Ames Jones v. Wentworth: first shots fired
Tue February 14, 2012 8:28 am

Lest anyone think that the race between challenger Elizabeth Ames Jones and incumbent Jeff Wentworth [a third candidate, Donna Campbell, is also in the race] is going to be a campaign characterized by mutual respect and a civil exchange of ideas, I herewith present the opening statements of the two candidates, in press releases issued yesterday.

AMES JONES

Today, I have tendered to the Governor my resignation from my position on the Texas Railroad Commission to devote my full time to the upcoming election to represent the people of District 25 in the Texas Senate. I am grateful to Governor Rick Perry for having appointed me to an unexpired term on the Commission in 2005 and to the millions of Texas voters who elected me to the position in 2006. I am immensely proud of my work on the Commission and of its accomplishments. As your Commissioner, it has been a privilege to be on the front lines fighting the Obama Administration, the EPA and the left wing voices in Congress, whose agenda is to disrupt the development of vast new oil and gas resources in shale reservoirs in the United States and to usurp our state’s jurisdiction in direct conflict with the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am proud to have been a leader in the responsible oversight of the new drilling techniques which evolved from horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and which have created an economic boom for the benefit of all Texans, especially in the Eagle Ford Shale Play, south of San Antonio.

Since I announced my candidacy for SD 25, Jeff Wentworth has attacked my home, my husband and my honor. Although the Texas Constitution provides that state officials who reside in Austin working on state business don’t forfeit their voting residence back home, Senator Wentworth and his Democrat lawyer have ignored the Constitution and continued their baseless attacks. To put an end to this, I asked the Attorney General to issue an opinion vindicating my right to finish my term on the Texas Railroad Commission. Wentworth’s lawyers, however, filed a frivolous lawsuit on the issue, knowing that filing such a suit would preclude the Attorney General from responding to my request until the suit is resolved.

This is not the first time Wentworth has sued an opponent. Like his plaintiff lawyer supporters, who have given him over $200,000 in campaign contributions, his first impulse is to sue. Mine is to serve.That is why I am running for the State Senate.

My campaign is to bring strong leadership, conservative principles and integrity to my friends and neighbors in Senate District 25 who are concerned about taxes, spending, education, jobs, energy, maintaining predictable regulation and lawsuit reform. I will not allow Sen. Wentworth to continue to sidestep his failed record on these issues with frivolous lawsuits and political stunts.

These two statements, published in the San Antonio Express-News on Jan. 12, 2003, clearly illustrate the differences in our thinking on taxes:

“‘There will be, there has to be (additional tax revenue),’ said Sen. Jeff Wentworth. R-San Antonio.”

“Rep. Elizabeth Ames Jones, R-San Antonio, has another view. ‘I think we have to balance the budget without new taxes,’ she said. ‘When an economy is slow, it’s not really the time to initiate new taxes.’”

Today I call on Sen. Wentworth to return the $65,000 in campaign contributions he received from Michael Blevins, William Bradley and Monica Ellis between 2000 and 2002. Blevins is a convicted felon who founded Metabolife along with Bradley and Michael Ellis, husband of Monica. Wentworth was investigated by the Travis County District Attorney in 2002 for lobbying for Metabolife, a diet drug containing deadly ephedrine. On Feb. 3, 2005, a report in the San Antonio Express-News indicated that Wentworth “remained under scrutiny” in that investigation. Metabolife reportedly paid Wentworth at least $75,000 to lobby state and federal agencies. (AP, Feb. 15, 2003;San Diego Union-Tribune, July 20, 2003 & Los Angeles Times, Sept. 7, 2001; SA Express-News, Feb. 3, 2005.). Campaign finance reports show that Wentworth has not returned the contributions he received from the Metabolife founders.

And Sen. Wentworth must explain a 2009 press report regarding his involvement in the BurnLounge, an organization which the Federal Trade Commission called a pyramid scheme. According to a story in the Houston Chronicle on Aug 13, 2009, “as many as 300 people became participants in a pyramid scheme in 2006 and 2007 at the behest of San Antonio state Sen. Jeff Wentworth…”

Sen. Wentworth wants voters of Senate District 25 to ignore his failed record as a conservative and his tarnished ethical record, which includes taking campaign contributions from a convicted felon and participating in a “business” that the FTC closed down, accusing the company of running a pyramid scheme. He is pushing for term limits for others, but insists it is okay for an 18-year incumbent like himself to run for another term.

Jeff Wentworth also wants us to ignore the fact that he has publicly embarrassed us over the past several years in his petulant comments related to his failed attempts to get a new job. I will not ignore his record and the voters of Senate District 25 won’t ignore it either.

Senator Wentworth thought he was entitled to another job; I think it is time he got one.

WENTWORTH

It’s about time [referring to Ames Jones’ resignation from the Railroad Commission].  Mrs. Jones actually vacated the office of Railroad Commissioner on November 1, 2011, when she moved her voting registration to Bexar County and later swore in writing to the state chairman of the Republican Party of Texas that her permanent residence address was in San Antonio and not Austin.

The requirement of the Texas Constitution that railroad commissioners must live in “the Capital of the State” during their “continuance in office” was never in dispute.  Ms. Jones simply violated her oath to uphold the Texas Constitution by refusing to abide by the provision of Article 4, Section 23, so that she could continue to receive $115,000 in annual salary as a railroad commissioner while campaigning fulltime for the Texas Senate and to use her position on the Railroad Commission to solicit campaign contributions from the very industry she was regulating.

Her request for an Attorney General’s opinion on this matter was never anything more than a stalling tactic and an effort to stay on the Railroad Commission for another six months, since that’s the normal time it takes for the Attorney General to issue an opinion.

It was only when a well-founded lawsuit was brought, asking for expedited action, in a district court and the near-certain order that would have been issued by that court that the state comptroller cease paying the salary of a railroad commissioner who had vacated her office last year that Mrs. Jones acted today to avoid the embarassment that such a court order would have brought to her.

This is the same person who announced in 2008 that she was running for the United States Senate and had criss-crossed the state for the past three years telling voters that she wanted them to send her to Washington, DC.  She abandoned that race, too, also to avoid embarrassment, when she ran out of money for her statewide campaign and was trailing in fourth place at 2%, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurstt, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and former Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

Like I said, better late than never.  But she does owe Texas taxpayers over $30,000 in back pay that she unconstitutionally collected from November 1, 2011, until today when she finally did the right thing and resign.

More Texas Monthly

Loading, please wait...

Most Read

  • Viewed
  • Past:
  • 1 week