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Harris County, TX Tax Assessor Collector & Democratic Vote Suppressor, Paul Bettencourt (R) Resigns!

Harris County (Houston) Tax Assessor Collector, Republican Paul Bettencourt resigned in the face of a Democratic Party lawsuit alleging that he engaged in partisan efforts to suppress thousands of provisional ballots cast during the General Election. After being reelected for another term, Bettencourt suddenly resigned, claiming that a new, very lucrative private sector job beckons. Bettencourt refused to identify his new employer, claiming it would violate a "Confidentiality Agreement".

Some of the reasons that Bettencourt has to be concerned are enumerated in the Plaintiffs’ Application For Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction And Permanent Injunction United States District Court For The Southern District Of Texas, filed November 11th, 2008.

Defendant Bettencourt rejects the voter registration applications of
applicants that list their date of birth, that clearly indicates they will
be eighteen (18) years of age on or before election day, but fail to
check the box on the application form that states the applicant will
be eighteen (18) year of age or older on the date of the election.
Section 8 of the Texas Voter Registration Application asks the
applicant to provider his or her Texas Driver’s License Number or
Texas Personal Identification Number, or, if the applicant has noPage 3

Texas Driver’s License or Personal Identification, the last 4 digits of
the applicants Social Security Number. In this same section, the
applicant is asked to check a box if they do not have a Texas
Driver’s License or a Texas Personal Identification number and to
check another box if they do not have a Social Security Number. It
is Defendant Bettencourt’s policy to reject an application if the
applicant provides the last four digits of their Social Security
Number but fails to check the block further indicating that the
applicant does not possess a Texas Driver’s License or a Texas
Personal Identification Number.
Defendant Bettencourt rejects the voter registration applications of
applicants who have listed a residence address that may possibly be
a commercial address. No actual investigation is undertaken to
determine whether the voter does in fact reside there.
Defendant Bettencourt fails to verify that the applicant’s information
as provided on the Texas Voter Registration Application was input
correctly by his staff after and he automatically rejects applicants
when an initial search of the Texas Department of Public Safety
database shows no information on the applicant. The Defendant
employs a different standard for imputing first and last names in the
database such that mismatches are likely to occur.

"When the first day of early voting arrived Oct. 20, Bettencourt told the Houston Chronicle that 13,000 applications were still waiting to be processed."

The time-line of events leading to Bettencourt’s sudden resignation leads to questions about whether the pending lawsuit was related to the resignation.

November 4, 2008 Election Day

November 10, 2008 Texas Democratic Party files suit for failing to register voters and refusing to release provisional ballots for tabulation.

November 12-13, 2008 The bipartisan Harris County Early Ballot Board determines Bettencourt’s office has incorrectly recommended standards for counting numerous ballots and begins re-doing Bettencourt’s voter registration work. White out and correction tape is found on election records provided by Bettencourt’s office. Bettencourt leaves nasty phone messages with the chair of the ballot board threatening him should he authorize the counting of provisional ballots.

December 1, 2008 TDP amends lawsuit to add various matters, including claims under the Voting Rights Act. Individuals who were disenfranchised by Bettencourt are also added as Plaintiffs. Lawsuit makes clear that provisional ballots were only a small part of the claims and that Bettencourt’s organized efforts to disenfranchise voters would be part of comprehensive legal action and investigation in 2009.

December 3, 2008 TDP requests the Court move up a scheduled January 2009 conference so discovery can go forward before Christmas. Counsel for Bettencourt is copied on this request. Bettencourt learns depositions and documents requests will be issued to investigate his voter registration activities.

December 4, 2008 Bettencourt delivers to Judge Emmett a letter of resignation asking it not be made public.

December 5, 2008 Late in the evening, news is leaked Bettencourt that will resign. Bettencourt does not make himself available for comment.

December 6, 2008 Bettencourt alleges he is taking another job opportunity but refuses to disclose his new “employer.” Bettencourt notes he wants to be out of office by Christmas, before any discovery will take place. (h/t Lone Star Report) Bettencourt is obviously just another Republican win at all costs, ethically challenged jerk.

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EE, Navy Veteran, nomadic hi-tech mercenary (field engineering) which allowed me to thoroughly indulge my love of geography! I was educated about the healthcare crisis in a harsh manner. I was lucky to be a disabled veteran - I had the VA. Damn that socialized medicine!

More importantly, I had a lot of family support from my Attorney Sister and Parents. Few people have these assets available during a really tough time. This single experience made me into a real Liberal. I think back, I have never voted Republican-this is Texas & those people are out of their minds, but I was "Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative".

Now, I have a mission. I had a couple of Doctors tell me I would be gone in 12 to 18 Months, but that was 7 years ago. It's amazing how much different things look today! One does some serious reflection when they are arranging things before the (seemingly) inevitable.

Isn't life grand?