Ken Mercer: Thou Shalt Smear to Win?

The religious right portrays itself as a champion for biblical values, but the movement’s political leaders often have no problem breaking one of the Ten Commandments — “thou shalt not bear false witness” — in the pursuit of power. Texas State Board of Education member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, is now doing his best to demonstrate that basic truth.

As a 2008 Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report pointed out, the religious right rose to power on the state board with vicious smear-and-lie campaigns against opponents. As early as 1994, for example, religious-right candidates attacked board incumbents as allegedly promoting masturbation for kindergartners, anal and vaginal sex for older students and homosexuality for just about everybody. They included those lies on campaign fliers that featured pictures of half-naked men kissing — and for good measure, one man was black and the other white.

Now Mercer appears to be employing a new smear-and-lie campaign in a desperate attempt to hold on to his District 5 board seat.

The Austin American-Statesman reports today that a supporter of Mercer has circulated an e-mail to the news media and voters claiming that his opponent in the Republican Primary, Tim Tuggey of Austin, is “unfit” to serve on the state board because his former law firm once represented Saudi Arabia. Here’s an excerpt from the e-mail sent out by right-wing gadfly Donna Garner:

In the September SBOE hearings on U. S. History books, Ken Mercer argued that the new textbooks’ coverage of the events of 9-11 must call terrorists — just that – terrorists! He also strongly believes that students should know which countries financially supported the 9-11 terrorists.

Could Tim Tuggey, who has made tens of thousands of dollars by helping the Saudis to scrub their image, be trusted to stand up to the Far Left to make sure our history books do not undergo Revisionism?

Tim Tuggey, with his lawyer-lobbyist connections to the Saudis, should not be elected to the SBOE.

While Tuggey may claim his activities are technically legal, we must ask, “Are they appropriate for an elected SBOE official who has the authority to establish policy and provide leadership for the entire Texas public school system?”

The Statesman article points out that Tuggey’s former firm, led by prominent Republican Tom Loeffler, represented Saudi Arabia in trade agreement negotiations some years back.

“Whatever,” Garrner would say. Remember, she’s the extremist who during last year’s debate over new science curriculum standards circulated an e-mail charging that teaching about evolution leads to serial murder and cannibalism, pointing to Jeffrey Dahmer as an example. During the same curriculum debate, Mercer  attacked the religious faith of people who accept the science of evolution and even compared them to slave traders and Nazis.

Mercer seems to have considered Garner a prime conduit for spreading a smear campaign against Tuggey. And according to the Statesman, he also pitched the same smear to a conservative Web site earlier this month.

Now, let’s set aside the sheer nuttiness of this charge by a sitting State Board of Education member against an opponent. We think most Texans will easily see that claim for the desperation it represents. We’ll ask this: does Mercer really want to get into a debate over which candidate cares more about protecting America? Tuggey served as an officer in the U.S. Army. Mercer was an Eagle Scout who in January voted to end a public hearing on proposed new social studies curriculum standards while military veterans — in uniform — were still waiting patiently to address the state board about their concerns. Mercer then left for the evening while a handful of board members stayed behind to listen to testimony from those veterans and others who had waited all day to address their elected officials.

The Texas Freedom Network has not — and will not — endorse candidates in the March 2 Republican and Democratic primaries. But we will, as we have since our founding 15 years ago, continue to point out the outrageously dishonest and vicious tactics the religious right has used on its road to power in Texas. And Ken Mercer has now shown that he, too, will use those tactics and lower himself to any level to win an election.

Garner’s e-mail pleads with voters to support Mercer “and allow him to continue to represent strong conservative values in public education all across our great state!” “Conservative values”? We think most Texans — conservative or not — would now laugh at the suggestion that Mercer is interested in anything other than winning re-election at any cost, including his own honor.

11 thoughts on “Ken Mercer: Thou Shalt Smear to Win?

  1. With luck, hard work, and your votes, the Democrat who emerges from the four-person field in District 5 will be me, Rebecca Bell-Metereau. It is examples of outrageous behavior like this that demonstrate that we need to bring the focus of the SBOE back to educating future generations of Texans. In order to do that, we need more moderate educators in the Board. I have been a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos for 28 years. I have two grown children who graduated from San Marcos public schools. I’ve volunteered countless hours in the Texas public school system and will work to make our neighborhood schools the best in the nation. Visit for more information and to donate and show your support.

  2. Bearing false witness only applies to the faithful. The prophetically proper manner of dealing with Satan and his/her works is a) Shout at the Devil aka Satan, and/or b) Deception.

    Devil deception is ensconcced in fable as in the Devil and Daniel Webster. Throughout medeaval history there is ample evidence of the efficacy of deception when applied to the Devil, Satan, and Hell, Inc.

    Likewise, sinfulness on the part of the faithful is retroactively retracted by appropriate waiing and gnashing of teeth blaming the Devil that made them do it. Automatic cop out.

  3. Mr. Tuggey:

    I think you have the sympathy of all reasonable Texans who know that a person or organization has a right to competent legal counsel and that there is no dishonor in faithfully providing such counsel. It appears to me that your opponent and Ms. Garner have been watching too many old Perry Mason reruns. They should thank their lucky stars that this is not 1810 and that your surname is not Jackson.

    God bless you and best of luck to you in all of your endeavors.

  4. I guess Garner isn’t remembering about our previous president/governor and his friendship with the Saudis…..

  5. You are right Coragyps. The Bush family has been in bed with the Saudi royal family for decades. It is well and widely known to be much more than a mere international acquaintance. It is a very close and abiding relationship.

  6. Its working. We’re going to replace four members of the current SBOE. Rebecca, thanks for getting into this race for #5.

  7. Ken Mercer would not know the truth if it slapped him in the face. He and Donna Garner deserve each other. I am thankful that one day they will have to answer for the damage they have done to teachers, students and the state of Texas. Unfortunately they both believe that the end always justifies the means and that there is a “Divine Right of the SBOE.” I am praying for the ouster of Mercer and his cronies.

  8. It is so enjoyable to come among you liberals and read you comments. I’ll see you at the polls and will dance with delight when Ken Mercer wins. I’m praying he wins. Does my prayer cancel out your prayer Cathy D?

    Focus on the Family is far right-wing. That is humorous! Folks, liberalism is dying or should I say being reversed. The far left has awakened the right e.g. “Town Hall Meetings” and the “Tea Party” movement and conservative talk radio. In case it hasn’t occurred to you all the “Tea Party” movement is predominately independents and is NOT a “Republicrat” movement. I detest what the “Republicrats” have done to this nation but detest even more what the “Demoncrats” have done to it.

    We’re taking our nation back! Liberalism has bankrupted this nation.

    1. Gosh. All of that and not one word about Mercer’s disgusting campaign to smear a military veteran as a supporter of terrorists.

  9. Right Christian. I bet those same words were said in the streets of Munich on November 9, 1923. “Sieg heil!!!” to you and all of your Tea Party buddies.