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Good News Dallas
by Tom Pauken    Fri, Dec 9, 2005, 01:11 PM

The Dallas Morning News has a story about the state GOP squabble which was originally reported by Scott Bennett on Wednesday. Link here to Scott's story. Former Dallas County GOP Chairman Nate Crain has expressed alarm about the poor condition of the state party’s finances. The News story covers much of the ground reported on by Scott Bennett at Dallas Blog two days ago. What is new, however, is the revelation that party funds have been used to provide for a free apartment in Austin for state chairwoman, Tina Benkiser, and her predecessor, Susan Weddington. Weddington is quoted as saying: "That’s standard practice. Austin’s not home for me, and it isn’t for the current chairman."

I can speak to that point directly since I was State Republican Chairman from 1994 to 1997 immediately prior to Mrs. Weddington’s election as Chairman. There was no free apartment for the State Chairman during the time I was Party Chairman nor when Fred Meyer served in that post prior to my tenure in office. Moreover, Susan Weddington lives in San Antonio, a short drive from Austin.

I also found it strange to read in the News’ report that Wayne Hamilton, the executive director of the party during Weddington’s tenure in office, received payments of nearly $114,000 in a single month some two years ago. That was over and above Hamilton’s annual salary as executive director.

Sources close to the State GOP tell me that neither Weddington nor Benkiser allow the State Republican Executive Committee (SREC) members to exercise much input into the decision-making process. Nor are they given much information about internal financial affairs of the state party.

The SREC meets Saturday in Austin. It should be a lively meeting. As one former SREC member told me, "someone on the committee should have the guts to demand a look at the books which SREC members are entitled to see."

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