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12/08/17

Geren Under Fire — Will His Supporters Flee?

State Representative Charlie Geren has recently been linked to two scandals. This has many political insiders wondering, will donors continue to support him?

First, Geren, who chairs the powerful House Administration committee, had to announce an updated and more rigorous sexual harassment policy after claiming just last month there was no need to discuss the policy because there had been no complaints of harassment.  In November, Geren told the Texas Tribune, “We don’t have any (referring to sexual harassment complaints). I don’t deal in ‘ifs.’ When there’s one, I’ll handle it. And that’s it.” Within weeks of Geren’s statement, multiple allegations of harassment surfaced in which victims claimed they had suffered predatory behavior and found little recourse. At least one of the alleged victims claims she reported the incident to Geren himself.

Second, the rematch between Fort Worth businessman Bo French and eight-term incumbent Geren just dramatically escalated when Mr.& Mrs. French filed a civil suit against Geren’s former campaign staffer, David Sorensen. According to the lawsuit, just four days before the close 2016 primary election, Geren’s employee, Sorensen, made false allegations to Child Protective Services that the Frenches’ youngest son had suffered broken ribs at the hands of Mr. French and had not received adequate medical care. Details of the report and lawsuit can be found here.

Although we do not yet know if Geren directed or even knew of Sorensen’s behavior, the fact that Geren hired a well-known Democrat operative combined with the allegation that the Geren campaign was involved in such despicable tactics may give potential and existing donors pause.

As one of Texas House Speaker Joe Straus’ top lieutenants, Chair of the House Administration Committee, and member of the all-powerful Calendars Committee, Geren has historically been quite well-funded. Here’s a list of top donors from his 2016 election when Geren raised a total of $1,236,505.

Top 10 donors to Charlie Geren’s 2016 Campaign
Charles Butt $62,500
Texas Association of Realtors $60,771.82
Texans for Lawsuit Reform $35,004.33
Alice Walton $30,000
John B. Kleinheinz $27,500
Blackridge PAC $20,000
Edward Bass $20,000
Good Government Fund $20,000
PSEL PAC $20,000
The Gallegher Law Firm $20,000
Total $315,776.15

As of the most recent financial reports – those showing the donations made since the end of the 85th Legislative Session – Geren has only raised $10,500. This could simply mean he didn’t do much fundraising post-session, but it could also mean donors have gone cold on supporting him. We’ll know more with the release of the next semi-annual report, which is due December 31, 2017 and should be available to the public mid-January.

As always, Transparency Texas will be pulling the data from the upcoming semi-annual reports, cleaning up the information, and providing it to you in a simple, easy-to-understand format.

 

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