by BRAD ROLLINS
No one came forward to say they wrote potentially slanderous e-mails at Pct. 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton’s “high noon” showdown on Monday and the opposition podium stood empty.
Cheered on by about 50 supporters, Barton denounced thousands of e-mails distributed under pseudonyms that allege, among other things, that he has funneled millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to his friends. On this point, Barton produced a letter from County Auditor Bill Herzog that said the county abides by state law in awarding contracts.
“This is a debate against anonymous hoodlums who did not show up,” Barton said.
Another e-mail said Barton engages in drunken brawls with his sister even though, Barton noted, he doesn’t have a sister. Still another rehashed Republican nominee Bert Cobb’s criticism of Barton for declining to take a pay raise and then accepting it retroactively; that never happened, Barton said, and he produced an e-mail from treasurer Michelle Tuttle, a Republican, who wrote, “I am not sure where the incorrect information was gathered which states that Jeff Barton accepted his full raise in the FY09 budget year.”
Supporters of Cobb, including Sam Brannon, an activist whose causes include exposing a conspiracy for world domination between the Nature Conservancy and the United Nations, heckled Barton from the crowd. He was not allowed to debate, however, because he declined to sign an affidavit saying he was the author of the e-mail.
“This is why you’re not fit to be County Judge,” Brannon said, leading about a half-dozen Cobb supporters away from the gathering on a streetcorner in downtown Kyle
Cobb himself, who has failed to show up to debate Barton at both the Wimberley League of Women Voters and the Friendship Alliance, did not attend Barton’s showdown.
“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,” he said in a statement e-mailed to reporters on Monday morning.
Barton said he called the debate to highlight how far political discourse has degenerated. Now, he said, “it’s time to focus on creating jobs, protecting our water and fixing our traffic.”