Before this stuff about Reyes and his family members receiving campaign money broke out, there was some tangential conversation about it on last weeks debate tour. I didn't like it then and I spoke with a friend about how I thought it was going to ultimately be a very negative thing for O'Rourke.
Trust me, I'm right about this one.
Let me explain.
During Monday's debate, Luis Torres introduced a new critique of O'Rourke I hadn't heard before. They talked about O'Rourke voting against housing for the disabled and voting against x number of jobs.
The jobs thing had something to do with Boeing. O'Rourke never responded to the charge during Monday's debate. By Wednesday's debate, O'Rourke had an answer ready for the charge. In his answer, he went after Reyes and said that he was defending Boeing because they donated large sums of money to Reyes through PACS were awarded a contract and hired all three of his children.
Later in the week the story came about about campaign money going to his family.
Ultimately this is going to hurt O'Rourke more than Reyes.
Here are a four things to keep in mind about this whole situation
#1 - There's nothing illegal about paying family members. Yes, it appears that Reyes has paid more money to family members than any other member of Congress, but there are a lot of names on that list, including Ron Paul.
#2 - We are talking about campaign money, not tax dollars.
#3 - Its not illegal. If you want to have a conversation about ethics that's fine, but its a different conversation. And its not like they are just handed money for the hell of it. The people mentioned both have big roles in Reyes' campaign and in the case of his brother, is probably his closest political adviser. Veronica Cintron is his chief fundraiser. After how events in this campaign have gone down, its pretty well known that I am not Chuy Reyes' biggest fan, but even I have to admit, he works hard for his brother. Anyone who knows Cintron cannot possibly doubt her value to the campaign, her work ethic, or her motivation for helping the campaign.
#4 - and probably most importantly, its bad political karma to go after family members. Family members are non-combatants unless they have an independent political role in El Paso politics. In the case of Chuy Reyes and Veronica Cintron, they are fair game because they are part of El Paso's political class. But Reyes' kids? I think not. They are not part of politics in this town. Never around, never really connected to the Party and have a very low profile. But if you start picking on family members, then you make it okay for people to go after your family members.
I think by now people in this town pretty much know, you don't mess with the Reyes family members. But the reason O'Rourke will ultimately suffer from this is because of the inevitable comparison it will raise between family members. And I assure you, O'Rourke loses that comparison all day long and twice on Sunday.
Think of the comparison, family members who work for the campaign and and awarded with a salary paid for by campaign donors versus O'Rourke's mother's company's legal situation.
I hate having to be the one to mention it first, but you know its coming. Hell, I bet Morris Pittle already had this one drawn up on the white board anyway and its now probably going to be a commercial sooner rather than later.
This will be a huge self-inflicted wound on the part of O'Rourke because now the Reyes will likely start pushing the conversation about Charlotte's which is owned by his mother. Worst part about it for O'Rourke is, well, he started it.
O'Rourke has benefited greatly from the fact that the media hasn't really done any critical analysis on that issue in this campaign. But I can assure you that at some point, they will have to.
And the conversation about family members and PAC money does absolutely nothing beneficial for O'Rourke. Let me see if I understand the comparison correctly, O'Rourke is alleging the Congressman is defending Boeing because they donated money to him through PACs and hired his kids? But the money funneled to O'Rourke from his father-in-law (who maxed-out individual contributions to O'Rourke's campaign) through a Super PAC is somehow different?
I'm not sure I see anyone being able to claim the ethical moral high ground here.
Frankly, I'm pretty pissed about the whole situation. This campaign has not solidified in to a conversation about the important issues facing El Paso like poverty, health, illiteracy, investment in infrastructure, or immigration reform.
Instead it has become a conversation about Beto partying at the Tap, where he went to school, who paid for his school, legalization of marijuana, donor money etc -or Reyes lack of votes, lack of bills, not showing up to debates, donor money, and family connections.
Guess what isn't being talked about in this race, by the candidates or the media?
Stuff that really matters.
Anybody else getting tired of that?