Hays County county judge candidates Jeff Barton, left, and Bert Cobb, right. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By SEAN BATURA
In an open letter last week, Hays County judge hopeful Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) called on the authors of anonymous emails deriding his candidacy, who he called “cowards,” to debate him in Kyle “at high noon” on Monday. Barton’s opponent, Bert Cobb (R-San Marcos) dismissed Barton’s event as “cheap political theater.”
Authors of a string of anonymous, unsolicited emails claiming to be from the Hays County Democratic Party received condemnation from both candidates. Barton said thousands more emails using what he called “false information and character assassination” continued to be sent from other aliases after the Hays County Democratic Party Chairperson Katie Bell Moore filed a request for fraud investigation with the district attorney.
“I’m challenging these Bert Cobb supporters who have been engaging in cheap internet fraud and hooliganism to take off their electronic masks and expose their identities to the light of day and to the citizens of the county,” Barton said as he called the meeting.
On the county Democratic Party’s web site, Moore said the emails are “a cheap, dirty political trick” and that the county Democratic Party “is committed to using all its legal options to make sure the perpetrators are held responsible.”
Barton said no one arrived to take responsibility for the anonymous emails. The event took place across the street from Kyle City Hall. Barton said 40-50 of his supporters and other onlookers attended the event. Barton said about six Cobb supporters showed up, but did not engage him in debate.
Just before high noon Monday, Cobb issued a statement deriding Barton’s meeting as a political stunt.
“Jeff Barton is engaging in cheap political theater to distract the public from his record of irresponsible tax increases, selfish pay raises, and wasteful spending.” Cobb said. “It is the height of arrogance for an elected official to raise taxes while raising his own salary, and then act like a victim when the people criticize his record. Neither I nor my campaign have had anything to do with the anonymous emails that Mr. Barton bemoans, and it is time for Mr. Barton to stop pointing fingers and start addressing the real issues that face Hays County.”
Barton said his campaign erected two podiums in preparation for the event. One podium was labeled with Barton’s name and another with a question mark. Barton said Cobb supporters attempted to disrupt the event.
“They came and wanted to rehash all kinds of tired conspiracy theories about how conservation easements protecting water are part of U.N. agendas, and telling lies about how we raised taxes every year,” Barton said. “Which again, is simply not true.”
Barton said Hays County residents Sam Brannon and Charles O’Dell were among his opponents who showed up at the event in Kyle. Barton said the two men have extreme views, and he questioned Cobb’s wisdom in associating with them.
The Cobb campaign denied any connection with O’Dell or Brannon.
“They have nothing to do with Dr. Cobb or his campaign,” said Cobb campaign representative Jerod Patterson of Brannon and O’Dell. “From what I understand, these folks have been active in local politics in their own right for years, so I am unsurprised to see them voicing an opinion on the race. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, their suspicions are dubious. Dr. Cobb draws his support from a broad and diverse cross section of Hays County, as will be made evident on election night.”
In an open letter to Hays County residents, Brannon said he attended the event only to discover that anybody who wanted to participate had to sign an affidavit claiming responsibility for one or more of the emails. Brannon added that Barton supporters shouted him down as he attempted to address points from another open letter he sent out last week.
“He chose to act like a petulant child rather than a dignified elected official,” Brannon said in a Tuesday morning open letter. “And ultimately he has undermined himself as a credible candidate.”Email | Print
Sean… here’s my account… I was actually there.
Jeff Barton’s High-Noon Showdown Invitation (per the Barton family website, aka The Hays Free Press)…
“If they had guts — or true facts — they’d have signed their names in the first place. But I’m giving them one last chance to show a shred of honor. Take off the mask. Be a human being. Make your case in the light and in public.”
Well… I signed my name to my email, and I showed up, in the flesh, as did about 25 Barton supporters and 25 others (Barton can’t even tell the truth on attendees). Barton wouldn’t allow anyone else to speak, and when we tried, he and his supporters shouted us down. “Sign up, or shut up”, they yelled.
We apparently didn’t read the fine print. “You have to sign an affidavit stating that you sent one or more of the anonymous emails before you can participate.” No kidding. He chose to act like a petulant child rather than a dignified elected official. And ultimately he has undermined himself as a credible candidate for County Judge.
Yes, I showed up, and tried to engage a response on my Open Letter, and I was shouted down. And a few minutes after I left, Barton was recorded trying to dismiss me as a conspiracy theorist (yes, I heard the recording). Talk about “shreds of honor”.
