When it comes to lies at election time, many voters point at mistruths they hear from candidates. But voter guides put out by far-right pressure groups in Texas are hardly good examples of honesty themselves.
Consider, for example, this question for Texas State Board of Education candidates from the current voter guide put out by Liberty Institute, the renamed Free Market Foundation (the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family):
Do you support the current law which says the Board may reject a textbook if it believes the book is unsuitable?
Actually, the law doesn’t say that at all.
Since 1995, state law has required the board to approve for adoption any textbook that conforms to the state’s curriculum standards, is free of factual errors and meets manufacturing standards. Lawmakers passed the law because they were tired of board members censoring or rejecting textbooks because they had personal and political objections to content in the books. Two state attorneys general rulings — from Democratic and Republican AGs — have confirmed that the law is valid and mandatory for the board.
Even so, the board’s far-right faction continues to break the law. In 2001 the board rejected an environmental science textbook that met all of the law’s requirements, with far-right members arguing that the book was anti-Christian, undermined the free enterprise system, and promoted junk science on topics like climate change. And in 2007 the board voted to reject a third-grade mathematics textbook that also met all requirements set out under the law. The narrow majority voting to reject the textbook simply refused to state why it did so — board members absurdly argued that the law didn’t require them to say. (They later said they didn’t like how the textbook dealt with teaching multiplication. That wasn’t a legally valid reason either.) (See here for more.)
The board has gotten away with breaking the law because the state’s Republican attorney general has taken no action to enforce the statute. Moreover, publishers fear challenging board members because they don’t want to endanger future adoptions of their textbooks.
And now Liberty Institute is lying to voters about what the law plainly says (and what two state attorneys general have agreed it says). Why? Far-right board members and pressure groups hate the 1995 law and want to keep the door open for rejecting any science (in 2011) and social studies (2012) textbooks that don’t meet their political approval.
Then we have today’s e-mail from David Barton of the far-right, Texas-based organization WallBuilders. Barton’s e-mail touts a Web site offering “Christian voter guides.” But Barton then offers his own endorsements, including for State Board of Education races. He endorses two incumbents he calls “conservative” Republicans, Ken Mercer of San Antonio and Don McLeroy of College Station, and refers to their Republican opponents (not by name, but they are Tim Tuggey of Austin and Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant) as “liberals.” Apparently, anyone who opposes politicizing the education of Texas schoolchildren is a “liberal” in Barton’s eyes (even though both Tuggey and Ratliff have campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism, local control and respect for expertise).
Barton also endorses Randy Rives of Odessa, who is challenging state board incumbent Bob Craig of Lubbock in the Republican Primary. Barton refers to Craig as a “liberal Republican,” which surely will come as a surprise to West Texas Republicans (hardly a liberal bunch) who have repeatedly backed Craig.
Barton can’t even get the party affiliation of candidates right. In the state board race to replace Democratic incumbent Rick Agosto of San Antonio, Barton endorses Joanie Muenzler. Barton, however, says that Muenzler is a “conservative Democrat running against a liberal Democrat incumbent.” Wrong on both counts. Muenzler is on the Republican Primary ballot, and Agosto is not running for re-election.
When they’re not lying, they’re just plain ignorant about the facts.