Both sides of the aisle play games with the balance of truth and fiction; but for a society that holds itself to be the most advanced, a wave of propaganda has taken over the nation. Groups have taken to a new low in Red State Women, a political action group touting itself as a completely independent, woman led, action committee who pits woman against woman in the contentious field of Texas politics. This level of political gamesmanship has not been seen since the propaganda machine of the late 19th century. During the fight for a women’s right to vote, a powerful organization, composed of men, used a group fronted by a woman to press forward its agenda. The Association of Brewers and Distillers, a powerful group of New York City business men, took an active role in the anti-Sufferage movement by using other women to spread propaganda materials to major women’s organizations and groups. The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage distributed materials that read, “Real woman don’t want to vote.” NAOWS and the Woman’s Protest newsletter presented the face of Josephine Dodge as its leader when in fact they were heavily funded by the Association of Brewers and Distillers. Now the propaganda machine has swept into the 3rd millennium with groups such as American’s for Prosperity, funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, American Crossroads funded by Karl Rove, and Red State Women funded by Mike Toomey & Dave Carney.
Today, the agenda facing politics looks eerily similar. The faces of Red State Women are all otherwise unknown women with deep political ties to current Texas Governor, Rick Perry. Each woman has direct and heavily connected ties to Perry and the Texas State legislature. President of Red State Women, Lara Keel, is Texas’ most powerful female lobbyist. Starting her career as a staffer in the legislature, Keel now represents the interests of state regulators and law makers. She is also the partner of Mike Toomey who has deep financial ties to the Texas Governor for over 30 years. As former Chief of Staff for Perry, head of Perry’s presidential super PAC, and a long time Republican lobbyist, Toomey leads the Conservative movement statewide. Along with Dave Carney, both men bring in the big donors for political powerhouses such as Senator John Cornyn, Former Texas Attorney General, and current Texas Attorney General and Republican nominee for Governor, Greg Abbott. Abbott, has been Rick Perry’s legal backup since he took office after the post was vacated by Cornyn. In the last few months Abbott has spent a great deal of time trying to distance himself from Perry on the campaign trail, but the policies for Perry’s agenda over the last decade have been spearheaded by Abbott. So, who is the political influence lobbying for Greg Abbott? None other than Perry’s own Mike Toomey and Dave Carney. Toomey has brought in millions to the Abbott campaign in record numbers, and millions of those funds have gone to groups such as Red State Women, and Carney is Abbott’s campaign advisor. Red State Women’s sole focus to date has been rallying women against Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas State Governor. Keel’s group has been making the rounds to women’s groups all over the state speaking against Davis as an out of touch liberal looking to roll back the causes of women 40 years. Sound familiar? A group funded by the most powerful men in Texas and they are using a woman’s group to do it.
All of Red State Women’s active members are so directly tied to Perry that Cristen Wohlgemuth, Director of the Board, was Perry’s Budget Planning and Policy Advisor before becoming the Chief of Staff for the Texas House Republican Caucus. Board member Mia McCord is not only the Chief of Staff for Texas Republican Senator Kelly Hancock, but she’s also married to John McCord, Political Director for the Republican Party of Texas. McCord, an avid blogger and creator of the site The Real Wendy, focuses strictly on bashing Texas Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis for such ills as not living in a trailer park long enough to qualify for sympathy and for being a single mom paying her way through Harvard yet leaving out she had help from an ex-husband. And the non-leadership staff of Red State Women is compiled from a collection of Republican Texas legislative staffers who have all worked directly under Rick Perry. These men are leading the modern day propaganda against women’s causes in the red state into the 3rd millennium.
Toomey and Carney joined forces in 2010 to bank roll a Green Party candidate for Texas Governor so that votes would be significantly split assuring Perry the win for another term in office. Since 2008, Toomey has lobbied Perry’s office in the interest of his clients, successfully securing over $2 billion dollars in state government contracts. Skirting federal election laws, Toomey and Carney have created a $55 million dollar fund that has unlimited spending ability as long as it does not connect itself directly with any one campaign. However, much of that funding is tied to Red State Women.
Powerful men have used their influence to squelch women’s issues throughout history by using other women as puppets. But this newest wave of propaganda has set ablaze the 3rd millennium in a blatant attempt to cast Red State Women as the voice of conservative women. But the real voice for women will be done at the ballot box in Texas and across America.
Opinion By Kimberly Beller