In early October, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst corralled a handful of conservative bloggers into Iron Works BBQ in downtown Austin. While they noshed on ribs and brisket, Dewhurst entertained questions and ideas from the group. Among the invited attendees was Robbie Cooper, who blogs at UrbanGrounds.com and describes himself on the site as an “opinionated sonofabitch” who’s “hardly ever politically correct.” That’s probably an understatement.
“It was nice to finally be able to sit down in a casual and intimate venue with Dewhurst,” Cooper later wrote on his blog, which featured a photo of the two smiling with their arms around each other. Over the years, Cooper has frequently been invited to hang out with, and offer advice to, some of Texas’ top elected officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, Dewhurst and Attorney General/gubernatorial frontrunner Greg Abbott. In 2010, Cooper wrote that “he’d had quite a few opportunities to meet and speak with Gov. Perry,” including a field trip to a shooting range where Perry let him inspect the governor’s Ruger .380.
“I’ve taken a measure of Rick Perry the man—and as a man he truly measures up,” Cooper wrote about the 2010 meeting. In January, Abbott sat down with Cooper for a one-on-one interview at the blogger confab RightOnline in Austin. Then, in September, one of Abbott and Perry’s top advisors—Dave Carney—caused a minor stir when he retweeted a Cooper article on “why Wendy Davis is too Stupid to be Governor.”
Cooper isn’t just a run-of-the-mill right-wing blogger, though. He has a long history of writing violent, racist screeds, labeling black people “animals” and the N-word and writing in stereotypical language when talking about black congressmen. “Ah, Lawd-y I’z may be stupid but I’z is also ig-nent, too,” is how he once captioned a photo of Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
In another post, Cooper wrote of a YouTube video depicting an assault, “Nigger is not a word I use lightly or frequently. But make no doubt about it—the two pieces-of-shit animals attacking this woman are indeed worthless niggers.”
Of a Hispanic Texas Tribune reporter, Cooper wrote, “I’m insinuating that you’re [sic] Hispanic heritage might play a role in your biased reporting on matters of illegal immigration.”
Typically, Cooper’s views would be far outside the political mainstream and largely ignored. But as the Texas GOP has drifted more and more rightward, marquee politicians have increasingly embraced fringe activists and grassroots figures. Apparently Dewhurst, Abbott and Perry believe they have more to gain from courting Cooper than they have to lose from associating with a racist.
After Dewhurst’s BBQ summit, the Observer asked his office to comment on what Dewhurst thought of Cooper’s bigoted posts. We received no response, but a day after our first inquiry, Cooper wrote on UrbanGrounds that “a member of Dewhurst’s team alerted me” about our questions. Cooper denied that his posts were racist and went on to note that, “The best that I can tell is that these pantie-wetting Disingenuous White Liberals are upset that I use the word ‘animal’ when describing people who act…well, like animals.”
We finally caught up to Dewhurst at a tea party event in Burleson—the same event at which Dewhurst called for President Obama’s impeachment—and talked to him about Cooper.
“He seemed to indicate he was misquoted,” Dewhurst said. “I had about a three-second conversation with him. So I’m not aware of the things that he’s alleged to have said.” Later, Dewhurst asked to speak to us again. This time, he couldn’t recall having ever met Cooper. When showed some of Cooper’s more colorful writing, the lieutenant governor said, “I couldn’t comment on that.”