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October 24th, 2008
Brad Rollins’ Blog: Hayseed thuggery in commissioner’s race

by BRAD ROLLINS

For some time I have confessed openly that I can no longer claim anything resembling objectivity toward County Judge Elizabeth Sumter nor any agents of her reign of error as the county’s top administrator. This includes her valet Steve Klepfer, running against Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, a decent guy with a record as impressive as Klepfer’s is lackluster.

So it was with admitted glee the other day that I prepared a story about a former Wimberley city employee’s allegations of misconduct against Klepfer when he was mayor of Wimberley. The employee alleged that she had been intimidated by Klepfer in the runup to municipal elections in 2006 because she was seen speaking to and displaying a yard sign for city council candidates of whom Klepfer disapproved. He called her into a meeting with the then-city administrator and other city officials and proceeded to “counsel” her on the pitfalls of city employees participating in city politics. Meanwhile, one of Klepfer’s city council candidates hid around a corner, listening to Klepfer upbraid the employee for exercising her free speech rights.

I might have known better but I felt compelled to solicit Klepfer’s response about such an incendiary story so I called him at his wife’s store and, after hearing him fiddle with what I assumed to be a voice recorder, he consented to speak to me about the allegations, which he denied. So that was that.

Not 20 minutes later, the former Wimberley employee called me in a panic, saying she had received a number of calls in rapid succession, including one from Klepfer’s campaign treasurer Marilee Wood, and that she wished to rescind permission to use documents pertaining to her experience. It’s anyone’s guess what Klepfer’s goons said to the lady but one supposes they did not call to exchange pleasantries.

Any cub reporter or even journalism student can tell you that sources can’t take information back and I was, and still am, tempted to go ahead with the revelations. In this situation however she had waived attorney-client privilege through her attorney, Charles Soechting, and out of deference to the position he was now in — and feeling bad for this poor woman being set upon by political jackals — I consented to not run the story that day. I still have not decided if I will publish the documents.

If I had any doubts about the story’s relevance beforehand, I can have no reservations now having witnessed firsthand a swift and ruthless campaign of suppression waged against this former city employee. This is the worst kind of hayseed thuggery and people ought to know about it before they cast their ballots. The First Amendment, it seems, meant little to Klepfer in 2006 and means even less to him today.

The episode also sheds some light as to why an unprecedented number of prominent Hays County Democrats have crossed party lines to cast their lot with Conley. These include Soechting, a former Texas Democratic Party chair; former State Rep. Gerald Hill; former state lottery director Nora Linares-Moeller and former Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Mike Moeller, to name a few. Soechting and Mike Moeller, it should be noted, are former Hays County Democratic Party chairs.

Why this display of bipartisanship? Soechting probably said it best: “I feel like county government’s got to function and giving County Judge Liz Sumter a majority is a sure fire way to see government stop working for Democrats and Republicans.”

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6 thoughts on “Brad Rollins’ Blog: Hayseed thuggery in commissioner’s race

  1. I have taken a new look at Klepfer and his website. Steve asked me to reconsider my position so I did. I was impressed that he was to quote “Head Coach of Longhorn Aquatics at The University of Texas Austin 1985 -1992”. Head Coach at UT, that’s impressive even to an Aggie like me. However after I looked into it and contacted UT they never heard of the man other than to say that his wife was employed there. It turns out that he is misleading us as this is a kiddy swim team that he incorporated and is now defunct according to the SOS as he didn’t pay his franchise taxes. I guess I am still voting for Will.

  2. Mr. Klepfer also lists “Chair of the Hays County Transportation Advisory Board.” This board was ill conceived by Judge Sumter to divert attention from her bungling the pass through financing contract with the state. The Board accomplished nothing but the diversion, and the moment Klepfer stepped down to run for Commissioner, never met again.

    What a great resume item.

    Vote for Will — let’s get some work done.

  3. Now Klepfer has mailed a flyer saying “Will Conley sued a property owner.” How low can you go? The Hays County Commissioners Court sued the individual to gain access for an environmental study and won the right to do the study with a temporary injunction. Will Conley functioned at the direction of the Court and at the direction of the Commissioner responsible for the area where the property is located. Mr. Klepfer should know this is how the Court works if he intends to serve as a Commissioner. He also knows that when the landowner sued the Court, the study had already been done, and Judge Sumter dismissed a case that was already resolved….another waste of our money and time for her to grandstand and give her crony Klepfer something useless to campaign about.

    Vote for Will Conley — Let’s get some work done.

  4. Liz Sumter is a judge? I thought she was supposed to spend 40% of her time in black robe decisions. You could never tell that from her record. Klepfer is a person? I thought he was a lapdog. This, you can tell from his record.

  5. Stories like this make me more comfortable than ever in my support for Will Conley. I’ve listened to the debates and have paid attention to the media but I’ve not heard one word about what Mr. Klepfer plans to do for San Marcos, better than half his precinct. I’ve known Will Conley for more than 6 years and I’ve watched him grow and mature. As a county we’ve invested heavily in Will Conley’s training to be an effective County Commissioner. Let’s don’t flush that away and bring in someone with no experience and an agenda that doesn’t include San Marcos, the I-35 corridor and the tremendous growth happening in Hays County.

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