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Yes, Joe Barton Paid His Daughter $132,000. But His Stranglehold on North Texas May Soon Be Coming to an End.

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As Tim wrote in Leading Off, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton paid his daughter $132,000 over the past two years. This is news, yes, but should not be a surprise. In 2011, Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington named Barton one of the most corrupt politicians in Congress, after the Morning News found that the 15-term congressman earned nearly $100,000 from natural gas wells that he purchased from a campaign donor, one who also advised Barton on energy policy.

He also paid his wife $58,000 during the 2006 election cycle, and doled out $12,000 to the same daughter during that same period. The problem, since 1984, when Barton first rode into office, is that no one has ever really challenged him for the Sixth Congressional district seat. But maybe that’s changing.

Look at the graph above. That’s the percentage of the vote Barton has received each year. It’s dwindling. In 2012 Barton defeated democrat Kenneth Sanders 58 percent to 39.2 percent, an 18.8 percent victory that’s his tightest since an 11.6 percent victory back in 1986. Redistricting removed much of the white, rural population from District 6 — from 73 percent of the district down to 58 percent — concentrating the new area in southeast Tarrant County. And with the shifting politics of Texas – never mind a growing Hispanic voting bloc across North Texas — Barton should expect 2014 to be even tighter.

  • Dubious Brother

    Gerrymandered districts and lack of term limits created a political environment that politicians of both parties love – no meaningful challenges in the primaries and no competetive races in the general elections. The approval rating of Congress as a whole is less than 10% but most people don’t think their crook is one of the crooks.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Don’t forget the Joe Barton Family Foundation. American Airlines and others wanting to curry favor with Barton have the opportunity to contribute unlimited funds to this entity, tax-deductible! Then, Barton takes full credit as the largesse is spread around his district.

    Pretty cool.

  • CSP

    Bradford, I actually share what I presume is your disdain for Barton, as he has always been in it for himself and whatever his biggest contributors want (look at his complete reversal on the Wright Amendment over the years for an example), but I think you’re reading way too much into this.

    Remember that, in the 1990s, he would have been running in a district drawn by Democrats, so as many Republicans as possible would have been packed into his district. I’m thinking that’s why those vote totals look higher than those of recent years. I’m going to guess that the spike in 2000 which distorts the graph further was the result of running unopposed or against only token opposition. Then we saw two Republican-led redistrictings in 2004 (not 2002 — that was more or less still Democratic-controlled) and 2012 which presumably would have seen some of his excess Republican voters spread across as many districts as possible while keeping his seat still safe (even with a reduced percentage of the vote, as the graph shows) for any Republican not caught with a dead girl or a live boy, as a famous Democrat would have once phrased it.

    There’s no way in the world Barton or anyone else would have signed on to a redistricting plan which would have left a senior member like him vulnerable in the least. I’m sure short-term demographic changes over this decade were considered when the lines were drawn.

    So Joe’s not going anywhere for a while.