He backhandedly admitted a lie (Jeff was born in Colorado, not San Marcos as his website said up until this afternoon). Yeah, I agree… “So what”. Except that he lied. And he only ‘sort of’ fessed up with an overly animated “I confess to my crime of having lived in Colorado at a very young age” schtick. Whatever. He lied.
And every time he tries to dig through the minutia on the details of how or why he granted himself a pay raise, he’s lying. He’s telling you everything but the truth. Some of it sounds almost credible if you don’t listen very closely. He relies on clever arguments, and clever arguments used to obfuscate the truth are lies.
Good things… There were a good number of people there who really wanted answers. Sure, a few solid Republicans, too, no doubt. Two ladies I had not met before thanked me for my voter guide (endorsing Rs, Ds and Ls across the ballot), one said it “came in handy”. A few others were also non-partisan, and some of the people wanting to hear him defend his record were good Democrats. I passed my Open Letter to 10 or 12 Barton supporters (or perhaps, just good Democratic voters). I don’t recall seeing them in court on Tuesdays, so it may have been news to them, too. The point is… these folks weren’t just party folks trying to get their man elected. No, most of these people came to find out what all Barton’s noise was about.
Jeff Barton called an audience to show us all what he is, and what I saw was much more disturbing than the 17% pay raise and the proposed further pay increases and tax hikes. I saw abject contempt for the People of Hays County.
We can do better than this for County Judge, so lets be sure we do. Let’s be sure we get Dr. Bert Cobb elected. Thanks to all of you who are paying closer attention to Hays County business. It matters.
Now… Mr. Barton, when will you respond to my “Open Letter to Commission Jeff Barton” that I sent you?
I looked at a video of the event, I guess I’m seeing it differently then you did. Again, I wasn’t there but it seems Barton did what he said he would do. He said he would debate the emailer, not you. Maybe you, Alex Jones and Jesse Ventura should discuss your finding over lunch sometime. You’re so far to the right that Repubs won’t even take you seriously. So what if Barton bent the truth a bit, he has and will continue to do a good job for the people of Hays County and that’s what truly matters.
Bye the way, I have been told by at least one voter that they changed their vote to Barton from Cobb simply because of you. So by supporting Cobb, you are scaring his voters over to the Barton camp because you come off as a shouting radical. Although I don’t believe that, it comes off that way. Also, If you were so interested in debating why did you dropout of the congressional race?
Before you start blasting me for using a handle and not my real name. No I won’t meet you in the light of day, or use my real name because as a State employee it wouldn’t be in my best interest to so.
“So what if Barton bent the truth a bit?” — that doesn’t bother anyone? What else is it ok to bend the truth about? What else is acceptable to you, Hays County Kid, as long as Barton gets re-elected? If a Democrat lies, it’s excusable? That attitude just made me change my vote to Cobb!
Sam Brannon left before the event was over – after he was not allowed to interrupt a statement being made by Barton. Barton presented documentary evidence to prove, once and for all, that the lies in these emails are false.
Apparently, Brannon doesn’t want to know the truth. He prefers an altered reality.
Sam Brannon and Chuck O’Dell are not on the ballot. Jeff Barton is. Something to keep in mind.
Thank our collective gods that O’Dell isn’t on the ballot.
Hi Lila –
That whole thing was an awkward affair. I had some legitimate concerns that I had sent Mr. Barton, and thought they would be addressed since he invited us out to a “debate”. While a couple of of Barton’s supporters were encouraging me to step up and speak my concerns “rather than just hand out your paper”, when I stepped up, other Barton supporters shouted me down. Mr. Barton insisted I sign an affidavit claiming responsibility for the anonymous emails before he would answer my concerns. There wasn’t much left for me to do there since I put no credibility in anonymous emails to begin with, so I left.
I have nothing against Barton’s supporters. I talked to a few wearing his stickers, and they seemed to be nice people, and seemed frustrated with the forum as well.
And yes, Kid, neither Party thinks I’m on their side, so some of their members want to attach adjectives to me from time to time. Others thank me for my contribution to the cause of Freedom and Prosperity. And life goes on.
Apparently Barton has confimed he also prefers an “altered reality” over truth.
I think it’s ironic that the two guys that didn’t have the nerve to even follow through on their own campaigns think anyone cares about their 2 cents.