Nov 26, 2013 by

Key Speakers At CERAWeek 2013 Energy Conference“My Support for Barry Smitherman As Texas Attorney General”

by Donna Garner



When I wrote my article on 11.22.13 entitled “Ken Paxton Not Concerned About Common Core or CSCOPE” ( and sent it out widely on 11.22.13 and 11.23.13, I had not particularly intended to make it a campaign piece. 


I had just heard the attached recording of Ken Paxton, candidate for Texas Attorney General (TAG).  [I have attached the audio clips in two different versions for ease of  access.]  When asked how Paxton would approach Common Core Standards and CSCOPE if elected as the TAG, he said with his own mouth: “That’s more of a legislative function…The Attorney General probably won’t get too involved in that.”  Then Paxton referenced “lawsuits” as a reason he would avoid taking action on Common Core Standards/CSCOPE issues even though Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot has been very pro-active against CSCOPE. 


Knowing that the Texas Legislature in its last legislative session passed HB 462 which bans the Common Core Standards Initiative (CCSI) from our Texas public schools and then hearing that Race to the Top – D funds that require CCSI implementation have already been awarded to two Texas charter schools with more RTTT-D2 funds possibly being awarded to two more Texas public schools soon, I went into “Mad Grandmother” mode. 


I want to stop at this point and make it very clear that Texas has three viable candidates for Texas Attorney General:  Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman, Texas Senator Ken Paxton, and Texas Rep. Dan Branch.  In my mind Dan Branch is deeply flawed and must certainly not be elected.  




During this last legislative session, Dan Branch co-authored HB 2103 which was passed and went into effect on 6.14.13.  Sadly, Ken Paxton also voted repeatedly for HB 2103 —

( ). 


HB 2103 is a field day for hackers!  Liberal-left professors will most likely take over the Centers for Education Research projects; and all of our personally identifiable data from the Texas Education Agency, Texas Workforce Commission, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board can be shared among various agencies in Texas and in other states. The data shared can go back 20 years.  This would include all PEIMS data collected on students, teachers, and families over the last 20 years; data collected on employees/employers over the last 20 years; and data collected on all students, educators, and Texas colleges/universities for 20 years back.  In essence, almost every Texan would fall into these categories of data collection that can now be shared with third-parties outside Texas. 



I begged Gov. Rick Perry not to sign HB 2103 but to no avail:   5.31.13 – “Gov. Rick Perry, Please Veto HB 2103” – ( ).



Based upon HB 2103 alone, not to mention Branch’s support for SB 419 in 2005 when he joined with the Democrats to expand 3rd trimester abortions, I could never vote for Dan Branch as the TAG.




Then there is Ken Paxton.  I actually endorsed Ken for the TAG early-on when called by his campaign staffer.  At that time I knew many negatives about Dan Branch but almost nothing personal about Barry Smitherman, the Texas Railroad Commissioner.


I knew that Ken was a pro-life, pro-family-values conservative; and I had worked hard along with many other conservatives leading up to the 82nd Legislative Session to help him to become the Speaker of the House instead of Joe Straus. Unfortunately, Ken took his name out of consideration at the very last minute, leaving us without a conservative champion to support.


I decided to endorse Ken for the TAG but in doing so I had to overlook the personal conversation in which I learned that he supported a moderate for the Texas State Board of Education simply because she had given his campaign large donations.


I also had to swallow my deep emotions over the fact that Ken along with the other Texas Legislators had passed HB 5 and HB 866 which basically gut the authentic education reform that we conservatives had fought for 15 years to establish in Texas.


As Ken came out yesterday with strong statements about what a stalwart he has been on education issues, I have done some reflecting on my own.  During the years 2005 – 2012 in which the Texas State Board of Education conservatives were fighting against all odds to adopt Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) for English/Language Arts/Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Math, I do not think I can remember a single time when Ken Paxton’s name was mentioned.  I cannot remember that he ever testified, wrote a public statement, came out with editorials in support of the SBOE’s efforts to put Texas on the path to authentic education reform with the 4 x 4 graduation requirements and Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s.  Nor can I remember his authoring or helping to pass legislation to try to rescue the SBOE conservatives from vilification by the media, Democrats, and the RINO’s.  In fact, so far as I can remember, Ken was nowhere around when the SBOE needed  his public  support during those very difficult years. 


