By B.K. Carter
In addition to being threatened by the state redistricting process, Fort Bend Republicans have discovered that a huge chasm exists between the new county chair, Sharon Roberts, and the former county chair, Rick Miller. This rift is having an affect not only on the local party’s ability to raise money, but to support candidates as well. The recent Lincoln Reagan Dinner, the party’s major fund-raiser, was sparsely attended, supposedly due to the split between the Republicans, many of whom were rumored to have been told not to go.
The spat has recently gone public with a 19 page letter released by Chairwoman Roberts, prompting one local wag to say she didn’t need 19 pages, because she could call him an arrogant, vicious, divisive, untrustworthy, son of a motherless goat, nincompoop, thug in 11 words.
Observers say that before Miller resigned, he “anointed” Roberts to be the new chair. Roberts said that since her election, Miller has refused to turn over various trappings of the chairman, including the web site and telephone.
Roberts did not realize that Miller was receiving copies of all e-mails coming into the Republican site long after he resigned and when she told the webmaster to stop the practice, she was told that she (the webmaster) would have to consult with Miller. When this action was finally taken, Miller immediately called Roberts and asked her why he was no longer receiving the e-mails.
For the past few months according to Roberts, Miller has engaged in a campaign to question her credibility, has orchestrated many attempts to “set her up” or make her look bad in front of the rest of the precinct chairs. In addition, Roberts was surprised to learn there were several unexplained bank accounts not mentioned by treasurer Frank Hester, who has also joined Miller in his cabal, along with vice chair Mickey Mixon. Roberts has even called it a “shadow party” in her letter to the other precinct chairs.
In the letter, Roberts said, “It is little wonder no one wants to work with our party. New people are not welcomed. New ideas are not welcome. If a person ventures into the EC (executive committee composed of all the precinct chairs) they are faced with judgement and very little support.”
Rick Miller, reacting to Roberts letter, said it didn’t make sense for him to resign as party chairman then want to continue to run the party. “For the life of me, I only wanted her to be successful.” Miller said he had his own campaign to run and that Robert’s letter was slanderous and unethical. He said that he and other members mentioned in the letter were preparing a rebuttal as soon as possible.
Vice-Chair Mickey Mixon said it was important to address issues immediately and although some had cautioned to wait until after the election, he thought it shouldn’t be allowed to “let set.”
Roberts said in her letter that she was writing it so all members of the executive committee would know what was going on, and she called for them to become a part of the solution.
Various other county chairs have been hounded from office such as Eric Thode who resigned because he moved to Harris County but was under fire from the same small group before his resignation.
After Thode, Gary Gillen was elected party chairman and almost immediately, precinct chair and former Sugar Land Mayor Dean Hrbacek rewrote the bylaws that stripped all the power from the chairman and resulted in Gillen’s decision to resign rather than fight the group. Miller was part of the group that caused Gillen to resign.
The local party has mirrored the fractures that are part of the national party. It is a fight between moderate Republicans and evangelical or Tea Party members who want to make the local party more extreme.