Mud Merchants of the Campaign Trail

Now that the rough and tumble of the primaries has been completed (and before the General election campaign is fully geared up), it’s time to look back and understand some of the things that just happened and what the voters need to know about it.

First, we doubt anyone reasonable was NOT appalled at the nastiness of some of the campaigning this time around.  This was especially true at the Senatorial level and there is little doubt that the excesses of mudslinging coming from the Dewhurst campaign- in the end- actually backlashed to a point of adding significantly to his resounding defeat.  It is time to for the voters to not only take note of- and reject-  the mud slinger candidate, but also be aware of the merchants of the mud, the professional political consultants that are willing to enthusiastically supply the mud- and the lack of ethics- for the right price.

The is one political consulting firm’s name that pops up time and again associated with the dirtiest campaigns across Texas- and that is Murphy Turner Associates.  Now, they re a very LARGE consulting outfit and by no means is every- or even most- campaigns they are involved in become mudfests.  While they are a standard for Joe Strauss and other ‘Powers That Be’ types, some very good and decent people have used them to run immaculately clean campaigns, including Cindy Burkett and Roger Burns. BUT…it is a very rare mudslinging piece of nastiness that goes on in Texas that they are NOT a primary mudslinger.  They have become renowned for sinking to whatever level a candidate will go- and doing so with gusto. They ran a particularly nasty campaign for ‘Tuffy’ Hamilton against James White, and a misleading one for Bob Dry against Angela Tucker.

The firm itself would respond that they are only doing as instructed; this is akin to the ‘Nuremberg defense’ ; “I was only following orders”.  the political class KNOWS their reputation and when they ARE asked to go negative and beyond the bounds of ethical conduct, they do so with gusto.

It is time to change the dynamic.  First, the voters need to reject candidates that go super negative, with marginal ethics need to be voted down consistently.  Secondly, light needs to be shined on those that eagerly facilitate such campaign, like Murphy-Turner.  And those that vet candidates- individuals and groups- need to start considering such as a factor in their determinations.  Because a candidate that uses consulting groups that  are mud merchants- whether they use that bottom-feeding skill set or not- are supporting those that do.  Behavior will only improve when it becomes too costly to misbehave.  Groups like Murphy Turner have a right to function- even unethically- as long as they are within the law; the voters have an equal right to weigh their use in their ballot considerations.

3 Responses to Mud Merchants of the Campaign Trail

  1. I quite agree. The coarsening of political discourse disgusts people and drives them away from voting. I hear otherwise reasonable people simply throw their hands up and exclaim, “They’re all crooks!” when they still should be listening to the discussion.

    Of course, any campaign against mud-slinging must be aimed at all parts of the political spectrum, including the Tea Party itself. Here in Richardson, for example, there are a number of people affiliated with the Tea Party (as opposed to those running it who seem to be more honorable people) who routinely make absolutely false statements and accusations against the City government – I don’t mean debatable statements, I mean flatly false statements of fact. Indeed, slander against City and public figures in Richardson is commonplace among a certain crowd that feels that lying, cheating, and stealing is justified because THEY are in the right, and everyone else is a bunch of criminals. Examples are:

    * The Richardson City Charter violates provisions in the Texas Constitution by not allowing direct election of the mayor – not true, as the Texas Local Government Code specifically permits it
    * Refinancing the city’s current debt, according to the City Charter, is illegal – laughably untrue, as the accuser didn’t realize that “refunding” means “refinancing”
    * Councilman John Murphy broke State law to be President of the NCTCOG – quite the contrary, most NCTCOG members are REQUIRED to be elected officials
    * The City Council violates the Texas Open Meetings Act by discussing the City Manager’s compensation package in executive session – sorry, the Attorney General specifically says that this is legal
    * The Richardson City Council is violating the City Charter by selling bonds without the consent of the voters – this one is the best – because the accuser was unaware of a law on the books for 40 years that overruled that section of the Charter

    If you hear some gossip about unbelievable misbehavior in Richardson, check out for the research and explanation (and frequently debunking) of the rumor…


    • Mike O says:

      OK, Bill; what did they steal. Because stealing- as opposed to the rest- is a CRIMINAL offense. If you cannot explain THAT statement, then you are at risk of committing a specific case of libel (in written form) against NON-PUBLIC individuals. My mother- on the City Council of my hometown- proved a similar case in the 60s against the local newspaper; they REALLY cleaned up the paper’s reporting after that

      NOT defending the individuals you have disagreement with, but also not going to allow you to get away with acting like you say they act.

  2. […] has raised its ugly head again.  It is now know as Murphy-Nasica, instead of Murphy-Turner.  Here is a link to our previous experience with them written up two years ago; read it first.   And here’s another article on their efforts against conservatives last […]