It Ken was concerned enough to co-author HB 462 that supposedly banned Common Core Standards in Texas, how could he possibly have muddled his answer so badly on Nov. 18, 2013, when the question was asked him regarding Common Core Standards during the TAG campaign event?  (Please listen to either of the audio clip attachments.)  I do not think that Ken’s lackadaisical answer sounds like the type of response that the committed and impassioned people who signed his endorsement letter yesterday would have said. I believe that if any of them had been asked the same question Ken was asked about Common Core Standards, these people would have answered back with a diatribe of all that is wrong with CCSI. 


I have it on record that when Barbara Cargill was contacted by Ken’s campaign on 11.22.13 after my article had surfaced, she was driving home from an arduous four-day Texas State Board of Education meeting in Austin.  Barbara had not read my article at that time because she had been so inundated with chairing the SBOE sessions. I know that she and Ken have been friends for some time and that she had no idea what came out of his own mouth on Nov. 18, 2013, when asked about his position on Common Core Standards/CSCOPE if elected TAG. Whether that would have changed her endorsement of him, I cannot say.





In contrast to Ken’s weak answer on the Common Core/CSCOPE, how did Barry Smitherman answer questions about education issues and the positions he would take as the TAG? 


We have at least three strong indications:  (Exhibit A) Barry’s response to the article on global warming, (Exhibit B) his strong statement issued  on 11.23.13 about Texas HB 462/state sovereignty, and (Exhibit C) the letter he sent to his own daughter’s teacher regarding the Southern Poverty Law Center and its liberal-left dogma that had been inserted into his daughter’s curriculum lesson on “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 


Exhibit A


11.18.13  — “TX RR Comm. Barry Smitherman Responds to Common Core Global Warming” —



Exhibit B


11.23.13 — “Ken Paxton Not Concerned About Common Core or CSCOPE” –



Exhibit C


9.30.13 – “Letter to Daughter’s Teacher: Intolerance in American Study” —  — (This article contains Barry Smitherman’s letter to his daughter’s teacher in which Smitherman explains his concerns over a worksheet provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center when the class was studying To Kill a Mockingbird.  The SPLC is the organization that continues to label tea party patriots, constitutionalists, Family Research Council, Texas Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, and many others as either a “hate” group or “right wing extremists.” Barry Smitherman makes it very clear that the SPLC worksheet has no place in Texas schools.




Ken Paxton is a fine Christian fellow; and I applaud him and the other Legislators who fought for pro-life bills in the Legislature. However, Barry Smitherman is a strong conservative Christian also.  People who know him and his family well and who are respected conservatives themselves have testified to this. 



10.31.13 – “The Race for Texas Attorney General – Barry Smitherman’s Record” by Bob Price –



9.30.13 – “Texas Right To Life Endorses Barry Smitherman for Texas Attorney General” — – contains this quote from Smitherman – “I always have and always will stand shoulder to shoulder with Texas Right to Life promoting Pro-Life policies; and as Attorney General, I will defend good Pro-Life pieces of legislation like HB-2 that are constantly under assault from radical pro-choice organizations.”




Therefore, we have to consider the skill sets that are necessary for the Texas Attorney General’s office which is very different from a state legislator’s skill sets.  Even though Ken Paxton has made a good Texas Legislator, he may not have the natural leadership skills and background expertise to be the TAG.  As someone recently stated succinctly, this is the choice we have: 


Ken Paxton – probate lawyer; estate planning; real estate; corporate transactions; 2003 to current, Texas Legislator




Barry Smitherman – former Harris County prosecutor (Assistant District Attorney), service on the Public Utilities Commission (PUCT) where he also served as Chairman, heading up two large state agencies (2004 – present) plus 17 years in the private sector working in public finance, has sued the EPA 7 times to protect Texas oil and gas. 


