Eliot Shapleigh’s Hypocrisy

Author: Theresa Caballero

This is a true story.  On Tuesday, November 5, 2002 Texans went to the polls and voted overwhelmingly to put republicans into statewide offices.  We elected Rick Perry (R) For Governor, David Dewhurst (R) Lt. Governor and on down the line.  Republicans control both the house and the senate for the first time in a 130 years. In El Paso we voted to return Eliot Shapleigh (D) to the senate, Joe Picket (D), Norma Chavez (D) and Paul Moreno (D) and Pat Haggerty (R) to the House.  Out of our six person contingent five are democrats, and only one, Pat Haggerty, belongs to the party which now controls the Texas legislature.

Now step through the looking glass.  There was a very interesting opinion in the local paper on Thursday, November 7, 2002 which in short stated that our contingent is going to have a tough job this next session because the Legislature is controlled by the Republicans and most of our representatives are democrats.  The opinion went on to say that republican Pat Haggerty in the past had “crossed party lines” to work with House speaker Laney (D). And now with the change in parties, Laney would be out and the Republicans would be in and somehow in the mind of the opinion writer (Bob Moore?) Pat Haggerty’s influence would be diminished because he had crossed party lines to work with democrats.  But never fear the opinion went on, Dewhurst had said that Shapleigh was a good bloke, passionate about causes.  The paper went on to say that Eliot Shapleigh, although a Democrat, was the guy who was going to patch the party ocean that now exists between El Paso and the rest of Texas. The essence of the opinion was that REPUBLICAN Pat Haggerty has diminished influence because he played party politics but Shapleigh the DEMOCRAT is the guy for us because there are no party politics in Austin.

The El Paso Times really outdid itself with that twisted piece to make Shapleigh look good.

And if the Times opinion wasn’t enough, we heard from Shapleigh himself on the television.   With a straight face he told the news reporter that he and Dewhurst got along and that he in fact had carried major legislation for Dewhurst.  He went on to say that he himself had not supported Dewhurst but that’s ok because that is ”just politics.”

Does Dewhurst know about this?  I mean does Dewhurst know that Eliot Shapleigh feels that he carried “Major” legislation for him.  Does he know that Shapleigh has gone on the tube telling people he did not support Dewhurst but that’s ok because it is ” just politics.”  More importantly, “Where is the popcorn?”  Eliot Shapleigh brought home little if anything in a good year when things were run by the Democrats but now, now that Republicans are in, Shapleigh is really going to bring home the bacon.  If they weren’t laughing in Austin already, they’ll be laughing now.

That clip of Eliot on the TV carried me back in time.  It carried me back to March 8, 2001.  It was early evening and a friend and I had met for drinks.  Lee Shapleigh, local attorney and wife of Senator Shapleigh, approached me and my friend and started discussing the past November elections.  Specifically she was discussing a judicial race between Judge Patricia Macias (D) and Judge Kathleen Cardone (R).  I had spent the better part of three months campaigning heavily for Judge Cardone who lost to Macias.  Now for those unacquainted with the court house, Judge Cardone was strongly endorsed by those who know judges best, that is to say, the attorneys.  Many attorneys crossed over party lines to work for Cardone whom we all felt would be a wonderful asset to the El Paso judiciary.  Many of us also felt that Judge Macias’ record, high number of appeals and her reputation in general, was something we needed to keep away from a seat of authority.

Suffice it to say, I would not want to appear before Patricia Macias for something as simple as a traffic ticket much less the highly complex and always painful divorces and custody issues that a family law judge must hear.  Judges change lives with a stroke of pen day in and day out.  It is of paramount importance that the person entrusted with that seat have knowledge of the law, the courage to apply it and the integrity to be fair and respectful to all who appear before her.  Given these parameters, the attorneys overwhelmingly supported Kathleen Cardone over Patricia Macias.   Unfortunately El Paso voted for Macias and we lost Kathleen Cardone.

With all of this mind and knowing I had been out every waking moment during the fall campaigning for Cardone, the conversation between Lee Shapleigh and me went kind of like this:

She told me that surely I had not expected Cardone, a republican, to have won that seat.

I told her that Judge Cardone, who had worked so hard, would be interested in knowing she had said that.

She quickly replied that she and Eliot had supported Cardone.

I said it did not look like Eliot had supported Cardone when he had publicly endorsed, in writing to his constituents, Judge Macias.

She replied that that was Eliot’s “public position” but that he had helped Kathleen behind the scenes with voter’s lists and that he had voted for Kathleen.

I told her that that was the kind of support Kathleen had NOT needed.  A whisper of support in her ear while putting out public pamphlets supporting the other woman was not support. I told her that I was astounded to hear that if Eliot believed that Cardone was a better candidate that he would encourage his constituents, who looked up to him, to vote for the other person who was clearly not the best choice.  This was a serious breach of duty on his part.

She went on to say that Eliot was in politics and that we were not, so we could not understand.

I told her that I understood very well and that the least we could expect from our elected officials was that they tell us the truth and that they cast their votes honestly.   I told her her husband had no integrity.

That was pretty much the end of the conversation.  As a matter fact we have not really spoken since then other than to waive a hello to each other at the county court house.

So when I heard Shapleigh on TV saying that he had not supported the winner, Dewhurst, but that was” just politics,” and that he was in the “in” with Dewhurst, I wondered how true that statement was.  On the other hand, Shapleigh would have us believe that party politics do not exist in Austin so he’s ok this term.  I wonder if the people in Austin know that party politics do not count. I wonder about a lot of things that Eliot Shapleigh tells us.

This is a true story.