Bud Kennedy

Muddying the water over Ken Paxton’s felony trial, and in Tarrant board election

A political attack mailer criticizes District Judge George Gallagher, the presiding judge in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony criminal trial.
A political attack mailer criticizes District Judge George Gallagher, the presiding judge in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony criminal trial. Source unidentified

If the No. 1 rule in politics is “follow the money,” the No. 2 rule is “don’t believe everything you read in the mail.”

Money and mail from mysterious sources outside Tarrant County flowed into local elections and mailboxes this weekend, with six days to go before a low-profile election that might turn on a handful of votes.

Somebody sent an unsigned attack mailer against State District Judge George Gallagher, an Arlington Republican who isn’t even on the Saturday ballot.

I’m not going to claim I can identify the sender, but Gallagher happens to be the presiding judge in felony suspect Ken Paxton’s trial.

Paxton, a McKinney Republican, is free on $35,000 bond awaiting criminal trial involving securities fraud.

Oh — and he’s also still Texas’ attorney general.

Gallagher recently granted state prosecutors a change of venue, moving Paxton’s trial away from his hometown to Houston in September.

That came only after what prosecutors called a public relations “crusade” by Paxton’s side, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum accusing Gallagher of “raping the taxpayers” to authorize prosecutors’ pay.

When you have judges breaking the law and raping the taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s time to say ‘enough.’

Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum in a KTVT/Channel 11 interview

Paxton’s lawyers want Gallagher replaced by a Houston judge, but the 16-year district judge has stood his ground.

He is consistently one of the highest-rated judges by the Tarrant County Bar Association.

Meanwhile, at the very bottom of the local election ballot in Fort Worth and five suburban cities, new campaign finance reports show that Tarrant Regional Water District critic Monty Bennett of Dallas is once again paying the way for contrarian Director Mary Kelleher’s board election campaign.

Bennett doesn’t want a $2 billion water pipeline to Lake Palestine dug across his East Texas ranch. He provided Kelleher $9,680 in mailers, but under the name “MJB Operating.”

She received one other donation, for $50.

Kelleher had said last month she expected Bennett’s help “but I don’t know how much.”

Voting continues Sunday through Tuesday at any county location, or Saturday in each home precinct.

Challenger Andra Beatty of Fort Worth reported $5,201, all of it from Bedford Republican state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, a Tea Party and Freedom Caucus participant.

Former Mayor Mike Moncrief’s Our Water, Our Future PAC raised $152,245 from a long list of donors for incumbent Vice President Jack L. Stevens of Azle and challengers James Hill and Leah King of Fort Worth.

Sadly, TRWD doesn’t post those reports.

But if you’d like to see who’s paying for Fort Worth City Council candidates, go to fortworthtexas.gov/elections and look under “general election.”

Arlington candidates’ donations are listed on a link at arlington-tx.gov/citysecretary.

Fort Worth school board candidates list donors at fwisd.org/Page/448, Arlington at aisd.net/board/CFR.aspx.

Many other cities and school districts also post the reports.

Pay close attention to the names you know. And those you don’t know.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.