Quote from David Bellow:


As head of the Texas Public Utilities Commission, Smitherman sued Obama’s EPA 5 times. Then, as the statewide, elected Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, Smitherman sued Obama’s EPA 2 more times. Suing Obama 7 times is a huge statement and one that clearly shows that Smitherman is already ready to step into the position of Texas Attorney General and keep on suing Obama. (11.11.13)

Quote from David Bellow: 


As Chairman of Texas Public Utilities and the Railroad Commission, Barry Smitherman spent DOUBLE DIGIT percentages UNDER BUDGET and gave over 130 million dollars back to the State of Texas. (9.28.13 – )





The usual talking points against Barry Smitherman are (#1) he has no voting record, and (#2) he supposedly brought Smart Meters into Texas.


On point (#1), what about our Texas Hero Ted Cruz?  He had no voting record, but we all know his strength of commitment which he carried right into the Senate and The Beltway.   


On Point (#2), if voting records are so important, then what about the voting records of Ken Paxton and Dan Branch? 



As best I can document, way back on 4.13.05, Dan Branch and Ken Paxton both voted for HB 2129 (79th Legislative Session – R). This bill set up the original legislation for Smart Meters (i.e., the deployment of advanced electricity meters…advanced metering and metering information networks) – Section 7(b)(h); Section 8(b) —




Dan Branch co-authored Smart Meters legislation. Paxton actually voted twice for the implementation of Smart Meters and directed the Public Utilities Commission to allow the utilities to charge a fee for installation.  Paxton also supported a provision that required the PUC to report to the Legislature on the utilities progress in installing Smart Meters.


If both Dan Branch and Ken Paxton felt the Smart Meters were such an important issue, why did neither of them address it during the 83rd Legislative Session?


To be honest, if the Texas Legislature had not passed the Smart Meters bills in the first place, we would not have them in our state. The PUC agency did not step outside its boundaries and make law; the PUC’s job is to implement whatever the Legislature passes. In fact, if Smitherman as chair of the PUC had “made” the Smart Meters laws, he most certainly would not have been re-appointed by the Texas Senate in 2007 and reconfirmed in 2009. That is the checks and balances process on the PUC by the TX Senate, and Ken Paxton was in the Senate when Smitherman was confirmed.


Now to be fair to all three men (Smitherman, Paxton, and Branch), back when Smart Meters were first introduced, the public did not widely know of any potential health hazards; and we did not know that Obama would be able to usurp state sovereignty and take complete control of our country. We did not have to fear the federal government as we now do under Obama. 


In fact, on June 27, 2012, Barry Smitherman shared his vision about the future of energy and electric cars [This piece was actually taped earlier than 2012; the SwitchEnergyProject, begun in 2009, is under the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas/State of Texas and took three years to produce —].  Smitherman said he felt that gasoline-powered cars would prevail until at least 2050 but that people who chose to purchase electric cars could use their Smart Meters to save them money by figuring out what hours were the least expensive to charge the batteries on their cars:



Unfortunately, because of the newly released information about the NSA data collection, the IRS targeting of conservatives, and the total takeover by the federal government of our healthcare system through ObamaCare and our public school education system through ObamaCore, Americans now understand that Smart Meters could be used by the Obama administration to control our personal lives.  


*To clarify yet one more myth about Smitherman, he has told me that the only time he visited the White House was under President G. W. Bush and that Smitherman has never even met with Obama.





In conclusion, the following article is what sends cold chills up my back.  This is why Texas must have a strong, committed, experienced TAG who will stand up to the Obama administration to protect us from the federal government.  If true as stated, the U. S. Department of Education’s civil rights investigators targeted a high school in Lubbock ISD, went in and questioned children without parental consent during school hours, intimidated them by their questions, and interrupted their class time.   

After reading this article, I asked a well-known attorney friend for some legal advice; and he said the parents of these children should file charges against the USDOE.  This is the type of case that could eventually pass through the TAG’s purview:     

11.23.13 – “Department of Education civil rights investigators descend on a West Texas school”  — by Lee CaryAmerican Thinker —






Barry Smitherman recently sent this pledge to me personally, and it gives me much hope for the future of our state with him as the Texas Attorney General:



I am honored and humbled by your support. I will commit every waking hour to defending the Texas Constitution, Texas law, and the fundamental rights of every Texan as given to us by God, and by our founding fathers through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (particularly The Bill of Rights).  I especially am honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in fighting for honest and time-tested education for our children…Barry




Donna Garner

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