An anonymous, widely distributed e-mail criticizing Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones appears to have come from the campaign of council candidate Bolivar Fraga.
Fraga and Jones represent different districts; however, Fraga was just endorsed by exiting At Large 2 Councilwoman Sue Lovell, who has criticized Jones in past campaigns.
Sent August 11, the e-mail comes from "email@example.com" and accuses Jones of being a "chronic tagger" -- meaning she asks that agenda items be held over before a vote.
"Why is Jolanda Jones not prepared to vote on items when she has the most staff on Council and receives information at the same time as the Council offices?" the e-mail states. (We e-mailed Jerryfifty and haven't heard back. But we're totally holding our breath.)
The e-mail continues: "She is a chronic tagger because she is not prepared, or she tags because she doesn't like someone."
The e-mail also contained an embedded image of a newspaper column Jones wrote for African-American News and Issues.
Sensing something strange, one recipient checked the image's sourcing information and compared it to an official e-mail sent by Fraga's campaign. Both images appear to have been sent from the same folder, via a marketing software program called Stream Send.
Fraga told us last week he wasn't aware of the e-mail and that he'd check into it and get back to us. He never did. But he eventually put us in touch with his campaign manager, Fidencio Leija, who told us that the campaign does not even use Stream Send. Leija said the e-mail must have come from a third party that was using its own client list and software to forward the content.
Leija also said Fraga would have no reason to attack Jones, since they're not running for the same district seat. He assured us that Fraga is running a clean, honorable campaign.
We asked Leija on Friday to send us an "official" press release in order to show us that the campaign uses different software, and we're still waiting. Meanwhile, we checked an August 3 press release that appears to have come directly from Fraga's campaign (it identifies "Bolivar.Fraga@ivotefraga.com" as the sender) and the embedded image is saved in a Stream Send folder.
Leija could've nipped this in the bud by sending us an e-mail showing they use software other than Stream Send, but he hasn't. We asked him on Friday and he said he'd send us a sample press release, but instead sent something irrelevant to the question of whether they used Stream Send.
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We called Monday morning, and he said he'd get to it in a few hours. He didn't. So we called back Monday afternoon, and he said it would still be a little while longer. (Unbelievable how long it takes to e-mail these days, you know?) We also called the campaign office directly and asked a worker there to e-mail us. Still waiting. (She said she'd try her best to e-mail us by the end of business; it didn't happen.)
We don't understand why Fraga and Leija won't resolve this simple matter, and we'll be happy to update this if and when we hear back from Bolivar's campaign -- or the elusive jerryfifty.
UPDATE: Fraga's campaign has issued a press release in response to our post, with Fraga stating, "I am running an honorable campaign, and I have made no attacks against any other candidates or elected officials. Specifically regarding Council Member Jones, I respect her as a person and as an elected official. I have no reason to criticize her, nor have I ever criticized her. The e-mail in question did not come from my campaign. Stream Send API software is a web-based marketing tool, and it is not one to which we subscribe. My campaign manager and I explained this to Mr. Craig Malisow last week over the phone and by email."
(Although the embedded image in the press release indicates it was sent via Constant Contact, there is simply no way -- based on what Leija told us Friday and Monday -- to tell if this came from Bolivar's campaign or a third party. Neither Fraga nor Leija have provided the information we requested -- namely, press releases issued prior to August 3, showing that the campaign does not use Stream Send).