged several communications through email in which I made my position clear regarding your “intended” lawsuit, your intentions regarding the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Chapter (hereafter, the Garcia Chapter), and bringing in the Garcia family into your issue. It is now my opinion based on these communications and your responses, that your intentions were never in the best interest of the Garcia Chapter, but rather you used the Garcia family and the Chapter “politically” as a strategy to “play out” what you needed to do for your interest. Let me explain my argument.

The case regarding your disbarment from the AGIF was a separate issue from the requested information regarding the funds obtained from a lawsuit the Garcia Chapter filed. To this date, after you have explained to me through your emails, that “the end was near” and that “you would win this battle” has never materialized. What has materialized is the fact is that now the Garcia Chapter’s Charter has been suspended and you and your attorney are no where to be found, additionally, you have never filed a lawsuit pretty close to a year now. Again, this leads me to believe that you were “posturing” to see how far you could get by using the Garcia Chapter and the Garcia family to “fight” your case for you without filing the lawsuit.

It is my perception that you have misled the Garcia family and the membership of the Garcia Chapter. I have been involved in many circumstance in which I am directly involved in these type of investigations. The first question I raise, if they didn’t do anything wrong, what would be the problem in submitting the requested information? Through your actions, you have raised doubts regarding the Garcia Chapter’s integrity and have placed the Garcia Chapter and it’s membership in a very compromising and legal position.

Thus, you have brought intention “harm” to the Garcia Chapter and it’s members through your conduct and actions. As the Commander of the Garcia Chapter you should have immediately initiated an audit and responded to the requested information. If indeed, you and some of the Garcia Chapter contended and argued that you “were still their commander” regardless of your disbarment from the AGIF, why didn’t you act like a leader and address this matter as the commander? My assumption is that you were aware that “legally” you couldn’t make these decisions so you allowed the Garcia Chapter to take a vote on this matter rather than advising them that such action to vote not to release this information would and may compromise their Charter. At this time, were you not the only one being represented by an attorney?
I have contacted the Internal revenue service and they have provided me the following information regarding a 501 © (4) organization:

(1) If the organization has paid employees they must file the appropriate 941 form;
(2) If the organization had more than a total of $25,000.00 or more income they must file form 990 if over $100,000.00 or 990 EZ if under $100,000.00; and
(3) If the organization has unrelated business income of $1000.00 or more they must file form990T.

One of these documents, more specifically 990 or 990EZ, must have been filed during your tenure as Commander of the Garcia Chapter.

First and foremost, you should not have any financial documentation belonging to the Garcia Chapter in your possession due to your disbarment from the AGIF. Secondly, absent any lawsuit and/or injunction filed by your attorney, you hold no official position with the Garcia Chapter; therefore, you should not have any financial belonging to the Garcia Chapter in your possession. Any and all financial documentation, including those identified above in your possession should be immediately turned over to the Garcia Chapter for purposed auditing this information. If you wish to speak to your attorney you can do so and have him/her call me to discuss this matter.

Mr. Chavez you owe the Garcia Chapter and the Garcia family an explanation regarding the misleading information. Mr. Chavez, I will remind you that while you were acting commander of the Garcia Chapter you are and were responsible for insuring the financial accountability of the Chapter, therefore you owe the Garcia Chapter and it’s members and the Garcia family an explanation for the financial accounting of this information.

The Texas AGIF is on a new course and direction; one of the goals of this course and direction is to insure accountability of all Chapter leadership and members. Thank you.


Peter Vallecillo
Acting Texas AGIF Civil Rights Director

Cc: Cecilia Akers
Bob Ortiz, Vice Commander, Dr. Hector P. Garcia Chapter
All State Board Members

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hector P Garcia Institute of Education, Integrity, Culture and Public Policy

Heated state House race awaits coastal counties

Web Posted: 07/30/2006 01:02 AM CDT

Greg Jefferson
Express-News Staff Writer

Standing in the living room of a trial lawyer's bayside Aransas Pass home, two dozen would-be campaign contributors and volunteers stared at the telephone as Henry Cisneros' voice emanated from the speaker.

