The first rule of Christian Nationalism is: You do not talk about dark money.
Let me begin with some lesser-known facts to inform your school board vote tomorrow (Saturday). Congress deadlocked 49 to 49 last July over S.443, the DISCLOSE Act or Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting a Light On Spending in Elections Act. Democrats all voted in favor of it. Republicans not only all voted against it but filibustered its passage. The message was clear: Dark money is the only hope for our future dominance.
This dark money bill, introduced and tirelessly lobbied for by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in 2021, would force companies to disclose campaign spending on school board elections of more than $10,000.
Guess who was the biggest opponent of it? None other than Ted Cruz. The U.S. senator from Houston embarrassed himself as usual in the last Congressional hearing on the bill by first wasting his precious minutes at the podium on a stark digression about how the original language of the bill was too extreme, language that changed many years ago in an updated version. Before anyone could stop him, he imitated a “little old lady going to Home Depot” to buy wood for a sign and then being directly thrown in the slammer for not reporting her $5 to the government. That was his argument. In no way relevant to the debate at hand but also stupid. I’ll wait for the wave of cringe to pass when remembering that this clown represents all of us Texans.
Cruz happens to be holding “church” services every Sunday with his daddy, Pastor Rafael Cruz, at Patriot Mobile in Grapevine — not services intended to remember a simple man who fought for the poor and downtrodden but services to plot the destruction of public education. The cell phone company with the Super PAC Patriot Mobile Action spent $2 million last election season, helping propel 11 Christian Nationalists onto several North Texas school boards.
“First, Tarrant County,” Patriot Mobile has posted, “then Texas and then all of America.”
If you think the 10 Commandments in every school is regressive, wait until all minority children are forced to attend crumbling schools while wealthy white kids attend the new — and expensive — re-education system that all Christian Nationalists ultimately want.
Patriot Mobile Action backs nearly every right-wing candidate this election except Chris Coker. The cell phone company didn’t come right out and endorse him but probably because he won’t disclose where he works while having taken out several loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for his slew of “businesses.” Given the immense PPP fraud committed by former Patriot Mobile CEO Glenn Story and exposed recently by us (“Mobile Patriots,” Feb. 9), it makes sense that the two fraudsters would want to hide any connection to each other.
Even though Patriot Mobile qualified for a $367,000 PPP loan in 2020 while still being able to donate millions to far-right school board candidates, the company is still somehow able to factor heavily in this year’s election. All this, when finance disclosures with the FEC (Federal Elections Commission) show that the PAC should not even exist. It was shut down last September because it never sent the federal agency the necessary documentation (Form 1) to legally establish the PAC. This is a tactic used by many Super PACS — like the Kochs’ and George Santos’ — to exploit the time lag in federal oversight. Though never recognized as an official Super PAC, Patriot Mobile Action still won those 11 school board seats. The lone name on all of the company’s documents is a man with zero public presence, Steve Martin, who allegedly lives in Bethesda, Maryland, yet uses a P.O. Box at a Grapevine UPS Store.
Patriot Mobile likely never made the PAC official to keep from accounting for millions in political spending and following laws that everyone in and around the Grapevine headquarters are too supremely white and rich to bother with. However, despite never signing their names to any legal documents, Sen. Cruz, Pastor Cruz, former CEO Story, former CTO Jenny Story, Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare, and publicist Leigh Wambsganss are clearly running things on YouTube and social media propaganda and during weekly “Sunday services” with Pastor Cruz at the Patriot Mobile office in Grapevine. It is even likely, sacrilegious as it may seem, that Cruz et al. are using God to protect whatever goes on behind Patriot Mobile doors from federal investigation under the guise of religious practice.
After Patriot Mobile’s Super PAC was terminated by the federal government last year, the cell phone company formed a GPAC or General Political Action Committee, with no specific affiliation to any school board candidates. Oddly, this time, Patriot Mobile does claim to represent five candidates on disclosures with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC): Patricia Carlson, Valerie Navarez, Richard Newton, AJ Pontillio, and Josh Yoder. Names to remember. This GPAC also has millions in dark money missing on campaign finance disclosures when cross-referenced with public documents on watchdog sites like Transparency.org.
How is all this political corruption going on so blatantly in Tarrant County? Good question. The answer is: rural voters.
Let’s go back to the last gubernatorial election for reference. Although urban centers voted blue, statistical voter data show the hillbillies turned out en masse to elect Greg Abbott, who then filled the Texas “Ethics” Commission, a.k.a. the ombudsmen of school board elections, with staunch Republicans. The last Republican to be elected to the current full house on the TEC was in January. Well, good. It makes sense that the most unethical people should be in charge of ethics in Texas. That’s fine. Welcome to all campaign financing for far-right candidates becoming a free-for-all.
