Consider the source - The VAC has ties to candidates

By: Paul Lazzaro
| Published 09/08/2015


Letter to the Editor

THE WOODLANDS, Texas - With an important November election for The Woodlands Township coming up, I direct your attention to the so-called Voters Awareness Council (VAC). This community should not allow VAC to fly again under the guise of promoting “voter awareness.” as they did in promoting the $350 million road bond proposal. This “impartial-nonpartisan” group did everything but launch a parade in favor of the road bonds which were defeated by 87% of Woodlands voters to protect our quality of life. VAC founder and board member, Bruce Tough, appeared in “thumbs up” photos and videos with proponents of the county bonds while his VAC published and publicized not-so-subtle endorsements favoring the bond projects. Tough is now a candidate for re-election to the Township board and, coincidentally, the VAC has fully blossomed again. The VAC mission states: “VAC does not endorse candidates. VAC does not recommend positions on issues.” And yet, two of the nine candidates actively running for seats on the Township board are “Founders and/or Board members” of the VAC. That number is no comparison to the full conflict-of-interest roster of VAC leaders from an organization which masquerades as a “fact-based” and “impartial” “Get-Out-the-Vote” group.

VAC “Founders” and/or Board Members include:

Bruce Tough, running in Position 7, is a VAC Founder and a Board member.

His father, Coulson Tough, is listed as a VAC Founder and Board member.

His wife, Diana Tough, is listed as a VAC Founder.

Tim Weems is a VAC Board member and developer who stood to gain if the $350 million bond had passed. He was also a major financial contributor to the Bond PAC.

Amos McDonald, current Candidate running for Township Director in Positon 5, is also listed as a VAC Founder.

VAC President Steve Leakey was manager of Tough’s failed campaign for State office and his chief aide in all political matters. He is the Village President who tried to wrest $1.3 million of our tax dollars that Township directors had defunded (except for Tough who voted to write a $1.3 million check) for a project that was correctly moved to the Montgomery County budget.

Other VAC leadership, founders, and board members publically supported Tough’s State Representative campaign and are now endorsing his Township re-election.

Why should any voter lend credence to a sham “impartial” organization with two active political candidates currently running and who are integral and actively participating in the VAC’s leadership? Plus, why should we ignore a list of Founders and Board of Directors laden with relatives or direct connectors to both of these candidates? The obvious purpose of the VAC’s self-serving “impartial and unbiased” actions is to promote its own leaders in another election after they tried unsuccessfully to pass the divisive road bond issue.

Even more chicanery is being pressed upon all the 2015 Township candidates who have been asked to sign a “VAC Code of Conduct” pledge. The VAC’s “Code of Conduct” exceeds the standards set by the Texas Ethics Commission’s “Fair Campaign Practices” Election Code, Title 15, Chapter 258. The VAC code is a thinly veiled attempt to limit 1st amendment rights of the candidates. The VAC pledge calls for limits on signage, limits on number of volunteer workers at the polls, even touching on limiting participation by other independent non-partisan groups, which, of course, is not doable and about as un-American as it gets. The solution for these attempts to muzzle legitimate opponents and to remove any shadow of their undeniable conflicts is for VAC to withdraw from participation in this race immediately. If the VAC were truly concerned about getting out the vote, they would focus on block walking, phone calling, and direct mail to encourage voters to get out and vote - not with veiled threats that they will list those who did and did not sign their over-reaching pledge. The VAC needs to retrieve back into the vacuum of Democracy which has absorbed and survived all such attempts at stifling freedom of speech through intimidation or subterfuge for more than 200 years.

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