The former San Antonio mayor apologized for not being there in person, explaining that his father, who later died, was gravely ill.

Then he began lauding Democrat Juan Garcia, a Corpus Christi attorney and naval flight instructor who's challenging longtime state Rep. Gene Seaman in Texas House District 32.

"He is such a talent — I believe he is important to the entire state of Texas," Cisneros said. "As soon as he's elected, people will recognize what a true talent he is."

Garcia stood next to the phone, keeping his gaze fixed straight ahead.

Cisneros isn't the only Democratic heavyweight promoting Garcia as a major officeholder in the making. At 40, Garcia's a relatively young Latino politician in a state that's expected to be majority Hispanic no later than 2035.

But winning his race against the 76-year-old Seaman would be tougher than the hype lets on. The numbers in District 32 favor Republicans, and, for both sides, the closely watched race promises to be expensive and intense, if not brutal.

The district encompasses Aransas, Calhoun and San Patricio counties and a portion of Nueces County, home to Corpus Christi. Seaman, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion, has been its representative since 1996.

But this challenge is different from any the business-oriented legislator has faced.

Garcia's résumé is sterling: graduated from Harvard Law School, where he met his future wife, Denise, and befriended future Illinois Sen. Barack Obama; earned a master's degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government; became a second-generation Navy pilot, doing tours in Kosovo and the Persian Gulf; and, like Cisneros, was chosen as a White House Fellow.

His political ambition is obvious. It even factored into his decision to enter the military.

"I thought my calling was to serve, and that experience would be invaluable," Garcia said.

He was stationed in Corpus Christi, near his hometown of Robstown, in 2002. Two years later, he left active service, though he still teaches budding pilots in the Naval Reserve.

Before settling last year on the race against Seaman, he considered running for the U.S. Senate — in the event Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison challenged Gov. Rick Perry — and mulled a race for mayor of Corpus Christi.

"What really piqued my interest in this (District 32) race was that people said it couldn't be done," Garcia said. "It's in a hard place, where I'm not supposed to win."

But unseating Seaman, he added, would give him "a full head of steam heading into Austin."

To that end, party leaders have lavished attention on Garcia.

Wesley Clark, a 2004 hopeful for the Democratic presidential nomination and a retired general under whom Garcia served, appeared in Corpus Christi to publicly launch Garcia's campaign in January. And last month, Garcia was tapped at the last minute to introduce gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell at the Texas Democratic Party's convention in Fort Worth, where he got big laughs with a string of jokes about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting mishap.

"Juan Garcia is a potential star on the national and international stage," said Kelly Fero, a Democratic strategist and unpaid Garcia adviser. "But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. First, he has to get elected, and then he has to do a good job."

Getting elected, of course, is the rub.

The district
Two years ago, President Bush won District 32 by a 2-1 margin, and Republican Willie Vaden beat incumbent U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz in the portion that overlapped the 27th Congressional District, though he came up short overall.

"I think (Garcia's) made the same miscalculation a lot of people make, thinking the district's more Democratic than it really is," said Royal Masset, a GOP consultant not affiliated with Seaman's campaign. "If it were an open seat, I think Garcia would have a good chance against a Republican candidate. But it's not."

Seaman, who runs a financial planning business and development company, got a fright in 2002 after redistricting pulled the heavily Hispanic San Patricio County into his sphere. But he still managed to beat then-San Patricio County Judge Josephine Miller by 2,400 votes out of 35,500.

"Here I am running against a female from a prominent family," Seaman said. "It was an extremely formidable race. It was a toughie."

Since then, he said, he's been working to raise his profile in the county. Year-round, a smiling Seaman looks down from a billboard on U.S. 181 on motorists just before they cross the bridge from San Patricio County into Corpus Christi. And he's touting economic development projects in the area.

