Did A Texas Republican Weaponize Social Services To Go After Primary Opponent?

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Posted: Mar 05, 2018 2:10 PM
Did A Texas Republican Weaponize Social Services To Go After Primary Opponent?

Tomorrow is Election Day in Texas. Voters will flock to vote in their respective primaries and for one race, it’s become deeply personal. In Texas’ 99 House District race, Bo French is running against incumbent Republican Charlie Geren R-Fort Worth. It’s a rematch from the pair’s 2016 bout; French is considered someone who could knock off Geren in a primary. Geren prevailed but by less than 4,000 votes. According to reports, the two men were friends until French was accused on what appears to be bogus child abuse allegations. The couple recently filed a lawsuit against the political operative for Geren, who allegedly spread the rumor that child abuse was occurring inside the French home, David T. Sorensen. The lawsuit was filed in December of 2017. The contents are disturbing. It involves a false rumor that sparked multiple visits to the French house by authorities. Was Geren weaponizing state resources to take out his political opponent? Well, here’s some backstory (via Star-Telegram):

French and his wife, Sheridan, filed a lawsuit this week, alleging that false accusations of child abuse were made against him during the contentious primary race in 2016.

This lawsuit seeks less than $100,000 from David T. Sorensen, who the suit claims is a “professional political operative” who was working on behalf of Geren last year.

[…]

Sorensen, hired by the political consulting firm Murphy Nasica, was among those working on Geren’s campaign.

The lawsuit indicates that Sorensen and Sheridan French were at the same early voting site Feb. 17 last year when Sheridan began receiving notes from her husband, stating that at least one of his supporters received Facebook messages “falsely (representing) that law enforcement had made numerous trips to the French family house in response to domestic abuse calls.”

Sheridan French “interrogated” Sorensen about whether anyone from Geren’s campaign was behind the messages, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that Sorensen called Geren and then told Sheridan French that Geren said his campaign was not involved.

“I didn’t know about the Facebook posts,” Geren said Tuesday. “They weren’t Facebook posts by me.”

The next day, Sheridan French was at another early voting site for her husband, talking to a friend about how her youngest son complained about his side hurting, according to the suit.

She ended up taking her son “to a chiropractor to examine the pain and ... the chiropractor had been able to effectively treat and eliminate her son’s side pain by adjusting a rib.”

The lawsuit claims that a campaign worker for Geren overheard the conversation.

Days later, on Feb. 26, 2017, an “anonymous tipster alleged that the French family’s youngest child had suffered broken ribs as a result of abuse by his father, Mr. French,” the lawsuit states.

The publication added that the Bo and his wife, Sheridan, took their children to a pediatrician who noted there are no signed of abuse or neglect. The Telegram added that the French family allowed a Child Protective Services worker to examine their kids as well prior to the pediatrician visit, though from Sheridan’s recent video—it would appear they refused to cooperate with CPS at all due to it possibly being a political hit job. She noted that when you refuse to cooperate with CPS in any way in Texas, you’re labeled a “moderate risk.”

Still, on February 27 and 28 of 2016, CPS showed up again at their home, but after March 1—the day of the primary in 2016—the visits stopped. The paper added that no police report was filed, nor can CPS release any information on the case. The French lawsuit says that Sorensen was probably the one who made the anonymous call to CPS, as he filed an anti-SLAPP motion last year. The French family has called on him to testify in the case. 

With the Election Day within the next 24 hours in Texas, Sheridan released this video and a statement through her husband’s campaign, pleading with Geren to stop these reckless attacks. 

  

There are times when I feel nauseous and physically ill, worrying about the safety of our children. I never know what Charlie’s campaign team and their Austin allies might try to do next.

Charlie’s 2016 campaign weaponized CPS against us, and now, every waking hour I'm reminded again and again of the horrible thought that Charlie's campaign is so desperate to win that they filed a false abuse claim against Bo and me. Charlie's team is so desperate to hold onto his power that they're willing to falsely start a process that could take away our children from us.

Charlie, I know that you read our emails. So I have a message for you and your team.

STOP IT.

[…]

You know that your campaign staffer filed the false claims against Bo and me. 

You know that this was done by your paid staff purely for political purposes to smear our family.

You know that as part of their investigation, CPS workers frequently strip children naked, away from their parents or family physician, in order to look for signs of abuse. Your team knew that we would never consent to that.

You know that even as recently as this Wednesday night, your Austin allies claimed CPS noted my family now poses a "moderate risk" for child abuse. This is because ALL families that refuse to immediately cooperate with CPS are automatically classified as a "moderate risk".

Charlie, this has crossed a line. This is not campaigning. This is illegal. And this is wicked.

[…]

STOP TRYING TO DESTROY MY FAMILY.

Bo’s website also released a statement on March 1, as these allegations have raised their ugly head again. It was leaked to the press, even though it appears that the case has been closed since May 11, 2016.