County Clerk’s Office Publicizes Republican Party Message to Voters

LIBERTY, May 10, 2012 – In preparation to publish news concerning the upcoming Primary Elections and particularly the times, locations and places for early voting which will start on May 14, 2012 i-dineout.com went to the Liberty County Clerk’s, Paulette Williams’ Website to gather the necessary information for publication.

There we found the information concerning early voting and published that information, as did other local news outlets.

Unfortunately the information concerning the address of the early voting locations obtained from Ms. William’s website was incorrect and the address of the Hardin Community Center was in error. i-dineout.com did not find out about this error until the next day when we notified the County Clerk’s Office.

i-dineout.com notified Ms. Williams of the error in an e-mail as follows:

Dear Paulette,

I just the received the following e-mail that questions the location of Early Voting in Hardin. The address of the Hardin location may be in error.

Allen Youngblood

See e-mail below and compare to PDF file on your website for Early Voting Locations.

HI Allen,
Just wanted you to know the Hardin Community Center is not on Hwy. 834 E. It's on CR 2010

Williams responded to our e-mail appearing to be completely out of the loop stating, "I looked on my website and we have the Hardin Community Center as being on CR 2010. But thanks for wanting to make sure we have it right."

i-dineout.com then contacted someone in Williams' office to get the needed corrections made and corrected our story as well.

While reviewing the website we noticed a link to the, “Liberty County Republican Party,” and clicked on the link which took you to a press release by Liberty County Republican Chairman Ken Coleman. This was the specific and unique message of the Republican Party largely to its’ voters that was being advertised and promoted on the Official Government Website of Liberty County on Paulette Williams County Clerk Page.

We thought that was unusual and could never recall any instance where the message of a particular political party was being promoted using government funds on an official government website. So we placed the following link on our site to notify voters of it’s presence with the following message and link.

Strange LIBERTY, May 2, 2012 - Follow this link to view the Link on the Liberty County Website to the Liberty County Republican Party and it’s Party Chairman’s Press Release… more

The following morning on May 3, 2012 we took another look at Paulette Williams County Clerk’s Page and link was missing. It had mysteriously disappeared and vanished.

Thinking this was odd we looked closely at the Republican Party Press Release and noticed that it had been filed making an official record of Liberty County in the County Clerk’s Office.

Why would anybody officially file a press release in the County Clerk’s Office? There wasn’t any need to do so that we could figure out and we were unaware that anyone was filing press releases with the County Clerk’s Office.

Furthermore, we wondered just who would deliberately go to the trouble to file a press release and set out to find out who did it.

We sent an open records request to County Clerk Paulette Williams to find out just who filed the press release as well as to Ken Coleman Chairman of the Liberty County Republican Party.

Coleman would not answer our simple yes or no question as to whether he filed the press release or not and if he knew who did. Instead he referred the question to his legal counsel, Attorney Lee Chambers to answer the question on his behalf.

According to Chambers, “…it was not filed by an official from the local Republican party.”

Chambers’ answer to the question only came after two very long conversations in which she tried constantly to find out why we wanted to know who filed the document. Her answer came only after we demanded it. Then she asked, “Allen, Where did you get that document?”

Coleman himself asked i-dineout.com why we wanted to know who filed the document and we declined to answer before he decided not to answer the question and referred the matter to his attorney.

County Clerk Paulette Williams answer to this same question about who filed the document that we asked in an open records request requesting to see the receipts identifying who paid the filing fee stated, “It is my policy to not charge for official notices from either party during the primary season… Therefore there is no information responsive to your request.”

Remember, according to Coleman’s lawyer, Lee Chambers, no official from the local Republican Party filed the document contrary to Williams claim that it was an official party notice.

Then Williams further elaborated on questions and provided information we had not asked for by saying, “Since you are concerned about the Republican link being on my web page, I ask that you contact the County Judge's office. Neither I nor anyone in my office authorized the placement of that link on my web page.”

This response from Williams came on May 3, 2012 after the link had mysteriously disappeared on that same morning. On May 5, 2012 we found out that it was Williams herself that had the link removed after we pointed out it’s existence on May 2, 2012 in an e-mail reply to a question we asked she stated, “I asked that it be removed since it was causing controversy and was outdated.”

This raised additional questions in our minds.

1. Why would any county official allow anyone other than themselves to place links and information on their official web page, making them responsible for it and rightly so, that they had nothing to do with?
2. Who in the County Judge’s Office is placing links on the County Clerk’s Page advertising the Liberty County Republican Party and under whose order and authorization?
3. Is this the only time this has happened or were their others instances of this occurring?

As time went on and in answering other questions Williams stated, “I've also asked that the Democratic notice be removed.”

The Democratic Notice Williams is referring to happened to be a linked to, “Notice of Deadline to File Application for Place on the Ballot.”

This link took you to an official government document of the State of Texas that is legally required by Section 141.040 of the Texas Election Code, not a press release of any political party. This required government document is mandated by State Law and State Law further mandates it's public posting. It is not the specific and unique message of any political party.

According to Ken Coleman, Liberty County Republican Party Chairman, the Liberty County Republican Party Press Release was written by State Republican Party Officials and sent to him with instructions on how it should be edited to make it apply to a specific county by the county chairman and distributed. The press release has numerous references to the courts and how in the opinion of the Texas Republican Party the courts are influencing the deadlines in preparation for the upcoming elections as well as other deadlines. It is the specific and unique message of a particular political party who is attempting to get their message out largely to their own voters and linked to on the Official Government Web Page of the Liberty County County Clerk with the link, “Liberty County Republican Party.” Why would anyone who was NOT Republican click on such a link or be interested in their message to voters?

It was several days after William’s claimed she had the Liberty County Republican Party link on her website removed that she also claims she had the link, “Notice of Deadline to File Application for Place on the Ballot,” removed as well.

On May 9, 2012 Williams said in an e-mail, “Someone in the county judge's office put both notices on my web page,” claiming no responsibility for the fact they were ever there herself and pointing the finger again at Liberty County Judge Craig McNair’s Office as being responsible for the everything and the place that’s pulling all the strings to make it all happen.

Also it appears that someone in Liberty County Judge Craig McNair's Office is filing press releases on behalf of the Liberty County Republican Party written by Republican State Party Officials as lawyer for Ken Coleman, Lee Chambers claims no Official with the Local Republican Party did and the County Clerk claims no responsibility for it either despite the fact it's all over her Official Liberty County Webpage.

Remember, Early Voting in the May 29, 2012 Primary Election begins on May 14, 2012. Click the following link for voting Places, Times and Locations… more

 

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