While Miller carried San Patricio and Calhoun counties, Seaman won largely on the strength of Republican-leaning Mustang and Padre islands and the King's Crossing neighborhood in South Corpus Christi.

The island strongholds are among the fastest-growing communities in the district. Driving across Mustang Island to Port Aransas — past condominiums, rentals and tidy subdivisions of pastel-painted houses — it's clear a building boom is under way; earthmovers compete with the dunes for the attention of passers-by.

"These are not just Republican districts. These are strongly Republican districts," said Bob Bezdek, a political scientist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. "These people stick together. I don't see (Garcia) picking up a lot of votes there."

But active and retired military officers from the area's two naval facilities make up a chunk of the islands' population, and Garcia is targeting them.

"We're gambling that those military ties run deeper than party affiliation," Garcia said.

He's also courting Hispanics, but they make up only 31 percent of the district's registered voters. To win, Garcia — who's calling for more state investment in public schools and expanding health insurance coverage for children — would have to peel off Republicans and independents.

Fero, the Garcia adviser, believes Garcia will benefit from Republican troubles nationally, which include Bush's low approval ratings and fallout from the scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff. "Throw all that (past election data) out the window," he said. "This year is a whole new year."

With that in mind, Garcia's campaign has publicized money Seaman received during his 2002 campaign from Texans for a Republican Majority, the political action committee at the center of conspiracy and money laundering indictments against then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and two associates.

Seaman campaign consultant Mac McCall shrugged off the criticism, saying, "Gene had no control over the bookkeeping of TRMPAC."

Power of incumbency
Seaman believes voters will cast their ballots on the basis of community ties and accomplishments. He ticked off some of the civic groups he belongs to and delved into a list of legislative wins, including funding to combat coastal erosion and for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

"I'm doing it every day. I'm running on substance," Seaman said. "Juan doesn't have much to run on besides saying, 'Hey, I'm a good guy.'"

Seaman, a past Nueces County Republican Party chairman, is an ally of House Speaker Tom Craddick and one of the most senior South Texas lawmakers. He plans to make the most of it during his campaign.

"Who's going to have entry to Perry, Craddick and (Lt. Gov. David) Dewhurst?" Seaman asked, driving by the hulking cranes of Naval Station Ingleside on his way to a Rotary luncheon in Rockport. "There's about five or six Seaman types who are going to be running the show."

Indeed, several Craddick lieutenants won't return to the Legislature next year, including Kent Grusendorf, Terry Keel, Joe Nixon, Elvira Reyna, Peggy Hamric, Al Edwards and Vilma Luna, a Democrat from Corpus Christi.

Seaman also is the only Republican legislator from South Texas, which he pointedly noted in a June 15 letter to supporters.

"District 32 is part of the fence that is keeping the Democrats confined to South Texas," he wrote. "We must work hard to keep the liberals where they are."

But Garcia's campaign charges the "fence" sentence is racially motivated, a reference to the fence that would be built along the U.S.-Mexico border under the U.S. House's immigration reform bill.

"It's hard to believe that was an accident," Garcia said. "It was written at a time when the (immigration) debate in Washington was at its zenith."

McCall dismissed that interpretation as "a huge stretch." The sentence's aim, he said, was to get across the urgency of keeping the district in Republican hands.

"If they're focusing on one sentence in a letter to Gene's supporters," McCall said, "all they're trying to do is divert attention away from the fact that Gene's delivered for the district."

Meanwhile, Seaman said he's gotten offers of fundraising help from Craddick, Perry and Hutchison.

Seaman reported raising $90,000 in the first six months of the year, while Garcia collected $206,000. A slice of Garcia's contributions stemmed from the Saturday afternoon get-together last month at which Cisneros spoke; at the end, a small pile of checks sat in the collection basket by the front door.

On the other hand, Seaman had $262,000 in the bank as of June 30, while Garcia reported $80,200 on hand.

Regardless, McCall said the race — one of only a handful of competitive legislative contests in the state — could turn into one of the most expensive for a seat in the Texas House.