Truth or Consequences

Jon Lindsay is an admitted liar and an accused perjurer. Should Harris County voters take him at his word - again?

Lindsay continues to blame his problems on an alleged Democratic conspiracy headed by County Attorney Driscoll, but his most pressing concern at the moment is a brushfire emanating from the more conservative wing of his own party and fanned by Dumas, who says that Lindsay is neither morally nor ideologically fit to hold the office of state senator.

"Oftentimes there is an effort by Mr. Lindsay to make light of these allegations as brought about by political enemies of his," Dumas says with a touch of sarcasm. "Mr. John Holmes, a Republican district attorney, would indict his grandmother if he thought she did something wrong."

Nevertheless, Lindsay apparently still remains popular among west-side Republicans. Democratic consultant Dan McClung says that the most effective ad run by John Peavy, an African-American Democratic judge, in his City Council runoff with Republican Kathryn Tyra early last year was one that featured Lindsay's endorsement.

"I'm convinced that it influenced a lot of west-side votes in Peavy's favor," says McClung.

For once, the yowling screeches of the peacocks infesting the lakefront behind Vargo's restaurant were smothered by those from another sort of strutting bird, a flock of Republican candidates making their earnest campaign pitches to the Daughters of Liberty.

The Daughters of Liberty is one of the more recently formed local Republican women's clubs, and one of the most conservative. Before the speeches, one of the Daughters had offered the luncheon benediction, exhorting the Almighty to "protect us from the filth all around us."

Then it was time to hear from Jerry Dumas, a stolid 60-year-old business executive who recently moved into District 7 from the Rice University area. Dumas' spiel included a rather pointed call for amending the state bribery law to include a five-year, rather than three-year, statute of limitations. (District Attorney Holmes didn't pursue the bribery allegation against Lindsay because the statute of limitations had long expired when it was finally aired publicly.) Dumas then fielded a few friendly questions about his finances, which allowed him to answer an attack by Lindsay on Dumas' business foreclosures. A foreclosure is not the same as a bankruptcy, Dumas reminded the crowd, and in any case, he blamed his financial difficulties on a bout he had fought and won with cancer.

When it was Lindsay's turn, the former county judge delivered a short, almost perfunctory appeal for support. He then cautiously awaited questions. The first came from Ann Mather, the wife of former county Republican chairman Russ Mather. The Mathers are avid Dumas supporters, and Ann Mather also may have her own personal ax to grind with Lindsay, since he had appointed her to and then purged her from the county Mental Health-Mental Retardation Board in a general housecleaning of that agency back in the '80s. Nevertheless, she had a question that has occurred to more than one Republican since Lindsay launched his comeback bid.

"Jon, I'm real confused, and I'd like you to straighten this out," Mather said with a straight face. "You're running as a Republican, but the record shows that in the '90s you have given to almost every liberal Democrat statewide, and that's very confusing as to why you're running as a Republican E."

Lindsay attempted to justify the contributions to Democratic legislators, which he doled out from his own campaign fund, simply as a way to further Harris County's interests in Austin.

"The issues that come from county government are not partisan types of issues, by and large, and it gave me a step forward to work with those particular people," he said. "And it will in the future."

"Can we expect that again?" Mather fired back.
"It depends on the situation," replied Lindsay, with the condescension of a teacher addressing a rather slow pupil. "The county judge's money doesn't come from Republican contributors, as some of you people have declared. [It comes from] people that primarily E very candidly, did business with Harris County."

Some of the impeccably made-up faces in the crowd hardened as another questioner chimed in with, "You gave money to Jew Don Boney?"

You could almost hear the Daughters, whose ranks were devoid of black faces, suck in their collective breath at the thought of a Republican helping finance the campaign of Boney, the African-American city councilman who is anathema to west-side Republicans.

But Lindsay offhandedly explained the contribution as a favor to a good friend, Commissioner El Franco Lee, another liberal Democrat.

By then, some of the Daughters looked thoroughly baffled. You could almost read their faces: "He has a black liberal Democrat for a friend?"

The contributions also are viewed with disgust by another Lindsay critic and Dumas supporter, former GOP state chairman George Strake.

"That was money that was given by Republicans to elect Republicans, and it's found its way into the wrong political coffers, as far as I'm concerned," says Strake. "I'm a party builder, and I just don't think that's the way you do it."

Strake is also critical of Lindsay's transfer of several hundred thousand dollars from his campaign account into that of his wife, the state district judge. "I'm not saying this is illegal," says Strake. "I don't like it. It breaks the spirit of the law and the contributors' wishes."

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