The only thing we can do is vote in record numbers. Despite the recent tragedy of Beto’s defeat in Tarrant County, this is something I still believe we can do. Hopefully, newly elected judge O’Hare won’t rig the voting machines before this happens since he seems currently preoccupied with doing so after bullying election overseer Heider Garcia, a man with a flawless record of accountability, into resigning last month. But of all the crooked racists with a pallor not unlike that of the sheets they wear to parties, I must say that Gov. Abbott has been the loudest cheerleader of dismantling public education.
Speaking of the Klan, let’s talk some more about Patriot Mobile. Over the last couple of months, we have exposed a lot of corruption at the cell phone provider, including abject racism, sexual exploitation, and abortion coercion, yet the Grapeviners are still bearing down on voters, especially those in the highest tax brackets. The company’s ultimate goal is to bankrupt all public schools in North Texas. The campaign is already underway at Carroll ISD, home of Southlake. Fort Worth is next.
Though the residents of the million-dollar homes in Texas’ second wealthiest municipality comprise Carroll’s tax base, the schools are so financially crippled, students will be forced to learn the same accelerated curriculum in half the time this year due to teachers fleeing from the district for better opportunities elsewhere. Fort Worth teachers make almost twice as much as Carroll’s, whose starting hourly rate is $14.
Carroll is also under attack from Realtors, who continually contaminate what used to be nonpartisan school board elections. Transparency.org, because we can no longer trust TEC filings, shows that Realtors donated more than $390,000 to right-wing candidates in the last election cycle alone. Since Christian Nationalists have taken over Southlake, the property taxes have not gone up one penny over the last several years even as the kids there suffer.
Southlake’s veritably unmoving property tax rate might have something to do with the fact that although the average Southlake home is appraised at $1.5 million, with appraisals going up a striking 4.5% every year, Southlake property taxes remain at 36 cents per $100 valuation. For context, the average for all surrounding cities in Tarrant County is around 98 cents per $100 valuation. How can the second richest town in Texas with everyone living in million-dollar homes pay so much less than every other town in North Texas? How is this legal? Fortunately, many voters in Fort Worth pride themselves on not being insipid and so instead of thinking, ‘Oh, hey. We need to lower our tax rate so we can be more like Southlake,’ the intelligent thought is, ‘Hey, maybe we should vote against these fraudsters scamming their own kids,’ especially when the scammers have stated that their unstoppable goal is spreading this quasi-religious, racist, hate- and fearmongering throughout Tarrant County.
It looks bleak right now, but the DISCLOSE Act was just reintroduced back into Congress in February and is being heavily lobbied by President Biden, so there is still reason to hope. Maybe the old, rich, white, fake-Christian dinosaurs and their puppets are just having one last hurrah for old times’ sake. In 2021 while reporting undercover (i.e. cowboy boots) at a meeting of the Republican Women of Lamar County, I heard from several members of leadership, and they told me that the biggest problem they’re facing as a party is the divide that the Libertarians have introduced.
“We will always be divided because they are Godless,” said party chair Cynthia Rice-Tims.
How stupid that they haven’t figured out how easy it is to use religion to exploit loopholes in government. Rice-Tims also called me the next day at the office and tried to bribe me with a membership to join their party (membership fee waived!) and have free access to all the major power players and charity galas in town.
I suppose if I were as irrelevant as these old white men, I would be terrified, too. After all, their obsolescence is being ushered in more powerfully every day by minorities, Gen Z, and educated millennials.
Still, the existence of these fraudsters is an affront to our justice system, common decency, and, most importantly, the future of our kids. Keep the crazy in Southlake this year, voters. Sorry, Southlake. We’ll help you out later. Do not let Fort Worth be overrun by this epidemic of slime oozing out into surrounding cities. This is a civil war we must win. Together, we can stop the disturbing sacrifice of innocent kids to satiate some ancient fascist greed. Reference history books — if you’re not in Southlake, where they’ve likely been banned — to consider all who used religion as the lie to create a culture of war and destruction. The Christian Nationalists have repeatedly stated that they won’t stop until surrounding cities become Southlake-inspired Gileads as well. It is up to us as voters to stop them. Tomorrow, we will.
This column reflects the opinions of the author and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.
You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I have read a single thing like that before. So great to find someone with some original thoughts on this topic. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This website is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!